Tue, 06 March 2018
Rahul to interact with Indian diaspora in Singapore, Malaysia from Mar 8

Timeline  Refresh

23:34   Rahul to interact with Indian diaspora in Singapore, Malaysia from Mar 8
Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit Singapore and Malaysia later this week in a bid to reach out to the Indian diaspora in the two southeast Asian countries, party sources in New Delhi said.

Gandhi will visit the two countries from March 8 to 10 as part of his political outreach programme, they said.

He will address the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, on March 8, and meet other representatives of the Indian community there.

He will address the Indian diaspora in Malaysia on March 10 before returning to India.

The programme is being organised by the All India Congress Committee Overseas cell headed by technocrat Sam Pitroda, who helped former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi lead the IT revolution in India.

Pitroda had earlier successfully organised Rahul Gandhi's visits to the United States and West Asia.

The Congress president is later also expected to travel to Dubai and Canada.

The visit to Malaysia and Singapore comes ahead of the AICC plenary session scheduled to be held in the national capital from March 16 to 18.  -- PTI
22:53   Periyar statue vandalised hours after BJP leader's post
Hours after Bharatiya Janata Party leader H Raja threatened that statues of social reformer E V Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, too would be pulled down -- after a statue of Vladimir Lenin was razed in Tripura -- a group of men vandalised a Periyar statue at a municipal corporation office in Tamil Nadu's Vellore, an NDTV report says.

The report says the statue of Periyar, located inside the Tirupattur corporation office, was targeted around 9 pm.

'The glasses and nose of the statue were damaged. The police have arrested two men,' it says.

Earlier in the day, a row erupted in Tamil Nadu over H Raja's remarks indicating that statues of Periyar could be the next to be pulled down.

As the comments in a Facebook post against late Ramasamy, founder of the Dravidian movement, drew condemnation from several political parties in the state, Raja deleted it while BJP's state unit distanced itself from the issue, saying it was his personal view.

Read the full report.

IMAGE: Dr B R Ambedkar with E V Ramasamy 'Periyar'. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
22:46   Parrikar to fly to US for treatment
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will travel to the United States for treatment in the early hours tomorrow, a top Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.

Parrikar, 62, was flown to Mumbai and admitted at Lilavati Hospital last evening for a check-up.

"The chief minister will fly to the USA tomorrow by an early morning flight at 1.30 AM for further treatment," state BJP general secretary Sadanand Tanawade said.

A state government official too confirmed the development.

Parrikar was admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai on February 15 and discharged on February 22.

On the same day he returned to Goa and presented the Budget in the assembly, but the session was truncated to only four days owing to his illness.

He was later admitted to the Goa Medical College and Hospital after he suffered from dehydration.

Before leaving for Mumbai yesterday, Parrikar held a series of meetings, including one with senior state ministers.

A three-member Cabinet Advisory Committee of Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP), Francis D'Souza (BJP) and Vijai Sardesai (Goa Forward Party) was also formed to advise the administration in his absence.  -- PTI
22:12   March 31 deadline for Aadhaar linkage may be extended: Centre to SC
The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes run by the government may be further extended beyond March 31, the Centre indicated in the Supreme Court today.

The Centre said that since some more time would be needed to conclude the prolonged hearing in the Aadhaar case, the government may extend the deadline from March 31.

A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan agreed with the contention of Attorney General K K Venugopal.

"We have extended the deadline in the past and we will extend the deadline again but we may do it by the end of month to enable the petitioners in the case conclude the arguments," Venugopal said.

The bench said, "It is a very valid point raised by the Attorney General and the court would not allow repetitive arguments made by the petitioners' counsel in the matter."

On December 15 last year, the apex court had extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.

Earlier senior advocate Shyam Divan, who had led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, said that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act will be concluded.

"The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institution would have to adjust themselves accordingly," Divan said.

Justice Chandrachud said even if the court reserved its verdict on March 20, the banks and other institution would have only 10 days left, which might be difficult.

The bench then called the Attorney General for assistance in the issue.

At the fag end of today's hearing, Venugopal appeared before the bench and made the statement about the possibility of extension of the deadline.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who argued against the Aadhaar scheme, said it violated the fundamental rights of citizens.

The hearing would continue tomorrow.  -- PTI
21:48   HSPDP MLAs defy diktat, party chief quits
Hours after an Hills State Peoples Democratic Party MLA was sworn-in as a minister defying the party's instruction to abstain from the oath taking programme, the party chief resigned today.

Ardent Basaiawmoit resigned from the HSPDP president's post claiming responsibility for the drubbing of the party in the recently concluded assembly election.

'I take responsibility for the failure of the party to secure maximum seats,' Ardent, who himself lost to an Independent candidate by only 76 votes said in the resignation letter.

He also said it was not right for him to lead the party if the MLAs defy party orders.

A party meeting yesterday decided that the two MLAs it has will not take part in the swearing-in ceremony.

However, HSPDP MLA Samlin Malngiang was one of the 11 cabinet ministers who were sworn-in by Governor Ganga Prasad today.

The second MLA, Renikton Lyngdoh, was also present at the swearing in ceremony.

Ardent had said yesterday that the BJP should have been kept out of the alliance as the regional parties together had the required numbers to form government.

The HSPDP had contested in 13 seats and won two. Its pre-poll alliance partner the UDP has won six seats and also joined the coalition led by Conrad K Sangma of the NPP.  -- PTI
21:15   Amarinder spots illegal mining from chopper; crackdown follows
A massive crackdown was launched on the mining mafia today in the Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh noticed illegal activity on the Sutlej river bed as he flew over the Sutlej river bed in a chopper on way to Kartarpur.

An angry Punjab chief minister promptly ordered a probe and seizure of the equipment that appeared to be enegaged in illegal mining, an official spokesperson said.

The Nawanshahr authorities seized some heavy earth moving machines along with two Forklifts and 30 Tippers (Trucks) from village Malikpur following Singh's directive.

The chief minister was flying to Kartarpur near Jalandhar to dedicate to the nation the second phase of the Jang-e-Azadi Memorial monument when he spotted the blatant illegal activity, largely in the Rahon area of Nawanshahr, and also in Phillaur (Jalandhar), he said.

Perturbed at the shocking sight, Singh asked the helicopter pilot to fly lower and took a sortie around the river bank. Having confirmed his suspicion, Singh wasted no time in ordering an urgent and thorough probe into the matter, the spokesperson said.

The chief minister directed the deputy commissioners and SSPs of the concerned districts to crack down on the activity and seize the equipment, he added.

Clearly upset at having witnessed the blatant violation of norms, Singh instructed the state Director General of Police Suresh Arora to expedite the formulation of a comprehensive strategy, in coordination with the mining department and the district administrations, to curb the illegal activity.

He made it clear that non-compliance or further delay in this regard would not be tolerated, the spokesperson said.  -- PTI
21:02   Adani is 'biggest NPA trapeze artiste': Swamy
Bharatya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy today trained guns at industrialist Gautam Adani, alleging that he was the 'biggest NPA (non-performing assets) trapeze artiste' and demanded that he be made accountable.

'The biggest NPA trapeze artiste in PSUs is Gautam Adani. It is time he is made accountable or a PIL (public interest litigation) is inevitable,' he said in a tweet.

'There are a number of things he is getting away with and nobody is questioning him. It may become an embarrassment for the government as he portrays himself as close to it,' he claimed.

Swamy said the government should call for a status report on different cases involving his companies and listed NPAs, and controversies over coal import and his business in Australia among these matters.

Reacting to Swamy's comments, the Adani Group issued a statement saying it has a history of implementing world-scale infrastructure projects within a short time and the lowest cost quartile.

'Capital intensive projects necessarily require debt capital,' it said.      

'Given our rating track record, different sources of debt are available to the Group, ranging from international bonds, ECB loans, domestic bonds, loans from private sector as well as public sector banks in India.

'The singular critical test for debt is its regular servicing-something which the Adani Group has implemented diligently, since its inception,' it said.  -- PTI
20:07   32 killed in Russian cargo plane crash
32 people were killed after a Russian cargo plane crashed in Syria, the Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday.

Russia's Antonov-26 transport plane crashed at about 3 pm (Moscow time) when it was about to land at the Khmeimim Air Base in the coastal city of Latakia, the defence ministry was quoted by TASS as saying.

According to preliminary data, there were 26 passengers and six crew members on board.

The defence ministry is investigating the cause of the crash, but according to sources, the crash might have happened due to a technical malfunction. -- ANI

Image only for representation.
JUST IN: Russian plane, carrying 26 passengers and 6 crew members, crashes near Hmeimim base in Syria. -- ANI
19:34   PNB fraud case: Nirav Modi's firm moves Delhi HC against ED case
Nirav Modi's firm Firestar Diamond today moved the Delhi high court against a money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.

Firestar Diamond International Private Ltd, which is named as one of the accused in the case, has sought a direction to the Ministry of Finance and the Directorate of Enforcement to supply it several documents, including a copy of the search warrants.

Billionaire Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam recently came to light following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The ED has registered the money laundering case against Nirav Modi, his firms and others on the basis of a Central Bureau of Investigation FIR.

Over Rs 11,384 crore worth of Letters of Understanding and Letters of Credit were issued by the bank in favour of jewellers Modi and Choksi through SWIFT messages with only smaller sums being entered in the core banking solutions system.

The CBI and the ED have registered FIRs to probe the case and intensified the crackdown on Nirav Modi and Choksi with the ED seizing jewellery and assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, the Income Tax department attaching various properties, and the CBI grilling several senior executives of his company.

Challenging the ED's move, the firm through its advocate Mudit Jain sought a direction to quash the act of the ED to seize their movable properties.

"Quash the ED action of taking away the movable property and depositing the same with the PNB bank," the plea said, adding that the agency be directed to supply copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report registered by it, pursuant to which the search and seizure was conducted by the ED in its premises.

It also sought framing of guidelines for conducting search and seizure by the ED, including on the aspect of whether the victim can be permitted to be a part of the process, in order to ensure fair and transparent functioning of the agency.  -- PTI
18:12   Sonia invites opposition leaders for dinner on March 13
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has invited leaders of all opposition parties for dinner in New Delhi on March 13 in a fresh bid to forge a united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party, sources in the party said.

The initiative -- in the backdrop of opposition parties joining hands to attack the government in Parliament -- is a step towards strengthening the Opposition and laying the foundation for a united front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a party insider said.

Sonia Gandhi's invitation comes at a time when talk of a non-BJP, non-Congress front is doing the rounds following a proposal by Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for a national consultation process on the matter.

Sources close to the Congress confirmed that Sonia Gandhi's dinner would signify the coming together of all opposition parties who would take on the BJP inside and outside Parliament.

"It would not only be a dinner, but also showcase the strength of opposition parties who would like to come together to form a front against the misrule of BJP," a senior leader said.

Several leaders have confirmed their attendance, a Congress insider said, declining to go into specifics.

However, he said Sonia Gandhi is keen to have all top opposition party leaders, including Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who is yet to confirm.

Banerjee has spoken to Rao and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president M K Stalin for coordination inside and outside Parliament.

National Democratic Alliance member Telugu Desam Party could also attend the Congress leader's dinner, said a senior opposition leader on condition of anonymity.

Though the TDP is an ally of the NDA, the southern regional party has joined hands with other opposition parties to protest in Parliament against the Centre over the issue of triple talaq.

The party has also aired its differences with the government over a special package for Andhra Pradesh.

The second half of the budget session has been witnessing protests by opposition parties, which have also held demonstrations outside the House and inside.

There is 'good coordination' between TRS, TDP, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, TMC, Left, DMK and all opposition parties in Parliament on various issues, TMC leader Derek O'Brien said today.  -- PTI
18:07   T R Zeliang resigns as Nagaland chief minister
Outgoing Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang today said he had submitted his resignation to Governor P B Acharya.

He told reporters that his party, the Naga People's Front, would play the role of a constructive opposition in the assembly for the welfare of the state.

Zeliang had earlier claimed that he had the support of the majority of the MLAs in the House.

The NPF had won 27 seats in the 60-member state assembly in the recently held election.

The BJP had yesterday announced that it had severed its 15-year-old alliance with the NPF and said it would go with its pre-poll ally, the NDPP.  -- PTI
17:35   Pranab Mukherjee Foundation soon
Former President Pranab Mukherjee is launching a foundation, which will bear his name, on March 15 in New Delhi. Omita Paul, his secretary and advisor, will be the chief patron of the foundation.

This foundation is likely to concentrate on policies and programmes connected with finance, environment and agriculture and is likely to have a fellowship on many of these areas of interest.
17:24   Govt banks wrote off Rs 81,683 cr loans in FY17
Loans worth Rs 81,683 crore were written-off by public sector banks in 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today in the Rajya Sabha. In a written reply, Jaitley said that writing-off of loans is done for tax benefit as well as capital optimisation and borrowers of such loans continue to be liable for repayment.

The amount written off (including through compromise) by PSBs was Rs 81,683 crore in the financial year 2016-17, including Rs 20,339 crore by the State Bank of India (as per RBI data on global operations), he said.

The amount written off by nationalised banks was Rs 28,781 crore during 2017-18 (up to September, 2017). As per the RBI guidelines and policy approved by bank boards, non-performing loans, including those in respect of which full provisioning has been made on completion of four years, are removed from the balance-sheet of the bank concerned by way of write-off.

Jaitley further said that recovery of dues takes place on ongoing basis under legal mechanisms, which include, the Secularisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, Debts Recovery Tribunals and Lok Adalats. "Therefore, write-off does not benefit borrowers," the minister added.
17:03   Jaya's birthday celebrations in PM's Benares
Former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa's birthday, which was on February 24, will be celebrated in Varanasi on Saturday, March 10. Varanasi is the Parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

AIADMK MP Dr V Maitreyan will be organising this function, where dhotis and sarees will be distributed to 2000 couples followed by a meal for the poor. Maitreyan has informed the PM about the celebrations

Jayalalithaa had established an AIADMK unit in Uttar Pradesh with 2500-strong cadre of weavers, some of who were Tamilians settled in the  Varanasi for over four generations.

Interestingly, the colours used in the threads of Banarasi saris come from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

File pic.
16:52   CBI gets Karti's custody for 3 more days
The Patiala House court has extended Karti Chidambaram custody with the CBI by another three days. The CBI had asked for nine more days. Karti's next date with the court is on March 9, at 2 pm. 

The CBI today had produced Karti before the Delhi court and had sought extension of his custody to quiz him in the INX Media corruption case saying "new revelations" have come up and his custodial interrogation was necessary to confront him with the "new facts".

The agency, which produced Karti on expiry of his five-day police custody before special judge Sunil Rana, said though there has been "substantial progress" in last four days into the investigation into the case, he has "not been cooperating" and not parting with his phones passwords and to every question he has been saying that "I am politically victimised".

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said Karti was taken to Mumbai and was confronted with Indrani Mukerjea, one of the then promoters of INX media at the Byculla prison and her statement has been just one of the evidences.

"New revelations in the matter have come up day before yesterday. Cannot divulge much about investigation but we need his further custody to confront him with the new facts," Mehta told the court and also opposed Karti's bail plea saying that the investigation was at "crucial stage" and the CBI needs two weeks time to file detail reply to his bail application.

The ASG alleged that witnesses in the case are being approached and evidences destroyed. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Karti, said the CBI just want to keep him in custody by hook or crook.

"I have cooperated. I am not obliged to answer what you (CBI) want to hear. My duty is only to make myself available for questioning," Singhvi submitted.
16:31   Butcher cuts off son's hand over cell phone addiction
In a shocking incident, a man allegedly hacked off his teenager son's hand following a tiff over the son's habit of watching films on his cell phone, the Hyderabad police said today.   

Qayyum Qureshi (45), a butcher by profession, was arrested this morning.   Qureshi allegedly chopped off his 18-year-old son's right hand from the wrist with a knife last night, said inspector P Laxmikanth Reddy of the Pahadishareef police station.   

"The victim, who works for a cable operator, had recently bought a smart phone and continuously watched films on it despite his father warning him against it," the police officer said.   

The father and son had a heated argument over the issue two days ago. During the tiff, the son allegedly bit Qureshi.   

An infuriated Qureshi cut off the son's right hand when the latter was asleep last night, the inspector said, following which the victim's mother lodged a complaint with the police today. 

Qureshi was arrested under section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder), said the police officer.   

Qureshi's son was undergoing treatment at a hospital and his condition was stable, he added.
16:25   BSE Sensex tumbles for 5th day in a row, down 429 pts
Just In: Stocks fall for the fifth day in a row, BSE Sensex tumbles 429.58 points to close at 33,317.20; NSE Nifty drops 109.60 pts to 10,249.25.
15:41   Emergency in Kandy not Colombo: BCCI
BCCI on the India vs Sri Lanka T20 to be held in Colombo. Sri Lanka declared a state of Emergency in the country after clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. The BCCI statement said, "There have been reports of curfew and an emergency being called in Sri Lanka. The situation is in Kandy, not Colombo. After talking to concerned security personnel, we have understood that situation is completely normal in Colombo."
15:38   Sri Sri's 2nd appeal to AIMPLB to consider out-of-court settlement
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today renewed his appeal to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to consider an out-of-court settlement to the Ram Janmabhoomi row, saying he feared a "large-scale" communal flare up if the case was settled by a court or through legislation.

In an open letter to the AIMPLB members, he said going through the court was a loss for both Hindus and Muslims and an out-of-court settlement would be a "win-win situation" for both the communities.

"I urge the leaders of both faiths to take this action seriously. Otherwise, we are pushing our country to the brink of a civil war," said Ravi Shankar, who has been making persistent mediation efforts, meeting Muslim and Hindu leaders, to find a solution to the dispute.

He gave four possible situations -- the court giving away the land to the Muslims, awarding the land to the Hindus, upholding the Allahabad High Court order that says there should be a mosque built on one acre whilst the remaining 60 acres be utilised to build the temple and Parliament passing a legislation.

"In all the four options, either through the court or through the government, the result will be devastating for the nation in general and the Muslim community in particular," he said.

Sri Sri said the best solution would be an out-of-court settlement, in which the Muslim bodies come forward and gift one acre of land to the Hindus, who, in turn, would gift five acres of land nearby to the Muslims to build a bigger mosque.

He also told the AIMPLB leaders that Islam permitted the shifting of the mosque to another location and that cleric Maulana Salman Nadvi and many other Muslim scholars had endorsed it. He said, "Muslims are not surrendering this land to the people who demolished the Babri Masjid or to a particular organisation. "On the contrary, they are gifting it to the people of India. They must keep this in their minds and spirit. It is only reconciliation and an expression of their broad- mindedness, benevolence, magnanimity and goodwill." -- PTI
15:27   AIADMK fears the rise of the new thalaivar
AIADMK MPs are and worried about the massive crowd at superstar Rajinikanth's maiden political speech yesterday.

At least 25 to 30 Lok Sabha AIADMK MPs were heard talking about Rajini's entry into politics and whether it would make a dent in their respective parliamentary constituencies. These MPs speculate that at least 50,000 AIADMK voters per parliamentary constituency in Tamil Nadu would move to the Rajinikanth camp.

A senior AIADMK leader feared that this was the first and last time that they would be elected to the Lok Sabha. AIADMK MPs who missed watching Rajinikanth's speech on TV watched it on their phones. 

The boss has indeed arrived.
15:12   What's the connection between SBI and Tripura CM?
Nidhi Deb, the wife of Tripura's chief minister-elect Biplab Kumar Deb, works with the State Bank of India at the Parliament Street branch in New Delhi. Many BJP MPs and MLAs, who know her say she is very soft spoken. The lady is now on a month-long holiday after her husband's success in Tripura. Sources say she may extend that leave to a year to help her husband settle in to his job in Agartala and then seek transfer to the city.

Interestingly, Amruta Fadnavis, wife of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, is also a bank employee. She worked for AXIS bank for eight years, but is now on long leave.

Image: Biplab Kumar Deb posted this picture on the eve of the north-east results, saying, "Prayed to Maa Tripura Sundari on this auspicious beatific day of #Holi. Happy and safe Holi to everyone."
14:54   Karti may launch new party
His fist raised in defiance at every court hearing, seems to standout in all the images of Karti Chidambaram since his arrest.

Now we hear that Karti is all set to launch a political party in Tamil Nadu which will, quite naturally, be pitted against the BJP.

Crowds at Delhi's Patiala House Court were Karti arrived for his bail plea hearing, shouted slogans in support of their 'beloved leader'. Many of his supporters have come all the way from Tamil Nadu.

Karti told the crowd that he would soon launch a political party in Chennai after he was released by the CBI.

On March 1, the court had allowed custodial interrogation of Karti Chidambaram by the CBI for five days, saying there was need to unearth the larger conspiracy in the INX Media case and his presence would serve an important purpose. The CBI has now asked for the custody to be extended by another nine days.

Karti told  the crowd, "We are forming government in New Delhi. You will see that these cases are being slapped to falsely implicate PC (P Chidambaram, his father), NC (Nalini Chidambaram, his mother) and KC (he, Karti Chidambaram)."

Karti said the Prime Minister wanted to unleash fascism and destroy Opposition and the Congress party.

He said his father would guide him and stand by him, but not join the political outfit.

Karti's political ambition was clear the day TTV Dinakaran outraged against Narendra Modi. Karti was quick to extend his support to Dinakaran.

The week Karti has spent in CBI custody has left the Chidambarams angry and sources say their morale is low. 
14:41   Sri Lanka declares Emergency, T20s set to begin today
Sri Lanka's government has imposed a nation-wide state of emergency to "take stern action" against people instigating communal violence, a government spokesman has said, reports Al Jazeera. The measure comes after a local curfew was imposed on Monday in the central city Kandy, after days of unrest between religious communities with a Buddhist man killed and Muslim businesses set ablaze.

This comes even as the tri-nation Twenty20 series in Sri Lanka begins today. Rohit Sharma-led India will enter the tournament against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as favourites.
14:05   Caution, not threat, clarifies Sri Sri on 'India turning into Syria' statement
Clarifying his statement on India turning into Syria, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar on Tuesday said that was a word of caution, not of a threat.

"Woh dhamki thodi na hai, woh caution hai (It was not a threat, but a word of caution)," he said.

On Monday, the Art of Living founder, in an interview with a leading television channel, had said that any delay in resolving the Ram temple issue could result in a Syria-like situation in India.

"Yahan shanti rehne dijiye. Hamare desh ko Syria jaise nahi banana chahiye (Let peace prevail here. We should not turn our country into Syria)," he said. -- ANI
13:50   BJP's victory in northeast changed perception: Rajnath
The BJP's victory in the northeast has changed the perception that only the Congress can survive there, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today.

Singh, along with BJP president Amit Shah, attended the swearing-in-ceremony of the Conrad Sangma-led coalition government in Meghalaya, where the BJP is also part. "There was a perception that only the Congress can survive in the Northeast. But now that perception has changed with the BJP's victory in the Northeast," he said.

In the recently held Assembly elections, the Congress was ousted from power in Meghalaya while the party could not win a single seat in Tripura and Nagaland.  PTI
13:39   Biplab Kumar Deb set to be next Tripura CM
Tripura BJP president and newly-elected MLA Biplab Kumar Deb was today unanimously elected leader of the BJP legislature party in the state, Union minister Nitin Gadkari announced. Deb, whose name was proposed by party MLA Sudip Roy Burman in the meeting, will be the new chief minister of Tripura, Gadkari said. BJP's poll ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, has demanded that the chief minister be from the tribal community.

Gadkari, deputed as observer by BJP president Amit Shah, said BJP MLA Jishnu Debbarma will be the deputy chief minister. Deb will stake claim to form government in the state before Governor Tathagata Roy. No MLA of the IPFT was present in the meeting. The IPFT had yesterday threatened not to join the government if the party was not given "respectable positions" in the ministry. It would support the government from outside if its conditions were not met, it said.

The BJP and the IPFT swept to power in the state, winning 43 seats in the 60-member assembly. BJP bagged 35 seats and the IPFT eight. Elections were held for 59 seats of the 60-member assembly on February 18. Polling was countermanded in one seat due to death of a CPI(M) candidate. -- PTI
13:11   Karti remains evasive, says CBI seeking 9-day custody
More on the INX case.

The CBI seeks extension of remand of Karti Chidambaram saying that presence of accused is actually needed in order to serve some important and specific purposes connected with completion of investigation in the INX media case. The CBI has sought an extension of custody for nine days.

The CBI said that Karti Chidambaram also needs to confront the accused, co-accused and unearth the larger conspiracy and the role of other accused persons involved in the case. It said that during the custodial interrogation so far, CBI was able to gather some important information even though the accused (Karti Chidambaram) has remained evasive even while answering the routine questions.

More details awaited.

The CBI today produced Karti Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media corruption case, before a Delhi court and sought his custody for nine more days.

Special Judge Sunil Rana said the court will hear the matter at 2 pm today as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, who had appeared before it on the last hearing, was not available for arguments on behalf of the CBI.

The probe agency today submitted before the court certain documents in a sealed cover related to the probe in the case over the last six days.

The court allowed Karti Chidambaram to meet his father, Congress leader P Chidambaram, and mother Nalini Chidambram for 10 minutes.

During his five days of custody, Karti Chidambaram was taken to Mumbai where he was confronted by Indrani Mukerjea at the Byculla prison in connection with the case.
Tripura governor Tathagata Roy's views on the razing of the Lenin statue.   @tathagata2 What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa
Narendra Modi @narendramodi Congratulations to @SangmaConrad on taking oath as Meghalaya CM. I also congratulate all others who were sworn-in today. My best wishes to this team as it begins work towards fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of the people of Meghalaya.
12:46   'The kangri that kept us warm has turned cold. Let us warm it again
Keeping aside decades of bitter political discourse and divisive blame games, Raabta (a connection), an online initiative, is virtually reconnecting Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims -- old neighbours, friends and schoolmates -- who had lost touch with each other following the migration of Kashmiri Pandits in the early 1990s.

Jaibeer Ahmed, an advertising professional based in New Delhi, who's one of the curators of Raabta, said the idea was born when he heard his grandmother talk about Dina Nath, a Kashmiri Pandit, who was like her son. "She is 82 years old and hopes to see him once,' he said. The online forum, which was opened on Facebook earlier this year, has over 21,000 likes.  Read more
12:33   PC, wife, at court to hear Karti's bail plea
Karti Chidambaram arrives at the Patiala House Court. The CBI is seeking eight-day custody saying Karti has been uncooperative during the questioning and they need more time with him. The CBI has submitted documents in a sealed envelope to the court. The bail hearing will continue after 2 pm.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is Karti's counsel says apart from the confrontation with Indrani Mukherjea the CBI has done no work and therefore cannot ask for extension of custody.

Image: Karti Chidambaram (back to the camera, raised fist) at the Patiala House court.
Karti's father P Chidambaram also at the Patiala House court. 
Delhi: Nalini Chidambaram, Karti's mother, reaches the Patiala House court ahead of the hearing in the INX Media case.
12:05   The necklace that won the Oscars
For all Oscars 2018 fans and then some.

Wonder Woman star, Gal Gadot, redefined the phrase 'a sight for sore eyes', in her silver gown by Givenchy, but it was the stones around her neck that stole the show.

According to Vogue, the necklace from Tiffany & Co.'s Blue Book collection, has been dubbed the "Blue Ice," was a perfect mix of bold and subtle, featuring 17 aquamarines totalling 61 carats.

Embedded in the piece were more than a thousand diamonds, 85 custom-cut baguettes and 950 round diamond melee stones set in glossy platinum.

A team of three master jewellers, three setters, four polishers and months of quality control ensured the final product was worthy of the red carpet.  -- ANI
11:44   SC turns down Karti plea against arrest by ED
The Supreme Court refuses to grant Karti Chidambaram interim protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged money laundering case related to INX Media.

The SC seeks response from ED on Karti Chidambaram's fresh plea seeking protection from arrest, lists matter for March 8.

The CBI tells SC it will seek extension of Karti Chidambaram's custody before trial court in INX media corruption case today.

Appearing for Karti Chidambaram, advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal had pleaded to the Supreme Court for interim relief in the case. "We are willing to co-operate in every way and we also did so. I am worried about my arrest," Sibal told the court on Karti's behalf.

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday had said that Karti Chidambaram transferred Rs 1.8 crore into the bank account of an influential political figure.

The ED, however, did not disclose the identity of the political figure on the grounds that doing so could hamper the investigation.

Karti moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of summons issued by the ED.

In his fresh writ petition, Karti has challenged the summons on the ground that the ED has no jurisdiction to issue such notices based on the FIR lodged by the CBI.
11:27   BJP biggies bless Conrad Sangma's swearing-in ceremony
National People's Party president Conrad Sangma was today sworn in as Meghalaya chief minister by Governor Ganga Prasad in Shillong. The governor also administered the oath of office to 11 ministers at the Raj Bhavan.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president Amit Shah, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli were present at the swearing-in ceremony.

Sangma is currently a Lok Sabha MP from Tura constituency. The NPP president had met the governor on Sunday and staked claim to form the government with the support of 34 MLAs in the 60-member assembly. Sangma claimed he had the support of 19 MLAs of the NPP, six of the United Democratic Party (UDP), four of the People's Democratic Front (PDF), two each of the Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) and the BJP and an Independent.

Meghalaya threw up a fractured mandate on Saturday with the Congress emerging the largest party, marginally ahead of the NPP, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Manipur. -- PTI
11:23   PNB fraud: Gitanjali Group's vice president detained by CBI
The CBI today detained Vipul Chitalia, the vice president of Gitanjali Group of Companies, as a part of its probe into the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud, an official said. Chitalia was apprehended at Mumbai airport and brought to the CBI office at the Bandra-Kurla Complex for questioning, he said, but did not divulge any other details about Chitalia's alleged role in the PNB fraud.

The Rs 12,636-crore fraud was allegedly perpetrated by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.

It is alleged that Choksi and Modi got Letters of Undertakings and Foreign Letters of Credit of Rs 12,636 crore issued in favour of foreign branches of Indian banks based on fraudulent claims.

The accused officials of PNB did not enter the instructions for these LoUs and in their internal software to avoid scrutiny. They were sent through an international messaging system for banking called SWIFT, which is used to pass instructions among banks globally to transfer funds.

An LoU is a guarantee which is given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant. In case of default, the bank issuing the LoU has to pay the liability to the credit giving bank along with accruing interest.
10:57   Explained: The reasons for the BJP's win in Tripura
"The BJP portrays a make believe world. The Tripura victory is being seen by some as a result of bahubal and money power -- but that would be a very simplistic explanation. Money and muscle power can play a role up to a point, but the BJP's victory is remarkable because it replaced a party that was in power for 25 years."

Dr Nanigopal Mahanta, head of the department of political science at the University of Gauhati, speaks to's Archana Masih, on the factors that led to the BJP's steep ascent in the north-east.  Do read
Shopian town in Kashmir and adjoining areas observed a shutdown for the second consecutive day today while incidents of stone-pelting took place in parts of the city in protest against the killings in the firing incident in the south Kashmir district in Sunday.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in Shopian while transport remained off the roads,  a police official said.  He said some persons indulged stone-pelting in the Gojwara area of the city, forcing the closure of shops in the area.

Life in the rest of the valley returned to normal after yesterday's strike called by the separatists against the killings in the incident. 

Six persons including two militants have been killed in Sunday night's shootout in Shopian's Pahnoo area. While the Army has said the  slain youth were militants and their overground workers, police has said they are investigating the incident. -- PTI

Image: JKLF Chief Yasin Malik leads a protest rally against the Shopian deaths. Pic: Umar Ganie
10:46   ICICI Bank, Axis Bank chiefs summoned in PNB fraud case
ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank's Shikha Sharma have been summoned in the PNB fraud case. ICICI Bank led a consortium of 31 banks that lent working capital of over Rs 5280 crore to Mehul Choksi's Gitanjali group. 

Last week, ICICI Bank informed that it had no exposure to the Nirav Modi group of companies, but had given working capital loans of Rs 405 crore to the Gitanjali group.

Kochhar and Sharma have been summoned by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office to give their statement, but not as accused.

The statement comes amid questioning of ICICI Bank's Executive Director NS Kannan by the Central Bureau of Investigation last week relating to the Punjab National Bank scam worth Rs 12,700 crore.

Image: ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar.
10:45   Conrad Sangma sworn in as Meghalaya CM
NPP's Conrad Sangma takes oath as Meghalaya CM in Shillong.
CBI detains Vipul Chitalia, vice president (banking operations), Gitanjali Group, in Mumbai in PNB fraud, takes him for questioning.
10:20   Sweet 16! Sensational Manu strikes successive second gold
The sensational Manu Bhaker, all of 16, shot her way to a second successive gold medal in a mixed team event as India consolidated their position at the top in the ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Partnering Om Prakash Mitharval, the Indian teenager clinched the 10m air pistol mixed team title, a day after she won the women's 10m air pistol individual gold on what is turning out to be a memorable senior World Cup debut.

The 11th standard student could be the youngest ever to win senior World Cup gold medals for India though the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) could not confirm.

Also, the duo of Deepak Kumar and Mehuli Ghosh won the country its sixth medal of the competition - a bronze in the 10m air rifle mixed team event. Deepak and Mehuli, competing as India 2, shot 435.1 in the five-team final, finishing behind the Romanian pair of Alin Moldoveanu and Laura-Georgeta Coman who shot 498.4 for silver.

China's Xu Hong and Chen Keduo won Gold in a world record score of 502.0.

But it was Bhaker, the girl from Jhajjar, Haryana, who stunned the shooting world world with a second successive gold in as many days. For someone who took to shooting just a little over two years ago, winning two gold medals in a global event of this magnitude would easily qualify as some achievement. -- PTI
The BJP parliamentary party meeting underway in Delhi.
Sunil Deodhar, the architect of BJP's Tripura win holds aloft a mithai with the BJP symbol. He tweeted the picture saying, "Tripurame mihaiyon bhi badla rang. In Tripura, the sweets have also changed colour/look."
Meghalaya: Preparations for the oath-taking ceremony of Meghalaya CM-elect Conrad Sangma and others in Shillong.
10:03   Nalin Kohli denies Tripura violence is BJP handiwork
This is what BJP's Nalin Kohli had to say on the Tripura violence: "BJP does not ever practice a culture of violence. In places like Tripura, Left parties have chosen to be silent about 11 BJP workers who were killed. Some of those who support Left parties are trying to foist these kind of debates that a statue is removed."
10:00   Tripura violence: Rajnath speaks to governor, police
Amid reports of sporadic violence in Tripura, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today spoke to the state governor and the DGP and asked them to ensure peace till a new government is installed, an official said.

During the telephonic calls, Governor Tathagata Roy and DGP A K Shukla apprised the Union home minister about the prevailing situation in Tripura and steps taken to control the violence, which erupted following the BJP-IPFT alliances victory over the CPI-M, ousting the Manik Sarkar led government in the just concluded Assembly elections.

Singh asked the governor and the DGP to check all kinds of violence and ensure peace till a new government is installed in Tripura, the home ministry official said.

There have been reports of sporadic violence and clashes between rival political groups in different parts of Tripura after the election results were declared on Saturday.

A statue of Left icon Lenin was also demolished at Belonia town in South Tripura yesterday with the help of a bulldozer. Tripura witnessed a change in rule after 25 years in the recently concluded Assembly elections. The BJP demolished the Left citadel in Tripura, winning a two-third majority with its ally, the IPFT. -- PTI
09:39   Veteran actress Shammi passes away
Veteran actress and Bollywood's beloved 'Shammi aunty' has passed away at the age of 89.

She was seen in Coolie No 1, Khuda Gawah, Hum, Arth, The Burning Train and the recent Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, as well as the television series Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zabaan Sambhal Ke, Shriman Shrimati, Kabhi Yeh Kabhi Woh and Filmi Chakkar.

Born as Nargis Rabadi, she had an elder sister, Nina Rabadi, who was a fashion designer. Her father was a priest in an agyari (Parsi fire temple). She has spent 64 years in the industry. Her first film was Ustad Pedro and she was just 18 at the time.

Shammi`s first film as a solo heroine was Malhar, produced by playback singer Mukesh. The film didn`t do well at the box office. Later she got a role in Dilip Kumar starrer Sangdil and after that, there was no looking back for the actress who symbolised the modern woman on screen.

Priya Dutt paid tribute to her on Twitter, saying, "Shammi, aunty to me and a great actor of yesteryears passed away today. She was my mother's dear friend and someone we all loved very much. May her soul rest in peace and her laughter and contagious smile rock the heavens. Be In peace with your friends."

Image: Daisy Irani and Shammi (right) in Shirin Aur Farhad Ki Nikal Padi

09:20   Politicos criticise Sri Sri Ravi Shankar over Syria remark
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Syria remark over Ram temple issue on Monday was slammed by the leaders from different political parties, calling it "provocative".

"Sri Sri Ravi Shankar should refrain from giving out such provocative statements," senior Janata Dal-United leader KC Tyagi said.

Echoing the same, Nationalist Congress Party leader Majid Memon termed the Art of Living founder's remarks sad.

"I am sad to hear this comment from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. I did not expect him to give a statement that could increase violence," said Memon.

He further questioned the reason behind Ravi Shankar's intervention, "I would also very respectfully like to ask that the intervention you are doing, where were you from the past 25 years? He is coming out and talking about the issue just when the time when the Supreme Court is about to announce its decision."

Meanwhile, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit called the AoL leader's statement "good entertainment value".

On Monday, the Art of Living founder, in an interview with a leading television channel, had said that any delay in resolving the Ram temple issue could result in a Syria-like situation in India.

"If the Ram Mandir issue is not solved, we will have a Syria in India," Ravi Shankar said during the interview. 

-- ANI
08:41   Lenin's statue razed, 3 arrested for violence in Tripura
Bulldozers razed to the ground a statue of Lenin at Belonia, in south Tripura, barely 2 days after the Bhartiya Janata Party swept the assembly elections in the state, unseating the two-decade-old CPI-M government of Manik Sarkar. The Lenin statue had occupied the centre of the town for the last five years.

Eyewitnesses say, bulldozers allegedly brought by the BJP workers brought down the statue of Lenin amid great cheer, chanting "Bharat Ki Jai".

Three people have been arrested in Tripura, after a series of incidents of violence over the last 48 hours. The Tripura police said on Tuesday, that it has received four complaints of violence from various parts of the state since last night.

"The cases include arson at two CPI-M offices at Sidhai area in West Tripura district, 25 km from Agartala, and clashes between CPI-M and BJP supporters at Kadamtala in North Tripura district", the Superintendent of Police (Control) Pradip De said.

The CPI-M tweeted, alleging workers of the Bhartiya Janata party were "spreading fear" in the state.
08:25   No decisive and sustained change in behaviour of Pak after aid freeze: US official
The US has not seen a "decisive and sustained" change in the behaviour of Pakistan, even after the Trump administration announced a $2 billion security assistance freeze to Islamabad nearly two months ago, a senior American official said today.

"We've not seen decisive and sustained changes yet in Pakistan's behaviour, but certainly we are continuing to engage with Pakistan over areas where we think they can play a helpful role in changing the calculus of the Taliban," said Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Alice South and Central Asia.
Briefing reporters on the just concluded Kabul conference in Afghanistan, Wells said Pakistan has a very important role to play in the Afghan peace process.
"We believe that Pakistan can certainly help to facilitate talks and to take actions that will put pressure on and encourage the Taliban to move forward towards a politically negotiated settlement," Wells said in response to a question.
"And our engagement with Pakistan is on how we can work together, on how we can address Pakistan's legitimate concerns and Afghanistan's stability through a negotiated process as well," she said.

"Pakistani officials have underscored, they see a variety of issues, whether it's border management or refugees or terrorism that emanates from ungoverned space in Afghanistan, as important issues, and we would agree that all of these need to be resolved during the course of a reconciliation process," Wells said.
Pakistan has concerns over border management; over the Tehrik-i-Taliban; Pakistan's presence in ungoverned space in Afghanistan; refugee concerns, she said.

-- PTI
07:44   Conrad Sangma to take oath as CM of Meghalaya today
The 10-year long rule of Congress in Meghalaya has come to an end as National People's Party president Conrad Sangma is to be sworn in as chief minister on Tuesday.

On Monday, he was invited by Meghalaya governor Ganga Prasad to form the government in the state. The swearing-in of the ministers would take place at 10.30 am on Tuesday, he said.

Apart from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is the chairman of the North East Democratic Alliance, a non-Congress entity, will also attend the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan.

According to an official of Raj Bhavan, the governor invited Conrad Sangma to form the government as he had the support of 34 MLAs.

Sangma met the governor last evening and staked claim to form the government with the support of 34 MLAs in the 60-member assembly.

After the meeting, he had said, "We met the governor and submitted a letter of support from 34 MLAs 19 of the NPP, six of the United Democratic Party, four of the People's Democratic Front, two each of the Hill State People's Democratic Party and the BJP and an Independent."