Wed, 12 September 2018
Congress slams any move to cut army's strength

Timeline  Refresh

23:57   PM announces new cleanliness drive
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday announced the launch of the 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' from September 15 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
In a video message, he called upon people to join the movement on Saturday morning.
"I look forward to interacting with those who have worked assiduously on the ground to strengthen the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission after which swachhata (cleanliness) activities will begin," he said.
The 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' (cleanliness is true service) is a great way to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, he said.
He pointed out that on October 2 when the country marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Swachh Bharat Mission will complete four years. 
The prime minister termed the mission as a "historic mass movement aimed at fulfilling Bapu's dream of a clean India". 
Later, in a series of tweets, he thanked people, including Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, actor Akshay Kumar, spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, for supporting the sanitation and cleanliness drive.
"Thank you Amitabh Bachchan Ji for inspiring others and expressing your participation in the 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement," the PM tweeted. -- PTI
23:05   Congress slams any move to cut army's strength
The Congress on Wednesday accused the Modi government of compromising national security and displaying insensitivity on the issue of joblessness, following reports that there were plans to cut the strength of the army by 1.5 lakh personnel.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party is concerned about various reports in this regard and questioned why the Modi government was "not providing adequate funds" to the army . 
The opposition party's reaction came even as the government stated that there was no immediate plan to cut the strength of the army.
Singhvi said if the reports are true, "then isn't the Modi Government guilty of destroying more jobs in the country? 1.5 lakh families will be severely affected by this decision."
"The Modi government which is so insensitive on the pressing issue of jobs and unemployment is again displaying its famous arrogance and abject apathy to crores of middle class youth and underprivileged. Instead of creating the promised two crore jobs per year, the Modi government is hell bent in destroying more jobs. Why?" he asked.
Singhvi said if the government can spend Rs 5000 crore in last 4.5 years on publicity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi then why cannot it spend that same amount for weaponry and ammunition for the armed forces.
"We demand answers from the Modi Government in this regard," he said.
The Congress leader alleged that "Modi had spent Rs 35 lakh on his fitness videos, Rs 60 crore monthly on updating his pictures on petrol pumps, Rs 1,100 crore on a sprawling BJP headquarters and Rs 2000 crore on his foreign travels.
"Then why is the Modi government not providing adequate funds to the army?" 
He alleged that the government has earned a windfall of Rs 11 lakh crore by levying central taxes on petrol-diesel, but it cannot spend Rs 5000-7000 crore on the Indian Army. -- PTI
22:53   Imran Khan visits ISI headquarters
Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday visited for the first time the headquarters of the Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) where he was briefed on various strategic intelligence and national security matters.
Khan paid his first visit to the ISI Headquarters in Islamabad after becoming the prime minister, the army said in a statement.
He was briefed in details on various strategic intelligence and national security matters by the senior security officials, it added.
Khan said that government and people of Pakistan firmly stand behind their armed forces and intelligence agencies.
Khan's cabinet ministers were also with him during the visit.
Earlier, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Director General Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar received Khan on his arrival. -- PTI
22:53   Mallya's allegations 'serious', Jaitley should step down: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today demanded an immediate probe into the "extremely serious" allegations made by fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should step down till the investigation is over.
Mallya, facing charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore and fighting an extradition case, told reporters in London that he met the finance minister before leaving India and offered to settle with the banks.
"Given Vijay Mallya's extremely serious allegations in London today, the PM should immediately order an independent probe into the matter. Arun Jaitley should step down as Finance Minister while this probe is underway," Gandhi tweeted. 
Jaitley, however, rubbished Mallya's statement, saying he never gave him an appointment since 2014 but the liquor baron misused his position as Rajya Sabha MP to accost him in Parliament. -- PTI 
22:48   Apple set to launch new iPhones
Apple is all set to host its annual launch event at The Steve Jobs Theater at the company's Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California.

Apple is expected to announce an update to the iPhone X called the iPhone XS, a larger iPhone XS Max, and a cheaper LCD phone that could be called the iPhone XR.

Also anticipated: a new Apple Watch Series 4, release dates for iOS 12 and Mac OS Mojave, and potential updates to accessories including the AirPods and AirPower charging pad, according to a report on The Verge.

Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
22:44   Kerala MLA regrets using abusive language against nun
Facing flak over using abusive language against a nun who was allegedly raped by a Roman Catholic church bishop, Kerala MLA P C George on Wednesday expressed regret over his choice of words.
He also said the accused in the case, Jalandhar diocese Bishop Franco Mulakkal, should be arrested if there is evidence against him.
"Such a word should not have been used. I said so out of emotion and also in a melee at a press conference in Kottayam. I am sad about it," George told reporters.
In the press conference on September 8, the Independent MLA had asked why the nun had not reported the incident earlier and used abusive language to attack her.
He was summoned by the National Commission for Women over his remarks.
The nun had filed a complaint in July, accusing Mulakkal of raping her multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016. -- PTI
22:02   Modi likely to review state of economy this weekend
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to hold a review meet this weekend to analyse the health of the economy and deliberate if any intervention measures are required to stem the fall of rupee and rising oil prices, sources said.
An increase in interest rate to shore up the rupee, that hit a fresh lifetime low Wednesday, is also being talked about in some quarters.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar, PMEAC Chairman Bibek Debroy and Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia are among the officials who are likely to attend the meeting Saturday, sources privy to the development said.
While the structure of the meeting is not known, it may review macroeconomic indicators, government finances and implementation of flagship financial inclusion and other development schemes, they said.
The meeting comes in the backdrop of the Indian currency touching its lifetime low of 72.91 to a dollar, depreciating 12.3 per cent since the beginning of 2018.
The rupee Wednesday rebounded from its historic low of 72.91 to end higher by 51 paise at 72.18 after the Finance Ministry assured of steps to avert its fall to "unreasonable levels".
Besides having an impact on current account deficit, the nosediving rupee has made imports costlier and led to petrol and diesel prices skyrocketing to record highs.
The finance ministry has ruled out any cut in taxes to ease the burden on consumers, saying it does not have the bandwidth to lose any revenue without developmental spending being cut. The government can ill-afford this in an election year.
Opposition parties led by Congress have made spiralling fuel prices and plummeting rupee a political issue and questioned the efficacy of the government's economic policies.
They have been demanding that the Centre cut excise duty and some of the states ruled by them including Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have announced measures to cut local taxes.
Petrol price Tuesday climbed to an all-time high of Rs 80.87 per litre in Delhi, while in Mumbai it inched up to Rs 88.26. A litre of diesel in the national capital was priced at Rs 72.97 and Rs 77.47 in Mumbai.
Every Rs 2 cut in price of petrol and diesel would lead to a revenue loss of around Rs 30,000 crore, as per ministry estimates. -- PTI
22:00   Henry Cavill out as Superman amid Warner Bros-DC Universe shake-up
In a shocking development, Henry Cavill reportedly is no longer part of DC cinematic universe as Superman.
The actor, who first appeared as the superhero in 2013's Man of Steel, and later reprised his role in Superman V Batman and last year's Justice League, is parting ways with Warner Bros, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter
According to insiders, the development comes after talks of Cavill's cameo in Shazam! did not come to fruition due to scheduling conflicts.
"There's a recognition that some parts of the previous movies didn't work," says the studio insider. 
Another source says Warners is trying to hit a "reset" button with the DC universe. 
Talks are on to find new face for the beloved superhero.
"Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors," says a studio source. 
A source says the decision solidified as Cavill recently signed on to star in Netflix's The Witcher. Another insider, however, says that the series commitment came after the impasse with Warners, suggesting a change in the studio's strategy. 

It is being said the studio has shifted its focus to a Supergirl movie, which will be an origin story featuring a teen superheroine, which effectively removes an actor of Cavill's age from the storyline as Superman, aka Kal-El, would be an infant, according to DC lore.  
Another voice adds that the studio is unlikely to make a solo Superman film for at least several years.
Ben Affleck is also being said to depart his DCEU role as Batman, as a new, probably younger actor expected to take on the mantle in Matt Reeves' stand-alone film on the Caped Crusader. -- PTI   
21:49   Fight against LTTE was no 'ethnic war', military action was not targeted at Tamils: Rajapaksa
Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Wednesday the fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that ended in 2009 cannot be dubbed an "ethnic war", asserting that the military action was not directed against the Tamil community.
Rajapaksa, who was at the helm when the nearly three-decade-long civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE by the military, said India's "abiding friendship" was amply demonstrated by its rapid response to Sri Lanka's needs at the time, both material and moral.
"While this was of vital assistance to us, I remained unshaken in my conviction that foreign armies could not successfully banish terrorism from our soil, because the broad mass of popular opinion would not support this," he said in his address at a symposium, titled 'Indo-Sri Lanka Relations: The Way Forward', organised by the Virat Hindustan Sangam led by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy in New Delhi.
The former Sri Lankan president said he was, however, mindful of India's special concerns at the time, arising principally from the proximity of Tamil Nadu and other relevant circumstances.
"Our policy in this regard was constant consultation with India and other neighbouring countries. For this purpose, we had evolved the TROIKA mechanism involving key officials on both sides, who were in touch with one another at all times," Rajapaksa, who was accompanied by his former foreign minister G L Peiris and son Namal Rajapaksa at the event, said.
He proposed that a similar mechanism could be set up by Sri Lanka and India to resolve economic and social issues.
Talking about the last phase of the civil war, which started with his government ordering military action against the LTTE, he said the move was not the first resort, but the last one.
"We did not at any time wage an ethnic war. The military action was certainly not directed against the Tamil community. It must not be forgotten that the reach of this terrorist organisation was not confined to Sri Lanka, but extended to Indian soil where they assassinated (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi and many others," Rajapaksa said.
He asserted that the eradication of terrorism was not for the sole benefit of one community, or for one country. -- PTI
21:04   Mallya's extradition verdict to be pronounced on Dec 10
A court in the United Kingdom will decide on December 10 if fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya will be sent back to India to face prosecution on charges of fraud and moeny laundering amounting to around Rs. 9,000 crore. 

Today, the court reviewed a video of the cell in a Mumbai jail where he might be lodged once he is extradited.  

After the hearing, Mallya's lawyer called the video a "varnished version". 

In her closing submission, lawyer Clare Montgomery also claimed the Central Bureau of Investigation has threatened Indian banks to file charges against Mallya. 

The CBI, too, has been forced to file charges, she said.  

"Look at the video submitted by the Indian government. Clearly shows that walls were specially painted. Perhaps a new toilet was put in," Mallya's lawyer said.

The 62-year-old boss of the defunct Kingfisher Airline has challenged an extradition request filed by the CBI, alleging that the condition in Indian jails is not humane.

Indian jails, his lawyer had argued, do not have proper air and light.
20:51   Court directs police to lodge FIR against Salman Khan, actors of 'Loveratri'
A Bihar court on Wednesday directed the police to lodge an FIR against actor Salman Khan and the cast and crew of upcoming Bollywood film Loveratri on the basis of a complaint that the title and contents of the movie had hurt the Hindu sentiments.
Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (East) Shailendra Rai directed the Mithanpura police station in the town to lodge an FIR, based on a complaint filed in the court by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha.
Ojha has taken exception to the title of the film, alleging that it is meant to make fun of the holy festival of Navaratri. He has also claimed that he film's scheduled release on October 5 is likely to hurt the Hindu sentiments.
In his complaint, in which Khan, who is the producer of the film, its director and actors have been made parties, Ojha has claimed that he has watched the promos of the film and they contained a lot of vulgarity.
The complaint was lodged before the court last week under IPC sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 298 (uttering words etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integrity) and 120B (criminal conspiracy). -- PTI
20:50   Sri Lanka to ban animal sacrifices at Hindu temples
Animal sacrifices in Hindu temples in Sri Lanka could be banned after the Cabinet approved a proposal Wednesday to enact laws banning the "primitive" methods of worship, amid calls from the Hindu community to make the ritual a "punishable offence" in the Buddhist-majority country.
The Cabinet headed by President Maithripala Sirisena  approved the proposal submitted by Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Development and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D M Swaminathan.
Hindu Cultural Affairs Director Uma Maheswaran was quoted as saying by the government-owned newspaper 'Daily News' that the slaughter of animals such as goats and fowls in Hindu temples would be banned by this legislation.
He said the Cabinet-approved draft legislation would be sent to the Legal Draftsman's Department for final consent.
It will then be sent to the Attorney General's Department and published in the gazette. He said the law would come into effect once passed by Parliament.
According to the Cabinet Memorandum, animal and bird sacrifices in Hindu Temples or its precincts will be prohibited.
"One of the primitive methods of worship is animal and bird sacrifices, while the majority of Hindus do not accept the practice. Slaughtering of animals is carried out in public in open courtyard of the temple without considering health and mental harm of the devotees.
"Legislation to ban animal sacrifice in Hindu temples is operative in India. The members of Parliament representing the Hindu Community and Hindu Association in Sri Lanka are of unanimous view that sacrifices of any living being in the name of Hindu Religion should be banned and made a punishable offence," the memorandum stated. -- PTI
20:07   Govt must explain why Mallya was allowed to leave: Congress
The government must explain how and why Vijay Mallya was allowed to leave India, the Congress said today after the liquor baron claimed in London that he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country.
The government, the party said, was fully complicit in the flight of people like Mallya and others from the country.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the country wants to know what transpired during the meetings between Mallya and Jaitley. 
"The government should now explain how and why he was allowed to leave and what transpired at those meetings. The nation wants to know," he said. 
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss told reporters in London that he met the minister and offered to settle with the banks.
"I left India because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. Before leaving I met the finance minister and offered to settle (the issue with the banks), Mallya said, without naming the minister. -- PTI 
19:42   Retail inflation cools to 10-month low of 3.69 pc in Aug
Retail inflation cooled to a 10-month low of 3.69 per cent in August mainly due to a fall in prices of kitchen items, including fruits and vegetables, official data showed Wednesday.
The inflation based on Consumer Price Index stood at 4.17 per cent in July and 3.28 per cent in August 2017.
CPI inflation was at 3.58 per cent in October 2017 and has remained above RBI's targeted rate of 4 per cent since then.
The Reserve Bank of India will be considering this set of data for formulating its next bi-monthly monetary policy on October 5. 
 The central bank has been mandated to keep retail inflation at 4 per cent level (with a margin of 2 per cent on either side). -- PTI
19:41   Disclose amount of demonetised currency deposited in Jan Dhan accounts: CIC to RBI
The Central Information Commission has directed the Reserve Bank of India to disclose the amount deposited in Jan Dhan accounts of various banks in the form of demonetised currency.
Launched in August 2014, Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana is a national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services banking or savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in banks.
Jan Dhan accounts had come into focus after demonetisation on November 8, 2016, when the deposits witnessed a meteoric rise, touching an approximate Rs 80,000 crore in April this year.
Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava ordered the RBI to disclose details of demonetised currency deposited in Jan Dhan accounts to activist Subhash Agrawal, who has also demanded some other details related to demonetisation.
The Union government demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8, 2016.
Bhargava directed the RBI that in case the information was not available with it, the bankers' bank will file "an affidavit with the commission" disposing that no record related to the information sought were available with it.
The commission also directed the respondent to provide information on the total amount of demonetised currency notes exchanged with new notes.
Besides Jan Dhan accounts, the CIC directed the RBI to disclose the total amount deposited in the form of demonetised notes in savings and current accounts of banks.
Agrawal had filed an RTI application with the RBI, seeking to know details related to the demonetisation exercise, complaints against bank officers, money deposited in various accounts, and the total quantum of demonetised currency exchanged by people.
Not getting any information from the RBI, Agrawal approached the commission with his appeal seeking disclosure of the information.
The CIC also ordered disclosure of information on public and private banks and their officers against whom action was initiated for not following RBI guidelines post demonetisation and records related to seizure of bundles of cash of new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes introduced post-demonetisation. -- PTI 
19:23   Mallya's statement doesn't reflect truth, says Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rubbished Vijay Mallya's statement of having met him before flying out to London in 2016, saying he never gave him an appointment since 2014 but the fugitive liquor baron misused his position as Rajya Sabha MP to accost him in Parliament.
In a Facebook blog, Jaitley said Mallya's statement was "factually false" and "does not reflect truth".
"Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise," he wrote.
But Mallya being a Member of Rajya Sabha, occasionally attended the House.
"He misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that 'I am making an offer of settlement'.
"Having been fully briefed about his earlier 'bluff offers', without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him 'there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers'," Jaitley said.
The finance minister said he did not even "receive" the papers that he was holding in his hand.
"Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member, in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me," he added. -- PTI
18:54   BJP youth leader describes Rahul Gandhi as a 'mental patient'
A leader of Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha has said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a "mental patient" who is dreaming to be the prime minister.
Abhijat Mishra, the national general secretary of the BJYM, said that the BJP need not worry till the Congress is headed by "Rahul baba".
Mishra, while addressing BJYM workers in Ahmedabad yesterday, also said that the youth should not idolize film actors Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan but great leaders like Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Mangal Pandey and Guru Gobind Singh.
Targeting Rahul Gandhi, the BJYM leader said, "I want to thank the Congress for making him the party's leader. This is good for us. We don't have to worry till Rahul baba is Congress president."
Gandhi is "trying to compete with Narendrabhai (Modi)," Mishra said in the presence of several state BJP leaders and a minister.
"A mental patient, a boy, who was born with a silver spoon, is dreaming of becoming prime minister...People grown in a pot are trying to become a banyan tree. Such fools are dreaming to be the prime minister," Mishra said. -- PTI
18:21   Met FM before leaving India: Mallya
Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya today claimed that he met the finance minster before leaving the country, news agency ANI reported.

"I met the finance minster to settle matters before I left. The banks had filed objections to my settlement letters," Mallya told reporters outside London's Westminster Magistrates' Court where he appeared today for a hearing in his high-profile extradition case.

Apparently, Arun Jaitley was the finance minister when Mallya left India in March 2016. 

He is also the current finance minister.
17:50   'Jalandhar bishop should step down'
Father Nigel Barret, Spox to Archbishop of Mumbai on Kerala nun rape case: I feel that all that has happened and transpired by the Jalandhar bishop has damaged image of the Church. In the best interest of the Church, it would be advisable for him to step down and an impartial inquiry to be conducted."
17:48   'Leopard's urine helped Indian Army during surgical strike'
Former Nagrota Corps commander, Lieutenant General Rajendra Ramrao Nimbhorkar, who participated in September 2016 surgical strike in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, said that the Indian Army carried leopard urine during the operation. He revealed that the soldiers did so in order to keep dogs away from them.Addressing an event on Tuesday, he said, "There was a possibility of dogs in villages barking at us on the route. I knew they are scared of leopards. We carried leopard urine with us and that worked and dogs didn't dare to come forward."

He added, "On 29th September 2016 at about 4:15 am there was Fajr namaz of the Muslim community. So we decided that we will not kill them (terrorists) when they pray. We decided to kill them before 4:15 am."

Lt Gen Nimbhorka was awarded Pune-based Thorle Bajirao Shaurya Puraskar for his contribution to the strikes.
17:38   IDBI officials knew of losses at Kingfisher, claims Mallya's lawyer
The lawyer of liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Wednesday claimed that IDBI Bank officials were well aware of the losses incurred in the debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya's lawyer told Westminster Magistrates Court in London, "IDBI bank officials were well aware of losses at Kingfisher. The emails from IDBI officials show that the government's accusation of Mallya hiding losses is baseless."

The lawyer further said, "There is no evidence that Mallya or Kingfisher applied for bank loans with bad intent."

Mallya, while heading inside the court in connection with his extradition case, said that he is ready for a comprehensive settlement.

On being asked if he has convinced the Court that he has the means to pay what he said he will, Mallya told media, "Obviously, that is why a settlement offer has been made."

The hearing is on September 18.

Mallya, an alleged financial offender, is facing charges of bank fraud and money laundering in India, amounting to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.
-- ANI
17:35   'Fear stopped nun from speaking out earlier'
Terming the ongoing nuns' protest against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulackal as a "historical event", former nun Jesme lauded their courage for voicing their stand against the Bishop and the authority.

Jesme quit her convent life of 33 years a decade ago when she found the acts inside the church unacceptable. After leaving the church, she also wrote an autobiography, titled 'Amen', where she narrated incidents of alleged sexual abuse by priests in Kerala.

While talking to ANI, Jesme revealed the nuns are not allowed to speak against the convent, thus, this event should be the beginning of the voice to be heard from other nuns too.

"Anyone who voices their opinion is barred from the convent. That is the reason that the protesting nuns are now not part of the congregation until they stop their protest against the Bishop. Now, they might be living in the convent, but they are not supported by the congregation. I really appreciate their bravery and valour," she told ANI.

Jesme said that fear rules the convent and added that it is because of this reason that the nun, who has levelled rape allegations against Bishop Mulackal, could not speak out earlier.

Image: Jesme, a former nun, quit convent life of 33 years a decade ago when she found the acts inside the church unacceptable.
17:23   BJP youth leader describes Rahul Gandhi as a 'mental patient'
A leader of BJP's youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha has said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a "mental patient" who is dreaming of becoming the prime minister.

Abhijat Mishra, the national general secretary of BJYM, said the BJP need not worry till the Congress is headed by "Rahul baba".

Mishra, while addressing BJYM workers in Ahmedabad yesterday, also said that the youth should not idolize film actors Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan but great leaders like Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Mangal Pandey and Guru Gobind Singh.

Targeting Rahul Gandhi, the BJYM leader said, "I want to thank the Congress for making him the party's leader. This is good for us. We don't have to worry till Rahul baba is Congress president." Gandhi is "trying to compete with Narendrabhai (Modi)," Mishra said in the presence of several state BJP leaders and a minister.

"A mental patient, a boy, who was born with a silver spoon, is dreaming of becoming prime minister...People grown in a pot are trying to become a banyan tree. Such fools are dreaming to be the prime minister," Mishra said.
16:57   India signs pacts with Rakhine State for economic development
The Indian Embassy on Wednesday signed two agreements with Myanmar's Rakhine State Government to facilitate capacity building and economic development in the province. The pacts will help promote agricultural mechanisation and support computer literacy among the youth of Rakhine State to prepare them for employment opportunities in the software sector.
16:51   Kerala police summons bishop accused of raping nun
The Kerala police has asked Bishop Franco Mullakal of the Jalandhar diocese, accused by a nun of raping her, to appear before the investigating team on September 19, Inspector General of police Vijay Sakhare said Wednesday.

The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Sakhare, IG (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam District Superintendent of Police Harisankar and Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mullakal.

The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the bishop's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was "closing its eyes to the truth" when she mustered courage to make public her sufferings.

In a scathing letter to the Vatican that was made available to the media Tuesday, the nun also asked will the Church be able to give back what she has lost. She alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal was using "political and money power" to bury the case against him.

She had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016. The bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting she levelled those as the catholic order had rejected her demand for favours. -- PTI
16:28   Inspired by India, Singaporean DJ fights ban on gay sex
Buoyed by the recent landmark ruling on homosexuality in India, a Singaporean disc jockey has filed a court challenge against a law in the city state banning gay sex, saying it is inconsistent with parts of the constitution, a media report said Wednesday. 

Johnson Ong Ming, 43, filed the case on Monday, and will contend that Section 377A is "accordingly void" as it is inconsistent with Singapore's constitution. 

Ming's court challenge comes a few days after India's Supreme Court in a landmark ruling decriminalised consensual gay sex and termed it as an important step forward towards a liberal and tolerant society.

Ming, who also owns a digital marketing agency, told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday that he chose to mount the court challenge as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) groups are "not allowed to organise" and "don't see ourselves represented positively on mainstream media, if at all".

"Without access to help and resources, navigating through life is a lonely and often stressful process for every LGBT Singaporean.

"Most importantly, I am not a criminal and I do not want to go through life being branded as one by my own country. It takes a psychological toll on you going through life thinking you are less than everyone else," Ming said. 

According to court papers, the case argues that Section 377A of the Penal Code is inconsistent with three articles in the constitution concerning liberty of a person and equal protection. 

Under 377A, any male person who commits or tries to get another male person to commit "any act of gross indecency with another male person", whether in public or private, can be jailed for up to two years. 

Ming will be represented by lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam whose law firm said it will argue that Section 377A "violates human dignity". 

 Veteran Singapore diplomat Tommy Koh called for Singapore's gay community to challenge 377A last week.

The ambassador-at-large at the ministry of foreign affairs made the comments in response to a Facebook post on India's landmark ruling.
16:22   Advani renominated as head of Lok Sabha ethics panel
Veteran BJP leader L K Advani has been renominated as the chairman of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. 

The Committee examines complaints relating to unethical conduct by members of Parliament. It is also free to take up suo motu investigation into the matters relating to ethics and unethical conduct by a member, wherever necessary, and make such recommendations, as it may deem fit, a Lok Sabha bulletin said. 

P Karunakaran has also been renominated as chairman of the Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House while Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank will head the Committee on Government Assurances, it said. 

Chandrakant B Khaire was renominated as chairman of the Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, and Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi as the chairman of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation, the bulletin added.
16:18   Made settlement offer to Karnataka HC, Mallya tells waiting media
A defiant Vijay Mallya, who is facing money laundering charges in multi-crore fraud case in India, said on Wednesday that he had made a "comprehensive settlement" offer before the Karnataka high court that will help in paying off all his dues.   

The remarks by Mallya came as he arrived at the Westminster magistrates' court in London for a hearing in his extradition case, during which the judge is expected to review a video of the Mumbai jail cell prepared by the Indian authorities for the embattled liquor tycoon.   

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, responded to the swarm of reporters gathered outside the court in his characteristic manner, saying the "courts will decide".   

"As far as I am concerned, I have. I hope the honourable judges will consider it favourably; everybody gets paid off and I guess that's the primary objective," said Mallya, who is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.    

According to Mallya, he and the United Breweries Group have filed an application in the Karnataka high court on June 22, 2018, setting out available assets of approximately Rs 13,900 crores.   

They have asked the court for permission to allow the sale of assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the public sector banks such amounts as may be directed and determined by the court.  
15:52   Confident guv will take 'good decision': TN govt on Rajiv case convicts' release
The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday said it was confident that Governor Banwarilal Purohit will respect people's feelings which reflect in the cabinet's recommendation for release of the seven convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The state cabinet recommended to Purohit the release of Nalini, her husband Sriharan alias Murugan, Perarivalan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Santhan on September 9.

"The government is confident that Governor Purohit will realise the Tamil people's feelings and expectations and take a good decision at an appropriate time," Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters.

He said the government is also "confident" that the governor will "take an expeditious decision" in the matter.

Asked if the government would mount pressure in case Purohit delays the decision, he said he cannot answer a hypothetical question.

The cabinet has taken the decision only in view of the urgency of the issue, Jayakumar added.

-- PTI
15:34   Hardik Patel calls off fast on day 19
Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel ended his 'fast unto death' Wednesday through the hands of leaders of two Patidar socio-religious bodies -- Khodaldham and Umiyadham. Hardik's close aide and one of the conveners of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti Manoj Panara announced this while addressing a press conference.

Hardik went on the indefinite fast on August 25 demanding reservations in government jobs and education for the Patidar community and waiver of farm loans. Later, he added another demand that his close aide Alpesh Kathiria, who was recently arrested in a 2015 sedition case by the city Crime Branch, be released.

The government had, in the last 14 days, not made any attempt to negotiate with Hardik, his supporters claimed. However, Gujarat Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said that "doors are open" for anyone who wanted to talk to the government.
15:06   Parole of Sharif, Maryam, son-in-law extended by three days
The parole of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar was extended by three days on Wednesday to allow them to attend the funeral of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, according to a media report. The three were released from the Adiala Jail on parole, hours after Sharif's ailing wife Kulsoom, passed away at a hospital in London on Tuesday. They were initially released on a 12-hour parole. The Sharif family had requested that a five-day parole be granted to the three. -- PTI

Image: Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam at Abu Dhabi airport on July 12 before their arrest.  Pic courtesy: @MaryamNSharif
15:00   Bishop Franco repeatedly raped nun: Police affidavit
The police affidavit in the Kerala nun rape case has revealed that the victim was repeatedly raped by the Bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal.

The affidavit, dated August 10, 2018, was filed in the Kerala High Court. It stated, "During the course of the investigation so far conducted and the available evidences collected so far, it is revealed that the accused Bishop Franco committed unnatural offence and committed rape repeatedly on different dates from September 23, 2016 to May 5, 2018."

This comes to light just a day after the accused Bishop cried foul over the rape allegations against himself. He had accused the 'anti-church elements' of falsely implicating him.

"I think some internal forces are using these nuns for some advantage. The antis in the church are pushing these nuns forward to raise their own issues. There is a conspiracy behind this. Few people are taking advantage of this. I will cooperate to all legal measures," Bishop Mulackal had told ANI.

The nun from Kerala had accused the 54-year-old priest of raping her on several occasions between 2014 and 2016. On Tuesday, the nun appealed to the Vatican seeking justice. -- ANI

Image: Nuns at a protest in Kochi on Saturday.
14:18   Aatish Taseer's new book has Benares setting
When author Aatish Taseer first came to Benares he was 18, the Westernised child of an Indian journalist and a Pakistani politician raised among the intellectual and cultural elite of New Delhi.

Nearly two decades later, Taseer leaves his life in Manhattan to go in search of the Brahmins, wanting to understand his own estrangement from India through their ties to tradition. And he comes out with "The Twice-Born - Life and Death on the Ganges", a deeply individual and acutely perceptive book revolving around questions of culture and politics that are going to define our future as a nation.

The book, published by HarperCollins India, will release on October 22.
14:03   Nun rape: Notice may be issued to Jalandhar bishop
A notice may be issued to Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese to appear before an investigating team in the alleged rape of a nun. An affidavit will also be filed before the high court in this connection tomorrow.

On Monday, the Kerala High Court had directed the state government to inform it of the steps taken by the special investigation team probing the case of alleged rape of the nun by the Bishop.

While considering a plea filed by George Joseph K of the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement seeking a court-monitored probe into the case, the court had said, "Law is above all other things and it will take its own course."

Slamming the public outcry over the alleged delay in action against Jalandhar Bishop, Auxilary Bishop of Changanassery Archdiocese, Thomas Tharayil sought to know whether declaring a person guilty without an investigation and trial was also a new Kerala model.  
13:45   Mallya extradition: Video of habitable Mumbai jail cell to be presented
Vijay Mallya will appear before a London court today for a hearing in his extradition case, during which the judge is expected to review a video of the Mumbai jail cell prepared by the Indian authorities for the embattled liquor tycoon.

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore.

At the previous hearing in July in the Westminster Magistrates' Court in, Judge Emma Arbuthnot had asked the Indian authorities to submit a "step by step video" of the Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail for "the avoidance of doubt" over the availability of natural light in the cell where the businessman is expected to be detained pre-trial, during trial and in the event he is convicted by the Indian courts. The Crown Prosecution Service arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had agreed to the request and the video has since been submitted to the court.

Mallya's defence team had demanded an inspection of the jail cell to ensure it meets the UK's human rights obligations related to extradition proceedings.

The CPS stressed that the Indian government had provided "adequate material' which rendered the need for an inspection unnecessary, leading to the demand for a video recording to be reviewed by the court.

The judge is also expected to hear the final closing arguments in the case, after which a timeline for her ruling is likely to become clearer. The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on December 4 last year, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya. It also seeks to prove there are no "bars to extradition" and that the tycoon is assured a fair trial in India.  -- PTI 
13:29   Artificial anti-oxidant 100 times more potent: Study
A well-known artificial anti-oxidant, TEMPO, is up to 100 times more powerful than nature's best, and could help counteract everything from skin damage to Alzheimer's disease, a study has found.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are naturally present in the body and are created during routine natural processes like breathing, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"Free radicals are a natural part of human metabolism. But when our bodies have too many, like when we are exposed to UV radiation from the Sun, when we smoke, or even when we drink alcohol, it can be a problem," said Gino DiLabio, a professor at UBC.

"These extremely reactive molecules can damage cells or DNA and can contribute to many different diseases, like Alzheimer's, and some researchers think they may even be responsible for aging," DiLabio said. -- PTI
13:28   Reham Khan spills beans on 'abduction' of Sindhis
Reham Khan, the ex-wife of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, has revealed that the Pakistan government has been orchestrating forced abductions of the Sindhi social activist and nationalists.

In a video posted by Baloch Republican Party spokesman Sher Muhammad Bugti on Twitter, Khan spoke about the disappearances in Pakistan's Sindh province, saying, "The abduction of Sindhi social activists and Sindhi nationalists is a grave injustice. They should be treated as per the constitution and law of the state. The families of these disappeared people need closure as to whether they are alive or dead."

Showing a bunch of papers containing a list of missing persons, Khan emphasised how the forced abduction of people from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has now spread to the Sindh region of the country, with a number of Sindhi activists going 'missing' without ever being found. -- ANI
13:22   English summer: Virat the batsman wins, Virat the captain loses
Virat Kohli the batsman exorcised the ghosts of a horrendous 2014 series but his captaincy left a lot to be desired in the just-concluded series against England which again turned out to be a case of ''what it could have been''. Kohli is, in fact, right when he says that barring Lord's Test, they were not totally outplayed but England played better cricket during key moments during the 1-4 loss.

The series was testimony that batsman Kohli is head and shoulders above his peers not just in India but in world cricket. The 593 runs, with two hundreds and two half centuries, and his battle of attrition with old nemesis Jimmy Anderson will remain stuff of legends.

Where Kohli erred was not realising that his teammates were not as prepared for testing English conditions as he was. The Indian team reduced the duration of its lone practice game against County Champions Essex, a move that was criticised by none other than Sunil Gavaskar.

Kohli, however, differed stating that practice matches are worth it only if there is a good opposition to compete against and pitches of Test quality. ''Kohli should understand that if he doesn't play for a month, he would still come out and score runs. But others need practice. And in practice games you won't get Test quality attacks. But the batsmen and bowlers in match situation add miles to their legs. It's better than taking throwdowns," Gavaskar had said.  -- PTI
12:44   SC extends house arrest of 5 arrested activists
The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the house arrest of five rights activists in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case till September 17.   

It also adjourned the hearing on the plea of historian Romila Thapar and four others to September 17.   

Further details soon.
12:02   Sally Field recalls sexual abuse by stepfather
Two-time Academy Award-winner Sally Field has revealed that as a child, she was sexually abused by her stepfather. In an interview with The New York Times, about her new memoir, 'In Pieces', the 71-year-old spoke in detail about her troubled past.

Talking about the sexual abuse she faced at the hands of her stepfather, stuntman Jock "Jocko" Mahoney, Field recalled how he used to call her to his room until she was 14.

In her book, Field writes, "I felt both a child, helpless, and not a child. Powerful. This was power. And I owned it. But I wanted to be a child - and yet."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, she also writes, "It would have been so much easier if I'd only felt one thing, if Jocko had been nothing but cruel and frightening. But he wasn't. He could be magical, the Pied Piper with our family as his entranced followers."

In her memoir and the NYT interview, the 'Mrs. Doubtfire' star opened up about how she had a secret abortion at 17 in Mexico. It also includes abuse allegations against other men in Hollywood. -- ANI
11:56   The New Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan, like others before him, has capitulated to bigotry. Read the column here.
11:41   Tata Motors stock slips 3% as JLR chief issues 'no-deal' Brexit warning
Shares of Tata Motors Wednesday slipped as much as three per cent in morning trade on bourses after the Jaguar Land Rover issued a warning to the UK government of massive losses if Britain was to leave the European Union.

JLR CEO Ralf Speth, who was speaking at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit in Birmingham, Tuesday said that fears of a so-called "no-deal" Brexit and lack of clarity over Britain's post-Brexit plans threatens the UK-based luxury carmaker's entire operational set up.  -- PTI
11:26   Court grants bail to former IAF chief S P Tyagi, others in chopper case
A Delhi court Wednesday granted bail to former Air Force Chief S P Tyagi and others in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. Special judge Arvind Kumar granted bail to Tyagi and his cousins involved in the case and asked them to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh with one surety of the like amount.

The bail was granted after they appeared before the court in pursuance to summons issued against them. The court had on July 24 summoned former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, Tyagi and others as accused in the case.

The court had asked the accused to appear before it today, while issuing fresh non-bailable warrants against Italian middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke and Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena in the case. Besides the six, the court also summoned as accused 28 Indian and foreign individuals and companies, including lawyer Gautam Khaitan, AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica SPA.  -- PTI
11:02   5.5 earthquake in Assam, parts of north-east India
Earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale rocks Kokrajhar in Assam. Strong tremors were felt across northeast India and in West Bengal as well. It was not immediately known where the epicentre of the earthquake was but reports indicate it was in Assam. Tremors were felt in parts of Bangladesh as well.

Light tremors were felt in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in Haryana last night. An earthquake of magnitude 3.1 occurred at 5.43 am in Jhajjar, Haryana.

Image: Residents of Kokrajhar in Assam come out on to the streets after a 5.5 earthquake rocked the town. Pic: ANI
10:49   Agusta Westland case: Ex-air chief gets bail
While on the IAF, Delhi's Patiala House Court granted bail to former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi and his brothers in the Agusta Westland case filed by the Enforcement Directorate. Other accused who did not appear including Carlo Gerosa, GR Heshke have not been granted bail.
10:48   India's neighbours not sitting idle: IAF chief on threat perceptions
No country in the world is facing the kind of grave threat that India is confronted with, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said Wednesday. He said intentions of adversaries can change overnight and the Air Force needs to match their force level. The air chief also said that India's neighbours are not sitting idle and countries like China are modernising its air force significantly.

Speaking at a seminar on 'IAF's force structure, 2035', the air chief said the government is procuring Rafale fighter jets and S-400 missile systems to enhance IAF's capability. He also justified procurement of only two Rafale jet squadrons, saying there were example of similar purchases. -- PTI
10:45   Suspected militants open fire on police personnel on J&K highway
Suspected militants opened fire on police personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Wednesday, an official said. No casualties have been reported in the incident that took place on the outskirts of Jammu city. Police personnel, posted at a check post on the highway, signalled a truck to stop, but it sped away.

The truck was intercepted by a police team after a chase and the suspected militants fired on them from the vehicle before fleeing. The driver and the conductor of the truck were taken into custody. An AK assault rifle and three magazines were seized from the truck. -- PTI
10:38   Rafale: PM compromised national security, say ex-BJP ministers
Former BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of violating the Defence Procurement Procedures while finalising the high-profile Rafale deal.

Alleging Prime Narendra Modi's "personal culpability" in the Rafale jet purchases, the trio asserted that the former bypassed every rule of defence procurement and "compromised national security".

"National security has been compromised by the Prime Minister and every rule of the defence procurement was flouted to unilaterally reduce the number of planes from 126 to 36. As per DPP, only the service headquarters can decide on the numbers," said Shourie, while addressing a press conference.

Shourie said that in just two days Prime Minister Modi "completely overturned" a process that was in progress for years, while adding that the latter had "absolutely no authority to do so."

He further alleged that the Central government had "spun a web of lies to protect Prime Minister's culpability in the connection". -- ANI
10:02   Sensex, Nifty back in green
The BSE benchmark Sensex recovered by over 100 points and the NSE Nifty reclaimed the 11,300-mark in opening trade Wednesday following fresh purchases made by domestic investors ahead of key macroeconomic data to be released later in the day.

However, a weakening trend on other Asian bourses on worries over lingering trade conflict between the US and China forced investors to adopt a cautious approach.

The 30-share Sensex was up 133.29 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 37,546.42 with sectoral indices led by FMCG, power, IT, teck, infrastructure and PSU stocks trading in the positive zone.

The gauge had plunged 976.69 points in the previous two sessions as global trade war tensions rattled investor sentiment. Also, the NSE Nifty was trading higher by 52.60 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 11,340.10. -- PTI
09:45   Sushma Swaraj condoles Kulsoom Nawaz's demise
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed her condolences over the demise of Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who passed away on Tuesday after complications arising from cancer.

Swaraj tweeted, "I am sorry to know about the sad demise of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. May her soul rest in peace."

Kulsoom was admitted to London's Harley Street Clinic for cancer treatment in June and her health deteriorated on Monday night. She was placed on life support earlier in the day.

-- ANI
09:25   Rupee opens at new lifetime low of 72.87 against US dollar
The rupee hit a fresh low of 72.87, as it fell 18 paise against the US dollar.

On Tuesday, the rupee touched a fresh lifetime low of 72.75, before settling at 72.70, an all-time closing low.
08:47   Trump's 'thoughtless' tweet on 17th anniversary of 9/11 upsets Americans
This Tuesday marked the 11th anniversary of the deadly September 11 attacks in the US. Early in the morning of September 11, 2001, four aircraft hijacked by 19 terrorists rammed into the north and south towers of the iconic World Trade Centre in New York. The fourth plane hit Pentagon, just outside Washington, DC and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The event remembered by Americans as well as the world as a grave tragedy, the deadliest attack on foreign soil ever and since. Each year, the day is marked by a sea of condolences by world leaders and influencers and by the astute people of the US who remember it as a black day of commemorating the victims and reflecting on the past and future.

However, this year is the year of the Donald.

On the 17th anniversary of the grim day, this is what the US President tweeted:

"17 years since September 11th!"

The bare minimum tweet from the US President on a day that bears so much emotional baggage for most Americans instantly drew flak on Twitter with many attacking the POTUS's insensitivity. 

Image: US President Donald Trump gestures after arriving in Johnstown to take part in the 17th annual September 11 observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
08:08   Jammu-Kashmir local body elections may be deferred to January
Jammu-Kashmir local body elections may be deferred to January after local parties National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party boycotted the polls. 

The People's Democratic Party and the National Conference announced its decision to stay away from the polls. 

Speaking about her party's decision, former J-K CM Mehbooba Mufti said they will not contest the polls as the prevailing situation was not favourable.

"We will go to any extent to protect Article 35A," said Mufti at a press conference in Srinagar.

She said the people of the state have "sacrificed a lot" and no one can fiddle with the validity of Article 35 A.

Earlier, the National Conference announced that it will not contest the panchayat polls and even the 2019 elections "until and unless the Government of India and the state government clear their position on Article 35 A and takes effective steps to protect Article 35 A in and outside the court".

Article 35A, which gives special rights to people in the state and bars outsiders from owning immovable property, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The apex court had on August 31 deferred the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, as the Centre urged the court to take up the matter after panchayat elections in the state.
00:16   Cong will construct Ram Path if comes to power in MP: Digvijay
The Congress will construct 'Ram Path' (a mythical route taken by Lord Ram during his 14-year exile) stretching up to the borders of Madhya Pradesh if voted to power, senior party leader Digvijay Singh said on Tuesday.

He said the Congress would also construct the 'Narmada Parikrama Path'.

Assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh later this year. The Congress has been out of power in the central state since 2003.

"The ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) had announced to develop the 'Ram Path' but never kept its promise. But, we are thinking to construct the 'Ram Path' up to the borders of the state. The 'Narmada Parikrama Path' would also be constructed," Singh told a press conference in Bhopal.

Narmada parikrama is a walk along the banks of the river Narmada which covers a distance of 3,300 km.

Responding to a query whether the Congress is adopting 'soft Hindutva', the former chief minister said there was nothing like soft or hard Hindutva.

"Hindutva has nothing to do with the religion," he said.

When asked if the Congress was emulating the BJP by promising development of the 'Ram Path' and setting up cow shelters in the state, Singh replied in negative.

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had announced on on October 1, 2007 that it would track the 'Ram Gaman Path' or the route that Lord Ram had taken in the 11 out of 14 years of his exile he had spent in the forests of state through the districts of Satna, Panna, Shahdol, Jabalpur and Vidisha.

Singh said the so-called worshippers of the cow are only interested in collecting funds.

"During the ersthile rule of the Congress, 'Gaushalas' were constructed in MP. Nobody should have objections if the Congress talks about setting up Gaushalas in every Panchayat (to avoid the problems of stray cattle)," he said.

Singh said he never harboured animosity against the BJP or even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"There may be political rivalry, but no acrimony," he said.

The Congress leader dared Chouhan to prove a single instance of corruption during his 10-year rule as the chief minister from 1993-2003.

"The BJP has failed to prove even a single corruption charge in the last 15 years. Why to talk about proving, they even could not level a charge against me. But, I am saying that the family of Shivraj Singh Chouhan is involved in Vyapam scam and illegal sand mining," he alleged.

Sing accused the BJP of raising issues that may create social tension.

Replying to a query, Singh said, "Neither Hindus nor Sanatan Dharma is in danger. Mughals had ruled this country for 500 years and Christians for 150 years, but Sanatan Dharma continued to exist. Some people are misleading common people to serve their political interests."

Singh said he would soon serve a legal notice to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

"Shivraj had termed me anti-national, but no case has been registered against me so far. Now, they (BJP) are saying that I have relations with Naxals. This allegation against me shows their mental status," he said.  -- PTI