Fri, 23 March 2018
Opportunistic face of SP has come before the people: Yogi Adityanth

Timeline  Refresh

23:53   Opportunistic face of SP has come before the people: Yogi Adityanth
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanth reacts to BJP's victory.

"I thank our MLAs and allies for their support. I would also like to thank the independent MLAs who supported us for the betterment of the state," said Adityanath after the results were announced.

Hitting out at the Samajwadi Party, the UP CM said that the opportunistic face of the party has now come before the people of the state.
23:24   Nobody should be shouted down at varsities by saying 'you are anti-national': Rajan
Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan today said universities need to be "safe spaces" where debates takes place and no one is shouted down after being branded an "anti-national". 

Every stream of thought needs to be encouraged in a varsity, he said, citing instances like one of his colleagues at the University of Chicago inviting President Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Banon to speak, despite not agreeing with his views. 

"We need to learn to respect universities as places where ideas are debated and you don't shout down the other side and say that no no you don't have the right to speak like this or you are anti-national," he told reporters in Mumbai. 

"We have to, as a society, create safe spaces where debates and discussions take place, where people using freedom, not licence, can express their views which can take the society forward," Rajan said. 

He was speaking on the sidelines of announcing the launch of Krea University, which will be devoted to liberal arts and humanities apart from science. 

"Any university will court controversy but the point is that controversy should be protected. Part of the point is to debate. Sometimes ideas that are unappealing come forward and are shot down. 

"I think the process is good and over time these ideas become mainstream. For instance women's rights is something that was debated in the 19th century which overtime we have come to accept," he said. -- PTI
22:51   PM Modi congratulates RS poll winners
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes the new elected members of Rajya Sabha.

"Congratulations to all those elected to the Rajya Sabha from various states and best wishes for their Parliamentary career. I hope they effectively voice the aspirations of the states they will represent," he tweeted. 
22:28   UP RS polls: Setback for Maya; BJP wins 9 while SP gets 1 seat
In a setback to Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati, the Bharatiya Janata Party succeeded to win nine Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. 

Samajwadi Party's Jaya Bachchan wins another term in Uttar Pradesh.

BJP nominees Arun Jaitley, Anil Jain, GVL Narasimha Rao, Vijay Pal Tomar, Kanta Kardam, Ashok Bajpai, Harnath Yadav, Sakaldeep Rajbhar and Anil Aggarwal win their seats. 
22:16   Virat Kohli cancels Rs 34-crore home in Mumbai
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has cancelled a Rs 34-crore luxury apartment he booked in the Omkar 1973 tower located in the tony Worli area of the megapolis.
In June 2016, the cricketer had bought the 7,171-sqft sea-view apartment on the 35th floor of the underconstruction tower C of this super-luxury project for Rs 34 crore. The project is being developed by Omkar Realtors & Developers.
A source close to the development confirmed the cancellation of the transaction saying Kohli recently leased out a sea-view apartment in the skyscraper by the Raheja group in the nearby Dr Annie Besant Road for a monthly rental of Rs 15 lakh.
The flat in the Raheja Legend has a carpet area of 2,675.07 sqft and is on the 40th floor.
The skipper tied knots with Hindi actor Anushka Sharma last December.
Property consultant Anarock has been appointed by Piramal Fund Management to manage the sale of 70 apartments worth Rs 1,100 crore in Omkar 1973 project.
Piramal Fund Management had invested about Rs 1,400 crore in the project, which includes Rs 1,200 crore in debt and Rs 200 crore in equity. In 2015, it had announced the exit of its equity investment in Omkar 1973.
According to sources, other prominent celebrities who have bought apartments in this project are cricketer Yuvraj Singh who bought a flat for Rs 64 crore, followed by the DY Patil family at Rs 49.1 crore and Baba Kalyani of the Kalyani Group for Rs 21.3 crore. -- PTI

Image: Virat tweeted this photo saying, "Where else would you wanna be when you have such a stunning view from home!"
21:34   Rs 5 lakh to victims of cross border firing in Poonch: Govt
Authorities today said that Rs 5 lakh each will be provided to the victims of Pakistan shelling in Poonch district.
The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Poonch Deputy Commissioner Tariq Ahmed Zargar with officers concerned to decide about providing the financial relief under central assistance scheme to LoC shelling victims, an official spokesman said here.
It was decided that Rs 5 lakh would be provided to the next of kin of Zainab Bi of village Balnoi, who lost her life in shelling in January this year, he said, adding the same amount will also be provided to Mohammad Iqbal of Aslamabaad (Bandichechian village) of the Poonch district. Iqbal was severely injured in the shelling.
In July 2016, the central government had decided that civilian victims of cross border firing along the Indo-Pak border would be given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh similar to those who die due to terrorism or Maoist violence. -- PTI  
21:20   Congress wins 3 RS seats in K'taka; TRS bags all 3 in Telangana
The ruling Congress in Karnataka has bagged three Rajya Sabha seats and the Bharatiya Janata Party one in the biennial election. 

Congress' Dr L Hanumanthaiah, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar, as also BJP's Rajeev Chandrashekar, were declared elected by the returning officer.

In Telangana, The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi bagged all the three Rajya Sabha seats in the state. 

Congress candidate P Balaram Naik lost the election by only ten votes.

TRS nominees Banda Prakash Mudiraj polled the highest 33 votes, followed by Joginipalli Santosh and Badugula Lingaiah Yadav polling 32 votes each. 

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen supported the TRS in the RS polls.

West Bengal 
Total seats - 5
TMC: - 4
Congress- 1

Total seats - 1
BJP- 1

Total seats - 4
Congress -3 
BJP - 1

Total seats- 3 
TRS- 3

20:36   FB data breach: Govt issues notice to Cambridge Analytica
The government today issued notice to Cambridge Analytica -- the firm at the centre of Facebook users' data breach -- seeking its response by March 31 on whether it was involved in misuse of data to profile Indians and influence their voting behaviour.
The notice also sought the company's response on the entities which engaged Cambridge Analytica, the method used by it for possession of data and whether consent was taken from users.
"The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, has issued a notice... to Cambridge Analytica, wherein the serious breach of propriety and misuse of data intended to profile and influence voting behaviour has been highlighted," the IT ministry said in a statement.
"Was there any profiling done on the basis of such data?," the ministry sought to know from the company on all queries raised by end of the month.
Earlier this week, Law and IT Minster Prasad had warned social media giant Facebook of "stringent" action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft, and had even threatened to summon its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed.
The warning came as BJP launched a scathing attack on the Congress, questioning the party on its relation with Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm accused of harvesting personal user data from Facebook illegally to influence polls in several countries.  

Facebook, which has over two billion users globally, including over 200 million in India, had faced backlash on the data scandal issue, prompting Zuckerberg to issue an apology for the "major breach of trust", and promising to take steps to protect user data. -- PTI
20:05   Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat attends Pak National Day
Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat attends the Pakistan National Day reception as a government representative at Pakistan high commission in New Delhi.
20:01   EC's decision a serious attempt to dislodge elected govt: AAP
The AAP today said the Election Commission's decision to disqualify 20 of its MLAs was a serious attempt to dislodge an elected government and demanded that the election commissioners either "resign" or "apologise" for it.
The Delhi high court today set aside the EC's order disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs in an office of profit case and directed the poll body to hear the matter afresh.
Saurabh Bharadwaj, the chief spokesperson of the party's Delhi unit, targeted the former election commissioner A K Jyoti and alleged that his decision to disqualify the AAP MLAs was to please the Centre.
Party leader Ashutosh alleged that the EC's decision was an attempt to hijack the mandate of the people.
"If the post of constitutional authority is occupied by pygmies then democracy won't be safe. The EC's decision was a serious attempt to dislodge the duly elected AAP government," he alleged.
"The EC's decision to disqualify AAP MLAs was not only constitutionally invalid but it also exposes how low the constitutional authority can stoop," he claimed.
"Mr A K Jyoti and his other two colleagues should introspect, should they not apologies and resign," Ashutosh tweeted.
In January, President Ram Nath Kovind, on the recommendation of the Election Commission, had disqualified 20 AAP MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit.
The AAP had then said that the decision was against the principles of natural justice and that they were not given a chance to present their case.
Bharadwaj said the MLAs would now be able to take part in the ongoing Budget Session in the state Assembly and resume their legislative work.
He said the EC's decision to disqualify the AAP MLAs was dangerous for the entire country. -- PTI
19:29   RS poll results so far
West Bengal 
Total seats - 5
TMC: - 4
Congress- 1

Total seats - 1
BJP- 1
19:17   RS poll: TMC bags 4 seats
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has won four Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal. 

The fifth seat was bagged by Congress's Abhishek Manu Singhvi with TMC's support.
19:07   Counting begins in UP
Counting of votes for Rajya Sabha elections begins after clearance from the Election Commission.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi wins Rajya Sabha poll from West Bengal.
18:48   RS poll: BJP wins Chhattisgarh, counting suspended in K'taka, UP yet to begin
Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate Saroj Pandey has won the Rajya Sabha Election from Chhattisgarh.

Pandey defeated Congress's Lekhram Sahu.

However, the counting of votes have been stopped in Karnataka while in Uttar Pradesh counting is yet to begin.

Counting of votes for the Rajya Sabha election has been halted in Karnataka after the Janata Dal-Secular accused two Congress legislators of being allowed to cast their vote twice. 

A ballot agent had asked the legislators to cast their vote again after they showed their ballot paper to the agent. 

Returning officers are waiting for the Election Commission's instructions.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party have asked from the Election Commission to declare votes of BJP's Nitin Agrawal and BSP's Anil Singh invalid alleging that they did not show their ballot paper to the polling agent.

Singh, earlier, indicated that he had cross-voted in favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls, saying "I am with Maharaj-ji", referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Image: Saroj Pandey speaks to media after the results. Photograph: ANI
18:11   RS poll: BJP's Saroj Pandey wins
BJP's Saroj Pandey wins Rajya Sabha Election from Chhattisgarh by beating Congress's Lekhram Sahu.
17:59   Relatives of 39 Indians killed by ISIS will occupy Jantar Mantar tomorrow
Relatives of the 39 Indians killed by the ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, say they will protest at Jantar Mantar tomorrow.

"We have given government time till tomorrow morning to announce a compensation to secure the future of the families of the deceased. If they aren't able to do it then we'll protest at Jantar Mantar tomorrow, says Vijay Kumar (pictured), brother-in-law of one of the Indians killed in Iraq.

Gurpinder Kaur (pictured), sister of Manjinder Singh, killed in Iraq, said, "We won't have a violent protest, we'll just sit peacefully. The union government hasn't contacted us yet. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has not replied even after repeated attempts to contact and meet her.

Immediately after Sushma Swaraj's announcement in Parliament that the 39 Indians kidnapped by ISIS were in fact, dead, several relatives of the killed workers said they were not officially informed about their loved ones by any government authority.

"What do we say now?" asked a dejected Sarwan whose 31-year-old brother Nishan was among those killed.  "The government kept us in the dark all these years," Sarwan, who belongs to Amritsar, claimed. "Now after four years, they are making such a shocking statement," he said.

"We met the Union minister (Swaraj) 11 to 12 times and were told that as per their sources, the missing Indians are alive. They have been saying that Harjit Masih, the lone survivor, is a liar.

If your sources have been saying they were alive and now suddenly what happened. The government should have told us they have no information about missing Indians rather than making false statements," said Sarwan, who last heard his brother's voice over a phone call on June 21, 2014.
17:49   Two feared dead in ISIS linked terror attack in France
A gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group fired shots and took hostages at a supermarket in southwestern France on Friday, says French media.

The latest reports say at least two people were feared dead in an incident French prosecutors are treating as a terror attack.

Security forces responded to two separate incidents, one at a supermarket in the town of Trbes and the second, a 15-minute drive away, in the town of Carcassonne where a policeman was shot. It was still unclear if the two incidents were linked.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described the ongoing incident as a "serious situation" while Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced he was heading immediately to Trbes.

Image: First visual of the site of the terror attack. Pic courtesy: ANI
17:22   UP: Husband beats woman in public on Panchayat's order
A woman was publicly beaten up by her husband on a village panchayat's orders for allegedly eloping with another man in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr city.

She was subject to the assault after her husband forcibly brought her back from another village. The woman was tied to a tree and thrashed in front of the villagers.

The incident occurred on March 10 at Launga village, but police took action after 12 days.

According to Superintendent of Police (SP), Praveen Ranjan Singh, "We have arrested the woman's husband, former panchayat head and his son in the matter after a video clip of the incident was widely circulated on social media. In order to teach her a lesson the panchayat took this step."

"We have also registered a case against 18 people including 12 unidentified persons after the video of the incident went viral on social media," Singh added.

The video clip, shot on a mobile phone, shows the woman's hands tied to an overhead branch of a tree and repeatedly hit with what appeared to look like a leather belt.

The woman was heard groaning and screaming after each hit.

The video also shows a large crowd of men witnessing the incident, but none came forward to help her. -- ANI
16:44   Hostage situation in France, ISIS claims responsibility
From the Independent: Gunmen have fired on police out jogging in Carcassonne in the south of France, before taking hostages at a supermarket in nearby Trbes, firing on police before taking a number of people hostage, according to local media reports.

Local authorities are treating the incident as a possible terrorist attack.

France's interior ministry confirmed a response was underway by police and security services. One of the gunmen claimed allegiance to Isis, AFP reported, citing French prosecutors.

Representational image.
16:28   Cop hurt in shooting in southern France
French media reports shooting and hostage situation at a supermarket in south France. A policeman has been hurt, say early reports. Islamic State group claims responsibility.
16:21   Voting for Rajya Sabha polls closes
With one BSP MLA believed to have cross-voted and two others in jail being denied permission to vote in the Rajya Sabha polls, the Opposition today faced a challenge of numbers to ensure victory for their second candidate.

While the ruling BJP is assured of eight of 10 Rajya Sabha seats for which voting was underway today, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Jaya Bachchan and the BSP Bhimrao Ambedkar for the remaining two seats.

As the parties totted their numbers, BSP MLA Anil Singh indicated that he had cross-voted in favour of the BJP, saying "I am with Maharaj-ji", a reference to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The Unnao MLA's vote could be crucial as it gives the BJP the edge in getting a ninth Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh. However, reports also said that he met UP CM Yogi Adityanath after casting his vote.

The Allahabad High Court has denied permission to BSP's Mukhtar Ansari, currently lodged in Banda jail, to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections. And a court in Firozabad has rejected a petition by SP MLA Hariom Yadav, who is in Firozabad jail.

The Opposition is now banking heavily on the two votes of Independents -- Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya and his close associate and MLA Vinod Saroj. Both appeared set to vote for SP's Jaya Bachchan, prompting party chief Akhilesh Yadav to thank Raja Bhaiya and post a picture with him on Twitter. Raja Bhaiya, who has had a rocky relationship with BSP chief Mayawati, had tweeted this morning that he was with "Akhileshji" and specified that it did not mean that he was with the BSP. The BSP did not take an adverse view of Raja Bhaiya's comment.

"... had he any reservations he would have said openly," said BSP deputy leader in the Vidhan Sabha Uma Shankar Singh. He added that he could not be sure that Anil Singh had voted for the BSP candidate. Keeping it ambiguous, Anil Singh said that he had cast his vote and showed it to BSP agent Lalji Verma and the rest could be known from him.

"I have cast my vote after showing it to Lalji Verma and he will tell you the details... I am with Maharaj-ji (Adityanath)," he said after voting at the Tilak Hall in the Assembly complex.

According to Uma Shankar, 17 MLAs of the total 19 BSP legislators had cast their votes by midday and shown them to Verma. The BSP leader exuded confidence that all the nine surplus MLAs of the Samajwadi Party as well as seven of the Congress and one of the RLD have voted in favour of his party candidate.

"All the seven Congress MLAs went together to vote, while the SP has given us a list of their loyal MLAs," Uma Shankar said. Independent MLA Aman Mani Tripathi also said he was with 'Maharaj-ji' and would vote for the BJP. There are 11 candidates for 10 Rajya Sabha seats and 37 first preference votes are required for victory in each seat.

Since the BJP and its allies have 324 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the saffron party can easily bag eight of the 10 seats and will still be left with 28 surplus votes as the four-MLA strong Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party has decided to go with the ruling party.

"There can be some contest on the ninth seat," a senior UP BJP leader said. BJP candidates in the fray from Uttar Pradesh are Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav and G V L Narasimha Rao. This ninth candidate is Anil Kumar Agarwal, a businessman. -- PTI

Image: Former UP Chief Minister tweeted this photo with Raghuraj Pratap Singh, thanking him for the support.
15:43   SC seeks reply from states failing to appoint Lokayuktas
The Supreme Court today sought a detailed reply from 12 states and Union territories for not appointing Lokayukta.

A bench of top court headed by justices Ranjan Gogoi directed chief secretaries of states concerned to file an affidavit in the issue within two weeks and apprise the court about it.

The reply has been sought from Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal.

Though the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 and came into effect the following year, the aforementioned states have failed to appoint the anti-corruption ombudsman.

This is why social activist Anna Hazare today started an indefinite hunger strike to press for his demand to appoint a Lokpal at the Centre. His protest comes nearly seven years after his anti-corruption movement caught the imagination of millions of Indians and shook the then UPA government.
-- ANI

Image: Social activist Anna Hazare at Rajghat this morning.

15:16   Shami's wife to meet Mamata Banerjee shortly
Mohammed Shami's wife Hasin Jahan at the office of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

Her husband and cricketer Mohammed Shami was cleared by the BCCI of match-fixing charges levelled against him by Hasin Jahan, who had claimed that the cricketer had received unaccounted money from a Pakistani woman.

Here's the background on the sordid saga
15:04   Victory of truth, says Kejriwal
It's a victory of truth: CM Arvind Kejriwal after Delhi HC sets aside notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs in office-of-profit case.

The office of profit case pertains to the appointment of the MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries in the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet. The appointment, however, was set aside by the Delhi High Court on September 8, 2016, on the basis that they were appointed without prior concurrence with the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
14:55   HC sets aside disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs
The Delhi High Court has set aside the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs in an office of profit case. The Election Commission will now re-hear the office of profit case and will hear each MLAs plea on merit. The court says there was violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to AAP MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators.

On January 30, the Delhi HC asked the Election Commission to file a written reply to the plea of the disqualified MLAs.

On January 21, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the disqualification of the MLAs, who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, after the Election Commission of India on January 19 had recommended for the same.

Earlier on January 22, the MLAs withdrew their plea from the High Court that they had filed on January 19 after the EC's recommendation.The Delhi High Court, on that date, refused to pass any interim order of protection to those MLAs. -- ANI
14:26   Karti Chidambaram gets bail
Delhi High Court grants bail to Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media case.
The bail conditions say that he cannot travel abroad and has to furnish a bail bond of Rs 10 lakh. Details awaited.

The court had reserved the verdict on March 16 after hearing arguments on behalf of former union minister P Chidambaram's son, Karti, and the CBI which had opposed grant of the relief to him.

The CBI had contended that he should not be granted bail as he has already destroyed evidence in the case and was an "influential" person.

Karti's counsel had argued that no case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was made out against him since the had neither questioned any public servant, nor made them an accused in the matter.
14:09   The Great Pacific Garbage Patch counts 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, mostly plastic
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is getting greater. Twice the size of Texas, the floating mass of about 79,000 metric tons of plastic is up to 16 times larger than previously thought, according to scientists who performed an aerial survey. Read more
13:36   Why Azad is angry with AIADMK
Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has asked AIADMK MPs Dr V Maitreyan and A Navaneethakrishnan to cooperate with the Opposition to bring a short notice discussion on the PNB scam and Nirav Modi.

AIADMK MPs agreed to hold their agitation on the Cauvery Water issue on the understand that Azad declare that Congress is supporting the AIADMK cause in the Rajya Sabha.

Now, the Congress is opposed to the Cauvery Water Board, as it would affect Karnataka, so Azad obviously will not play ball.  
13:23   Kamala Mills owner moves SC against arrest
The owner of Mumbai's Kamala Mills today moved the Supreme Court challenging his arrest in connection with a fire that claimed 14 lives in December last year.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked Ravi Bhandari to serve a copy of his petition to the Maharashtra government.

The top court listed the matter for further hearing on March 27. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bhandari, said his arrest is illegal detention and he can't be booked for the offence of culpable homicide.

He said the apex court has already held in the Bhopal gas tragedy and Uphaar cinema hall fire case that they are cases of negligence, which is a bailable offence.

The Bombay High Court had recently dismissed Bhandari's bail application. Bhandari was arrested in January along with fire officer Rajendra Patil and Utkarsh Pandey, who supplied hookahs to the pubs Mojo's Bistro and 1 Above where the fire started. All three are in judicial custody
12:37   New US NSA once compared Pak's nukes to 'N. Korea on steroids'
The newly appointed United States National Security Advisor John Bolton, who had been a US ambassador to the United Nations, has had grave concerns about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Last year, he said if Pakistan's nuclear arms fall into the hands of terrorist, it would be like North Korea or Iran on steroids.

"Pakistan is a nuclear power and if it were to tip into terrorist control it would be like #NorthKorea or #Iran on steroids," Bolton tweeted last year.

Bolton, who was also an analyst on the Fox News Channel, is also of the opinion that more pressure should be exerted on Pakistan government to compel it to take action against terrorist groups operating from their territory.

"Look, I think Afghanistan will be won or lost in Pakistan. And I certainly think that more pressure on the government there because of its support for terrorist groups, giving them safe haven in Pakistan is welcome," he said on the channel last year.

Yesterday, President Trump appointed Bolton as the NSA, replacing HR McMaster.
12:27   Parliament will meet for just two days next week
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day amid ruckus by AIADMK and TRS MPs. Saying the House will meet on Tuesday, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she cannot take up notices for no-confidence motion against the government as the House is not in order.

The Rajya Sabha too could not transact any business for the 15th straight day, as opposition parties continued to create ruckus, forcing adjournment of proceedings.

The Parliament session next week is truncated since Monday is a public holiday for Ram Navami and Thursday and Friday are holidays for Buddha Purnima.

Which means the Parliament will meet only for two days next week.

The Opposition move to bring a no-confidence motion seems to have failed with BJP MPs crowing that Chandrababu Naidu has miscalculated Narendra Modi.
12:15   BJP confident of clinching nine seats in Uttar Pradesh
Speaking to ANI, BJP leader Nitin Agarwal said that all the nine candidates of the saffron party are sure to win. "All the nine candidates of BJP will win. Samajwadi Party insulted their workers and people will answer them for choosing a candidate (Jaya Bachchan) that entertains the society rather than one who serves the society," he said.
Fodder scam: Quantum of punishment in Dumka treasury case, involving Lalu Prasad Yadav, to be announced tomorrow.
12:00   How UP is voting for the RS polls
Voting in the crucial biennial elections for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh began today.

To secure a seat to the Upper House of Parliament from this state, a candidate needs 37 first preference votes.

Since the BJP and its allies have 324 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly right now, the saffron party can easily bag eight of the 10 seats and will still be left with 28 surplus votes as the the four-MLA strong Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has decided to go with the ruling party. "There can be some contest on the ninth seat," a senior UP BJP leader said.

The Samajwadi Party, which has fielded Jaya Bachchan, and the BSP, which nominated Bhimrao Ambedkar, appeared confident of winning one each of the remaining two seats.

Voting will be held till 4 pm and counting will be taken up an hour later. BJP candidates in the fray from Uttar Pradesh are Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav, G V L Narasimha Rao and Anil Kumar Agarwal. The Apna Dal (Sonelal), with nine MLAs, has also decided to vote for the BJP nominees.

"We are standing with the BJP. We held a meeting of our MLAs and it was decided that we will strongly support the BJP," national president of Apna Dal (S) Ashish Patel had told PTI.

The declaration of support from the Apna Dal (S) came days after SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, a Cabinet minister in state government, declared his party's support for the BJP candidates.

The country's most populous state sends 31 MPs to the 245-member Rajya Sabha, and the BJP, which won a massive victory in the 2017 Assembly elections, is yet to get a lion's share of these. PTI
11:40   'Daliton ke samman mein, Rahul Gandhi maidan mein.'
Delhi: Congress leaders protest outside Gandhi Statue in Parliament, demand government file review petition against SC ruling on SC/ST act. MPs raise slogans of, 'Daliton ke samman mein, Rahul Gandhi maidan mein.'
11:31   LIVE! RS polls: BSP MLA crotss votes for BJP
Anil Singh (pictured), BSP MLA says he has voted for the BJP.

Voting is underway to elect 10 Rajya Sabha members from Uttar Pradesh. Voting for the crucial polls began at 9 am and will conclude at 4 pm, after which counting will begin at 5 pm.

For the 58 Rajya Sabha seats to be filled, 33 candidates from 10 states have been unanimously elected. Voting for the remaining 25 seats is being held in six states: Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.

The Rajya Sabha vacancies next month include 17 from the Bharatiya Janata Party and 12 from the Congress.

Three nominated members - actress Rekha, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, and social worker Anu Aga -- will retire in April.

The BJP has filed 18 candidates for the biennial polls. They include Anil Baluni, the national head of the BJP's media wing, from Uttarakhand and Saroj Pandey, BJP general secretary, from Chhattisgarh.

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J.P. Nadda has filed nomination papers as the BJP candidate from Himachal Pradesh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will contest from Uttar Pradesh and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Bihar.

The BJP has also fielded Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot from Madhya Pradesh for another Rajya Sabha term.

Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh L. Mandaviya and Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala will contest from Gujarat.

In Congress,
Naranbhai Rathwa and Amee Yajnik will contest from Gujarat and Dhiraj Prasad will contest from Jharkhand.

Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Lekhram Sahu will contest from Bihar and Chhattisgarh respectively, while Rajmani Patel, Kumar Ketkar, Porika Bairam Naik and Abhishek Manu Singhvi are contesting from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and West Bengal, respectively.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier said the Trinamool Congress would back Singhvi.

Mahendra Prasad Singh and Bashistha Narain Singh are the Janata Dal (United) candidates for the polls.

11:06   Cong MP urges PM to remove GST on langar at Golden Temple
Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding revocation of the GST on purchases made for langar/prasad at the Golden Temple, Durgiani Mandir and Ram Tirath temple in Punjab. His appeal yesterday, came after the Punjab government decided on Wednesday to waive its share of the GST imposed on purchases made for langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple.

"The imposition of the GST on langar items at the Golden Temple is onerous and burdensome. The doors of the Golden Temple are open to members of all religious communities and lakhs of devotees are provided langar on a daily basis. "The people of Punjab have significantly contributed to the process of nation building, ranging from agriculture to national security. The imposition of the GST on langar items at the Golden Temple is an unnecessary burden that must be rescinded forthwith," he wrote in the letter. PTI
10:53   Why was no-trust motion barred, but Finance Bill passed, asks TDP
How was the Finance Bill passed in the Lok Sabha when the no-confidence motion could not be taken up due to disruptions in Parliament, a Telugu Desam Party MP asked on Thursday.

"Today is the fifth day that we have given a no-confidence motion to the parliamentary secretary. Once again the house (Lok Sabha) was adjourned by the Speaker. She said that due to disruption in the functioning of the house, she was not able to take up the no-confidence motion. My question is if the house is not in order, how did they pass the finance bill?" Dinakaran asked.

The MP further said a large number of people in the House have given consent to the no-confidence motion brought by the TDP.

Dinakaran also questioned the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the House and asked was he fearing the no-confidence motion?

-- ANI
10:49   Sonia taken to Delhi from Shimla after she complains of restlessness
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who had come to Shimla to inspect her under-construction house at Chharabra, complained of restlessness last midnight, following which she was taken to Delhi.

The former Congress president was in Shimla along with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Senior Medical Superintendent at Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital, Dr Ramesh Chand, said he received a call from the doctor accompanying Sonia Gandhi asking for an ambulance.

But she soon left in her own car and the ambulance along with a team of doctors joined the entourage on the way. She had a brief stop at Panchkula on her way to Delhi, Dr Chand said. Dr Ramesh, who accompanied Sonia Gandhi till Chandigarh, said her condition was stable. PTI
10:35   Voting begins in Bengaluru
Voting underway at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru for four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka.
10:34   Chhattisgarh MLAs vote for 1 seat
Voting underway at Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly in Raipur for one Rajya Sabha seat from the state. The number of votes needed to win the seat from is 46. With 49 MLAs, the seat looks set to be firmly in the BJP's kitty.
10:28   BJP lying factory at work: Rahul on Cambridge Analytica
Rahul Gandhi on the BJP accusations that the Congress hired Cambridge Analytica to harvest data for the 2019 polls.

@RahulGandhi tweeted: "BJP lying factory at work: Journalist set to break big story on how Cambridge Analytica (CA) was paid to infiltrate and sabotage the Congress in 2012.

BJP rushes Cabinet Minister to lie and spin fake news:Congress worked with CA!

Real story vanishes"
10:17   Cong issues whip to all party MPs in RS
The Congress had issued a three-line whip to all its MPs in the Rajya Sabha asking them to be present in the House at 11 am today in full strength and support the party's stand.

According to sources, the whip was issued last night as the opposition party seeks to corner the government on some burning issues.

The Congress has been raising the issues of PNB scam, the Supreme Court's order on SC/ST Act and the death of 39 Indians who were abducted by ISIS in Iraq.

Some party MPs have also given a notice for moving a privilege motion against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for allegedly "misleading" the House on the death of the Indians. Sources said the party MPs in Rajya Sabha are also likely to meet this morning. -- PTI
Anna Hazare pays tribute at Raj Ghat in Delhi.
10:06   This is where Anna will fast
The Ramlila Maidan in Delhi has been readied for social activist Anna Hazare's indefinite fast beginning today. Hazare has demanded a competent Lokpal and better production cost for farm produce.
09:53   Voting for Rajya Sabha polls begins
Voting has begun for the Rajya Sabha elections in seven states to fill 26 of 59 seats falling vacant. Of these,  33 candidates have been elected unopposed.

The BJP is expected to gain about a dozen seats in the Upper House and consolidate its position as the largest party, but it is far from a majority in the 245-member House. The opposition Congress is set to lose some four seats.

Contests will be held in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Telangana. In Uttar Pradesh, where there are 11 candidates for 10 seats, it is a prestige battle with the ruling BJP out to avenge its recent bypoll humiliation at the hands of the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's BSP. Voting will be held between 9 am and 4 pm.

Image: In Kolkata MLAs queue up at the state assembly to cast their votes for the Rajya Sabha Elections. Five seats are being contested from West Bengal.
09:40   Allahabad HC bars Mukhtar Ansari from voting in RS polls
The Allahabad High Court on Friday barred jailed Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mukhtar Ansari from voting in the Rajya Sabha elections today.

BSP national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member, S Sansitpat, an eminent Supreme Court lawyer, Satish Chand Mishra had filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court for the release of two MLAs Mukhtar Ansari of the BSP and Hariom Yadav of the Samajwadi Party so that they could participate in the voting on March 23.

Ansari is the prime accused in the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, among other crimes, and has pleaded not guilty.

In September 2017, Ansari was acquitted in connection with contractor Manna Singh's murder case. In 2010, he was also booked for the murder of Ram Singh Maurya, who was a witness to the murder of Manna Singh. -- ANI
09:31   Air India's maiden direct flight reaches Tel Aviv
The direct maiden flight of Air India to Tel Aviv from New Delhi arrived yesterday, heralding a new chapter in the India-Israel ties and ending a decades-old overfly ban by Saudi Arabia.

Flight AI 139 landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport at 2215 (Israeli time).

"This is really a historical moment... We are in a new era. I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel...and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers," Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said.

Saudi Arabia's decision to permit Air India to use its airspace has enabled the airline to take a shorter route.

It will cover the distance in 7.15 hours, 2.10 hours less than the time taken by the only other airline that flies between the two countries -- Israel's national carrier El Al.

Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country.

The flight will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. While the inaugural flight AI 139 left at 6 pm IST yesterday, the scheduled departure will be 4.50 pm IST from March 25 when the summer schedule comes into operation.

-- PTI
09:27   Nadda confident of victory in RS polls
Union Minister for Health and Welfare J P Nadda said he is confident of his party's victory in the Rajya Sabha polls.

"The election are about to take place. I have come to Chhattisgarh to meet party MLAs on Friday," the minister said.

Nadda said Chhattisgarh was developing rapidly and working well under the leadership of Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Talking about the Centre's Ayushman scheme and its review in the state, the health minister said the Centre had approved the scheme to benefit people of the nation.

"This is the single largest health scheme brought by India and at least 50 crore people would get Rs 5 lakh cover under it," he said.

-- ANI
JUST IN:  Voting for Rajya Sabha elections in 6 states --Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana -- begins
08:49   7 years later, Anna Hazare to sit on indefinite hunger strike again, today
Nearly seven years after his anti-corruption movement caught the imagination of millions of Indians and shook the then UPA government, social activist Anna Hazare is set to go on an indefinite hunger strike again, this time, against the Centre in Delhi on Friday.

The protest will take place in the same iconic location, Ram Lila Maidan, where he had sat on a hunger strike in 2011 demanding that the then government set up a Lokpal to investigate cases of corruption.

This time, however, his target is expected to be the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.

Hazare has been pressing for setting up of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states, besides implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which has suggested ways to address the agrarian distress.

Hazare previously has accused the Union government of not appointing the Lokpal to investigate the cases of corruption, despite having a law in place.

"Anna will first visit the Rajghat and then come to the Ram Lila Maidan, where he will go an indefinite strike," said an aide of Hazare. 

March 23 has been chosen as the day of protest on purpose as Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged to death on this day by the British, the aide said.
07:59   Trump replaces HR McMaster as national security adviser with John Bolton
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John R Bolton would be the new National Security Adviser to US President Donald Trump, effective April 9, replacing Lt Gen H R McMaster.

Reports of McMaster's ouster had surfaced last week but the White House had dispelled them saying that there were no changes at the National Security Council.

Trump, however, took to Twitter today to make an announcement in this regard.

The announcement of McMaster's ouster, who the White House said had a "good working relationship" with Trump, is the latest in a string of high-profile White House departures since President Trump took office in January 2017.

"I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, John Bolton will be my new National Security Adviser," Trump said on Twitter.

"I am very thankful for the service of General HR McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9," Trump said.

According to a White House official, Trump and McMaster mutually agreed that the latter will resign as the National Security Adviser. He will retire from the US Army after 34 years of distinguished service.

"The two have been discussing this for some time. The timeline was expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation. This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two," the official said.

The White House has described Bolton, who replaces McMaster, as one of the strongest voices and experts on the full range of national security issues and challenges facing the country.

Bolton  served as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2005-2006 and as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001-2005.

In a statement, Trump said McMaster has served his country with distinction for more than 30 years.

"He has won many battles and his bravery and toughness are legendary. General McMaster's leadership of the National Security Council staff has helped my administration accomplish great things to bolster America's national security," he said.

"He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalise our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation's prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best," Trump said.

Image: Trump with Lt Gen H R McMaster

-- PTI
00:21   Journalists should defend constitutional values: Manmohan Singh
At a time when our democracy is "experiencing some shocks", journalists should stand up for defending and promoting the values enshrined in the Constitution, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday.
He was speaking at an award ceremony in New Delhi.
"Ideas are very important to sustain in democracy and at a time when our democracy is experiencing some shocks here and there, it is important for journalists to stand up for defending and promoting value systems which are enshrined in our Constitution", Singh said.
 Media must support and strengthen the democratic values that we all cherish, he said.

Presenting the GK Reddy Memorial award to eminent journalist Karan Thapar, Singh emphasised on the role of media in democracy and said the fourth estate should use its freedom to promote objectivity of thinking.
Deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, who was also present referred to the present logjam in Parliament and said in a democracy sometimes regional problems find their expressions in the form of disruptions but a dialogue or debate can address the issues better.
"In a vast country like ours, strong regional interests, and regional problems which find their expressions sometimes in the form of disruptions. A dialogue, a decent debate can perhaps address the issue better. It would have informed the people better as to why a section of our legislators feel aggrieved or agitated and after many many disruptions sometimes there are debates or discussions which are very enlightened,"  Sharma said.
Sharma's comments came in the backdrop of regular disruptions that the Parliament has witnessed in its current session especially over the demand for conferring special status on Andhra Pradesh.
The function was organised by Congress Rajya Sabha member T Subbarami Reddy, who is also the founder of G K Reddy Memorial Award and TSR Foundation. -- PTI