Sat, 03 February 2018
Trump tweets that memo 'totally vindicates' him in Russia probe

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20:52   Trump tweets that memo 'totally vindicates' him in Russia probe
US President Donald Trump says a GOP memo declassified "totally vindicates" him in the Russia probe.

In a tweet, Trump denied any collusion or obstruction and called the investigation "an American disgrace."

"This memo totally vindicates 'Trump' in probe," Trump tweeted. "But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!"

On Friday, Trump approved the public release of a memo spearheaded by GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority.

There are currently several investigations into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, but Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 election. 
20:39   Bofors move to gain 'cheap publicity': Congress
The Congress said today that the move to pursue the Bofors pay-off case was an attempt by the central government to gain "cheap publicity" ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A day after the CBI filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging a 2005 order of the Delhi high court quashing all charges against accused persons in the politically-sensitive case, AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said that it was "nothing but a move to gain cheap publicity".

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha alleged that the government had devised a new tactic, under which opposition leaders are "harassed" through various central agencies such as the CBI and the ED, and asserted that they not get bogged down and fight the BJP "with full strength".

"Those who had come to power at that time by linking former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's name with it (the Bofors case) used to show a chit threatening that it had the names of those involved...but they never revealed it even when they were at the helm. Now Bofors is being talked about again. This is nothing but a move to gain cheap publicity," he said.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered into on March 24, 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister.

Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

-- PTI
20:03   Protest against 'Padmaavat' will continue: Karni Sena leaders
Karni Sena leaders Lokendra Singh Kalvi, who spearheaded the protest against 'Padmaavat', and Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi said today that their objection to the controversial film still stands and the protest will continue.

The clarification from the two leaders came a day after news reports said the Mumbai branch of 'Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena' had withdrawn their protest against the film.

Kalvi heads Shree Rajput Karni Sena and Gogamedi is the chief of the other group with similar name - Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena.

The Mumbai branch of Gogamedi's group had issued a letter to the production house behind the film, stating their protest is withdrawn after its members found that the movie glorified Rajputs.

The letter, signed by Mumbai leader Yogendra Singh, stated that the group's members watched the film and decided to withdraw the protest unconditionally.

However, Gogamedi said today no such direction was issued to the Mumbai branch. "I have issued no such direction and our protest is continuing. I have expelled all of them whose names and signatures are on the letter," he told reporters.
19:32   LeT terrorists held in Kashmir 'got visas from Pak high commission in Delhi'
Security forces have arrested two Pakistan-trained Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists in north Kashmirs Baramulla district, police said on Saturday.

The terrorists, who had gone to Pakistan on valid Pakistani visa to obtain arms training to undertake terrorist activities in the Valley, were arrested during a joint operation by the police, army and the CRPF, a police spokesman said.

He said the terrorists had obtained their passports specifically for the said purpose.

These militants of Lashkar-e-Tayiba were nabbed immediately after returning via the Wagah-Attari border before they could formally join the militant ranks here in Kashmir, he said, identifying the arrested as Abdul Majeed Bhat, resident of Kreeri, and Mohammad Ashraf Mir, from Pattan.

On questioning, the duo revealed they underwent training in Pakistan along with a large number of Pakistani boys, most of whom were from Balochistan and as young as 10, the spokesperson said.

The said terrorist training camps are located near Burma Town, in Islamabad, and being run by a terrorist commander operating under code names Hanzala, Adanan and Omar. Other terrorists imparting training to young boys are operating with code names Osama, Naveed and Hataf, he said.

The arrested terrorists were given Pakistani visas by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the spokesperson said.
19:05   Army pays floral tributes to 3 jawans killed in avalanche
Army today paid floral tributes to three jawans who were killed when an avalanche struck their post in Machhil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a solemn ceremony at Badamibagh Cantonment, Lt Gen A K Bhatt, Corps Commander, Chinar Corps and all ranks paid homage to them, an army spokesman said.

He said the three valiant soldiers braved all odds with exemplary commitment and dedication to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the motherland.

"Late Hav Kamlesh Singh, Nk Balveer and Sep Rajendra were part of a patrol party which was serving in the formidable heights along the Line of Control and got swept away during an avalanche.

"Concerted efforts of Avalanche Rescue Team have led to the recovery of mortal remains of our comrades," he said.

-- PTI
18:39   China values India ties but firm on 'sovereign rights'
China always values the good neighbourliness and friendship with India, but it is also firm on upholding its "sovereign rights", interests and territorial integrity, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.

Beijing handled the Doklam standoff with "restraint", showing the "emphasis" it places on ties with New Delhi, he said.

Touching on China's relations with major countries and its diplomatic initiatives last year, Yi, in a lengthy article in the Chinese International Studies journal, dwelt about Sino-India ties, stating that Beijing's diplomatic engagement with New Delhi resulted in India withdrawing its troops and equipment from Doklam.

The journal is published by China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank attached to the Chinese foreign ministry.

The 73-day standoff at Doklam over which Bhutan also has counter claims began in June last year when Indian troops objected to Chinese army building a road close to India's Chicken-Neck Corridor, a narrow corridor connecting north- eastern states.

The standoff ended on August 28 after Chinese troops agreed to stop building the road following which both the sides agreed on the "expeditious disengagement" of personnel at Doklam, according to the external affairs ministry.

Yi said China always values the good neighbourliness and friendship with India as "we are each other's big neighbours and ancient civilisations".

In the meantime, China is also firm in upholding its sovereign rights and interests and territorial integrity, he said.

"We handled the Indian border troops trespass into China's Dong Long (Doklam) area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint. Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel."

-- PTI
JUST IN: Main runway at Mumbai airport to be closed for operations between 10 am to 5 pm from February 1 to February 17 (except Wednesdays) due to urgent upgrade of navigational equipment. Operations on secondary runway likely to impact all arrivals and departures in and out of Mumbai
18:17   BJP corners Omar Abdullah for demanding compensation for stone-pelters
Bharatiya Janata Party National General Secretary Ram Madhav on Saturday cornered Jammu and Kashmir National Conference working president Omar Abdullah for demanding compensation for the stone-pelters in the valley.

"National Conference's stand in the present circumstances has not been helpful to maintain peace and normalcy in the state. It is bordering on irresponsibility. They should understand that it is much beyond mere politics and involves larger national security interests. Actions of the government there must be supported by one and all," Madhav said.

Abdulllah had put forth the demand while speaking in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

Madhav further rebuffed talks about government spending crores on Hurriyat leaders' security, "Security provided to Hurriyat leaders is minimal and as per the requirements."

Madhav's comments on the prevailing political situation in Jammu and Kashmir came days former chief minister Omar Abdullah cautioned incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) possibly using the judicial route to revoke special status for the state.

"You accuse us of making issues of non-issues. But I tell you issues are not created by us (opposition). Issues (controversial) are being created by the government. I am informing you about a coming issue and it is about the Article 370 and Article 35 (A). The BJP will use the judiciary to do away with the special status of J&K," Omar Abdullah said in the state assembly earlier this week.

-- ANI
17:24   Las Vegas shooting: Ammunition dealer charged
A man who sold ammunition to Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock has been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and sell armour-piercing bullets without a licence.

Police said they found Douglas Haig's fingerprints on unused ammunition at the hotel room from where Paddock shot dead 58 people last October.

Haig earlier told a news conference he had nothing to do with the attack.

He said he had met Paddock in September and sold him 720 rounds of ammunition.

Haig, 55, of Mesa, Arizona, is the first person to be charged in connection with the mass shooting - the deadliest in modern US history.

Paddock opened fire on hundreds of people attending a music concert from a 32nd floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

When officers stormed the room they found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had smuggled 24 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition into the hotel concealed in 10 suitcases.

According to the chargesheet, investigators also found a cardboard box with Mr Haig's name and address on it that had contained some of the ammunition.

If convicted he faces up to five years in prison.
16:33   BJP joins hands with NDPP for Nagaland assembly poll
The BJP has decided to forge an alliance with newly floated Nationalist Democratic People's Party led by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio for the
February 27 assembly poll in Nagaland.

The BJP has dumped its 15-year-old alliance partner, the ruling Naga People's Front.

A decision to this effect was taken in New Delhi yesterday at a meeting between BJP president Amit Shah and Rio in the presence of BJP's Nagaland president Visasolie Lhoungu, the party's state media cell convener, K James Vizo said today.

He said the NDPP would contest 40 of the 60 seats in the state assembly while the BJP would field candidates in the remain 20 seats.

The BJP is the only party till date to announce that it will contest the election.

Eleven parties including the ruling Naga People's Front on January 29 had decided not to contest the February 27 polls, agreeing to the demand of tribal bodies and civil society groups to resolve the protracted Naga political problem first.

Later, the BJP had announced it would contest the polls.

-- PTI
16:08   J-K govt okays withdrawal of stone-pelting cases against 9,730 people
Jammu and Kashmir government has approved withdrawal of cases registered against 9,730 people involved in stone-pelting incidents, including first-time offenders, between 2008 and 2017, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today.

The government action to withdraw 1,745 cases is subject to "certain conditions" and is based on recommendations of a committee constituted to look into the matter, Mufti said.

She said her government has also recommended to give amnesty to more than 4,000 people, who are said to be involved in minor incidents of stone pelting over the past two years.

In a written reply to a question in the assembly, Mufti did not disclose the particulars of first-time offenders due to security considerations for them and their families.

However, she said 3,773 cases were registered in 2016 and 2017, leading to the arrest of 11,290 people, of whom 233 remained untraced.

Seven cases were not admitted and 1,692 were chargesheeted, while 1,841 cases were under investigation, Mufti, who hold the home department portfolio, said.

Intense clashes had rocked Kashmir Valley in 2016 following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July that year, resulting in the death of over 85 people.

-- PTI
15:18   B-Town lauds India's U19 World Cup victory
Bollywood celebs have commended the Under-19 Indian Cricket team who cruised to a comfortable win over Australia in the World Cup final at Tauranga in New Zealand.

A string of celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan took to Twitter to congratulate the men in blue.

Here's what they tweeted:

Amitabh Bachchan- T 2603 -YEEEAAAHHHHHHHH !! #INDIACHAMPIONS !! UNDER 19 WORLD CRICKET CHAMPIONS .. THE ONLY NATION TO HAVE WON 4 TIMES !! AMAZING ! Well done India U19 cricket , you have given us such pride and joy ! INDIA ! INDIA ! INDIA"

Shah Rukh Khan: Wow. What a proud moment for young India. Well done lil ones.May u keep conquering the world. And keep playing FIFA ...on the side. A great morning.

Raveena Tandon: @Under19WorldCup our Young #BoysInBlue waved the #BharatArmy"flag dedicating their win to Indian Army ! Awesome gesture! #WorldCupunder19 #deshKeYuvak kaise hon? Aise bano,Bhai,aise bano! "

Adnan Sami: Huge congratulations to Team India for becoming U19 Cricket World Champions!! Mighty Proud!! #INDvAUS #U19CWC #U19WCFinal #RahulDravid #U19WorldCupFinal #WorldCupHeroes

India Under-19 cricket team lifted their record fourth World Cup trophy on Saturday as they triumphed over Australia with an eight-wicket victory in the finals being played at the Bay Oval ground in Mount Maunganui. 

-- ANI
14:54   Kasganj violence: UP cops arrest another suspect in Chandan Gupta murder case
The Uttar Pradesh police on Saturday arrested another accused over the killing of Abhishek Gupta, aka Chandan, during clashes in Kasganj on Republic Day.

Kasganj superintendent of police, Piyush Srivastav, said special operations group arrested Rahat Qureshi and booked him for murder, continuing its crackdown against the January 26 incident.

Twenty three-year-old Chandan, who was part of a tiranga yatra, was shot dead when bikers holding the tricolour and saffron flags wanted right of the way through an area earmarked for a ceremony in the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood, triggering communal violence. At least three shops, two buses and a car were also torched in the clashes.

Police have so far arrested 17 people out of the 20 named as accused in the FIR lodged on the basis of a complaint filed by Chandan's father Sushil Gupta.
14:28   Rahul congratulates Team India for Under-19 World Cup victory
Congress president Rahul Gandhi congratulated our Under-19 Team India for winning the ICC World Cup trophy by beating Australia by eight wickets. Taking to Twitter, the Congress leader wrote, "Congratulations Team India on your resounding U 19 Cricket World Cup win! India takes great pride in the success of its new generation of cricket stars. "

The Rahul Dravid-coached side thus becomes the first team in the history of the event to win the crown for a record fourth time.

India's previous title came in Australia six years ago when the Unmukt Chand-led team beat the hosts in the final. The Virat Kohli-led side was victorious in 2008 and Mohammed Kaif was captain when India triumphed way back in 2000.
13:38   2 CRPF personnel among 4 injured in grenade attack in Pulwama
Four persons, including two CRPF personnel, were injured in a grenade attack in Pulwama district of south Kashmir today, the police said.

Militants lobbed a grenade at a CRPF party in Batagund area of Tral, a police official said.

Four persons, including two CRPF jawans, were injured in the incident, he said.

The area has been cordoned off and a search operation is underway, the official said.

-- PTI
13:14   Under exam stress? In new book, PM Modi tells you how to cope
Ahead of this year's school board exams comes a self-help book that could guide students on how to cope with stress, and it's written by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arguably has the most stressful job in the country.

Students needn't worry though about getting yet another lecture on burning the midnight oil. The publishers promise the book is "non-preachy, practical and thought-provoking".

The book, 'Exam Warriors', by newbie author Narendra Modi, releases today. It's currently in English, but will be published in multiple languages. 

The idea for the book is believed to have come from Modi himself. He apparently decided to write the book after perceiving a good response to his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' addresses.

It was in a 'Mann ki Baat' that the PM addressed the country's 'Exam Warriors', first in 2015, and then again in 2016 and 2017.

"Exam Warriors is a handy guide for students in India and across the world. The book seeks to add to the debate and discourse around the importance of stress-free examinations and the need to pursue knowledge over marks," said the publisher in a statement.

The book is said to be interactive, with illustrations, activities and yoga exercises, and "intended to be a friend to youths not only in acing exams but also in facing life".
12:35   Model nikahnama to be modified to deter Muslims from giving triple talaq: AIMPLB
To deter the practice of triple talaq, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is all set to introduce a new provision in its model nikahnama in which the man has to commit that he will not give triple talaq (instant dovorce), a spokesman of the Board said.

The development comes at a time when the government is making a strong pitch for the passage of bill that criminalises triple talaq, a Muslim way of divorce which is
still in practice despite the Supreme Court striking it down in August last year, in the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament.

The AIMPLB has maintained that it against the practice of triple talaq, but it has opposed the proposed legislation saying it is an interference in Muslim personal law. The Board has, however, faced criticism for failing to bring reforms in personal laws.
"Yes... we are making a provision in the model nikahnama (Islamic marriage contract) in which there will be column - 'I will not give triple talaq'. Once during nikah (marriage) this column is ticked, one will not be able to give triple talaq," AIMPLB spokesman Maulana Khalil-ur-Rehman Sajjad Nomani said. 

-- PTI
12:08   Delhi court to hear Bofors scam case on Feb 17
Delhi's Tis Hazari Court will hear arguments in Bofors pay-off scam case on February 17, after a fresh application, submitted by Central Bureau of Investigation, sought further investigation on the same.

On February 2, the CBI moved the Supreme Court challenging the 2005 Delhi High Court's order, which quashed charges against the accused in the scam, saying that certain new material has surfaced in the case that needs further investigation.

The Rs 64-crore Bofors scam, relating to alleged payment of kickbacks in the procurement of howitzer artillery guns, dates back to 1980s and 1990s when the Congress was in power with Rajiv Gandhi as the prime minister.

The then central government had signed a 1.4-billion dollar defence deal with Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns and a supply contract almost twice that amount.

In April 1987, the Swedish Radio had claimed that the company paid bribes to senior Indian politicians and Army personnel to secure the deal. Gandhi was also implicated in the case.

In 1990, the CBI booked then president of Bofors, Martin Ardbo, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code, as well as for corruption.

The first charge sheet was filed in the case in 1999. 

-- ANI
11:46   Karni Sena finally withdraws protest, will promote Padmaavat now
The Shri Rajput Karni Sena announced it has decided to take back its protest against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat, saying that the movie glorifies the valour of the Rajputs.

Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena's Mumbai leader Yogendra Singh Katar said that on the directions of organisation's national President Sukhdev Singh Gogamadi, a few members watched the movie in Mumbai on Friday, and found that that the movie glorifies the valour and sacrifice of Rajput and every Rajput will be feeling proud after watching the film.

There is no such objectionable scene between Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji and Queen Padmini of Mewar which hurts the sentiments of Rajputs, he said in a letter, declaring that the Karni Sena takes back their protest and will help the administration to release the film in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat as well as across all cinema houses in India.

The Karni Sena had been demanding a ban on the period film on the grounds that it "distorts" historical facts and projects queen Padmini in poor light. Last month, Supreme Court also lifted the ban on the movie imposed by several states and directed them to ensure its release.

The film was released in theatres across India on January 25 amidst tight security and protest from various groups, including Karni Sena. However, some cinema hall owners decided not to screen the film in the wake of protests being carried allegedly by Karni Sena members in Gujarat and Haryana.
11:09   MP CM Chouhan inducts 3 new members in his Council of Ministers
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today expanded his Council of Ministers by inducting three new faces ahead of the assembly polls slated later this year.

BJP legislators Balkrishna Patidar, Narayan Singh Kushwaha and Jalam Singh Patel were inducted as Ministers of State and administered the oath of office by Governor Anandiben Patel at a function in the Raj Bhavan here this morning.

Along with Chouhan, senior ministers of his Cabinet and top officials were present on the occasion.

Patidar, who belongs to the Nimar region, is an MLA from Khargone, while Kushwaha comes from the Gwalior-Chambal region and represents Gwalior South in the assembly.

Another inductee Jalam Patel hails from Mahakaushal region. The MLA from Narsinghpur, is the younger brother of BJP MP and former Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel.

The expansion is being seen by some as an attempt by the BJP to balance regional aspirations of the people of the state, where assembly polls are expected by the year-end.

The Congress had opposed the expansion of the Council of Ministers in view of enforcement of the model code of conduct in two assembly constituencies -- Mungaoli and Kolaras - where bypolls are scheduled on February 24.

The Chouhan government, in its third term, has 20 Cabinet ministers, including the chief minister, and nine Ministers of State. According to constitutional provisions, the state can have a maximum of 35 ministers.

The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003. 

-- PTI
10:37   Indian Army most disciplined force in world: Mehbooba
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has ruled out revoking the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir 'due to the prevailing situation' and asserted that the Indian Army is the 'most disciplined' force in the world.

Mehbooba said the Army's footprint in the Valley had increased due to the deteriorating security situation.

"If the situation deteriorates, the footprint of security forces will increase. If militancy or stone pelting increases, you will see more footprint of police. We don't want that to happen," she said.

On the issue of revocation of AFSPA, Mehbooba retorted and asked: "Can AFSPA be revoked in such a situation? Is it realistic?"

"The Indian Army is most disciplined force in the world. It was instrumental in bettering the security situation... that is the reason we are here today... They have made huge sacrifices," she said.

On the National Conference's concerns about the fate of an FIR registered against armymen over the killing of three civilians in alleged firing in Shopian last month, Mehbooba said, "The Army has a great reputation, but when someone commits a wrong legal process has to follow."

She said her government was reaching out to Kashmiri youths to wean them away from militancy.

Mehbooba hoped that 'all shades of opinion' in Jammu and Kashmir would join the dialogue process initiated by the Centre's representative Dineshwar Sharma to 'cut through the unending cycle of violence and uncertainty in the state'. -- PTI
09:19   Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan charged with rape
A Swiss-born scholar of Islam Tariq Ramadan has been charged with rape based on allegations made against him by two women in France.

According to a spokesperson of the French judiciary, Ramadan, 55, was placed under formal investigation on charges of rape, reported the New York Times.

Ramadan would be kept in custody while a judge decides on whether to grant him bail.

The prosecution has requested that he remain under arrest, it reported.

The theologian and philosopher, Ramadan, however, denied the accusations of rape and sexual assault made by the women, four months ago.

The local media said that France police had investigated the allegations made against him for three months.

Ramadan, one of the well-known Islamic scholars in Europe, has authored several books on Islam and on the Western world.

The accusations have, however, put a dent in his image as a pious family man.  -- ANI
08:59   Major fire at Madurai's Meenakshi temple
A major fire broke out in Tamil Nadu's Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple complex on Saturday.

Many shops were reported to be gutted in the fire at the temple complex.

More than five fire tenders are on the spot to douse the flames.

No injuries or casualties have been reported so far.

Madurai's Collector, who immediately reached the spot, is overseeing the operation.

Initial reports suggest that a short circuit triggered the fire.

Further details are awaited.  -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
08:38   Kashmiri students assaulted in Haryana, case booked
Haryana Police has taken cognisance of physical assault on some Kashmiri students in Mahenderhgarh and an FIR under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code has been lodged in Mahenderhgarh police station, the Jammu and Kashmir police said on Saturday.

One of our officers is in touch with the boys as well, they said.

The action comes hours after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti  urged the Haryana government to take stringent action against the perpetrators of the assault on Kashmiri students and demanded a probe into the case.

Two students of the Haryana Central University  were beaten up while returning to the campus after offering congregational Friday prayers in Mahendragarh town.

"Me and my friend had gone to the mosque to offer namaz yesterday. After we came out of the mosque, we noticed some people following us. Just as we were leaving on my motorbike, a group of 15-20 people started beating us,' Aftab, one of the Kashmiri students assaulted, said.

"No one came forward to help us. Soon after the police arrived at the spot. We went to the hospital for a check-up and returned to university campus. We told the faculty about the incident and lodged a complaint with the University,' he said.

After the incident was reported, an irked Mehbooba took to Twitter and said, 'Shocked and disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana.' -- ANI

Photograph: ANI

00:05   Congress cannot function without us in Delhi: Didi
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the state's Congress leaders 'pygmies' and reminded them that without the Trinamool Congress, the party cannot function in Delhi.

She also accused the Congress of hobnobbing with the Communist Party of India-Marxist to oppose her government.

"The Congress and the CPI-M are one. They are made for each other. It is nothing new. I know how it had extended support to CPI-M," she told the assembly while replying to a debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address to the house.

"Without us Congress cannot function in Delhi. Let the state Congress leaders ask their party leaders in Delhi," she said.

"The Congress leaders here are pygmies," she said adding that Sonia Gandhi had congratulated her on Thursday after her party's victory in the bypolls in West Bengal.

"I too congratulated her (for Congress' victory in the Rajasthan bypoll)," she said.

Congress members staged a walkout in the state assembly along with CPI-M when Banerjee rose to speak.

The Trinamool Congress chief lambasted the Congress,the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party for overlooking the development ushered in the state by her government and said that they should do 'constructive criticism'.

"I have to manage with limited funds. The Centre can print notes. But we have no such option. We are facing the legacy of the CPI-M, which had pushed the state into shouldering a huge debt burden," she said.

Banerjee said debts had not accumulated during TMC rule and 45 per cent of the loan taken by the her government is used for the development projects.

She told the opposition members, "You cannot point fingers only at West Bengal (for taking loans). Every state is taking loans."

"I will ask Congress leader (Abdul) Mannan to look at what is happening in Punjab. The CPI-M should look what is happening in Kerala. The BJP must look at Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh. This type of debt is there everywhere, not only in West Bengal," the chief minister said.  -- PTI