Tue, 09 April 2019
Jet Airways reduces operations to just 32 flights

Timeline  Refresh

23:39   Jet Airways reduces operations to just 32 flights
Crumbling Jet Airways has massively reduced its operations from its main hub Mumbai to just about 32 flights Tuesday, said an airline source.
Amid acute financial crunch, which has also forced it to delay salaries to employees and payments to banks, aircraft lessors and vendors, Jet is struggling to remain afloat.
"Jet Tuesday operated only 22 planes, bringing down daily operations to 32 flights from Mumbai, the main hub. This included 16 arrivals and departures each," the source said, adding the airline didn't operate the remaining four aircraft. 
According to him, of the 22 planes it operated, 16 were on the domestic routes and the rest were deployed in the international routes.
Jet Airways could not be reached for comment.
Civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had said on April 4 said that Jet Airways was flying only 26 aircraft". -- PTI 
22:55   EC seeks report on PM's Balakot strike remarks
The Election Commission has taken cognizance of Prime Mnister Narendra Modi's remarks asking first-time voters to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the air strike in Balakot, and has sought a report from poll officials in Maharashtra. 
Sources in the poll panel said Tuesday that the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra has been asked to submit a report at the earliest.
Addressing a rally in Ausa in Mahrashtra's Latur, Modi said, "Can your first vote be dedicated to those who carried out the air strike."
"I want to tell the first-time voters: can your first vote be dedicated to the veer jawans (valiant soldiers) who carried out the air strike in Pakistan). Can your first vote be dedicated to the veer shaheed (brave martyrs) of Pulwama (terror attack)," Modi said.
The report has been sought in the context of an EC advisory issued last month asking parties to desist from indulging in political propaganda involving actions of the armed forces.
"...parties/candidates are advised that their campaigners/candidates should desist, as part of their election campaigning, from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of defence forces," the
commission had said on March 19. PTI
22:11   Bureaucratic rejig: Gargi Kaul appointed Secretary, Defence Finance
Senior bureaucrat Gargi Kaul has been appointed as Secretary, Defence Finance, as part of a bureaucratic reshuffle effected Tuesday by the government.
Kaul, a 1984-batch officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, is at present Financial Advisor (Defence Services), Ministry of Defence.
She has been appointed Secretary (Defence Finance), Defence Ministry, an order issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
IAS officer Sumeet Jerath has been named Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is Special Secretary and Financial Advisor, Ministry of External Affairs.
Raj Kumar Goyal, a 1990-batch IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, has been appointed as Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Ministry of External Affairs in place of Jerath.
Goyal is presently working in his cadre state J&K.
Prem Kumar Kataria will be Additional Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.
IAS officer Anil Kumar Jha has been appointed Additional Secretary, Department of Revenue. He is working in his cadre state Karnataka.
S K G Rahate will be Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power. Rahate, a 1990-batch IAS officer, is serving in his cadre state Jharkhand.
IAS officer Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi, Member (Admin), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), will be Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Culture.
Amitabh Kumar, Additional Director General (Shipping), has been promoted as  Director General (Shipping), Ministry of Shipping.
In addition to these, there have been promotions of various officers working at the level of joint secretary to additional secretary and above, according to the order. -- PTI 
21:58   Polling to be held as per schedule despite naxal attack: EC
Polling in Chhattisgarh's Bastar seat in phase 1 of the Lok Sabha elections will be held as per schedule, Election Commission officials said on Tuesday, hours after a BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed in a naxal attack in the constituency.
"Polling will go on as per schedule," EC officials said quoting state Chief Electoral Officer Subrat Sahu.
In his report to the poll panel, Sahu said he has "taken an immediate video conference of collectors and SPs (superintendents of police) of the affected districts covering Phase 1 and phase 2 in Chhattisgarh". 
The CEO also said he has "instructed them to take utmost precautions over the next few days" keeping in mind polling in the first phase on April 11 and second phase on April 18 in the state.
Dantewada, where the attack took place, falls in the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, which will go to polls in the first phase on Thursday. 
Chhattisgarh will go for polls in three phases -- April 11, 18 and 23.
BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel were Tuesday killed when their convoy was attacked by naxalites in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.
The incident occurred at Shyamagiri hills when the MLA's convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from the Bacheli area, which is about 450 km from state capital Raipur.
The naxalites blew up a vehicle in the convoy with an IED and opened fire at the occupants, killing the MLA and four security personnel, police officials said.
21:39   NC, Abdullahs were once BJP's allies, Pawar reminds Modi
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked him Tuesday for joining forces with the National Conference, NCP chief Sharad Pawar reminded him that the Farooq Abdullah-led party was an ally of the BJP in the past.
He also said that Modi labelled everyone who goes against him as "terrorist".
Earlier in the day, at a rally at Ausa in Maharashtra, Modi asked if it behoved  Pawar to side with the NC which has sought a separate prime minister for Jammu and Kashmir.
"The prime minister targets me whenever he comes to Maharashtra. Today also he raised question as to why Sharad Pawar was with former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister @OmarAbdullah who is like a terrorist," Pawar tweeted after addressing a campaign meeting for Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, who is in fray from the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat.
Pawar recalled that the BJP had been a partner of the National Conference in the past in Jammu and Kashmir and also in the Central government.
"Whenever any force (`shakti') goes against Modi, it is dubbed terrorist. This is Modi's policy," Pawar tweeted in Hindi.
The former Union minister also alleged that the prime minister was playing the "Hindu card" as he was left with no other issue, and added, "It was not a good thing".
NC leader Omar Abdullah said last week his party will strive hard for restoring the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir that could include having a 'Sadar-e-Riyasat' (President) and 'Wazir-e-Azam' (Prime Minister).
At the rally at Ausa, Modi wondered if it "behoved the Maratha strongman to join forces with the parties holding such a view".
Modi and Pawar have been taking potshots at each other after the prime minister targeted him at a poll rally at Wardha on April 1. -- PTI 
21:19   Sonia backstabbed Gowda: PM in K'taka
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday said Congress president Rahul Gandhi did not contest Lok Sabha polls from Karnataka fearing revenge by coalition partner JDS' supremo H D Deve Gowda for being 'backstabbed' by Sonia Gandhi when he was removed as prime minister.
Addressing a rally inMysuru, he said the only vision and agenda of the Congress was "Modi Hatao" (remove Modi), which was also shared by the partners of "Mahamilavat", a derisive reference to the "grand alliance" of opposition parties.
Modi said Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has become a "punching bag" for the Congress.
He said though the Congress was sharing power with JDS in the state, Gandhi preferred Kerala for his second seat besides the traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh rather than Karnataka.
Modi claimed this was because the Congress feared that Gowda might take revenge over former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi "backstabbing" him when he was removed as prime minister heading the United Front government in 1996.
He also said one could imagine the plight of the Congress today when its president's existing seat itself was in danger, referring to Rahul Gandhi contesting from the second seat of Wayanad in Kerala. -- PTI 
20:30   SC verdict on Rafale review tomorrow
The Supreme Court will Wednesday pronounce verdict on the preliminary objections raised by the Centre that the documents on which it was claiming "privilege" cannot be relied upon to re-examine the verdict in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will pronounce the verdict.
On March 14, the apex court had reserved verdict on the preliminary objections raised by the Centre on admissibility of privileged documents annexed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie as also activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan in their review petition against the top court's December 14 judgement that dismissed all petitions against the Rafale jet deal.
"Only after we decide the preliminary objection raised by the Centre, we will go into other aspect of the review petitions," the bench said, adding that "only if we overrule the preliminary objection, we will go into other details".
The Centre had claimed privilege over documents pertaining to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and said those documents cannot be considered in evidence as per Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre had contended that no one can produce them in the court without the permission of the department concerned as those documents are also protected under the Official Secrets Act and their disclosure is exempted under the Right to Information Act as per Section 8(1)(a).
Bhushan had contended that the Centre's objections were "mala fide and totally untenable arguments".
The top court had further noted that according to the AG's submissions "there are three Rafale documents whose publication comes under Official Secrets Act, 1923. These documents were unauthorisedly published. You claim privilege under section 123 of Evidence Act. You want us to adjudicate and strike down the review on this basis".
Bhusahn had submitted a note countering the preliminary objections raised by the centre on maintainability of the review petitions, stating that "preliminary objection are mala fide and totally untenable arguments".
He had said government cannot claim privilege over the documents which are already published and is in public domain.
Bhushan had said that Section 123 Indian Evidence Act only protected "unpublished documents". -- PTI
20:17   Ahead of polling, police chief of Bengal's Cooch Behar shunted out by EC
The Election Commission on Tuesday ordered the transfer of police chief of West Bengal's Cooch Behar and posted another officer in his place ahead of polling in the district on April 11.
The Election Commission said Superintendent of Police, Cooch Behar Abhishek Gupta be transferred out and be replaced by Amit Kumar Singh.
The transfer orders came ahead of polling in the district on Thursday.
Last week, the poll panel had ordered the transfer of four police officers in the state, triggering a sharp reaction from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee had then accused the EC of transferring the officers at the behest of the ruling BJP at the Centre.
The commission had rejected the charge, saying the decision was based on "cumulative feedback" from one of its top officials and the special police observer. -- PTI
20:01   Kailash Yatra to be held from June 8-Sep 8, registration begins: MEA
The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, organised by the ministry of external affairs, will take place between June 8 to September 8 through the routes of the Nathu La and the Lipulekh passes, it was announced on Tuesday.
The registration for the yatra began Tuesday and applicants between 18-70 years of age can apply till May 9, the ministry said in a statement.
The yatra is scheduled during the period from June 8 to September 8 through the two routes, the MEA said.
The route through the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand, which involves some trekking, is estimated to cost about Rs 1.8 lakh per person and will be conducted in 18 batches of 60 pilgrims each, it said.
The duration of the yatra is 24 days for each batch, including three days in Delhi, for preparatory work.
This route passes through important sites like Narayan Ashram, Patal Bhuvaneshwar, among others.
"Yatris can also see the scenic beauty of the Chialekh Valley or the 'Om Parvat' which has the natural occurrence of snow in the shape of 'Om' on this mountain," the ministry said.
The route through Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) is motorable and suitable for senior citizens unable to undertake arduous trekking, the ministry said.
From Gangtok, the route passes through scenic places like Hangu lake and through the vast landscape of the Tibetan plateau.
It is estimated to cost about Rs 2.5 lakh per person, and the duration of the yatra would be 21 days, including three days in Delhi for preparatory work, it said.
This year, 10 batches of 50 pilgrims each are scheduled for this route, the MEA said. 
As in the previous years, first time applicants, medical doctors, and married couples would have priority, it said. -- PTI
19:51   India to grow at 7.3% in 2019, 7.5% in 2020: IMF
India is projected to grow at 7.3 per cent in 2019 and 7.5 per cent in 2020, supported by the continued recovery of investment and robust consumption, thus remaining the fastest growing major economy of the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In 2018, India's growth rate was 7.1 per cent, as against China's 6.6 per cent. In 2019, the IMF projected a growth rate of 6.3 per cent for China and 6.1 per cent in 2020, according to the latest World Economic Outlook projections released ahead of the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
"In India, growth is projected to pick up to 7.3 per cent in 2019 and 7.5 per cent in 2020, supported by the continued recovery of investment and robust consumption amid a more expansionary stance of monetary policy and some expected impetus from fiscal policy, the report said. 
"Nevertheless, reflecting the recent revision to the national account statistics that indicated somewhat softer underlying momentum, growth forecast have been revised downward compared with the October 2018 WEO by 0.1 percentage point for 2019 and 0.2 percentage point for 2020, respectively," it said. 
Growth in India, the report said, is expected to stabilise at just under 7 per cent over the medium term, based on continued implementation of structural reforms and easing of infrastructure bottlenecks.
The World Economic Outlook believes that in India, continued implementation of structural and financial sector reforms with efforts to reduce public debt remain essential to secure the economy's growth prospects.
"In the near term, continued fiscal consolidation is needed to bring down India's elevated public debt. This should be supported by strengthening goods and services tax compliance and further reducing subsidies," it said.
19:48   Rahul to file nomination for Amethi on Apr 10
Congress president Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination papers for the Amethi Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday and also hold a road show in the  constituency, party sources said Tuesday.
The Congress president will file his nomination papers and also hold a road show here, district unit spokesman of the Congress, Anil Singh, said.
Rahul Gandhi will be accompanied by his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi during the filing of nomination, Singh said.
The Congress chief will undertake a 3-km-long road show from Munshiganj-Darpipur to Gauriganj before filing the nomination, he said.
Rahul Gandhi, who has been representing the constituency for the past 15 years, will this time again face BJP's Smriti Irani who is likely to file her nomination papers a day later on Thursday.
In the 2014 general elections, Irani was defeated by Rahul Gandhi by over one lakh votes.
This time, the Congress president is contesting from two Lok Sabha seats.
Last Thursday, Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination from Wayanad in Kerala and said he is fighting the Lok Sabha polls from a second seat in the south besides the party bastion Amethi in the north to send a message of unity and that "India is one".
Amethi goes to polls in the fifth phase on May 6. -- PTI
19:25   Strongly condemn the Maoist attack: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemns the Naxal Attack in Dantewada.

"Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain," the PM tweeted.

Talking about Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Bhima Mandavi  who was killed in the attack alongwith four security personnel Modi said his demise is deeply anguishing.

"Bhima Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti," he said in another tweet. 
19:03   Jet pilots serve legal notice over salary dues, sets April 14 deadline
Jet Airways domestic pilots body, the National Aviators Guild on Tuesday served a legal notice to the airline, setting an April 14 deadline for the new management to clear their salary dues.
Jet Airways pilots along with engineers and senior executives have not been paid for the last three months amid cash-drought in the airline that saw an ownership change last month with banks taking majority shares.
Along with these staff, the airline has defaulted on the payment of March salaries to other employees as well.
"My client (NAG) calls upon the management of Jet Airways to pay their outstanding salaries for January, February and March, by April 14 (and future salaries by the first of every month," NAG said in a legal notice.
"Failing which my client shall be constrained to resort to all constitutional and legal means available with them to ensure payment of their salaries," the notice stated.
The NAG claims to represent around 1,100 of the total 1,600 pilots of the carrier.
Late March, the guild had warned of a "no flying call" from April 1 over the delayed salaries, which they had deferred to April 14. -- PTI 
18:33   BJP MLA from Dantewada, among 5 killed by Naxals
Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel were on Tuesday killed when their convoy was attacked by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district, days before the first-phase polling in the state, police said. 
The incident occurred at Shyamagiri hills when the MLA's convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from Bacheli area.
The Naxalites blew up a vehicle in the convoy with an IED and opened fire at the occupants. The MLA and four security personnel were killed in the attack, police officials said. 
Security forces have been rushed to the area, they said. 
Dantewada falls in the Bastar Lok Sabha seat which will go to polls in the first phase on April 11. 
17:56   Naxals attack BJP convoy in Dantewada
Chhattisgarh: BJP convoy attacked by Naxals in Dantewada. Dantewada MLA Bheema Mandavi was also in the convoy. Early reports say five cops in the convoy may have been killed, while the MLA is reportedly missing. The bulletproof vehicle they were travelling hit an IED. The blast was followed by firing. Details awaited.  

In 2013, around 250 Naxals in civilian clothes struck a convoy of Congress leaders during the party's Parivartan Rally in Chhattisgarh's Jagdalpur, killing at least 25 people, including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and senior party leader Mahendra Karma.

Image: File pic of BSF personnel in Chhattisgarh.
17:34   Kerala Congress leader passes away
Kerala Congress (M) chairman and former Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani passes away in Ernakulam. He had been unwell for a while. Details awaited. 
Amul's take on the BJP and Congress manifestos
17:22   As PM, Modi will be best remembered for mob-lynchings: Owaisi
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be best remembered for mob-lynching incidents during his tenure.
Referring to reports of a man being thrashed by a mob for allegedly selling beef in Assam, Owaisi said,"These incidents will haunt Modi in his entire life that being a prime minister he was unable to stop such incidents."
He described the reported incident as 'horrible' and the 68-year old man was beaten because he was selling beef.
"...he has been in the trade for the past 35 years. Then he is forced to eat pork. These 'bafoons'...they are not fit to be called human beings...they are animals", the Hyderabad Lok Sabha member charged during a 'Meet The Press'.
"Mr Narendra Modi's legacy...the top most thing he would be remembered for is during his tenure as the prime minister of this great country and it is because of him being in power mob-lynching happened and such incidents increased", he said.
He claimed the people who indulged in mob-lynchings were all Modi's supporters, and "they have got emboldened because they know that they have a Prime Minister who supports their ideology".
"'Love jihad', 'ghar-wapsi', mob-lynching and 'cow' happened after Modi became the prime minister in 2014", Owaisi, who is seeking re-elecction from Hyderabad in the April 11 first phase Lok Sabha elections, alleged.
Had the prime minister called at least one victim of such incidents to his house and showed "empathy and sympathy" and told very clearly he would not tolerate this, and had he been sincere, these incidents would not have happened, he said.
On BJP's manifesto promising scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35-A, which says no outsider can own property in that state, Owaisi asked: "how long you want to cheat the people in the name of (Article) 370".
"Your government was in power for five years in Centre and you were in government with PDP in J&K. 370 cannot be removed. It is only during elections they indulge in politics of cheating and lying. Uniform Civil Code cannot be implemented in the country, the AIMIM leader said. -- PTI
17:00   Chowkidar doesn't have guts to debate with me: Rahul
Continuing his tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the 'chowkidar' (watchman) is not only a "thief", but also a "coward" as he avoids having a direct debate with the opposition party chief.
Launching a volley of criticism, Gandhi said Modi and his schemes "benefited" only the rich businessmen like Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi in the last five years.
"Chowkidar is not only chor, but also a coward. I told the chowkidar to debate with me as he talks about corruption. He does not have the guts and fled away," the Congress president said at a public rally in Assam's Hailakandi.
Reaching the venue almost two hours late by road instead of a planned chopper ride from Silchar airport due to heavy rains, Gandhi said the media reports have been of giving money to the rich people like Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, but not to poor people.
"Narendra Modi ran the government in five years to give benefits to only 15 people and gave non-stop money to the richest people of the country. After the Congress comes to power in 2019, the headline will be poor people are given money," he added.
Gandhi alleged that Modi made false promises over giving two crore jobs, fair prices to farmers and depositing Rs 15 lakh in everyone's bank accounts.
"Chowkidar took away your money by demonetisation and GST. The keys of the banks were handed over to thieves like Anil Ambani. Once we will come to power, we will snatch that key from Anil Ambani and give it to the youths of the Barak valley," he said at the rally in Barak valley.
Gandhi also said that as soon as the Congress forms the government at the Centre, the party will work towards making 33 per cent women's reservation in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas.
He also spoke about the Congress promise of depositing Rs 72,000 annually in the bank accounts of the 20 per cent of the poorest people across the country irrespective of region, religion and caste. -- PTI 
16:16   Vice Admiral Bimal Verma withdraws petition from tribunal
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma on Tuesday withdrew his petition from the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) challenging the appointment of Karambir Singh as the next Chief of Indian Navy.

Advocate Ankur Chibber, who is appearing for Vice Admiral Verma in the court, told ANI, "We will first refer this case to Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). If the case is not heard by the ACC in the next few days, we will file a fresh petition in the AFT."

Vice Admiral Verma withdrew the petition after the AFT asked why he had not exercised the legal remedy of first approaching the central government.

Verma's lawyer-daughter Rhea also spoke in line with Chibber. "If our matter does not get any response from the government, we will go back to the court. There is neither any comma nor any full stop."

Vice Admiral Bimal Verma had on Monday moved the AFT against his supersession and appointment of Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Chief of Indian Navy.

In his petition, the officer had challenged the government's move to ignore seniority and appoint his junior as the next chief of Navy. -- ANI
15:41   Kerala nun rape case: Bishop Franco chargesheeted
Almost a year after allegedly raping a nun, a chargesheet has been filed against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The chargesheet was submitted before the Judicial First Class Magistrate. In June last year, a senior nun had alleged rape by Mulakkal, the head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar. The nun said she was sexually assaulted multiple times since May 2014 at the church's guest house in Kuruvilangad. She said that she had approached the church hierarchy but her repeated pleas were ignored, after which she decided to go the police. Her fellow nuns took to the streets, staged protests, thus forming what was possibly the biggest rebellion that India's church had seen from the inside.
15:25   Vote without fear, BSF tells Maoist-hit Odisha
The BSF has called on people living in Maoist-affected areas of Odisha to cast their votes without fear, claiming that their participation will send a "clear message" to the extremists that violence and intimidation will no longer be accepted in the state.

Election in 147 Assembly seats and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha will be held simultaneously in four phases - on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. Maoist posters asking people to boycott polls have appeared in several parts of the state.

The paramilitary force, which has been entrusted with election security in Odisha for the first time, assured people that they are taking measures to ensure peaceful polls.

"All arterial roads are being scanned regularly and intelligence networks strengthened to conduct an incident-free election," BSF IG Ashwini Kumar Singh said in the statement.

"If the voters come out in large numbers in the Maoist belts to cast their votes, it will send a message to the extremists that violence and intimidation will no longer be accepted," Singh said. -- PTI
15:13   Jaitley heads to US for World Bank meeting, Nirmala steps in at briefings
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has left for the US to attend the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

The meeting will be held from April 12-14 and will be Jaitleys first official overseas trip since his kidney transplant in mid-May last year.

Meanwhile, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been asked to interact with the media every day. During the absence of Arun Jaitley, she  will attend the 11 am daily briefings by party president Amit Shah at the BJP headquarters, which she will later share with the media.
15:13   Jaitley heads to US for World Bank meeting, Nirmala steps in at briefings
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has left for the US to attend the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

The meeting will be held from April 12-14 and will be Jaitleys first official overseas trip since his kidney transplant in mid-May last year.

Meanwhile, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been asked to interact with the media every day. During the absence of Arun Jaitley, she  will attend the 11 am daily briefings by party president Amit Shah at the BJP headquarters, which she will later share with the media.
14:32   Don't take what Rahul says seriously: Rajnath
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday scoffed at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for calling BJP's manifesto the 'voice of an isolated man' and said a large number of people were involved in the framing the party document.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, Rajnath Singh, who headed BJP's manifesto committee, said: "I believe that when it comes to the creation of Sankalp Patra, India in its history has never seen such participation of people. Whatever he (Rahul) is saying is baseless and he keeps saying such things. Do not take it seriously."

Rahul Gandhi had on Tuesday morning posted on Twitter saying: "The Congress manifesto was created through discussion. The voice of over a million Indian people. It is wise and powerful. The BJP manifesto was created in a closed room. The voice of an isolated man. It is short-sighted and arrogant."

Responding to allegations levelled against BJP that it is contesting 2019 Lok Sabha election in a Presidential style "Fir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar", Rajnath Singh said: "In 2014, I was the national president of the party. Certain kind of attraction had developed towards Modiji across the country so we fought elections by projecting him and we came into power with great majority. He was projected as PM candidate under my chairmanship."

"In America, there is a President and everything revolves around him. This is not a Presidential forum. We work in a democratic manner. It is surely a collective leadership. He is a Prime Minister and it is very natural that his name will come first. A party president has to take everyone into confidence," he asserted. 
13:30   Advani informed on prevailing situation: Rajnath
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that India's surgical strikes and airstrike across the Line of Control were not in line with former Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani's strategy on 'hot pursuit' against terrorists.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Singh said, "It is not about hot pursuit or cold pursuit. We only targeted the terror training camps while carrying out the strikes in Pakistan. We did not attack innocent civilians during the strikes. Besides, the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan were also preserved.

Hot pursuit' against terrorists is legitimate as it is in accordance with international law, Advani had said as Home Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2001.Advani had said that a pro-active policy was necessary to pursue terrorists, locate and eliminate them. 

However, India did not embark on a policy of hot pursuit then despite the Home Minister espousing it in verbal terms.

When asked if the BJP is ignoring LK Advani by not taking him in confidence over the airstrike, Rajnath Singh said," Advaniji is a well-informed man. He knows everything about the prevailing situation in our country. He will forever remain our source of inspiration."

File pic. 
13:24   No political influence behind IT, ED raids: Rajnath
Refuting allegations of political vendetta behind Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate raids on opposition leaders and their aides, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that the agencies are autonomous bodies and they are acting on their inputs.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, Singh said, "The agencies which are conducting raids are autonomous bodies. Model Code of Conduct does not apply to them. They are acting on their inputs. How can we stop them?""It is unfair to hold the government responsible for the raids. This is an ongoing process. Agencies act on their own intelligence inputs," the Minister said. 
13:02   Militants attack RSS leader in Kashmir
Militants have fired upon RSS leader Chandrakant at Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir and injured him. His PSO lost his life in the attack. Curfew has been imposed in Kishtwar town. Details awaited. 
12:54   Kashmir can never have its own PM: Rajnath
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asserted that "Kashmir is, was and will always be an integral part of India and thus it cannot have its own prime minister."

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Rajnath said, "Kashmir will never be separated from India. Kashmir was, is and always will be an integral part of India. There cannot be two prime ministers in the country. It is absolutely clear in our election manifesto that if we form government Article 370, Article 35A will be removed."

The home minister's comments came almost a week after former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in a speech in Kashmir's Bandipora, pitched for the revival of the posts of Prime Minister and President for Jammu and Kashmir.

When questioned about Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah's statements that tampering with Article 370 and 35A will not bode well for India, Rajnath said, "This is their frustration, let them speak what they want, we will go ahead and do what we have to do"."Maybe they are giving such statements with the elections in mind, as for BJP we have written everything in the manifesto after having discussed it with the Indian people, and we will carry it out when we come back to power," he added.

BJP in their election manifesto has promised to abrogate Article 370 and do away with Article 35A of the Constitution. The manifesto says that the NDA government is committed to overcoming all obstacles that come in the way of development in J&K.Article 35 A protects the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to employment, property and aids by the state government whereas Article 370 protects and grants special status to the sovereignty of the state giving the power to make a separate set of laws to be applied for its governance.  -- ANI

Image: Home minister Rajnath Singh with ANI's Smita Prakash. 
12:31   SC dismisses plea staying film release on Modi
The Supreme Court dismisses a plea seeking stay on release of Vivek Oberoi starrer biopic 'PM Narendra Modi'. The Bench says the film has not yet been issued the certificate by Censor Board. Court says it is to be decided by the EC whether the movie can violate Model Code of Conduct.
12:07   10 things Modi shouldnt talk about when he speaks in Mysore
Prime minister Narendra Modi's election speeches all sound the same everywhere: a high-pitched, nasal drone of the badlaav BJP will bring to the soil he is stomping that day.Today, it is Mysore's turn.

Although the election schedule in Karnataka hasn't been announced yet, Modi's bhashan will doubtless be a sales pitch for the blind BJP bhakt, a blend of bluff, boast, bluster, blather, and bullshit -- short on facts and high on rhetoric.

With some tea-stall level alliteration ("latkana, atkana, bhatkana') and nursery-school level abbreviation 'TOP' (tomato, onion, potato) thrown in.

Red meat for India's brainless TV channels and graduates of WhatsApp University.

Here are 10 things the prime minister shouldn't say in Mysore, because this isn't quite the gau-belt city he is accustomed to holding in thrall of the "Gujarat Model".

Read the column on Churumuri here. 
12:01   Modi invokes nationalism in drought-hit Latur
PM Modi in Latur, Maharashtra: "I have come to know that you are sitting here since 9.30 am. You are sitting here in this extreme heat. I won't let your 'tapasya' go in vain. I will return this to you with interest."

He says he resolves to hit terrorism and infiltration. 

Not a word on local problems like farm distress and year-on-year drought.

"Your blessings and trust gave me strength to do big works. Your trust is my biggest accomplishment in the last five years," Modi says. 

He said the government's objective was to rid India of Naxal and the Maoist menace. "We will kill terrorists right in their dens is policy of New India," he said. 

Modi added that the Congress manifesto and Pakistan speak the same language on Kashmir-related issues and added that it was in fact the Congress which is responsible for the creation of Pakistan. 
11:46   Terror funding case: Mirwaiz again appears before NIA
Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq Tuesday appeared before the National Investigation Agency for the second consecutive day for questioning in connection with a case related to funding of terror groups and separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said in New Delhi. 

Mirwaiz came to the NIA headquarters under police protection and will be questioned on the matter of funding of his own party -- Awami Action Committee -- and Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of several separatist organisations, the officials said.

Mirwaiz is the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference which has in the past engaged with the NDA and UPA-led governments for talks to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue. 

The NIA has also summoned Naseem Geelani, son of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, on Tuesday but it was not immediately clear whether he was appearing before the agency or not. 

The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of terrorist activities, pelting of stones on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments. 

The case names Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused. It also names organisations such as Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat. -- PTI 
11:13   India needs leaders who meet expectations: Pranab
Former president Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that idealistic heroism cannot lead India and the country needs leaders who can help meet the ever-rising expectations and aspirations of its people. 

"Quixotic heroism can't lead this nation. India needs leaders who can help them to meet the nation's ever-rising expectations," Mukherjee said at AIMA Managing Awards ceremony in New Delhi. 

He further said: "The country still has a long way to go before it's completely get rid of poverty and achieves a reasonable level of human development."

Mukherjee said that the country needs a growing number of middle-income citizens.

"While it is good to have a rising number of Indian billionaires in the Forbes list, it is much more important to have a growing number of the middle-income Indians every year," Mukherjee stated.

He also stressed on the need to tackle the agrarian crisis, saying: "We still have to find a solution to the ever-growing distress in the farm sector so that the agriculture sector acquires a deserving place." -- ANI
10:56   IT raids: EC calls CBDT chairman, Revenue Secy
The Election Commission has called the revenue secretary and chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes on Tuesday to discuss ongoing income tax raids. 

Revenue Secretary AB Pandey and CBDT Chairman PC Mody have been called to explain the raids amid allegations by the Congress that the ruling BJP was using enforcement agencies to target it during the poll season. 

The EC had on Sunday "strongly advised" the Finance Ministry that any action by its enforcement agencies during election time should be "neutral" and "non-discriminatory" and officials of the poll panel should be kept in loop about such actions. The EC's advice had come against the backdrop of Income Tax Department's raids in Madhya Pradesh Sunday and in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the recent past on politicians and people connected to them. 

Since the Model Code Conduct came into force on March 10, the I-T Department has carried out several raids on political leaders and their associates which the opposition has dubbed a misuse of central agencies during poll season. 

The Income-Tax Department Monday said it has detected a "widespread and well-organised" racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore during raids against close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and others. 

It said sleuths have recovered Rs 14.6 crore of "unaccounted" cash and seized diaries and computer files of suspect payments made between Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.  

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said the department has also detected a trail of Rs 20 crore suspect cash allegedly being moved to the "headquarters of a major political party in Delhi" from the house of an important person who lives on Tughlaq Road, home to many VIPs. -- PTI
10:47   Broke netas try crowd funding to meet poll costs
Several candidates cutting across party lines have taken to online crowd funding to finance their election campaigns, ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Cash-starved, these nominees are also advocating transparency in poll funding. 

Prominent among them are CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, who is fighting the election from Begusarai in Bihar, Nana Patole, the Congress candidate from Nagpur, Raghav Chaddah of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, and Mohammed Salim of the CPI(M) from Raiganj seat in West Bengal.

Online crowd funding, a popular exercise in Europe before elections, was first witnessed in India during the 2017 Manipur Assembly polls. 

The then anti-AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act) crusader, Irom Sharmila, had resorted to the exercise and collected Rs 4.5 lakh for her party - People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance.

Since then the practice of raising money from people via the Internet has been adopted by a number of politicians. This will, however, be the first time since Lok Sabha polls began in 1952 that candidates in large numbers have resorted to online crowd funding to meet the expenses of their poll campaigns and send out a message of accountability.

Kumar, a former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union, has so far raised Rs 70 lakh from more than 5,500 people.

He is followed by Atishi Marlena of the AAP, who has garnered Rs 50 lakh for fighting the polls from the East Delhi parliamentary seat. 

Pedapudi Vijay Kumar, who is contesting the election on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket from Parchur constituency in Andhra Pradesh, figures third on the list with Rs 1,90,000. 

CPI-M veteran Mohammed Salim is not far behind. He has raised Rs 1,40,000, according to the online crowdfunding platforms.

Image: Atishi Marlena of the AAP has got Rs 50 lakh for fighting the polls from the East Delhi parliamentary seat. 
10:42   Sensex, Nifty start on a cautious note
Domestic equity benchmarks opened on a flat note Tuesday ahead of the beginning of the earnings season and general elections amid lacklustre global cues. 

The BSE Sensex was trading 35.69 points or 0.09 per cent higher at 38,736.22. The gauge had ended 161.70 points lower at 38,700.53 in the previous session. Similarly, the NSE benchmark Nifty was trading 5.65 points, or 0.05 per cent, higher at 11,598.85 in early session. 

Top gainers in the Sensex pack include HCL Tech, Tata Motors, Vedanta, Reliance, TCS, Coal India, L&T, ICICI Bank, ITC and Bajaj Auto, rising up to 1.87 per cent. On the other hand, Asian Paints Bharti Airtel, Kotak Bank, Bajaj Finance, SBI, Tata Steel and HDFC fell up to 1.72 per cent. 
-- PTI
10:19   Vadra downplays Jaitley's jibe, posts pictures with FM
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra on Tuesday downplayed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's jibe at him for saying he would be campaigning for Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.  

"I don't know if he (Vadra) will be an asset for the campaign of the Congress or for the campaign of the BJP," Jaitley had said, reacting to Vadra's remarks.   

In a reply to Jaitley, Vadra wrote on Facebook: "One must maintain respect, a decorum in every situation, it shows character and that's what I was taught by my parents and in sport. Healthy competition will only bring out the best in a person that people will judge. Best wishes to all for the brighter future the people of India need." 

Alongside his post, Vadra tagged a few photographs from the past in which he can be seen alongside Jaitley. In one of the images, he can be seen shaking hands with Jaitley. The image was used by Vadra in April last year to wish Jaitley a speedy recovery when he fell ill. 

In another photograph, Vadra can be seen alongside wife Priyanka, brother-in-law Rahul Gandhi and Jaitley. 

Besides Jaitley, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani too took a potshot at Vadra and warned people that they should 'save their lands' if he comes to their place for campaigning. 

-- ANI
09:44   Assam man force-fed by mob for selling beef
Shaukat Ali, a resident of Biswanath district in Assam, was targeted by a mob on Sunday for allegedly selling beef. Police said a complaint filed by Alis family claimed that he was force-fed meat to hurt his religious sentiments.

A purported video clip of the incident circulated on social media showed Ali (45) being heckled and abused by a mob. While the faces of the attackers are not visible, their voices can be heard. Why did you come to sell beef here? asks one person. The next question is, Are you a Bangladeshi?, followed by Is your name on the NRC.

Ali can be seen sitting on the ground as he is heckled and abused. One person in the mob then makes him eat what appeared to be a piece of meat.

The video appears to be genuine. We have received an FIR from a relative of Ali, Biswanath SP Rakesh Roushan was quoted as saying. According to the complaint, Ali was attacked and forced to eat meat to hurt his religious sentiments. We have begun an investigation and will proceed as per law, said Roushan.

Biswanath, under the Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency, goes to polls in the first phase on April 11.
09:30   Sri Lankan navy apprehends 4 Indian fishermen
Sri Lankan navy apprehended four Indian fishermen, from the state of Tamil Nadu along with a boat on the charges of poaching in its territorial water on Tuesday, officials said.

The interrogation of all the apprehended fishermen is underway at Kankesanthurai naval camp in Sri Lanka.

More details in this regard are awaited.

Fishermen from both countries are being apprehended on a regular basis for breaching each other's territorial waters or doing suspicious activities. 

-- ANI
09:04   BJP manifesto voice of an isolated man: Rahul
The BJP manifesto was unimpressive, according to Congress president Rahul Gandhi. 

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday morning, the Congress chief wrote about the BJP's vision, "The Congress manifesto was created through discussion. The voice of over a million Indian people it is wise and powerful. 

The BJP manifesto was created in a closed room. The voice of an isolated man, it is short sighted and arrogant."

On Monday, in presence of senior leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled its manifesto -- 'Sankalpit Bharat, Sashakt Bharat'. 

The party in its manifesto has made a string of promises, including expeditious construction of a Ram temple, doubling farmers income and the scrapping of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

It also spoke about making India the third-largest economy globally by 2030 and said the purchase of defence equipment would be fast-tracked to strengthen the armed forces, adding that if voted to power, the government led by the party would continue with its approach of zero tolerance towards terrorism.
08:25   US bars entry to 16 Saudis over Khashoggi killing
The United States barred the entry of at least 16 Saudi nationals into the country over their alleged involvement in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

The 16 Saudis banned from entering the US are -- Saud al-Qahtani, Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubaigy, Meshal Albostani, Naif Alarifi, Mohammed Alzahrani, Mansour Abahussain, Khalid Alotaibi, Abdulaziz Alhawsawi, Waleed Alsehri, Thaar Alharbi, Fahad Albalawi, Badr Alotaibi, Mustafa Almadani, Saif Alqahtani and Turki Alsehri, according to a press release issued by the US State Department.

"These designations are made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2019 (Section 7031(c))," the statement said.

"Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State (Michael Pompeo) has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States," it said.

"The law requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members," the statement further said.

Khashoggi, who was a journalist with The Washington Post and a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 last year, where he had gone to obtain paperwork certifying his divorce with his former wife Alaa Nassif in order to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

After presenting several contradictory theories, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate premises in what it had described as a "rogue operation".

According to US intelligence agencies, Khashoggi's murder was enacted upon orders given by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

However, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly rejected all the allegations against its Crown Prince, adding that it is committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice. 

-- ANI
07:57   No evidence of downing F-16, says Pak army
The Pakistan army said India has failed to provide any evidence of downing a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the February 27 aerial combat over Nowshera in Jammu and Kashmir, despite claiming that it has proof of the incident.

The statement came hours after the Indian Air Force on Monday released radar images as part of its "irrefutable evidence" to assert that it shot down an F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan during the airstrike. 

In a tweet, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said, "Repetitions don't make truth of a lie. Despite claiming possession of evidence on shooting F16, IAF still short of presenting it." 

Graphic captures from an airborne warning and control system were shown by the IAF in New Delhi at a media briefing, reiterating that it has credible evidence that Pakistan air force lost an F-16 fighter jet in the aerial engagement.

The IAF had issued a similar statement on Friday asserting that it shot down an F-16 in Nowshera sector after leading American magazine 'Foreign Policy' reported that a US count of the F-16s with Pakistan has found that none of them are missing.

Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, the Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations and Space), said the IAF has more credible information and evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that PAF has lost one F-16 in the air action on February 27. "However, due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in the public domain."

India has been maintaining that IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman had engaged with one of the Pakistani F-16s and shot it down before his Mig-21 Bison was downed, but Pakistan has denied losing any aircraft in the combat. 

Varthaman was captured by Pakistan and was released after spending nearly 60 hours in Pakistani custody.

Ghafoor also reiterated that Pakistan destroyed two Indian jets and claimed the "wreckage seen on ground by all". 

-- PTI
00:09   If terror not an issue, then Rahul should give up SPG cover: Sushma
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said if Congress president Rahul Gandhi believes terrorism in not a poll issue then he should give up his Special Protection Group cover.
Addressing a BJP workers meet organised by the party's social media wing in Mathura, Swaraj said,"Opposition parties cannot feel the pulse of the nation like Prime Minister Narendra Modi can, which is why he managed to give Pakistan a befitting reply after the Uri and Pulwama terror attacks."
The union minister alleged the Congress does not consider terrorism to be a problem, "which was reflected in the party's election manifesto".
"If such is Rahul Gandhi's view, then I request him to give up his Special Protection Group cover. This could be done with a simple letter to the government. This will save the country huge sums of money," Swaraj said.
She said the opposition leaders do not trust the words of the country's defence forces, instead listen to the assertions of the Pakistan Army.
"It is a matter of shame that when our soldiers risk their lives and fight terrorists, our opposition members want to know how many were killed and demand proof for the same," she said.
She asked party workers to promote works done by the BJP government, including Ujjwala, Jan Dhan schemes, lengthened highway network, among others.
She said in the last five years the number of passport offices had grown from 73 to 159 and there were 46 new offices in Uttar Pradesh alone.
"Presenting the manifesto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the three main focus areas of our party -- nationalism, uplifting the poor and good governance. We will stay committed to these issues," Swaraj said.  -- PTI