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LIVE! Paswan's daughter slams him for remarks on Rabri Devi

January 12, 2019

21:56  S Gurumurthy sends defamation notice to The Economist:  
Noted journalist and economist S Gurumurthy has sent a defamation notice to The Economist magazine for calling him a 'fixer who gets things done in Delhi'.

'I have sent legal notice to The Economist for defamation @TheEconomist Here is the text of the legal notice,' Gurumurthy tweeted.

Gurumurthy's defamation notice states that the article called him a 'fixer who gets things done in Delhi' and has caused irreparable damage to his reputation.

It also alleges that all information regarding Gurumurthy is available in the public domain and hence cannot be unknown to the media outlet.

The notice also states that The Economist has failed to do due diligence and verification before publishing the article and they have also not made any genuine efforts to cross-check with Gurumurthy to get his version.  -- Agencies
21:50  Paswan's daughter slams him for remarks on Rabri Devi:  
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's estranged daughter Asha Paswan on Saturday criticised him for making a veiled attack on Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Rabri Devi over the party's opposition to the Centre's quota bill and demanded an apology from him.

She also threatened to stage a dharna at the office of his Lok Janshakti Party.

Paswan, whose party will contest the upcoming general election along with the Janata Dal-United and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar, had at a press conference on Friday attacked the opposition RJD for opposing the National Democratic Alliance-led government's bill to provide 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward in general category.

"They (the RJD) believe in merely raising slogans and making 'angootha chhap' (illiterate person) the chief minister," he had said, without naming anybody.

The remark was seen as a reference to the events of 1997 when RJD chief Lalu Prasad had to step down as Bihar chief minister as he faced arrest in the fodder scam cases and his wife, Rabri Devi, who has little formal education, was appointed as his successor.

She remained in office for eight years, longer than her husband, who was in power from 1990 to 1997.

"Papa has insulted Rabri Devi. My mother too was uneducated -- a reason why he abandoned her. He must apologise or else I will stage a dharna in front of the LJP office," Asha said.

She is Paswan's daughter from his first marriage. Her husband, Arun Sadhu, had joined the RJD last year.

Paswan is separated from his first wife Raj Kumari Devi who lives alone at Samastipur district. He has anointed his son from his second marriage, Chirag Paswan, as his political successor and lives with his second wife Reena Paswan.  -- PTI
19:43  CVC requested Verma to withdraw adverse comments on Asthana:  
Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary asked former Central Bureau of Investigation director Alok Verma to withdraw the adverse comments he had made on the record in his deputy, Rakesh Asthana's annual confidential report, or ACR, an exclusive report by The Wire said.

Sources close to Justice A K Patnaik -- the retired judge tasked with supervising the CVC's probe against Verma -- told The Wire that Chowdary went to Verma's residence on Janpath and made this unusual request assuring him that 'everything will be ok' for the former director if he does that.

Details of this meeting were provided in writing by Verma to Justice Patnaik.

Chowdary's request to Verma came when the fight between the two officers had broken out in the CBI and when Verma had to take a call on making top PMO bureaucrat Bhaskar Khulbe, an accused in the coal scam, something that Asthana had resisted.

Read the full report
19:28  Prez gives assent to 10% quota to upper caste:  
JUST IN: President Ram Nath Kovind gives nod to 10 per cent quota bill for economically weaker section in general category.

On Monday, the Union cabinet had cleared the 10 per cent quota in government jobs and education for 'economically weaker' sections, meeting a key demand of upper castes, a staunch Bharatiya Janata Party support base which has shown signs of a drift from the party.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a constitutional amendment bill to provide the 10 per cent reservation, with virtually all parties supporting it despite the Opposition calling the proposed law a pre-poll 'stunt' of the Modi government.

A day after Lok Sabha approved The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Rajya Sabha passed the law with 165 voting in favour and seven against.   -- ANI/PTI
19:16   Kamal Nath says he has forgiven teacher who badmouthed him:  
The suspension of a school headmaster for making a derogatory comment about Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has been revoked on Nath's instructions.

In a statement, Nath said he has forgiven the teacher.

The district collector suspended Mukesh Tiwari, headmaster of government-run Kanishta Buniyadi Middle School in Jabalpur, on Thursday.

Tiwari had allegedly referred to Nath as a 'daku' (bandit) during a meeting at the school.

He was suspended by collector Chhavi Bharadwaj after a video where he is purportedly seen making the comment appeared on social media.

Nath said in a statement on Saturday that after he learnt about the incident, he directed the officials to revoke Tiwari's suspension.

"I have always been in favour of freedom of expression....the action against him might be correct according to the rules but I am personally forgiving him," the chief minister said.

"I have directed the district administration to revoke the suspension....He (teacher) should decide for himself whether he used right words for a democratically-elected chief minister," Nath added.

Collector Bharadwaj told PTI that the teacher apologised in response to a show-cause notice, and the chief minister too directed that he should be let off, so the suspension has been revoked.  -- PTI
19:05  Encounter breaks out between terrorists, security forces in Kulgam:  
An encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, police said.

Acting on specific information about the presence of terrorists in the Katpora area of Yaripora in the south Kashmir district, security forces launched a cordon and search operation there in the evening, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the terrorists fired upon the forces.

The gunfight was on when the last reports came in, the official said, adding further details are awaited.   -- PTI

Image only for representation.
18:43  Air traffic resumes at Srinagar airport:  
The air traffic to and fro Srinagar airport was restored on Saturday afternoon after it was hit by poor visibility in the morning due to snowfall, officials said.

"The flight operations at Srinagar airport resumed in the afternoon after disruption in the morning," an official of the Airports Authority of India said in Srinagar.

He said the air traffic was disrupted in the morning because of low visibility due to snowfall.

"After the initial cancellation in the morning, the visibility improved in the afternoon as the weather improved and the flight operations resumed," the official said.

He said eight flights were cancelled Saturday out of a total of 28 flights scheduled for the day.  Some of the flights were also delayed, the official added.  --  PTI
18:22  Guj HC frames issues in plea against Ahmed Patel's RS win:  
The Gujarat high court has framed six issues in an election petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balvantsinh Rajput challenging veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel's election to the Rajya Sabha from the state in 2017.

Justice Bela Trivedi framed the issues on Friday.

The court will hear the case next on January 18. The issues framed by the court include whether Patel or his election agent committed an act of 'bribery' and 'undue influence' and thereby indulged in 'corrupt practices' as alleged by Rajput, making the election 'liable to be declared as void'.

Some of the other issues are whether two 'invalid votes' cast by Congress MLAs Shailesh Parmar and Miteshbhai Garasia, and 'improper refusal or rejection' of votes cast by rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghvjibhai Patel materially affected the outcome of the election.

The issue also concerns the Election Commission of India (ECI) order as to whether it was 'being violative of the principles of natural justice, without any authority of law'.

The issues have been framed under various sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had asked Ahmed Patel to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha.

He had then moved the apex court challenging the high court order, which had dismissed his plea questioning the maintainability of Rajput's election petition.

Patel had contended that the poll panel's decision could not be challenged by an election petition.

The apex court had on September 26 asked the Gujarat HC to decide afresh Patel's plea challenging the maintainability of the petition filed by Rajput.

The high court had dismissed Patel's plea in October.

Rajput had filed the petition in the high court after Patel was declared as winner by the Election Commission in the election to the Upper House of the Parliament held in 2017.  --  PTI
17:50  Mumbai BEST strike to continue as meet fails to break deadlock:  
The ongoing Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking bus strike in Mumbai is set to continue as a meeting chaired by Maharashtra chief secretary on Saturday between striking unions and the management of the civic-run transport undertaking failed to break the impasse.

The meeting was held after the Bombay high court on Friday directed the union leaders to talk with a state government committee, comprising Maharashtra chief secretary D K Jain, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, secretaries of the transport and urban development departments and BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde, to find a way to end the strike.

Over 32000 employees of the BEST are on strike since Tuesday and its fleet of 3,200-odd buses are off the metropolis' roads, causing severe inconvenience to several lakh commuters.

Shashank Rao, president of the striking BEST Workers' Union Saturday said the committee heard out to their demands but did not give any response.

"We put our stand before them and very clearly stated that we will not withdraw the strike until our demands are accepted," Rao told reporters, adding that the stir would proceed peacefully.

When contacted, state chief secretary D K Jain told PTI that the committee has listened to the unions' grievances and a report would be submitted to the Bombay high court on Monday.

"Before the report is submitted in the court, I cannot reveal the minutes of the meeting," he informed.

An official, meanwhile, said the BMC had once again made it clear that it is not in favour of merging the BMC's and the loss-making transport undertaking's budgets, as demanded by the union.  -- PTI

Photograph: Sahil Salvi
17:06  UP alliance: Cong leaders to meet in Lucknow to chalk out strategy:  
Close on the heels of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party announcing an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, senior Congress leaders including All India Congress Committee in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad will meet in Lucknow on Sunday to chalk out the party's strategy.

"Ghulam Nabi Azad, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Raj Babbar and other senior leaders will arrive in the state capital on Sunday to hold meetings for finalising the strategy," Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Anshu Awasthi told PTI.

All leaders from Uttar Pradesh in the national committee and the All India Congress Committee secretaries will be here on Sunday, he said.

BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav earlier in the day in Lucknow, announced their alliance, sharing 38 seats each out of the state's 80 parliamentary constituencies.

The parties kept the Congress out of the alliance, but said they will not field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Asked to react, Azad said that he would speak on the issue only after meeting the state Congress leaders.

"We have been meeting the leaders district-wise for preparations in the coming elections," Azad said.

"In the last two days, we had been meeting the people of western Uttar Pradesh and from tomorrow (Sunday), we will meet party workers belonging to central and western UP," he added.

"No one will say anything on it (SP-BSP alliance) today (Saturday) and whoever is speaking on it, it will be unofficial," he said further.

The Congress had on Friday said that it was ready to go alone in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections.

"We are a political party and are ready to fight the coming elections alone in Uttar Pradesh," Congress media coordinator Rajiv Bakshi had said.

"We alone have 45 seats in the Lok Sabha and it is any day many more than the regional players... A 'mahagathbandhan' in the Lok Sabha elections needs to be built around the party having a national face," Bakshi had said.

"We are ready to take along like minded parties and they can come together with us," he had added.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party members celebrate after their partys alliance, in Allahabad, on Saturday. Photograph: PTI Photo
16:41  JUST IN: Madras High Court grants Nalini Chidambaram interim protection from arrest by CBI in Saradha chit fund case.  -- PTI
16:41  Army bids adieu to officer martyred in Rajouri:  
The Army on Saturday paid tributes to major Shahi Dharan V Nair who was killed along with another soldier in an improvised explosive device explosion in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Tributes to our brave Martyr Maj Nair were paid by General Officer Commanding of Ace of Spades Division Maj Gen H Dharmarajan at Rajouri and Inspector General of Police Jammu, M K Sinha and other senior officers at technical airport Jammu," a defence spokesperson said.

The 33-year-old major along with rifleman Jiwan Gurung, 24, were killed when an IED exploded in Naushera sector along the Line of Control (LoC) on Friday, he added.

The mortal remains of the officer, who had over 11 years service in the army, was brought to Rajouri cantonment before being flown to his home town of Pune for the last rites in a service aircraft, the spokesperson said.

Major Nair is survived by his wife Trupti Shashidharan Nair.

After holding the wreath laying ceremony of Gurung, who hails from West Bengal, his mortal remains will be flown to his home town for the last rites, the spokesman said further.  -- PTI
15:49  ISIS module: NIA arrests man from Ghaziabad:  
The National Investigation Agency said on Saturday it has made a fresh arrest from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh in connection with its probe against an Islamic State-inspired group, which was allegedly planning suicide attacks and serial blasts, targeting politicians and government installations, in Delhi and other parts of north India.

The agency also conducted fresh searches on Saturday at three locations in Meerut, Hapur and Ghaziabad in connection with the latest arrest.

An agency spokesperson said Muhammad Absar, 24, was arrested by NIA sleuths from Hapur on Friday night.

With the latest arrest, the NIA has nabbed 12 people so far in this connection.

He said Absar was a resident of Jasora in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh and used to teach at Jamia Husania Abul Hassan in the Piplera area of Ghaziabad.

Absar, the spokesperson said, had 'visited three places in Jammu and Kashmir in the months of May and August 2018 along with another accused, Iftekhar Sakib, in connection with the terror conspiracy'.

He will be produced before a special NIA court in New Delhi on Saturday and his custody will be sought, he said.

The NIA had said the accused were part of 'Harkat ul Harb e Islam' module of global terrorist group ISIS.

The NIA, after searches last month, had said it had seized a locally-made rocket launcher, material for suicide vests and 112 alarm clocks to be used as timers.

The agency had also said it recovered 25 kg of explosive material -- Potassium Nitrate, Ammonium Nitrate and Sulphur.

The group allegedly had also purchased remote control cars and wireless doorbells to use their circuits in assembling remote controlled improvised explosive devices.

Besides, the NIA also recovered steel containers, electric wires, 91 mobile phones, 134 SIM cards, 3 laptops, knife, sword, ISIS-related literature during the searches.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
15:29  Don't lose hope by results in 3 states: Shah tells BJP workers:  
Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Saturday asked party workers not to lose hope due to adverse results in recent assembly elections in the three states, saying the upcoming parliamentary polls were 'very important' for the party.

He also asked all party workers to ensure that the votes of their families and friends are cast by 10.30 am on the polling day.

He mounted an attack on the Congress, saying the 'cancer' of casteism, nepotism and appeasement policy was its contribution, which, he said 'weakened the democracy and halted development'.

"In the elections in the three states (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh) our opponents won but we were not defeated. The results were not good but we have not lost our ground. The workers need not lose their hope," he said in his address at the BJP's national convention at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi.

The BJP lost power to the Congress in the three Hindi heartland states in assembly polls held recently.

The meaning of 'defeat' is reflected by the Congress which has vanished from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, he said.

"Lok Sabha elections are very important for us. If we manage a massive victory, the BJP will rule the country from Panchayat to Parliament for a long time," he said.

He asked his party workers to ensure that every voter is contacted in an intensive campaign for the elections.

Shah asked them to go back to their respective states with a pledge to ensure BJP's victory in the parliamentary elections and make Narendra Modi prime minister for a second term.  -- PTI
15:05  Grand alliance is for anarchy, corruption, political instability: Yogi:  
Any grand alliance of Opposition parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will bring in anarchy, corruption and political instability, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Saturday.

"Those who who did not like each other are talking about a maha gathbandhan (grand alliance). This is an alliance for corruption, anarchy and political instability," Yogi said as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party announced their alliance to fight Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP has respected 'Ram and roti' through its emphasis on development of all sections of the society and respect to the faith of the people, Yogi said at the party's national council meeting in New Delhi.

The UP Chief Minister also attacked the Congress, saying the party furthered the interests of a family, promoted casteism, regionalism and kept the country in limbo for 50 years.

"Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the BJP brought the country out of this state of limbo through welfare schemes for all sections of the society and good governance," he said.

Yogi asserted that in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the BJP will perform better than it did in 2014 and a 'strong and capable' government under Modi's leadership will be formed again.

"Ask any impartial person -- a rural woman, a solider, a farmer or youth -- they will all say 'Kaho Dil Se Modi Phir Se' (they will vouch for bringing in Modi once again)."

Listing out the achievements of the Modi government, Yogi said the country has gained confidence under the leadership of the Prime Minister and nationalism, development and good governance have charted a new direction in the four years of his government.  -- PTI
14:33  Blast at Paris bakery, several injured:  
JUST IN: A large explosion badly damages a bakery in central Paris, injuring several people and smashing windows in surrounding buildings.

More details awaited.

Image only for representation.
14:17  For the 1st time there's no corruption taint on a govt: Modi:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi:

"For first time in country's history, there has been no charge of corruption against a government. BJP rule proved that country can see a change and government can run without corruption," Modi said.

"We can take pride in the fact that there is no taint on us," he said.

Emphasising that the goal of his government is Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Modi said that 10 per cent reservation to upper caste poor will boost the confidence of 'New India'. 

"Without tampering with existing reservations, the BJP government has given 10 per cent reservation to the general category," he said.

"The government before us pushed the country into darkness. It won't be wrong if I say that India lost 10 important years (2004-2014) in scams and corruption," he said.
14:02  Mamata welcomes SP-BSP alliance:  
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday welcomed the SP-BSP announcing an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"I welcome the alliance of the SP and the BSP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections," Banerjee tweeted.

The Trinamool Congress supremo, who has been a vociferous critique of the BJP, has been touring the country over the last one year trying to build an opposition alliance to take on the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Banerjee had earlier suggested that an SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh would wipe out the BJP from the crucial North Indian state, that sends 80 MPs to the lower house of the Parliament.   -- PTI
13:53  SP, BSP coming together for their survival: BJP:  
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday said the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party came together for their survival, and not for the country or Uttar Pradesh, and downplayed suggestions that the alliance will have a major impact on the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

"The SP and BSP have allied neither for the country nor for Uttar Pradesh, but for their survival. They know they cannot fight Modi on their own and their opposition to him is the sole base of their alliance," senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

He also downplayed suggestions that the former arch rivals coming together will have any impact on the parliamentary polls, saying elections are not about mathematics but chemistry.

Prasad made these remarks just after BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav announced their alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sharing 38 seats each out of the state's 80 parliamentary constituencies.  -- PTI
13:01  Akhilesh Yadav on if he will support Mayawati for PM: You know who is my choice. Uttar Pradesh has given Prime Ministers in the past and trend will be repeated again.  --ANI
12:43  BJP can go to any extent to break our alliance: Akhilesh:  
Akhilesh Yadav at joint press conference, "To defeat the arrogance of BJP, it was necessary for BSP and SP to come together.

"BJP can go to any extent to create differences in our workers, we must be united and counter any such tactic." -- ANI
12:31  BSP, SP to fight equal no. of seats; leave Amethi, Rae Bareli:  
BSP and SP to fight equal number of seats in UP.

"BSP and SP both to contest on 38 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP. Two seats have been  left for other other parties who will join the alliance.

"Moreover, even without an alliance with the Congress, we have left two seats -- Amethi and Rae Bareli -- for the party so that the BJP do not conspire to defeat their party president and UPA chairperson," Mayawati said.
12:26  At joint presser, Maya explains why Cong not included in alliance:  
Mayawati explains why Congress is not included in the grand alliance:

"After Independence, Congress has ruled for most of the period and in all states. Under their rule, poor remained poor and their policies did nothing for the marginalised sectoins," she said.

"Be it BJP or Congress, whoever rules, their policies are mostly the same. For example, we are seeing how both indulged in corruption in defence deals. Like the Congress had to lose power due to Bofors, the BJP will lose because of Rafale," she said.

Mayawati also invoked Emergency and said that right now we are living under undeclared emergency.

"Moreover, parties like BSP or SP cannot benefit with an alliance with the Congress as their votes don't get transferred to us and it goes to 'casteist' parties like the BJP. It could also be a conspiracy of these two parties.

"It results in fall of our vote share and loss of seats. That's why we have not included the Congress in the alliance. It won't be included in any future alliances," Mayawati said.
12:15  Maya at joint presser: This will give sleepless nights to Modi, Shah:  
Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati address joint press conference in Lucknow:

"As you know, this joint press conference of national presidents of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party has been conducted to give sleepless nights to Prime Minister Narednra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah," Mayawati said.

Mayawati remembered the alliance between Kanshiram and Mulayam Singh Yadav that defeated the 'casteist' BJP in the early 1990s.

"That alliance could not go for long. But now to defeat a similar kind of ideology and thought that we have come together again," the BSP chief said.

"The people of this country are fed up with the fake promises of the BJP that's why we have decided to fight this Lok Sabha election together. This will lead to a new political revolution in the country," she said.

11:50  Ahead of joint presser, Akhilesh-Maya posters dot Lucknow:  
Lucknow has been decked up with posters of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party supremo Mayawati, ahead of the crucial joint press conference which will be held later today.

Besides Akhilesh and Mayawati, the posters also feature senior leaders like BSP All India General Secretary Satish Chandra Misra and SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, with a slogan humara kaam bolta hai and Bhajpa ka jhoot bolta hai (Our work speaks, BJP's lie speaks).SP and BSP have been in talks for weeks with regard to forging of an alliance and a meeting between Yadav and Mayawati recently had triggered a lot of speculation about seat-sharing being firmed up.

The two parties are likely to announce an alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Earlier on Friday, Akhilesh had said: "Whatever arithmetic we learnt from the BJP, we will implement it."

To substantiate his point that the alliance between SP and BSP would be beneficial, he cited the example of by-elections held some months back in Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP was defeated despite it having been represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath several times.

There was, however, ambiguity over whether the Congress would be a part of the alliance, amid indications that the SP and BSP were not inclined to include the party.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh said his party will also side with the SP-BSP partnership for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

However, he said there have been no talks of seat-sharing yet.

On whether the Congress would also be a part of the alliance, Ajit said a decision will be taken by Akhilesh and Mayawati.

"We had our meeting with Akhilesh Ji. We are a part of the 'grand alliance', but we haven't discussed seats yet," the RLD president said.

Earlier, senior SP leader Prof Ram Gopal Yadav had said: "Mayawati and Akhilesh will decide with whom the 'grand alliance' has to be formed in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

"Everyone knows that there is going to be a grand alliance. In Uttar Pradesh, SP and BSP are the most important parties," he added.

Among all the states, Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of 80 Lok Sabha seats out the 543 and plays a crucial role in government formation in the Centre.   -- ANI
11:03  US government shutdown enters 22nd day, becoming the longest federal closure in country's history.
11:02  After BCCI suspension, Pandya loses brand endorsement:  
After being suspended from the ongoing Australia tour due to their comments on the TV Show Koffee with Karan, the brand value of Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul is taking a hit.

Pandya, who was at the centre of the storm, was dropped by mens shaving razor Gillette Mach3 Start as its celebrity ambassador after his sexist comments on air. Hardik Pandyas recent comments do not reflect the values of Gillette. We have suspended our association with Hardik until we decide on further course of action, a company spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Pandya bragged about his success with women and made other sexual remarks during the celebrity chat show broadcast last Sunday that sparked outrage on social media. The streaming platform, Hotstar, has also taken down the show and it is no longer available for public viewing.

The 25-year-old Pandya and Rahul apologised for their conduct after the BCCI demanded an explanation but officials unanimously decided to go ahead with an inquiry.

Apart from TV advertisements, Pandya has associations with brands such as Oppo, Gulf Oil, Sin Denim, DFY Sport and EUME on his social media as well, while Rahul endorses Curefit, Royal Stag, Puma and has been seen in a TVC for the Reserve Bank of India as well.
10:33  Harbhajan slams Pandya, Rahul for jeopardising reputation of cricketers:  
Ace spinner Harbhajan Singh slammed Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul for their sexist comments on women on a TV show, saying they have put the reputations of cricketers at stake.
The duo appeared on a talk show where their comments - Pandya's in particular - came in for widespread criticism and raised concerns over the team culture.
As punishment, Pandya and Rahul were suspended by India's cricket administrators, hours after captain Virat Kohli expressed his strong disapproval.
"We don't talk about all this even with our friends and they were talking on public television. Now people might think was Harbhajan Singh like this, was Anil Kumble like this and was Sachin Tendulkar..." Harbhajan told 'India Today'.
On the show, Pandya had boasted about hooking up with multiple women and being open about it with his parents. Rahul was, however, a little more restrained in his responses on relationships and women.
When asked by the host Karan Johar if they had "done it in teammates' rooms," both Pandya and Rahul responded in the positive.
"Pandya has been in the team for how long to talk of the team culture in the manner he did." 
"I think this is the way to go," he responded when asked about the suspension.
"The BCCI did the right thing, and this is also the way forward. This was expected and I am not surprised," the off-spinner, who has over 400 Test wickets, said.
The under-fire players have been suspended pending an inquiry into their sexist comments, ruling them out of the three-match ODI series against Australia beginning Saturday in Sydney.

-- PTI
10:02  No proof of corruption against Alok Verma: Ex-top court judge who monitored probe:  
Justice AK Patnaik, a former Supreme Court judge, who was tasked to supervise the alleged corruption investigations by the Central Vigilance Commission, against Alok Verma, has said that there is "no evidence" of corruption against the former CBI chief.

"The removal of Alok Verma by the PM-led panel was a very very hasty decision," said Justice Patnaik, adding that the "findings of the CVC are not mine." The probe against Verma was entirely based on the complaint of CBI special director, Rakesh Asthana.

Verma was removed as the CBI chief and transferred as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards. He refused to take up the new job and sent his resignation to the government on Friday. 

In his resignation letter, Verma said, "Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director." He called the situation a moment of "collective introspection".

"As a career bureaucrat, it is the idea of my integrity that has been the driving force for four decades in public service," Verma had said in his resignation letter.

Congress's Mallikarjuna Kharge, who was part of the three-member committee led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had sent a dissent note in the decision to remove Verma from the top post in the CBI. PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri, who was representing Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had favoured Verma's removal.

Verma, who was forced to go on leave after alleged corruption charges with his number 2 Rakesh Asthana, was reinstated by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
09:34  Mumbai: 2,000 private buses deployed as BEST strike enters day 5:  
In wake of the ongoing strike called by employees of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport, School Bus Owners' Association has announced that a total of 2,000 private buses will provide service to passengers in Mumbai.

"1000 school buses and 1000 private buses will provide services to passengers in the light of the strike by BEST bus employees," said Anil Garg of the School Bus Owners' Association.

Furthermore, Garg said passengers travelling up to 10 km will be charged Rs 20, beyond which BEST rates will be applicable. "Differently abled and senior citizens can travel free of cost. Service is being provided by School Bus Owners' Association and Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatana," he added.

BEST, the lifeline of Mumbai, has a fleet size of as many as 3200 buses and comprises around 32,000 employees. It is the second largest transport system in the metropolis after local trains. More than 70 lakh people commute via BEST buses on a daily basis.

The indefinite strike is a result of stalled talks with regards to the merger of BEST budget and 'A' budget of BMC. Protestors are also seeking resolution of the issue of employee service residences and recruitment.

-- ANI
08:59  Mamata questions timing of 'The Accidental Prime Minister'; says all PMs accidental:  
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned the timing of the release of the film, "The Accidental Prime Minister", ahead of the general election and wryly commented that all prime ministers were accidental.
She also claimed that such films were made by twisting facts.

"All are accidental prime ministers", Banerjee said, without naming anybody.

"The Accidental Prime Minister" is based on a book of the same name written by Sanjaya Baru on Manmohan Singh's term as prime minister from 2004 to 2014. Baru was Singh's media adviser when the latter was the prime minister. The film hit the screens on Friday.

In an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Banerjee said if people were making such films, then there would also be films like "The Disastrous PM".

"I have come to know that some people are staging political plays. Just before the (Lok Sabha) election, they have released a film titled 'The Accidental Prime Minister'. That way, all are accidental prime ministers. I did not get the meaning of this (accidental PM)," the Trinamool Congress chief said.

She said though she had ideological differences with the Congress, she believed that making such films was "unethical".

"I do not do politics with the Congress and we have (ideological) differences. I have come out of the Congress and formed the Trinamool Congress with your blessings. But I believe that what is being done by twisting facts is unethical.

"That is why those who are making films like 'The Accidental PM' must also watch another film titled 'The Disastrous PM'. If we can have 'The Accidental Prime Minister', then we must have a film on 'The Disastrous Prime Minister'," she said.
Without naming Modi, the TMC chief compared him with Sholay's "Gabbar Singh" and said people would soon teach him a lesson.

She said the common people were scared of him because of his attitude.

-- PTI
08:37  Meghalaya govt mulls decision on rescue op for trapped miners:  
A month after 15 coal miners were trapped by sudden flooding in an illegal rathole mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalayas East Jaintia Hills district, the state government is now considering ceasing the rescue operation.

On Friday, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said: It is becoming a gargantuan task. Every day, we pump out litres and litres of water, but the very next day, a recharge (of water in the mine) takes place. I have asked Coal India and Kirloskar Brothers to continue operations for at least 15 hours today and, subject to a report, we will take a call. He admitted chances of the trapped miners being still alive are slim.

The CMs comments came on Friday, the 29th day since the mining disaster. On the same day, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to take the help of experts and continue operations.

The judges also asked what the government was doing about persons operating illegal mines and the officials who allowed the subversive activity to go on.

The Centre responded by saying that help from National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and some other private research institutes including Planys Technology was being taken for the rescue effort.

We have decided to bring in smaller, remotely operated vehicles to get into the rat hole mine but the situation is very difficult, said Sangma.

Given the cost burden in meeting expenses for the rescue operations, the East Jaintia Hills administration has sought an advance of Rs 50 lakh from the state government.

Expenses are very high. Managing so many operational logistics including construction, food, fuel and other logistics required for installing high-powered pumps.... we cant really say how much, but the figures are substantial, Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth said over the phone.
08:11  US Democrat Tulsi Gabbard will run for president in 2020:  
Tulsi Gabbard said she will run for US president in 2020.

"I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," said the Hawaii Democrat.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of Congress.

"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she said, listing health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change as key platform issues.

"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," Gabbard added. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement."
00:22  Court closes sedition case against Amnesty India:  
A court in Bengaluru has closed a sedition case against the Amnesty India, pertaining to a petition filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad against the human rights body on August 15, 2016.

The complaint relates to an event the Amnesty India had held as part of a campaign to seek justice for alleged human rights violations in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The first information report in the case mentioned a number of offences, including sedition, unlawful assembly, rioting and promoting enmity.      

The 8th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate ordered the closing of the case on January 8 after the sub-inspector of the police station concerned filed a 'B' report.

A 'B' report pertains to the winding up of the case.

The ACMM also noted that the complainant (ABVP) did not challenge the complaint, though the police had issued a notice to them.

"The complainant had refused to receive the notice. Complainant called out absent. Hence, objection for 'B' report taken as not filed.

"B report is accepted. Close the case," the ACMM noted.

Welcoming the order, the Amnesty International, in a statement, said the ruling vindicated everything the Amnesty India had said from the time this 'politically-motivated complaint' was filed.

"This was a case that should never have been registered, given previous Supreme Court rulings on what constitutes sedition.

"It has been a waste of public money and resources, and a distraction from real issues," Aakar Patel, country head of Amnesty India, said.  -- PTI

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