Thu, 31 May 2018
Fatwa politics temporarily overpowered development politics: UP BJP chief

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23:33   Fatwa politics temporarily overpowered development politics: UP BJP chief
Promising to review the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's defeat in Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said today that the 'politics of fatwa' devoid of any principles has temporarily overpowered the politics of development.

Pandey said the BJP will review its performance in the Kairana bypoll to ascertain 'what went wrong' for the party.

The Bharatiya Janata Party was defeated in the bypoll by the Rashtriya Lok Dal. The RLD was supported by the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.

"Politics of fatwa, casteism and politics devoid of any principles temporarily overpowered politics of development," Pandey said in a statement issued in Lucknow.

"Though the local equations were challenging, we defeated the so-called gathbandhan candidate in two assembly segments (of the Lok Sabha constituency), but what went wrong in three other assembly segments will be grossly reviewed," he said.

He said the defeat in the Noorpur Assembly bypoll will also be reviewed and a strategy will be formed accordingly.

"The BJP indulges in positive politics pertaining to development and farmer welfare, while the opposition resortsto politics of falsehood and negativity. Lies and politics offatwa will not last long. And in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, people of the country will re-elect Prime Minister NarendraModi," Pandey said.  -- PTI
23:17   Patanjali removes 'Kimbho app' from playstore
Patanjali today removed its messaging app 'Kimbho' from Google Play Store and Apple's App Store, a day after the launch saying it was released only for one-day trial.

A company spokesperson said it would launch the app officially soon, once its technical development phase is completed.

Yesterday, Patanjali spokesperson had tweeted about the launch of 'Kimbho', claiming it to be India's reply to Facebook-owned Whatsapp.

The company claimed that it placed the new app on Google Play Store and Apple's App Store only for a day, that too for technical testing.

"We put our trial version of Kimbho app on Google Play Store and Apple Store for trial for a day only and we had witnessed around 1.5 lakh downloads in the first three hours. We thank the people for such encouraging response," Patanjali spokesperson S K Tijarawala said.

The spokesperson said it would be launched soon and that technical work is in progress.

"Now it is no more available on any platform for download," he added.

According to him, apps that looked like Kimbho on playstore were fake ones.

On Patanjali's decision to remove the app from the Google Playstore and Apple's App Store, Advocate Prashant Mali, cyber security and cyber law expert said, "Baba Ramdev's IT Team did the same thing as BHIM App. No or little testing was done and such incidents expose huge data of Indian citizens to risk . This incident gives bad name to Make in India, Ramdev's team should understand Make in India means not make only the label in India but the product too and cyber safe one."

This week, Patanjali had also formed an alliance with state run BSNL to offer co-branded - Swadeshi Samriddhi SIM cards to its employees.  -- PTI
22:29   EC begins probe into failure of VVPATs in bypolls
The Election Commission today initiated a probe into the large-scale failure of paper trail machines during the May 28 bypoll to Lok Sabha and assembly seats.

It has sent two teams to Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra to trace the reasons behind high cases of defects and failure in the voter verifiable paper trial (VVPAT) machines.

The reports are likely to be submitted by June 5, sources in the poll panel said.

Repoll was ordered in 49 polling stations across five assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya and 74 booths in Kairana after voting was delayed for hours due to malfunction of paper trail machines and EVMs.

The teams will also have members from ECIL and BEL, the two PSUs which manufacture EVMs and VVPATs, the sources said.

VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for by displaying a thermal slip on a screen for seven seconds. The slip then drops in a box.

The voter cannot take it home. The results of EVMs and VVPATs are matched in one polling station per assembly seat.

There have been demands to increase the number of polling stations where matching should take place.

The commission has so far maintained that the machines could have developed snags because the electoral staff did not follow the procedure for the use of machines, the teams have been asked to verify if the staff had adequate training.

Heating of the devices due to direct exposure to sunlight was also cited as one of the reasons for the malfunction.

The poll panel has also assuaged fears of rigging of EVMs by pointing out that VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for.

In the May 28 bypolls, 1,202 VVPATs were replaced and the number was considered to be 'very high'.  -- PTI
22:13   CBI books officials of ONGC in Rs 80-cr scam case
The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked 13 senior serving and retired officials of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation for alleged irregularities in giving a contract to a private company for supplying gas dehyrdation units for its Rajahmundry plant in Andhra Pradesh, causing a loss to the tune of Rs 80 crore, the agency said in New Delhi today.

Those named in the first information report in connection with the alleged scam in 2014 include former executive director D G Sanyal, then director (onshore) Ashok Verma and ex-DGM (Production) Arup Ratan Das.

They have been accused of abusing their official position in giving a contract worth Rs 312 crore given to Deep Industries Limited, an accused in the case, for supplying the gas dehyrdation units (GDUs), causing a loss of Rs 80 crores to ONGC, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.

The officials had awarded the contract to Deep Industries by overlooking the guidelines of the public sector undertaking and the fact that the company was ineligible due to technical deficiencies, the agency alleged.

Das allegedly made working papers for hiring and owning of the GDUs and prepared the estimates on a single quotation as against the requirement of three budgetary quotations.

The agency claimed that the only budgetary quotation was from Deep Industries of Rs 219 crore for hiring of the GDUs for three years.

The CBI said Das prepared a comparison statement between owning and hiring of the GDUs and showed that hiring would be viable as it would take less time in installation.

The tender was floated in December 2014 and the lone bidder -- Deep Industries -- was considered by the tender committee.

The company then raised the cost from Rs 219 crores to Rs 312 crores on false grounds, the CBI alleged.

The accused ONGC officials, before the final approval of the executive committee, directed the tender committee to go ahead, the agency claimed. -- PTI
21:42   Bypoll results a slap on BJP's face, says TDP
The Telugu Desam Party, a former ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, today said the results of the byelections to four Lok Sabha and 11 assembly seats were a 'slap' on the face of the saffron party over the 'anti-people' policies of the Narendra Modi government.

'The BJPs drubbing is a clear reflection of the mood of the nation. The Modi era is going to end in just five years,' TDP politburo member and Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said in a statement.

That it lost three of the four Lok Sabha seats and10 of the 11 assembly seats, for which bypolls were held,should be an eye-opener for the BJP, he said.

The 'strong anti-BJP sentiment' across the country formed the foundation for the unity of opposition parties, he said.

'The fall of BJP started with Karnataka and the by-elections were the second part of it. Its losing streak will be complete with the 2019 general elections,' the TDP politburo member said.  -- PTI
21:11   US ends steel, aluminum import tariff exemption on EU, Canada, Mexico
The United States today announced the end of exemption on steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The EU, Canada and Mexico have threatened retaliation after US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that exemptions on steel and aluminum import tariffs would end on June 1.

President Donald Trump had announced in March to impose an import tariff of 25 per cent on steel and 15 per cent on aluminum, based on addressing the perceived threat to national security.

On April 30, he extended for 30 days the temporary exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada, Mexico and the EU to allow for further negotiation.

Ross said that while not much progress has been made in negotiations with the European Union, the NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico is taking longer than expected.

"We look forward to continued negotiations with Canada and Mexico on one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand as there are other issues we need to get resolved," the commerce secretary said.

While the imposition of 25 per cent duty on import of steel and 15 per cent on aluminum was intended to target the Chinese industry, the new tariff policy looks like it has hit close friends and allies of the US.

Ross denied this impression and said that there has been transshipment of Chinese steel and aluminum.

The Trump administration has granted indefinite exemptions to Argentina, Australia and Brazil, given agreements in principle reached with those trading partners. South Korea also received a permanent exemption from steel tariffs, having negotiated instead an absolute quota equivalent to 70 per cent of 2015-2017 imports.

South Korea has not negotiated an exemption for its aluminum exports.  -- PTI
20:09   Trump gives full pardon to Dinesh D'Souza
President Donald Trump announces that he was granting a full pardon to Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014, reported CNN.

He was indicted earlier that year on charges that he illegally used straw donors to contribute to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in New York in 2012.

'Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D'Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!' Trump tweeted.
20:06   BJP should address issues related to Dalits, farmers, says ally JD-U
The Janata Dal-United today cautioned the Bharatiya Janata Party following reverses in the bypoll results today, saying the saffron party should make the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition more 'cohesive' and address 'concerns' over issues related to farmers and Dalits, as well as the petroleum price rise.

JD-U spokesperson K C Tyagi said the biggest challenge for the BJP was in Uttar Pradesh, where the coming together of two formidable regional parties --the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party -- have trumped the saffron party in recent bypolls.

Asked by reporters if the UP results were a win of 'ganna' (sugarcane) over Jinnah, he answered in the affirmative and said thousands of crores are still due to sugarcane farmers.

He, however, rejected suggestions that the Nitish Kumar-led party may dump the NDA after joining it last year and asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led alliance will make a comeback in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

He described Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtraiy Janata Dal, its former ally, a party of the corrupt and anarchists.

Tyagi downplayed his own party's loss in Jokihat assembly bypoll in Bihar to the RJD, saying the seat did not belong to any party but Taslimuddin, a regional satrap who had died last year, and whichever party was represented by his family won from there.

Talking of the NDA, he said, "There is a need for the BJP to make the alliance more cohesive and engage with allies." The JD(U) will support the BJP's efforts in this regard, he said.

There are concerns over issues involving Dalits and farmers besides petroleum price rise, he said, adding that the BJP needs to address them. These may be issues of perception but they needed to be addressed, Tyagi said.  -- PTI
18:56   Uddhav asks Oppn to boycott elections if EVM row not resolved
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today asked opposition parties to "unitedly boycott" elections if controversies surrounding electronic voting machines are not resolved quickly.
He also threatened to drag the Election Commission to court over the Palghar bypoll result and sought suspension of election officers over the "sudden increase" in voting percentage there.
"When the BJP won the Palghar Lok Sabha seat in 2014, the victory margin was of lakhs of votes. Today, they barely managed to win by a few thousand votes," Thackeray told reporters here, after his party's candidate lost the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll.
"Out of over 8 lakh people who voted in Palghar, over 6 lakh rejected the BJP," he said.
"I am not ready to accept this defeat because 'saam, daam, dand, bhed (negotiation, money, punishment and division)' were used to win the polls," Thackeray said. 
"When BJP came to power in 2014, we thought this government is here to stay for at least 25 years. However, just after 4 years, they are losing most by-elections, which has reduced them to minority now. After coming to power with a majority, they did not need allies anymore," he said.
Thackeray said while the Sena never fought Palghar poll before, the only reason it decided to do so now was to give justice to Shrinivas Wanaga, who was "mistreated" by the BJP.
"From the last several days and even on the election day, there were complaints regarding irregularities in EVMs. Does the Election Commissioner even have a control over the election process? EVMs had malfunctioned in several places and people could not exercise their right to vote," he said.
On the commission attributing the EVMs malfunctioning to hot weather, Thackeray wondered if the EC is aware of the country's climate.
"Will elections in 2019 be conducted like IPL matches at night if they can't take place during the day," he asked.
Instead of appointing the Election Commissioner, he should be democratically elected to that position, he said.
"Going by the corruption in the Election Commission, I would suggest that even election commissioners should not be appointed, but elected," the Sena chief said. -- PTI
18:52   Mulayam, Akhilesh vacate govt bungalows
Following the Supreme Court's order, former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav today vacated their official residences allotted by the Uttar Pradesh government.

The top court had on May 7 held that former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office and said that a chief minister was at par with a common man once his or her term ends.

However, the father-son die on May 28 moved the Supreme Court seeking "appropriate time" for vacating their official residences.

The two former chief ministers had earlier moved the UP government's estate department seeking two years time to vacate their official residences and shifting to their private accommodations in Lucknow.

Shortly after this verdict, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, who were chief ministers earlier, had informed the estate department that they will vacate the government bungalows.

Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh are among the six former chief ministers who have been asked by the estate department to vacate the bungalows within 15 days in pursuance of the Supreme Courts order.

However, former UP chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati recently put up a signboard outside her official accommodation in Lucknow announcing that it was a memorial named after the party founder late Kanshi Ram.
18:29   No bids received for Air India stake sale: Govt
The government today said no bids have been received for the strategic disinvestment of Air India.
The deadline for submission of Expression of Interest ended today.
"As informed by the Transaction Adviser, no response has been received for the Expression of Interest floated for the strategic disinvestment of Air India," the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a tweet.
"Further course of action will be decided appropriately," it added.
EY is the transaction advisor for the process. -- PTI
17:57   This is a defeat of divisive politics: Akhilesh on bypoll results
Terming the outcome of the bypolls in Kairana and Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh as a defeat of divisive politics, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav today said the voters had delivered a befitting response to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"This is a defeat for those who do not believe in democracy and play divisive politics. People have given a befitting reply to the BJP," he said at a press conference after the opposition candidates had established decisive leads in the counting for both constituencies.
"I thank and congratulate the voters in Noorpur and Kairana. This is a victory for the farmers, the poor and the Dalits," Yadav said.
Commenting on the victory of Rashtriya Lok Dal in Kairana parliamentary constituency, Yadav said the ruling BJP should understand that it will have to work for the people and its style of politics will not be accepted.
When asked why he did not go for campaigning in Kairana and Noorpur, he said in a lighter vein, "I got scared by the CM's speech.  That's why I did not go for campaigning."
"I am very scared by his language. You are also afraid of him and so you did not show much of me," he said, suggesting that he didn't get enough media coverage.
"The bye-elections have ended the divisive politics of the BJP. This success of the alliance is a message for the entire country. All parties including the BSP, the RLD, the Peace Party, the AAP worked together for the victory," he said.
The SP had supported RLD's Tabassum Hasan in the Kairana parliamentary bye-election. -- PTI
India's economic growth slows to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18 compared to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.
17:19   Have to take 2 steps back for a big leap: Rajnath on bypoll
With the Bharatiya Janata Party facing reverses in bypolls to Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said one has to take two steps backward before a big leap.
Asked about the BJP's performance in the by-elections to 11 assembly and four Lok Sabha seats in various states ahead of next year's general polls, Singh, in a lighter vein, said, "For a massive leap, one always has to go two steps backward."
"We are going to take a massive leap," the senior BJP leader said.
The former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh was addressing a press conference in Bhopal to highlight the NDA government's achievements in the last four years.
As per the latest trends and results available of the bypolls, the BJP was set to lose the Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary constituency in Maharashtra.
It, however, was leading in the Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra. -- PTI  
16:56   Lalu's family plots in Patna are money laundering assets: PMLA authority
A designated Prevention of Money Laundering Act authority has held that 11 land plots worth Rs 44.75 crore, attached by the Enforcement Directorate in the name of a firm linked to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's family, are money laundering assets and ordered that their attachment should continue.
The central probe agency had provisionally attached the plots measuring about 3-acres, located in Danapur near Bihar's capital Patna, in December last year under the PMLA, in connection with the IRCTC hotel allotment case.
"Considering the material (filed) in the original complaint (by the ED).. I find that the immovable properties provisionally attached are involved in money laundering.
"I, therefore, hereby confirm the attachment of the property...and order that the said attachment shall continue during investigation for a period not exceeding ninety days or the pendency of the proceedings relating to any offence under the PMLA before a court and become final after an order of confiscation is passed by the special court," a recent order issued by Member (Law) of the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA, Tushar V Shah, said.
The ED will now seize the properties, bearing a market value of Rs 44.75 crore, and put up its sign board on these plots, agency sources said.
The land pieces are in the name of Ms Delight Marketing Co Pvt Ltd, now Lara Projects LLP, whose managing partner is Lalu's wife Rabri Devi, partners are his son Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, and Ms Meridian Construction India Limited promoted by Abu Dojana, an MLA of the former Bihar chief minister's party -- the Rashtriya Janta Dal.
When the ED attached these assets last year, a shopping mall was supposed to come up on these plots. It also had recorded the statements of Rabri Devi, Tejashwi, the former deputy chief minister of Bihar, and others in the case.
In July last year, the agency registered a case against Lalu Prasad, his family members and others under the provisions of the PMLA.
Before this, the Central Bureau of Investigation had registered a criminal first information report and conducted multiple searches on the properties of Lalu Prasad and others. -- PTI
16:07   Bypoll results reflect anger against Modi govt: Kejriwal
With the BJP facing a drubbing in the bypolls, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said it reflects the anger against the Modi government. 
The Aam Aadmi Party leader said until now the people were asking who was the alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but results state that they want to remove him.
"Today's results reflect that there is a lot of anger against the Modi government. Until now people were asking what is the option. Today, people are saying Modi ji in not an alternative. Remove him first," he tweeted.
The BJP lost the crucial Lok Sabha bypolls in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondia in Maharashtra.  It, however, managed to retain the Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra.

-- PTI
15:33   Congress wrests Shahkot assembly seat in Punjab from SAD
Punjab's ruling Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi today wrested the Shahkot assembly seat from the Shiromani Akali Dal, defeating the party's nominee Naib Singh Kohar with a margin of 38,801 votes, an election office spokesperson said.
Ladi got 82,745 votes while Akali candidate Kohar polled 43,944 votes in the May 28 bypoll, the spokesperson said. 
The seat was considered the SAD's borough with the late Ajit Singh Kohar, Naib Singh's father, being elected from there five times.
With this victory, the Congress's strength in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha will reach 78, a two-third majority in the House.

Aam Aadmi Party candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan polled just 1,900 votes.
Ladi maintained a lead from the start of the counting process for the bypoll, being seen as a barometer for the popularity of the 14-month Congress government of Amarinder Singh. 
While the Congress celebrated, Kohar alleged that the EVMs were rigged.
"EVMs were tampered. The counting took place before me, but if the machines are not right then what will counting do? There was not a single booth from where I gained,"  he alleged.

-- PTI
15:13   Huge blow to BJP as it loses UP's Kairana bypoll
The opposition today wrested Kairana from the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh, where the parliamentary by-poll became a massive battle for pride in an election year leading up to the 2019 national polls.

Tabassum Hasan, the Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate, won against her BJP rival Mriganka Singh.

Hasan, a former lawmaker, was supported by the Congress and Samajwadi Party; she also claimed the support of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party.

The bypoll was pitched as another test of opposition unity against the BJP after the Samajwadi Party and BSP pooled their resources to defeat the ruling party in its strongholds Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March.

The opposition hopes to evolve a successful template for joining forces to take on the BJP in state elections later this year and the 2019 national polls.

By-polls were held in Kairana because of the death of Mriganka Singh's father, BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh, in February.
14:48   Melania tweets 20 days after last public appearance
US First Lady Melania Trump, not seen in public since a hospital operation this month, has sought to scotch rumours about her health and marriage.

"Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family," a tweet posted on her account says.

Gossip has mounted in the 20 days since she was last seen, with US President Donald Trump as he welcomed home three US detainees from North Korea.

The White House has already dismissed claims about the Trumps' relationship.

On Twitter, some suggested her husband had actually written the tweet that appeared on her account on Wednesday.

On May 14, the White House said Trump, 48, would be admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington DC for "an embolisation procedure to treat a benign kidney condition".

"The procedure was successful and there were no complications," a statement from the White House said after her release on May 20.
14:33   Journalism started during Mahabharata: UP deputy CM
Joining the list of BJP leaders linking modern inventions with ancient India, Uttar Pradesh minister Dinesh Sharma has claimed that journalism began during Mahabharata. 
Speaking at an event organised to mark the 'Hindi Journalism Day' on Wednesday, the minister rejected the various claims on the origin of Journalism, and said, "It (journalism) started during Mahabharata".    

The deputy chief minister also cited various instances from the Indian epic to buttress his claim.  

He said the mythological character, Sanjaya, sitting at Hastinapur, narrated a bird's eye view of the war of Mahabharata, to Dhritarashtra.  

Yeh live telecast nahi to aur kya hai (if it is not live telecast, then what is it ?)," Sharma asked.

The BJP minister also equated another character, Narada, with the present-day Google. 

"Your Google has started now, but our Google started long time back. 'Narad Muni' was the epitome of information. He could reach anywhere and transfer a message from one place to another by saying 'Narayana' three times," he said.

The BJP leaders have courted controversy by claiming that advance medical procedures like cataract, plastic surgery, even the gravitation theory, nuclear tests and the internet, have all started during ancient times.  

On the 'Hindi Journalism Day', Sharma said one should remember one's glorious past and history. 

He lauded freedom of press in the country, while asserting that governments should be responsible for the safety and security of media persons. 

The BJP leader also requested Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to provide financial assistance to the kin of deceased journalists. 

-- PTI
14:22   BJP wins Palghar bypoll Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra
The BJP has won the Palghar Lok Sabha seat. BJP's Rajendra Gavit won by 29,572 votes over Shiv Sena's Shrinivas Wanaga.

The by-election in Palghar was necessitated due to the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga. 

However, the saffron party is trailing in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary constituency while the NCP is the leader there. 

Following the Election Commission's order, re-polling was yesterday held at 49 booths in five of the six assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency.
However, no re-polling was ordered in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency.
As many as 25 candidates were in the fray for the two seats - 18 in Bhandara-Gondiya and seven in Palghar. 
14:04   Ramdev's messaging app disappears from Google Play store
Yoga guru Ramdevs swadeshi messaging app called Kimbho that aims to take on WhatsApp and WeChat has suddenly disappeared from Google Play Store.

The app is still available for iPhones and iPads on the App Store.

Several people who tried to download the app from Play Store were amused at its sudden disappearance.

Kimbho is a Sanskrit word and according to Patanjais spokesperson SK Tijarawala, it means How are you? or Whats new?

Now Bharat will speak. After launching sim cards, Ramdev has launched a new messaging application called Kimbho, Tijarawala tweeted late on Wednesday.

Now WhatsApp will be given a competition. Our own #SwadeshiMessagingplatform. Download it directly from Google Play store, he added.

According to Faisal Kawoosa, Head New Initiatives, CyberMedia Research, it will not be easy for Kimbho to create a space dominated by WhatsApp for just on being Swadeshi.
JUST IN: BJP wins Tharali bypoll assembly seat in Uttarakhand
13:25   A meeting most unlikely in Malaysia
Before departing to Singapore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen off at the Malaysian airport by former PM Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah, who is the current Deputy PM. 

Modi is the first foreign leader Anwar has met after being released from prison. He was jailed for sodomy three years ago. 

Anwars release was the first big success of the newly elected governing coalition, Pakatan Harapan, led by 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, which was swept into power after a shock election victory.

Few in Malaysia have been persecuted for their political views and popularity like Anwar, a man with three prison sentences and 11 years in jail to his name. The pardon was filed on the basis of a miscarriage of justice, thus clearing his name entirely.

It was his first taste of freedom since 2015, following a prison sentence widely perceived as politically motivated; a manoeuvre by former prime minister Najib Razak to get rid of a feared political rival who had run against him and won the popular vote in the 2013 general election.

Photograph: MEAIndia/Twitter
13:06   JD-S to get finance portfolio, Cong gets Home in Karnataka
If party sources are to be believed then the Janata Dal-Secular-Congress coalition in Karnataka has solved the cabinet tussle.

The JD-S will get the finance ministry, while the Congress will get to keep the home ministry.

Apart from the home ministry, the Congress would get heavy industries, energy, IT/BT, travel and education portfolios. While JD-S will hold revenue and co-operative affairs ministries.

The Congress and JD-S formed a post-poll alliance on May 15 after the BJP had staked claim of forming the government. But the move turned out to be a major embarrassment for BS Yeddyurappa, who had to quit as chief minister within days of staking claim.

HD Kumaraswamy was then sworn in as the Karnataka chief minister and G Paramewshara took over as his deputy.
Noorpur assembly bypoll: Samajwadi Party wins by 6,211 votes
12:40   Chinas huge foreign aid handouts are boosting its influence globally past Japan and India, report says
Chinas massive foreign aid programmes are boosting its influence globally past Japan and India and narrowing the gap with the United States as the worlds biggest donor nation, according to a report by US researchers.

Since US-based AidData conducted its last survey of influential global foreign aid donors in 2014, China moved up from 29th (out of 33) to 21st (out of 35), according to the report, Listening to Leaders 2018, released on Thursday.

Read full HERE
12:31   Congress wins Karnataka's Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat election
Congress's N Muniratna has won the election from the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency in the Karnataka assembly polls. 

Congress's N Muniratna over his nearest BJP rival Tulsi Muniraju Gowda.

Assembly elections across the state were held on May 12. However, polling in Rajarajeshwari Nagar was deferred to May 28 following a voter ID controversy and other

A major row had erupted over electoral malpractices and seizure of nearly 10,000 voter ID cards from an apartment in the constituency, ahead of the May 12 elections.

Muniratna had won the seat in the previous assembly. 
12:23   Mayawati sends Lucknow home keys by speed-post
Claiming compliance with a Supreme Court order, BSP supremo Mayawati vacated a government house but is holding on to a second sprawling bungalow which her party says is a memorial to their founder Kanshi Ram.

Her personal secretary today said she has vacated the bungalow on 6, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg which was allotted to her as former chief minister.
The press release said the bungalow was vacated yesterday in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had on May 7 said former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office.

Following the order, the UP government on May 17 issued notices to Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav to vacate the bungalows.
The BSP, however, appears to suggest that the notice Mayawati got is for the wrong bungalow.
The Bahujan Samaj Party said recently that the UP government notice asked Maywati to vacate 13A, Mall Avenue, and not the bungalow on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg which they claim was actually allotted to her as a former chief minister.
Last week, a BSP delegation met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, claiming that the Mall Avenue bungalow had been converted into a Kanshi Ram memorial in 2011, and Mayawati occupied only two rooms in it.

-- PTI
11:28   Path for united opposition is clear in 2019: RLD's Tabassum on lead in Kairana
After securing a huge margin in the Kairana bypolls, which is being seen as a massive prestige battle in an election year leading up to the 2019 national polls, RLD's Tabassum Hasan said that the results were a huge victory of the truth. 

"This is the victory of truth. I still stand by what I said, there has been a conspiracy & we do not want any future elections to be conducted on EVM machines. The path for united opposition is clear in 2019," she said. 

As of now, Hasan is leading by over 30,000 votes to the closest contender from the BJP. 

The by-poll has been widely pitched as another test of opposition unity against the BJP after the Samajwadi Party and BSP pooled their resources to defeat the ruling party in its strongholds Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March.

Bypolls were held in Kairana because of the death of Mriganka Singh's father, BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh, in February.

Image: RLD's Tabassum Hasan. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
11:18   CBI clarifies: No raid at Congress leader D K Shivakumar's house
CBI issues clarification, says, "No raids carried out at Congress leader D K Shivakumar's residence." 

Earlier in the day, there were reports that CBI had raided the Congress leader's house. 

The 56-year old Congress leader is given the credit of deftly managing to keep the party members together ahead of the Karnataka floor test. 

One of the richest Indian politicians with a declared wealth of Rs 840 crore (Rs 8.4 billion), Shivakumar was tasked with preserving the new-found unity among Congress and JD-S legislators, and he accomplished it in style

JUST IN: Congress wins Meghalaya's Ampati assembly constituency by 3,191 votes. 
11:09   High security at Pathankot court ahead of Kathua rape-murder case trial
A thick security blanket was today thrown in around the four-storey judicial court complex in Pathankot and all necessary arrangements were done to ensure a smooth trial in the sensational Kathua rape and murder case.
The case, involving the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl from a nomadic community in Kathua district in January, was transferred by the Supreme Court from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot.   
The apex court, had on May 7, also directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.

The eight persons arrested in the case will be produced before the district and sessions judge in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court.

The court had asked the district and sessions judge at Pathankot to personally undertake the trial proceedings and not assign it to other session judges, stating that it would monitor the progress of trial in the case and no other courts should entertain any other plea related to the matter.

The trial in the case will be held according to the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, which is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pathankot Bar Association president Reshpaul Thakur said this was for the first time such a high-profile case was to be heard in the court.  

The Punjab authorities have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure smooth trial in the case. 

A large number of policemen, including women personnel, have been deployed within and outside the court complex. The main entrance of the complex has been blocked for vehicles, including those belonging to the staffers, who were asked to park their vehicles in an adjacent complex.
CCTV vans were also deployed in the court premises to keep an eye on trouble makers. 

The policemen were seen in riot gear, some armed with guns and most of them carrying batons and shields. 

Special security squads armed with mine detectors and  sniffer dogs were doing the rounds to sanitise the complex, where the police have set up barricades outside the main door.

-- PTI
10:49   CBI raids Congress leader's D K Shivakumar's house
Officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation have raided the residence of Congress leader D K Shivakumar. 

Reports state that a warrant for 11 people have been issued.

The 56-year old Congress leader is given the credit of deftly managing to keep the party members together ahead of the Karnataka floor test. 

Since Karnataka was embroiled in crisis over the hung house, Shivakumar was quoted as saying, "Not one member from the Congress and JD-S will cross over to the BJP. I have managed Maharashtra and Gujarat MLAs, just wait and watch."

One of the richest Indian politicians with a declared wealth of Rs 840 crore (Rs 8.4 billion), Shivakumar was tasked with preserving the new-found unity among Congress and JD-S legislators, and he accomplished it in style.

He also played saviour for the Congress in 2002, when the then Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra was reduced to a minority and was instructed by then governor Dr P C Alexander to prove its majority in the House.

JUST IN: P Chidambaram gets interim protection from arrest by CBI till July 3 in the INX Media Case.
10:35   Nandan Nilekani pledges to donate more than half his wealth to charity
Infosys co-founder and Chairman Nandan Nilekani, his wife Rohini Nilekani and three Indian-origin billionaires have joined the philanthropic initiative created by philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, pledging to commit more than half of their wealth to charitable causes.

The Nilekanis, Aneel and Allison Bhusri, Shamsheer and Shabeena Vayalil and BR Shetty and his wife Chandrakumari Raghuram Shetty are among the 14 philanthropists to have joined the Giving Pledge throughout the previous year, bringing the total to 183 from 22 countries since the pledge began in 2010 with 40 American philanthropists.

Now in its eighth year, the philanthropy effort continues to expand internationally with the addition of philanthropists from Canada, India, the UAE, as well as the US. The multi-generational initiative, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Buffett, invites the world's wealthiest philanthropists to commit more than half of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetimes or in their wills.

"Over the past eight years, we've been inspired by the dedicated philanthropists who have chosen to join the Giving Pledge, and this year's group is no exception. They are passionate about using their wealth to help reduce inequities and improve the lives of everyone in the world," Buffett said in a statement. 

"We welcome their energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, and look forward to learning from them as we all work to ensure our giving makes a positive difference."

US-based Bhusri is co-founder and chief executive officer of business software firm Workday. Forbes' real-time rankings of the world's billionaires pegs Bhusri's net worth at $1.8 billion. 

The Nilekanis are also co-founders of EkStep, a not-for-profit effort to create a learner-centric Societal Platform by increasing access to learning opportunities for over 200 million children in the primary years. 
Rohini Nilekani is also Founder-Chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation she set up for sustainable water and sanitation, which funds initiatives all across India.

In their Giving Pledge letter, they quoted from the Bhagwat Gita and said "We have a right to do our duty but no automatic right to the fruits from the doing. It is critical that we do not slip into inaction fearing that we may not be able to reap direct reward. It is to this ideal that we pledge."

-- PTI
10:24   Bypoll results: Who's leading and who's trailing
>> Punjab: Congress leading by 12,000 votes from Shahkot assembly seat

>> NCP leading from Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondiya by 3100 votes, BJP second

>> Karnataka: Congress candidate Muniratna leading by over 18,000 from Rajarajeshwari Nagar assembly constituency

>> West Bengal: TMC's Dulal Chandra Das is leading by over 20,000 votes from Maheshtala assembly constituency. CPI-M is second, BJP third.

>> Kerala: CPI-M leading with 3106 votes from Chengannur assembly seat
10:06   PM meets Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohammad
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met his newly-elected Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohammad and the two leaders had a productive exchange of views on strengthening the strategic partnership.
Modi, who arrived today on the second leg of his three-nation tour, met Mahathir in his office at Perdana Putra Complex, Putrajaya.

"The two leaders had a productive exchange of views on strengthening our strategic partnership. PM congratulated Dr. Mahathir on assuming the post of Prime Minister of Malaysia," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Ninety-two-year-old Mahathir was sworn in as Malaysia's prime minister on May 10 after leading the opposition alliance to a stunning election victory over the Barisan Nasional coalition, which had ruled Malaysia since 1957.

Earlier, the Prime Minister's Office said that Modi will be discussing aspects relating to India-Malaysia cooperation with Mahathir.

"Malaysia is a strategic partner and a priority country in our Act East Policy," Kumar said.

Modi had announced in New Delhi that on his way to Singapore, he will make a brief halt in Malaysia to meet Mahathir and congratulate the new Malaysian leadership.

From Kuala Lumpur, Modi will leave for Singapore where he will deliver a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security meet, tomorrow.

-- PTI
09:59   Go and tell the Sangh what is wrong with its ideology: Chidambaram to Mukherjee
After having accepted the RSS invite, former President Pranab Mukherjee should go and tell the Sangh what is wrong with its ideology, former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said today.

The senior Congress leader said there is no point debating now on why the former president accepted the invite to be the chief guest at an RSS function in Nagpur.

"Now that he has accepted the invitation, there is no point debating why he did so. The more important thing to say is, 'Sir you have accepted the invitation, please go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology'," he said when asked about Mukherjee accepting the RSS invite.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it is a "somewhat stupidish approach" to judge Mukherjee over acceptance of the invitation.

"Unless and until you hear what the former president says there, you should not judge him," he said.

A large number of Congress leaders have criticised the former president for accepting the RSS invitation and have asked him to reconsider "for the sake of secularism".

The former president is slated to address the Sangha Shiksha Varga's valedictory function at RSS headquarters in Nagpur on June 7. 

-- PTI
09:35   Bypoll results: RLD ahead in Kairana, BJP leading in Maharashtra's Palghar  
The Election Commission began counting of votes on Thursday to declare the results of by-elections held on May 28 in four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies.

The bypoll results, especially in Uttar Pradeshs Kairana Lok Sabha constituency, could set the tone for the 2019 general elections, say analysts. 

In Kairana, the opposition put up a common candidate against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in hope of repeating its success in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections in March.

As of now, RLD's Tabassum Hasan is leading by over 3000 votes over BJP's Mriganka Singh. 

Meanwhile, BJPs Gavit Rajendra Dhedya is leading from the Palghar Lok Sabha seat.

The bypolls were marred by complaints of electronic voting machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines malfunctioning, which necessitated repolling in some booths in Kairana and Palghar and one booth in Nagaland.
09:28   Harvey Weinstein charged with rape, can face up to 25 years if convicted
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted on Wednesday on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, the first case to emerge from a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged, Vance said in a statement on the charges against the disgraced 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio and the Weinstein Co.

The grand jury indictment follows his arrest and court appearance last Friday on charges related to two among about 70 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, all of which Weinstein has denied.

Vances statement said Weinstein was charged with rape in the first and third degrees and a criminal sexual act in the first degree.

Ben Brafman, the head of Weinsteins legal team, said his client would plead not guilty and defend himself against the charges.

If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.
08:58   Nipah virus claims 2 more lives in Kerala, death toll rises to 16
Two more persons succumbed to the deadly Nipah virus in Kerala, taking the death toll to 16 even as another person was tested positive in Kozhikode, a health official said.

Madusudhanan, 56, and Akihil Karasserry, 28, died in Kozhikode Medical College Hospital on Wednesday night.

Initially, both showed some symptoms of recovery, but later their condition deteriorated, the official said, adding that both might have contracted the infection from the hospital.

Another person admitted in the hospital was also tested positive, raising fresh concerns about the viral outbreak.

Now three infected and nine others with symptoms are in the hospital.
08:36   Counting for bypolls begins; huge test for Opposition
Results for by-elections to four Lok Sabha constituencies and 10 assembly seats across 10 states will be declared today. 

The polling took place on two Lok Sabha seats - Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra - on Monday amid complaints of faulty EVMs or electronic vote machines at many booths. 

Repolling was held in 73 polling stations of Kairana and 49 booths in Bhandara-Gondiya yesterday. 

The polling had remained by and large peaceful with a voter turnout of over 50 per cent.

The Kairana bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh in February. His daughter Mriganka Singh was pitted by the party against Rashtriya Lok Dal's Tabassum Hasan (BSP MP from Kairana in 2009) who is also supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and also claims the support of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Similarly, the bye-election to Noorpur Assembly seat was necessitated due to the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan in a road accident in February.
07:58   PM Modi leaves for Malaysia after wrapping up his Indonesia visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today left for Malaysia after wrapping up his visit to Indonesia where he held talks with President Joko Widodo to cement the political, economic and strategic interest of the two friendly maritime neighbours.
"I thank President Joko Widodo and the wonderful people of Indonesia for the exceptional hospitality. This visit has added great strength to bilateral relations between our nations," Modi tweeted tweeted in both Indonesian and English along with his pictures.

During his brief stopover in Kuala Lumpur on his way to Singapore, Prime Minister Modi will meet his newly-elected Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohammad. 

Ninety-two-year-old Mahathir was sworn in as Malaysia's prime minister on May 10 after leading the opposition alliance to a stunning election victory over the Barisan Nasional coalition, which had ruled Malaysia since 1957.

Modi and Mahathir are expected to deliberate on ways to deepen bilateral relationship in a range of areas, including trade and investment.

During his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, Modi held "productive discussions" with President Widodo. The two countries elevated their bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and condemned terrorism in all its forms, including cross-border terror.

India and Indonesia also signed 15 agreements, including one to boost defence cooperation and called for freedom of navigation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. 

-- PTI
07:48   After 1 paisa cut, petrol and diesel prices fall by 7 paisa and 5 paisa
A day after fuel prices were 'slashed' by all of 1 paisa, the prices of petrol and diesel have further reduced by 7 paisa and 5 paisa respectively. 

The fuel cut on Wednesday was the first reduction after 16 days of relentless price hikes.

Initially, state-owned Indian Oil Corp first announced a reduction of 60 paise -- the biggest since daily price revision was introduced in mid-June last year, only to retract it within a couple of hours citing a technical error. 

Economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg had on Monday stated that fuel prices are expected to cool in the next two or three days. 

Last week, the government had stated that it was working on a long-term solution to address the volatility in fuel prices. 
00:23   'Punyatma' Rahul has given me power: Kumaraswamy
Days after his remarks that he was at the 'mercy' of the Congress and not the people drew flak, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Wednesday described the Grand Old party's president Rahul Gandhi as a 'Punyatma' (good soul).

"Today even though I don't have the blessings of people, Punyatma Rahul Gandhi placing trust in me has given the power. We have got a good opportunity. I will do it. He will not oppose, I will convince him," Kumaraswamy said.

"Taking him (Rahul Gandhi) into confidence, I will have to come to a decision," he said, as he tried to pacify farmers during his meeting with farmers' organisations regarding farm loan waiver.

"You (farmers) have a golden opportunity, utilise it, and stand with us. When election comes vote whomever you want....but utilise this opportunity," he added.

This comment from the chief minister comes days after his remarks that he was at the 'mercy' of the Congress and not the people drew flak from different quarters, including the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Going into damage control mode on his 'mercy' remark, Kumaraswamy said he never meant to show disrespect to the people of the state.

"What I meant was so long as they (Congress) support me I can continue. So, whatever programmes we have to pursue, I will be at the mercy of Congress."  -- PTI