Mon, 30 April 2018
Israel says Iran hid nuclear arms programme

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23:41   Israel says Iran hid nuclear arms programme
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed what he says are "secret nuclear files" proving Iran covertly pursued nuclear weapons.

He said thousands of pages of material obtained by Israel showed Iran had deceived the world by denying it had ever sought nuclear weapons.

Iran agreed in 2015 to curb its nuclear energy programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

It maintained that it had only been pursuing nuclear energy.

Tweeting earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appeared to accuse Netanyahu of "fooling people".

US President Donald Trump has long threatened to scrap the deal, which was reached under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Speaking in English from Israel's defence ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu showed off what he said were "exact copies" of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence from a secret storage facility in Tehran.

There were, he said, 55,000 pages of evidence and a further 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

"Here's what the files included: incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more," he said.

"These files conclusively prove that Iran was brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons programme," he added.

The files had been shared with the US, Netanyahu said, and would be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
23:15   Swaraj offers help to school girl facing visa issues
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today assured help to a 14-year-old girl facing visa issues for her travel to London after being selected to represent India at a global conference.

A woman named Arpita Tiwari, in a tweet, said the girl, Isha, studying in a government school in an underprivileged community in Delhi's Sangam Vihar, has been selected to represent India for the conference in the British capital city.

She has her tickets booked for May 3 but is unable to travel as her visa clearance is delayed, Tiwari said.

"We will definitely help. I have asked my office to get in touch with you," Swaraj said.

The Union minister also assured assistance to a woman, who said her brother had gone to Kuwait for some office work and she later lost contact with him.

The person of contact has told her that her brother met with an accident and has been unconscious in a hospital there.

The woman sought Swaraj's help to locate her brother and shift him back to India.

"I have asked Indian ambassador in Kuwait @indembkwt to provide all assistance," Swaraj assured the woman.

She also assured help to a group of Indian students of the University of Illinois in the US who lost their passports in a fire accident.

The minister also offered help to a woman whose passport was stolen while on a trip to Mexico and wanted to get back home as soon as possible as her children were alone.

-- PTI
22:56   Tree planted by Trump and Macron removed and placed in quarantine
The mysterious disappearance of a tree planted in the White House grounds last week by US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron has been solved: It's in quarantine.

Rumours swirled after a picture taken by Reuters photographer Yuri Gripas appeared to show a yellow spot on the South Lawn of the White House where the tree had previously stood.

Late Sunday, the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, said the tree's "disappearance" was only temporary. "It is in quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported to the US. It will be replanted afterwards," Araud tweeted.

Araud said its roots "were enclosed in a plastic protection" and "remained carefully isolated."

Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, who coordinated the ceremonial aspects of the Macron visit, said that the plan was always to quarantine the tree.

22:19   PM Modi colluding with 'tainted party': CM Naidu
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of colluding with a 'tainted party'.

Naidu said this at a massive public meeting here, where he played videos of Prime Minister Modi to "expose" what he called his betrayal to the state on granting special category status.

Naidu said, "Narendra Modi appealed to voters whether they want 'Swarna Andhra' or 'Scam Andhra', he appealed to people to vote for him if they want 'Swarna Andhra' but today he is colluding with a tainted party."

Naidu further said that Prime Minister Modi made promises to Andhra Pradesh exactly four years ago but never fulfilled them.

"Exactly four years ago at the same time, on the same date, from the same venue, at the abode of Lord Balaji, Prime Minister Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate made several promises to Andhra Pradesh," he said.

Chief Minister Naidu asked if it is wrong to demand Narendra Modi to fulfill his promises that he made four years ago.

"He promised to build a capital better than Delhi but he gave only Rs 1500 crore to Amaravati while Rs 2500 crore is given to build a statue (Sardar Patel statue in Gujarat)," Naidu added.

-- ANI
22:00   Omar slams Gupta over comments on Kathua case
Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah today lashed out at newly sworn-in Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Kavinder Gupta for terming the Kathua rape and murder a minor incident that media should not focus on.
"What justice can one expect from @MehboobaMufti when her Deputy CM calls the rape & murder of an 8 year old 'a minor incident that the media shouldn't focus on'(sic), Omar wrote on Twitter.
Gupta, while talking to reporters after being sworn in, had said the Kathua rape and murder case was a minor incident which should not be given too much importance by the media. 
"There are many challenges before the government. We have to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and the victim girl gets justice," Gupta added.
The opposition leader also hit out at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for inducting a BJP MLA into her council of ministers who reportedly attended a rally in support of the accused persons in the Kathua rape and murder case.
"(Two) 2 BJP ministers removed in J&K for attending a pro-rapist rally & a MLA who is reported to have attended the same rally is promoted as a minister. Why are the BJP/ @MehboobaMufti  confused about where they stand on the #Kathua rape? (sic)" Omar asked.

He was referring to the induction of MLA, Kathua Rajiv Jasrotia, who reportedly attended the rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused in the rape and murder case, in the council of ministers today. 
JUST IN: 3 civilians shot dead by terrorists at Old Town in Baramulla district of Jammu-Kashmir, says police.
21:27   Amit Shah takes on Rahul, Lalu, calls them hypocrites
Hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Monday hit out at the former saying that such hypocrites cannot run a non-corrupt government in a state.

Earlier today, Rahul met Lalu at AIIMS hospital where he was undergoing treatment for various ailments related to heart and kidney.

"The same Rahul Gandhi has met and hugged Lalu ji today. Such hypocrites cannot run a non-corrupt government in a state," Shah said while addressing a rally in Kolar.

He further said that Rahul met Lalu as 2019 general election is inching closer.

"During United Progressive Alliance rule Rahul Gandhi had torn the ordinance which could save now fodder scams convict Lalu. As 2019 is approaching it seems Congress can't win without Lalu ji's support, and today he (Rahul Gandhi) met Lalu ji (in AIIMS)," Shah added.

-- ANI
21:01   Modi to launch campaign blitzkrieg in Karnataka tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch his campaign blitzkrieg tomorrow in poll-bound Karnataka to add heft to the BJP's efforts to unseat the Congress from power and form its government in the southern state for a second time.

Modi, who last visited Karnataka for campaigning in February, will be addressing rallies at Santhemarahalli in Chamarajanagara district, and Udupi and Chikkodi in Belagavi tomorrow.

Ahead of his Udupi rally, Modi is scheduled to visit Krishna matha and meet the senior seer there.

At least a dozen rallies are expected to follow in the coming days, party sources said.

Polling for the 224-member assembly will be held on May 12, and results will be declared on the 15th of the month.

On the eve of Modi's visit, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah posed questions to Modi on Twitter while welcoming him to the state.

"Dear @narendramodi, Heard you are visiting Namma" Karnataka tomorrow. We welcome you to our state. While you are" here, we Kannadigas would like you to address the following" concerns. Please #AnswerMaadiModi," Siddaramaiah tweeted.

In a series of tweets, assailed the prime minister over BJP giving tickets to "tainted" mining baron G Janardhan Reddy's brothers and associates as also declaring Yeddyurappa its chief ministerial candidate.

-- PTI
20:47   Trump tweets that journalism dinner is dead, total disaster
US President Donald Trump is again railing against the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner amid criticism of the comedian who roasted his spokeswoman.
Trump says on Twitter today: "The White House Correspondents' Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!" For the second year in a row, Trump skipped the dinner, instead holding a rally in Michigan.

The annual event made headlines after a routine by comedian Michelle Wolf. Some of her jokes about Sarah Huckabee Sanders in particular drew heavy criticism.

WHCA President Margaret Talev says she'll work with the next president on "the format of the dinner going forward."
20:27   Will take oath on 17th or 18th, depending on PM, forecasts BS Yeddyurappa
The assembly elections in Karnataka still 12 days away, the BJP's presumptive Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has already picked a date for his oath ceremony.  The 75-year-old, however, added that the final call will depend on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's schedule. 

"I will be sworn in on the 17th or 18th, based on the PM's convenience. Both are good days," Yeddyurappa told NDTV today, while campaigning Mandya, a district where he was born.

The show of confidence by the veteran leader comes amid the predictions of a hung assembly most exit polls, where neither BJP, nor the Congress get clear majority. The recent poll of polls - an average of several opinion poll results -- has given 86 seats to the BJP and 94 to the Congress in the 224-member assembly, which places former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal-Secular in a deciding position.
20:05   Chidambaram calls Modi govt claim of 100% electrification "complete jumla"
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim of achieving 100 per cent village electrification is a "complete jumla" and accused him of taking credit for work done by the previous regimes.
Addressing the Youth Congress national executive meeting, the former finance minister also alleged that the government was "destroying" jobs and the economy and said unemployment will be the "number one issue" against the present regime in 2019 elections.
The government had said yesterday that all villages in the country now have access to electricity and this target has been achieved ahead of the deadline.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Modi had said, "28th April 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India. Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever! I am delighted that every single village of India now has access to electricity."
"That is a jumla again, a complete jumla," Chidambaram said.
Stating that there are some 5.97 lakh villages in the country, Chidambaram accused the Modi government of taking credit for complete rural electrification although the UPA government electrified lakhs of villages in the country during 2004-2014.
"It's like somebody makes the ice cream puts it in a cup, someone comes and puts a cherry on it and says I made this ice cream. He comes in, electrifies last 18,000 villages and says that its a great achievement of my government. I have electrified all the villages," the Congress leader said.

He also attacked Modi government for "destroying" jobs with measures like demonetisation and GST, claiming the two steps led to "massive" unemployment in the country.

-- PTI
JUST IN: ED issued notice to Nalini Chidambaram, wife of P Chidambaram, over Saradha chit fund scam and asked her to appear before ED on May 7.
19:27   Now, Gujarat CM equates Google with Narad Muni
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has equated Google with mythological character Narad Muni.

Speaking at an event, Rupani  said, "Google is a source of information today. We can compare Narada Muni with Google as he had all the information of what was happening in the world. But, Narad gave information to many people but never gave information that would harm humanity."

Rupani's statement comes after Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb claimed that Internet existed in India during Mahabharat era.

Speaking at a Regional Workshop on Computerisation and Reforms in Agartala on April 18, Deb said that the internet was invented by India lakhs of years ago.

-- ANI
19:18   Trump suggests Korean truce village for Kim summit
US President Donald Trump suggested today that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un be held in the truce village that straddles the border separating the two Koreas.
"Numerous countries are being considered for the meeting, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more representative, important and lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!" Trump tweeted.
19:00   Nirmal Singh to be Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker
Nirmal Singh, who resigned from the post of Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister, will be the new Speaker of the state assembly, senior BJP leader Ram Madhav said today.
On a day eight ministers joined Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's council of ministers, Madhav said a reshuffle had been planned as the government had completed three years and it was felt more legislators should be given the experience of being in the state Cabinet.  
"Dr Nirmal Singh ji will be the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly," Madhav said at a press conference after the swearing-in ceremony of the newly inducted ministers.
Ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle, Singh had last night tendered his resignation to pave the way for state assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta to take over the post. The resignation was accepted by the governor.
With Singh now set to become the assembly Speaker, the two senior BJP leaders have exchanged places during the reshuffle.

-- PTI
18:42   PM invited Deb to CMs' meet in Delhi a month ago: Official
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has been invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend a meeting in the National Capital on May 2, a senior official said today.
Deb had received the invitation to the meeting of chief ministers a month ago, additional secretary in the chief minister's office Milind Ramteke said.
The CMs' meeting was on the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he said.
The official's statement came in the wake of reports in a section of the media that Modi had summoned Deb to Delhi over the chief minister's controversial statements on a range of issues.
It was yet to be confirmed whether the chief minister would be going  to Delhi, he said.

Deb had recently courted controversy when he said the internet existed in the Mahabharata era.
Last week, he had questioned the rationale behind Diana Hayden being crowned "Miss World" 21 years ago. Deb was all praise for Aishwarya Rai, who won the "Miss World" crown in 1994, saying she represented "Indian women".

Deb had also claimed that international beauty pageants were a farce. 

-- PTI
18:24   Kathua rape 'minor incident', says new J-K Deputy CM
Within hours of a cabinet shuffle in Jammu and Kashmir, new Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta debuted with a shocker on the Kathua eight-year-old's rape and murder.

"Rasana is a chhoti si baat (minor)... We have to think this should never happen again and the child gets justice. There are many challenges like this facing the government. We should not give Rasana so much bhaav (importance)," Gupta said.

His comments raised questions particularly as the rejig was blamed on the massive criticism of previous ministers for their perceived support to the men who have been arrested for kidnapping, drugging, gang-raping and murdering the child, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe.

Gupta, believed to be an old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh hand, replaced Nirmal Singh in the post of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's number 2.
18:03   PMO should probe SC, ST marking on candidates' chest: NCP
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP today asked the PMO to probe the marking of candidates' chests with their caste categories during police recruitment in Madhya Pradesh and described the incident as "shameful".

"It is extremely shameful that during police recruitment in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the candidates were marked as SC, OBC, ST on their chest," NCP MP Supriya Sule tweeted.

Describing the process as "insensitive", Sule said this act deserved strong condemnation. "The PMO should probe the incident," she said. Photos of the recruitment test showed aspirants for the post of police constables had their caste categories written on their bare chests in Dhar district.

Photos in various newspapers showed aspirants with "SC" (Scheduled Caste), "ST" (Scheduled Tribe) and "G" (General) marked with sketch pens on their chests as they queued up for their medical examination, triggering a massive debate on social media. Dhar Superintendent of Police Virendra Singh yesterday said he had ordered an inquiry into the incident, to be conducted by a Deputy SP rank officer.

The incident occurred on Saturday when the District Medical Board was carrying out the medical examination of these candidates," he had said. PTI
17:48   Polls ahoy
Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao met DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP MK Kanimozhi in Chennai and discussed the possibility of a formation of a third front for the 2019 general elections.
17:42   Cash, jewellery seized 3 times more than last polls in K'taka: EC
As Karnataka gears up for assembly polls, the value of cash and jewellery seizure by the Income Tax Department there has gone up three times to about Rs 25 crore in the state as compared to the last elections, the Election Commission  said today.

The EC said it has also been found that the "bulk of cash seized during operations in the present assembly elections has been meant for distribution."

During the last assembly polls in 2013, the tax department had seized Rs 4.97 crore of cash and jewellery worth Rs 3.41 crore during the "entire" campaign period, the EC said.

"Total cash seizures (as part of the ongoing poll campaign) as on April 30 is Rs 19.69 crore and unexplained jewellery of Rs 4.81 crore has been made by the investigation wing of the Income Tax Department in Karnataka since the start of the assembly election related surveillance," the poll body said today. There is still over a week more of campaigning left for the May 12 single-phase polls in the state. -- PTI

File pic: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah with Congress president Rahul Gandhi
17:32   AAP Maharashtra launches transport wing, to hold rally tomorrow
The Maharashtra unit of the Aam Aadmi Party has launched its transport wing which will hold a massive rally here tomorrow at the occasion of Maharashtra Day. Senior Maharashtra AAP leaders Preeti Sharma-Menon and Brig (retd) Sudhir Sawant jointly announced the office-bearers of the new wing, which they said, will help in expanding the party's support base in the state, where Assembly polls are due in the second half of 2019.
17:19   AIIMS files police complaint over ruckus by Lalu's supporters
All India Institute of Medical Services files a complaint with the Delhi Police alleging miscreants misbehaved with AIIMS staff while protesting over Lalu Prasad Yadav's discharge from hospital.

The AIIMS today discharged the RJD supremo, saying his condition has improved significantly, even as the former Bihar chief minister alleged a "political conspiracy" behind his discharge.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal president also wrote to the institute's director, asking him to continue his treatment at the facility till he recovers fully. Supporters of Prasad created ruckus in the hospital premises protesting the AIIMS' decision, with his party alleging that there is a conspiracy to "murder" their leader by "forcing him out" of the premier hospital even though he continues to suffer from various ailments.

During the ruckus, the supporters broke a glass door, abused the security guards and administration officials, hospital sources alleged.

Image: Lalu Prasad Yadav with Congress president Rahul Gandhi who met him at AIIMS today.
17:00   Trump should win Nobel Peace Prize, says South Korea's Moon
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said US President Donald Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, a South Korean official said on Monday.

"President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace," Moon told a meeting of senior secretaries, according to a presidential Blue House official who briefed media.

Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday pledged to end hostilities between the two countries and work towards the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula in the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

Trump is preparing for his own summit with Kim, which he said would take place in the next three to four weeks.

That upcoming meeting was the main subject of a private walk and chat that Kim and Moon had during their meeting at the border, the official said.
16:26   Sikkim's Chamling pips Jyoti Basu to become India's longest serving CM
Sikkim's Pawan Chamling has set a new record in the country by becoming the longest serving chief minister of a state, a title that Jyoti Basu, the former Communist Party of India-Marxist patriarch of West Bengal, had held so far.

The 68-year-old founding president of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front completed 25 years of uninterrupted service in office on Sunday.

He was sworn-in as the chief minister of Sikkim for the first time on December 12, 1994.

Born on September 22, 1950, at Yangang, South Sikkim, to Asha Rani Chamling and Lt Aash Bahadur, Pawan Chamling dropped out of school after matriculation.

He started his political career at the age of 32.

Pawan Chamling served as the Minister for Industries, Information and Public Relations from 1989 to 1992 in the Nar Bahadur Bhandari cabinet.

After a series of political upheavals in Sikkim, he formed the SDF in 1993.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday at Mintokgang, the official residence of the chief minister, Pawan Chamling said, "I am at the disposal of the people of my state. If they want me to take rest, I am okay with it and if they want me to serve Sikkim, I will continue. I do not have my own agenda."

People in huge numbers turned up at his residence to cheer for him.

"I am grateful to everyone who reposed faith in me in every phase of my life," he said.

The CM also paid his homage to Jyoti Basu on this occasion and said he was fortunate to have surpassed the former West Bengal chief minister's record.

Basu, the five-term West Bengal CM, had been in power from June 21, 1977 to November 6, 2000.

He handed over the baton to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in 2000, citing health reasons.

Basu passed way in 2010 at the age of 95.  -- PTI
16:14   US defers decision on restrictions for Pakistani diplomats
The United States has delayed its decision to restrict the movement of Pakistani diplomats in America as both sides are trying to resolve differences that have strained their relations, according to a media report today.

Last week, a spokesman for Pakistan's Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed that the United States planned to impose new restrictions on its diplomats.

According to a notification sent to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Pakistani diplomats in the US capital and at consulates in other cities would be barred from travelling more than 40 kilometres from their posts without prior permission.

Media reports earlier had that the proposed restrictions could come into effect as early as May 1, unless 'certain issues' were resolved before that.

But official sources that the decision had now been delayed, at least till mid-May, as both sides were engaged in efforts to remove their differences, Dawn reported.

America's move to restrict Pakistani diplomats' movement came after US diplomats and visitors to US Embassy in Islamabad faced additional security measures, the report said.

Pakistan has prevented foreigners, including diplomats, from travelling to certain areas, such as Fata.

Karachi and some areas of Balochistan have also been added to the list following continued militant attacks on both Pakistani and foreign targets. Visitors to the US missions in Pakistan also have to go through strict security and identification routines.

Pakistan argues that such measures aim at enhancing the security of foreign missions and their employees and have no other motive, it said.

But Americans appear particularly upset with a new practice, applying the same security measures to those invited by the US missions or diplomats to their offices and homes.

Previously, such guests only had to go through metal detection devices and a quick frisking to ensure they were not carrying weapons. They were not asked to show identity papers or disclose the purpose of their visit, as they are now.

Americans complain that sometimes Pakistanis working for the US Embassy and consulates also face unnecessary interrogation, as do the embassy's guests.

Pakistan ha warned that a US decision to limit the movement of Pakistani diplomats would generate 'much negative propaganda against Pakistan across the globe. It will also have an adverse impact on the Pakistani American community'.  -- PTI
15:49   2 militants killed, 2 soldiers injured in Pulwama encounter
Update on the Pulwama encounter: Two militants were killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district and a civilian died in clashes between locals and security forces following the gun-battle, officials said.

Two soldiers, including an officer, were also injured in the initial firing by the militants, they said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the district's Drabgam area following information about the presence of two to three militants there, a police official said.

The official said as the security forces were closing in on their position, the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing.

Two soldiers were injured in the initial firing, an Army official said, adding that the cordon has been strengthened. The official said two militants were killed by the forces and the operation to flush out any remaining militant was on when reports last came in. One of the injured is a Major-rank officer, who has hit by a bullet in the arm. Both the injured

soldiers have been evacuated to the Army's 92 base hospital for treatment. The police official claimed that when the security forces were engaged in the gun-battle with the militants, a group of civilians started pelting stones at them to disturb the counter-insurgency operation. Several protesters were injured in retaliatory action by the security forces, one of them died due to a bullet injury to his chest, the official said. He has been identified as Shahid Ahmad Dar, the official said adding the circumstances in which the 25-year-old youth was killed are being ascertained. PTI

Image: Security forces at the encounter site at Pulwama
15:44   Lalu cries 'political conspiracy' as AIIMS discharges him
The AIIMS today discharged RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, saying his condition has improved significantly, even as the former Bihar chief minister alleged a "political conspiracy" behind his discharge.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal president also wrote to the institute's director, asking him to continue his treatment at the facility till he recovers fully.

RJD workers created a ruckus in the hospital premises protesting the AIIMS' decision, alleging that there is a conspiracy to "murder" their leader by "forcing him out" of the premier hospital even though he continues to suffer from various ailments.

During the ruckus, the supporters broke a glass door, abused the security guards and administration officials, hospital sources alleged.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Prasad at AIIMS today and enquired about his health. The RJD chief, who has been serving a jail term in connection with the fodder scam, was admitted to the AIIMS on March 29 for specialised treatment.

The AIIMS, in an official statement today, said, "Lalu Prasad was referred from Ranchi Medical College to AIIMS for management of his acute medical condition . He has improved significantly and as per advise of the medical board constituted for his treatment, he is being referred back to Ranchi Medical College for management of his chronic issues. He is currently stable and is fit to travel."

The RJD chief had been admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi on March 17 over complaints of uneasiness while he was lodged at the Birsa Munda Jail. Prasad has been serving a jail term since December 23.

Prasad, who was kept in a VIP room of the old private ward of the hospital, has written to the director of AIIMS, saying that he should not be relieved from AIIMS, Delhi and sent back to RIMS since the latter lacks facilities for proper treatment of his ailments.

Citing various ailments such as heart problems, diabetes, kidney infection, high blood pressure, the RJD supremo, in his letter to the director, said doctors should not act under pressure from certain individuals or political parties.

Urging the AIIMS director to allow him to continue his treatment at the institute till his recovery, Prasad said the AIIMS administration will be held responsible if something untoward happens to him after he is sent back to the hospital in Ranchi.

 The former Bihar chief minister has been convicted in four fodder scam cases since 2013 -- the latest being the Dumka treasury case, in which a special CBI court sentenced him to 14 years in jail. PTI

Image: Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Lalu Yadav at AIIMS this morning.
15:31   Railway firm to hold 'chai pe charcha' with bullet train PAPS
The National High Speed Rail Corporation, which is building a bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, will hold what the company called "chai pe charcha" with project-affected persons to solve issues. 

NHSRCL officials said that they plan to start these round of talks with PAPs in May. "We want cordial relations with and support from the people who will be affected by this gigantic project. Therefore, our officials will hold meeting with PAPs at public places and, over tea, discuss facts about the project," said Dhananjay Kumar, spokesperson of the NHSRCL.

He said that these talks were meant to sensitise the people about the project, and in turn, make land acquisition for the project easier for the firm and acceptable to the PAPs.

Kumar admitted that officials had failed to properly communicate with farmers and villagers about the project. "This 'chai pe charcha' will win their confidence and help us get them emotionally involved in it," he said.

The official informed that the company had got the cellphone numbers of 2,000 PAPs to whom it would send bulk messages, in local languages, explaining the importance of the project. NHSRCL requires 1,400 hectares of land, including those that fall in forest areas, to build the corridor in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The deadline for acquisition of land is December 2018 and work on it had begun in both states, the official said. The company has provisioned an extra 25 per cent monetary incentive for those who will hand over their land voluntarily. -- PTI
15:08   Lalu leaves AIIMS
Delhi: RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav leaves after being discharged from All India Institutes of Medical Sciences in Delhi. He was undergoing treatment for various ailments related to heart and kidney and will now be taken to Ranchi. 
15:07   Modi avoided critical issues during 'casual' China visit: Sena
The Shiv Sena today criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his just-concluded China visit, claiming it was a "casual" tour during which he avoided taking up crucial bilateral issues with President Xi Jinping in view of the next year's general elections.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party claimed that Modi was trying to resolve pending issues with Beijing through "Panchsheel", five principles of peaceful coexistence propounded by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of whom he had been critical.

The Sena sought to know what the RSS, the ideological mentor of Modi's party the BJP, had to say about this stance. It said Modi had 'chai pe charcha' with the Chinese president during which he avoided discussing controversial issues in view of the general elections due next year.

Issues related to Doklam, border incursions and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, among others, were not taken up with the Chinese side, it said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece 'Saamana'. "Pandit Nehru's friendship with China had backfired. Modi has lever lost an opportunity to criticise Nehru. But it seems the current prime minister is trying to solve the issues with China through Nehru's Panchsheel," the Sena claimed.

"Modi is backing Panchsheel but the thoughts behind it belonged to Nehru. Like Nehru, Modi is also convinced about 'no to war, yes to peace' (yuddha nako, buddha hawa) approach (to resolve pending issues)," it maintained.

The Sena said the Ministry of External Affairs had maintained that Modi's two-day visit to China last week was without any agenda. "It means the country's prime minister has got no work and hence, he casually toured China," the Marathi daily claimed.

The publication said China continued to support Pakistan which had been sponsoring terrorism in India. "China is a major supporter of Pakistan. Pakistan can create troubles for India only because of the active support it gets from China.

"The world has isolated Pakistan because of its soft- pedalling on terrorism. Still, China has continued to provide aid to Pakistan with an aim to destabilise India," it said. The editorial also mentioned about Beijing's growing footprints in India's neighbourhood. -- PTI
Jammu and Kashmir: Two terrorists, Sameer Tiger and Aaqib Khan, gunned down during ongoing encounter with security forces in Pulwama's Drabgam.
14:39   How the BJP is working its way into Tamil Nadu
Divakaran, the younger brother of Sasikala has been taking up cudgels with TTV Dinakaran.

Tamil Nadu politics watchers say they can spot the invisible hand of the BJP in this new camaraderie.

The central leadership of BJP is keen to have a regrouping of the two  warring factions of the AIADMK so that it merges into one entity and fights the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

The Central BJP leadership through Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has set the ball in motion to neutralise and sideline Dinakaran.
Dr.Nirmal Singh will be the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly: Ram Madhav, BJP after J&K cabinet reshuffle. 
14:31   'Black Cat' commandos set to be deployed in Kashmir
'Black Cat' commandos of the elite counter-terror force NSG are set to be deployed soon in Jammu and Kashmir to help security forces in dealing with encounters and hostage-like situations, officials said today.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is examining a proposal to deploy a contingent of the National Security Guard commandos in the Kashmir Valley so that they can join the Indian Army, the CRPF and the state police when a high-risk militancy related incident takes place.

"We are planning to deploy the NSG in Kashmir. They are trained to deal with terrorists and hostage-like situations. We are mulling over it," an official told PTI requesting anonymity. Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, S P Vaid had also said recently that he has been working on the proposal.

"Hope I will be successful," he had said. This is not for the first time that the NSG commandos, popularly know as 'Black Cat', would be deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The commandos of the elite force have been deployed in the Valley in the past too. Their special skills of carrying out house intervention and hostage rescue can act as "clincher" during a terror siege, the official said.

-- PTI
14:19   Buying time at Wuhan
The Wuhan meetings signify an incremental shift in China's position on India as well as each country buying time for the next phase of bilateral relations, says Srikanth Kondapalli. Read the column here.
14:19   Buying time at Wuhan
The Wuhan meetings signify an incremental shift in China's position on India as well as each country buying time for the next phase of bilateral relations, says Srikanth Kondapalli. Read the column here.
14:02   BJP MLA leads protests for CBI inquiry into Kathua rape/murder
As new ministers get inducted in the J&K Cabinet, BJP MLA and former J&K minister Choudhary Lal Singh leads a protest march demanding CBI inquiry in Kathua case. He says, "Jis din se resignation hua hai, main CBI inquiry ke peeche pada hoon aur main yeh karwaake hi chhodunga."
13:57   Follow teachings of Prophet Mohammad, says PM in Mann ki Baat
Extending warm greetings to the people on the auspicious month of Ramzan Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that Prophet Mohammad is an inspiration for all and his teaching of equality and brotherhood should be followed by all.

While addressing his 43rd edition of monthly Radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat,' Prime Minister Modi said that it was Prophet Mohammad who believed in the concept of charity, which was important during Ramzan.

"It is our responsibility to follow the path of equality and brotherhood as morals from his life. Prophet Mohammad Sahib (peace be upon him) believed in twin principles of knowledge and compassion," the Prime Minister said.

The holy month of Ramzan is beginning in mid-May.  -- ANI
13:32   Speaker, seven others sworn in as ministers in J-K
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta and seven others were today sworn in as ministers in the state's PDP-BJP government led by Mehbooba Mufti. Gupta will be the new deputy chief minister in place of Nirmal Singh, who submitted his resignation last night, officials said.

The reshuffle is the result of BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga resigning from the cabinet earlier this month after they were criticised for taking part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

The new BJP faces sworn in as ministers were the party's state unit chief Satpal Sharma and the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, respectively.

The BJP also upgraded Sunil Sharma, at present minister of state for transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP legislator Shakti Raj took oath as a minister of state.

The PDP members included in the cabinet were Mohd Khalil Band, MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, MLA from Sonwar. The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and Minister of State (MoS) for Tourism Priya Sethi. -- PTI
13:28   Pulwama encounter: Locals pelt stones to aid terrorists
An encounter is underway between terrorists and security forces at Jammu and Kashmir's Drabgam in Pulwama district. Locals have begun pelting stones to aid the terrorists at the encounter site where two to three terrorists have reportedly been trapped.

The encounter broke out at 10 am after a cordon and search operation was launched by troops of Central Reserve Police Force's 182 Battalion and 183 Battalion, along with 44 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group Pulwama.

No casualty has been reported yet and the situation is presently under control.
12:42   AFP photographer killed in Kabul blast
Shah Marai, a photographer associated with Agence France Presse, has been killed in Monday's twin suicide explosions that rocked Kabul's Shash Darak area. He died in the second blast that was targeting a group of journalists who had rushed to the scene of a suicide attack.

Taking to his Twitter account, photojournalist Andrew Quility offered his condolences. "Devastating news from Kabul: Eyewitnesses say longtime AFP photographer Shah Marai has been killed and other journalists injured after a bomb was detonated at the scene of an earlier attack they were covering. Thoughts with Marai's family, friends and colleagues."

Another Afghan photojournalist Ahmad Mukhtar also expressed his grief. "Shocked and saddened to hear that Shah Marai is no more with us. He was a great freind and longtime journalist/ photographer with AFP. #RIP"

Meanwhile, the death toll increased to 21, while 27 others were injured in the twin suicide explosions, according to Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry.

According to local media, Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai confirmed the explosions, saying that the first bomber was on a motorbike and the second one was on foot.

No individual or terrorist group have claimed responsibility for the incident so far. - ANI

Image: AFP photojournalist Shah Marai was killed in the blast

12:22   Kavinder Gupta sworn in as dy CM J-K
Eight legislators will be inducted as ministers of the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir today. Of the eight, seven are expected to be new faces, officials said. Ahead of the reshuffle of the council of ministers, Nirmal Singh tendered his resignation from the post of deputy chief minister last night, paving the way for state Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta to take over the position in the government. Gupta has just been sworn in.

While the BJP is inducting six MLAs as ministers, the PDP is inducting two legislators in keeping with its quota. BJP's state unit chief Sat Sharma, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Samba respectively, are among the BJP faces who will be inducted into the state government as Cabinet ministers, officials said.

The PDP will have Mohd Khalil Band, an MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, an MLA from Sonwar, as Cabinet ministers, while the BJP will upgrade Sunil Sharma, at present Minister of State for Transport, to the rank of a Cabinet minister, the officials said. BJP MLA from Doda Shakti Raj will also be sworn in as a Minister of State at the oath-taking ceremony, which will be attended by senior BJP leaders, including its national general secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh, they said.

The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and MoS Priya Sethi. Nirmal Singh is likely to be new speaker. Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Convention Centre.

The officials said the function is being held at the Convention Centre instead of the Raj Bhavan as the Jammu and Kashmir government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar as part of the bi-annual darbar move.

The saffron party had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the PDP-BJP government in the state to submit their resignations to enable bringing in new faces in the two-year-old Mehbooba Mufti government. The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor.

The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP. PTI
Congress President Rahul Gandhi met RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav at AIIMS hospital in Delhi.
11:37   Bihar: 2 held after minor molestation video goes viral
In the continuing incidences of violence against women, a minor girl, was allegedly molested by six people in Jehanabad, Bihar, on Saturday.

The police have detained two of the six people for their alleged involvement in the molestation of the girl. An FIR has been lodged against unidentified persons after videos showing the minor girl being molested by the youths went viral on social networking sites on Saturday. Two Special Investigation Teams were also constituted to investigate the incident.

The video that went viral shows six young men molesting the girl and ripping her clothes off as she tries in vain to fend them off. Two attackers in the clip are still missing. One of the can be seen lifting her off her feet as she tries to kick him and free herself. No one could be seen trying to stop the group, including the person who took the video.
Two soldiers injured in an encounter with militants in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir: Army
10:59   Demands for CBI inquiry in Kathua rape case continue
The villagers from Budhi, Barnoti, Nanan, Pandhrad and Thanoon on Sunday staged a protest at Budhi village, in support of their demand of a  CBI inquiry in the Kathua rape and murder case.

The protest was led by prominent citizens, including Roshan Sharma, Rameshwar Kumar, Rampal, Subash Chander and Rakesh Dogra.

One of the protestors, Roshan Sharma asked the Chief Minister to respect the sentiments of the people of Jammu who have come on the roads to protest. He also demanded that the real culprits behind the bars at the earliest.

Members of the transgender community also staged a protest in Kolkata on April 22 against the Kathua and Unnao rape incidents, which resulted in a national outrage.

In Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, an eight-year-old girl belonging to a nomadic Muslim tribe was allegedly abducted, drugged, gang-raped, tortured and killed in January.The Supreme Court on Friday stayed till May 7 the trial of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case before the Sessions judge. -- ANI

Also read: 'I hope my daughter can rest in peace soon'

File image: Protests against the Kathua rape and murder
10:16   Sensex tops 35K-mark, Nifty above 10,700
The benchmark BSE Sensex reclaimed the 35,000-mark and Nifty went past 10,700 today on sustained buying by participants, driven by strong corporate earnings and positive global cues.

The 30-share index again crossed the 35,000-mark by surging 228.73 points, or 0.65 per cent, to trade at 35,198.43. The gauge had rallied 468.43 points in the previous two sessions. All the sectoral indices, led by IT and banking were trading in the positive zone with gains up to 1.89 per cent.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty reclaimed the 10,700-mark by climbing 62.70 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 10,755. Prominent gainers include Yes Bank, Adani Ports, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, SBI, Kotak Bank, L&T, HDFC Bank, Sun Pharma, Bajaj Auto and Asian Paints, rising up to 2 per cent.
10:10   Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in PM's constituency Varanasi
The next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held in the holy city of Varanasi in January with the Indian diaspora having an option to participate in Kumbha Snan and attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, an Indian embassy official has said.

Addressing a gathering of eminent Indian-American community leaders from in and around Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, Indian Embassy's Minister of Community Affairs Anurag Kumar said the details of the event were being worked out to facilitate greater participation of the diaspora community from across the world.

This year's event would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth.

"The next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas would be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23. (This time) there is also a provision being made for the participants to participate in the Kumbh Snan (in Allahabad) and then travel to New Delhi to be part of the Republic Day Parade on January 26," Kumar said yesterday.

Kumar was speaking at a reception organised for him by National Community of Asian Indian Associations in collaboration with other community organisations, including Associations of Indian Muslims, Aligarh Alumni Association, Indian Cultural Coordination Committee, Sewa and Tamil Sangam of Greater Washington. Noting that the US has traditionally been attracting active participation in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Kumar urged the Indian-American community leaders to spread the word so that a large delegation from America attends the event. Organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Uttar Pradesh government, the theme of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is "Role of Indian Diaspora in building a New India".  -- PTI

Image: PM Modi addressing delegates at the 2015 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gujarat.
10:00   All 74 chit fund cases handed over to CBI: Tripura CM
Keeping its poll promise, the BJP-IPFT government in Tripura handed over all the 74 chit fund cases from the Special Investigation Team to the Central Bureau of Investigation, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb announced on Sunday.

The Chief Minister said that the central investigation agency has agreed to investigate 11 cases, which include Rose Valley, Response Group, Basil International, I-Core and Warris Group of Companies.

The Chief Minister alleged that the erstwhile Left Front government had paved the way for exploitation of people through chit funds, which could be understood as they granted licenses to chit funds, No Objection Certificates and also inaugurated events. He was referring to former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who attended an event of the Rose Valley group in an amusement park in 2008. Later Sarkar claimed that his government was not even aware that Rose Valley is a chit fund companies.
09:49   State's development, a priority: J&K Deputy CM-elect
Ahead of a major reshuffle in the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet, Deputy Chief Minister-elect Kavinder Gupta on Monday said that he would prioritise work in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh regions.

"The party gave me the responsibility to bring in change after three years. I'll try my best to meet the expectations of people and our priority will be to work for Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh," Gupta told ANI.

Speaking on the unusual alliance between the People's Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, Gupta said that the public of the state had chosen both parties, "We had entered into an alliance, following people's mandate. I hope it keeps working and delivers on people's expectations."

Meanwhile, the outgoing deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh expressed confidence in the new ministers to be inducted later in the day.

"The government has worked well for three years. I am sure the new ones will perform very well," Singh told ANI.

His decision to resign came after the party's decision of Cabinet reshuffle, "It was the decision of the party to change roles. Keeping in line with that decision, I stepped down."

According to sources, Singh will now be made a Speaker.

The BJP is expected to bring in some new faces in the much-awaited reshuffle in the Mehbooba Mufti-led Jammu and Kashmir government, scheduled at noon.

On April 17, the BJP had asked all its nine ministers in the state government to submit their resignations to enable the party to bring in new faces. The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the Chief Minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP. -- ANI
09:37   Scribe heckled for reporting poor attendance at Rahul's rally
A journalist of a TV news channel, who was covering Congress president Rahul Gandhi's Jan Aakrosh Rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Sunday, was allegedly heckled by Congress supporters. The journalist was reporting about the apparent shortfall in the crowd by showing empty seats at the rally.

Spokesperson of the Media Department for the BJP's Delhi unit, Praveen S Kapoor, took to Twitter to highlight the incident, saying, "@INCIndia Goons Misbehaving With A @JK247News Journalist #TabishKalam Who Was Focussing on #NoCrowd at @RahulGandhi's Rally at #RamlilaMaidanDelhiCongress Leaders including @ajaymaken Should #Appologise to Journalist. 
09:16   Modi summons Tripura CM over controversial remarks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly summoned Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb over his controversial statements, NDTV said in a report quoting IANS.

As per the report, Deb has been summoned to meet PM Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on May 2 in the national capital, a senior BJP leader on Sunday said.

Deb, who took charge of Tripura last month, has made several remarks which have been triggered widespread criticism.

He had stated that the Internet and satellite communication existed during the Mahabharata era. He also questioned the crowning of Diana Hayden as Miss World in 1997 and stated that mechanical engineers should not opt for civil services, but civil engineers should.

In his latest controversial remarks yesterday, he asked the educated youth to set up paan shops instead of running after political parties to get government jobs.

"Senior party leaders are miffed over the controversies triggered by (Biplab) Deb's statements. (Biplab) Deb is just saying anything and everything. (Prime Minister) Modi will talk to him," said a senior BJP leader on Sunday.  -- Agencies
08:58   Trump has made no decision on Iranian nuclear deal: Bolton
United States President Donald Trump has made no decision on the Iran nuclear deal, his top national security advisor John Bolton said on Sunday.

"He has made no decision on the nuclear deal, whether to stay in or get out," Bolton was quoted as saying by Fox News.

Trump, he said, is certainly considering the framework, the four pillars that the French President Emanuel Macron laid out in their meeting last week: the Iran nuclear situation now, the situation in the future, Iran's ballistic missiles and regional peace and security.

"That is something that's of interest to the president and worth pursuing. But in terms specifically of a nuclear deal, there's no decision on that yet," he said in response to a question on the Iranian nuclear deal.

Trump has threatened to leave the deal, which was negotiated by the previous Obama Administration.

Trump, he noted, said very negative things about the deal, which implied that these other steps wouldn't really address that concern.

But it's possible in the discussions with European allies that the administration will be able to see some possibility there.

"He'll make the decision when it's appropriate to make a decision, and that will be up until May 12," he said.

In 2015 the US and other nations struck a deal with Iran to end a 12-year standoff over that country's nuclear program. Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions, but Trump has criticised the deal as not going far enough.  -- PTI
08:40   WB panchayat polls: TMC wins several seats uncontested
The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal won several seats in the three-tier panchayat polls on Sunday, after the State Election Commission (SEC) released the list of uncontested seats.

The SEC released the list after the last day for withdrawal of candidature -- April 28.

According to SEC sources, of the 48,650 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 16,814 were uncontested and of the 9,217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis, 3,059 were uncontested. In the 20 zilla parishads, 203 of the 825 seats were uncontested, they said.

The election to the remaining seats will be held on May 14.

The TMC had filed 1,000 nominations for the zilla parishads, followed by the BJP with 782.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Congress had filed 537 and 407 nominations respectively. There were 134 withdrawals in the TMC camp, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party with 153 withdrawals, the CPI-M with 79 and the Congress with 54.

For the panchayat samitis, the TMC had filed 12,590 nominations, the BJP 6,149, the CPI-M 4,400 and the Congress 1,740, the sources said.

Of these, there were 2,407 withdrawals by the TMC, 931 by the BJP, 558 by the CPI-M and 301 by the Congress. For the gram panchayats, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC had filed 58,978 nominations, the BJP 27,935, the CPI-M)17,319 and the Congress 7,313, the sources said.

There were 7,033 withdrawals by the TMC, 4,490 by the BJP, 2,490 by the CPI-M and 1,383 by the Congress, they added.

The TMC had filed more nominations than the number of seats in all the three tiers.

"There are many aspirants for party tickets. So many people have filed nominations. The TMC's symbol will be allotted to only those who have been asked by the party to contest," a senior TMC leader said.

The party leadership termed the victory in the uncontested seats a victory of the masses. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh alleged that due to the 'unprecedented reign of terror' unleashed by the TMC, the opposition candidates could 'neither file nominations nor were they allowed to contest'.

"Our candidates were threatened with dire consequences if they did not withdraw, so some of them had to give in," he said.

Senior CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged that the TMC had turned the polls into a 'farce'.  -- PTI
08:19   Nirmal Singh quits as J&K deputy CM; cabinet rejig today
The People's Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir will reshuffle the state cabinet at noon on Monday.

The BJP is expected to bring in some new faces in the much-awaited reshuffle in the Mehbooba Mufti-led Jammu and Kashmir government.

On April 17, the BJP had asked all its nine ministers in the state government to submit their resignations to enable the party to bring in new faces.

A day before the reshuffle, Nirmal Singh resigned as Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.According to sources, Singh will now be made a speaker.

BJP leader Kavinder Gupta will take over as the new Deputy Chief Minister of the state.

BJP's new ministers Rajiv Jasrotia, Shakti Parihar, Sat Sharma, Kavinder Gupta, Mohd Khalil Band, Mod Ashraf Mir and others will take oath.

The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.  -- ANI

IMAGE: New Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta. Photograph: ANI