23:38 Never worked for Russia, says Trump:
United States President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed reports that he ever "worked" for Russia and said that any such report is just a "hoax".
"I never worked for Russia and you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia," Trump said.
"Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even ask that question because it's a whole big fat hoax. It's just a hoax," he said amid news reports that the FBI had opened an investigation over whether Trump acted on Russia's behalf after he sacked the agency's then director James Comey in 2017.
Another report alleged that Trump does not share the details of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House has described those reports as ridiculous.
Earlier on Twitter, Trump attacked such reports as fake.
"The Fake News gets crazier and more dishonest every single day. Amazing to watch as certain people covering me, and the tremendous success of this administration, have truly gone MAD! Their Fake reporting creates anger and disunity. Take two weeks off and come back rested. Chill !," Trump wrote. -- PTI
22:50 SP and BSP did what BJP wanted: Congress:
An Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh without the Congress was exactly what the Bharatiya Janata Party wanted initially and the two regional parties have fallen into the ruling party's design, the Congress said Monday.
Its spokesperson R P N Singh said the BJP wanted the secular parties to remain divided in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh before the 2019 Lok Sabha election and contest independently so that their votes could be split. Its attempts have proved successful, he added.
On Sunday, the Congress said it would contest on all 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in the general election, expected in April-May.
That the party was left out of the SP-BSP alliance would not affect its prospects and the Congress would contest with "full force", it had said.
On Monday, Singh tried to raise doubts over the longevity of the alliance, wondering whether it would last till the UP assembly election.
He also asked whether now BSP chief Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav would attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi on "corruption" in the Rafale jet deal.
"The SP-BSP coming together leaving the Congress outside is what the BJP wanted from the very beginning, that the opposition parties contest independently. It seems they have fallen into the pattern that BJP wanted," he told PTI.
He said attempts are being made in all states to unite secular forces and avoid division of anti-BJP votes. "They (SP and BSP) did not express their desire to even talk to us," he alleged.
The SP-BSP alliance was formalised on Saturday at a joint presser by Mayawati and Yadav. They announced their parties would contest 38 seats each and would leave two seats for smaller allies. They also said they would not field candidates from Amethi and Rae Bareli, the traditional seats of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi respectively. -- PTI
22:48 Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad admitted to AIIMS, Delhi for sinus treatment.
22:48 Rescue ops for Meghalaya miners makes little headway:
The navy spent the whole of Monday to retrieve their unmanned vehicle which had got stuck during underwater searches for the 15 miners who have been trapped in an illegal mine in Shillong for over a month.
The navy's efforts bore fruits and before calling an end to the operation on Monday, they managed to reclaim the unmanned vehicle from inside the 370 foot-deep coal mine in Meghalayas East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.
During the day, a team from a Chennai-based company that specialises in submersible robotic inspections launched their underwater search operations in the nearby abandoned mines using their smaller robotic vehicles, operations spokesperson R Susngi said.
They have been tasked with preparing map of these rat-hole mines and see if there was any traces of the trapped diggers, the spokesperson said.
He said senior scientist from Hyderabad-based CSIR-NGRI Dewashish Kumar has also begun electric topography survey in the area to identify the rock strata besides other important information.
The efforts to de-water the main shaft, where the miners are trapped, were affected on Monday due to the navy's efforts to retrieve their unmanned vehicle which got stuck on Sunday night.
Susngi said due to this operation the team from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd could not operate their high-powered pumps and the de-watering process was affected.
The KBL team uses two high-powered pumps to de-water the main shaft while Coal India Ltd has brought eight of their submersible pumps to the site, according to Susngi.
However, only two of the CIL pumps are being put to use to de-water the nearby abandoned mines downstream, close to the main shaft, he said.
Six pumps from Odisha Fire Service are being used as relays to take the water pumped out by CIL further downstream, he added.
Even as the multi-agency operations stepped up their efforts, the water level at the ill-fated mine has remained constant, Susngi said. -- PTI
22:12 JNU sedition case: Chidambaram dubs police charges as 'absurd':
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday dubbed the charges against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in the JNU sedition case as "absurd" while his party said it hoped that the legal process will be carried out rightfully.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police filed its chargesheet against Kumar and nine others in the case before Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Anand.
Chidambaram said if it took three years for the government to make out the charge of sedition, it "exposes the motive of the government".
He also demanded a debate on whether a provision like Section 124A (sedition) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) has a place in the laws of a democratic republic.
"The charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar and others is absurd. If it takes three years and 1,200 pages to make out a charge of sedition (based on a public speech), that alone exposes the motive of the government," the former home minister said in a series of tweets.
"How many in the investigating team have read and understood section 124A of the IPC and the case law on the Section. There must be a serious debate if a provision like section 124A has a place in the laws of a democratic republic," Chidambaram said.
22:03 CBI officer probing 'role' of Akhilesh Yadav in illegal mining case shifted:
In a fresh set of reshuffle, Central Buraue of Investigation DIG Gagandeep Gambhir, who was supervising the investigation into the alleged role of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in the illegal mining case, has been transferred, sources said Monday.
Gambhir has been shifted to the unit which is probing the Srijan scam and the case against journalist Upendra Rai.
She will also have the additional charge of DIG in special investigation team headed by joint director Sai Manohar, the sources said.
The special investigation team, which was earlier headed by Rakesh Asthana, is probing important cases like that of Vijay Mallya and Agusta Westland.
It is also probing some coal scam related cases, among others.
The fresh changes have been effected by M Nageswara Rao, who was made the interim chief of the probe agency after a high-powered committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice A K Sikri and leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had transferred Alok Verma out of the CBI in a split verdict Thursday.
The probe in the Uttar Pradesh illegal mining case will now be supervised by DIG Anish Prasad, who was earlier Deputy Director (Personnel and Admin). The case is being probed by Special Crime III unit, according to the sources.
DIG Tarun Gauba, who is supervising the probe against Rakesh Asthana in a corruption case, will also have "substantive charge of Chandigarh range" "on his own request", the sources said.
Asthana was sent on a forced leave after the CBI registered a case of corruption against him. His plea to quash the FIR was rejected by the Delhi high court. -- PTI
21:24 Want controversy to die: Justice Sikri, who voted for Alok Verma's sacking :
Justice A K Sikri of the Supreme Court wants the controversy, over his proposed post-retirement assignment and nomination on the PM-led panel which removed Alok Verma as CBI chief, to "die" even as some senior advocates Monday termed the incident mischievous and aimed at targeting him.
"See I don't want the controversy to be dragged. I want it to die," Justice Sikri said on the sidelines of a private function relating to the release of a book on the life of former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal.
He refrained from making any further comments on the episode.
A controversy broke out on Sunday over Justice Sikri getting a government offer last year for a post-retirement assignment at the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT), three days after his vote, as a representative of CJI Ranjan Gogoi on the panel, helped decide the removal of Verma as CBI director.
Apparently stung by the controversy, Justice Sikri withdrew his consent to the government offer.
On Monday, Justice Sikri, the senior-most judge after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, maintained a safe distance from scribes but former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said he has been "unfairly targeted" by some political leaders and activist-lawyers.
"There is no connection between the two issues and people who don't know the facts and circumstances under which the two things happened giving consent for assignment at London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal and his nomination by the CJI in the Prime Minister-led panel on the former CBI chief issue are instrumental in making allegations which are utterly false and malicious," Rohatgi said.
Criticising some activist-lawyers who had used social media to allegedly "malign" the judge, Rohatgi said "such people only want publicity without knowing the facts about the person whom they are speaking."
"The issue was raised completely with mischievous intent to malign the judge. It is scandalous," he said.
His view was shared by former high court judge Ajit Kumar Sinha and senior advocate Vikas Singh, who said it was "unfortunate" that some persons and activist-lawyers "mischievously" linked the two incidents.
They said Justice Sikri had given oral consent in December 2018 to the government offer to nominate him for president/member of the CSAT and the CJI nominated him in the PM-led panel after judgment in the Verma case in January 2019. -- PTI
Image: Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri during a book release in New Delhi. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo
21:04 Will grand alliance have an impact in your constituency, asks PM on NaMo app:
Will the 'mahagathbandhan' or the opposition's grand anti-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance have an impact in your constituency?
This is one of the several questions the 'people's pulse' survey asks participants on the 'NaMo' app.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday posted a brief video on Twitter urging people to participate in the survey.
The survey asks participants about their state, constituency, their view on progress achieved by the central government in sectors such as affordable healthcare, prosperity of farmers, corruption-free governance, Swachh Bharat, national security, economy, infrastructure, employment and rural electrification.
In his video message, the prime minister says: "A survey has been launched on the NaMo app. I want your direct feedback through the survey. Your feedback matters. Your feedback on various issues will will help us take important decisions. Will you all fill that important survey?"
One of the last questions is on the grand alliance. It asks people whether the 'mahagathbandhan' will have an impact in their constituency.
The survey comes amid an opposition attempt to forge an alliance against the BJP ahead of the national elections. -- PTI
21:01 Finance Secy Ajay Narayan Jha gets extension; named Finance Commission member:
Finance Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha has been given one month extension in service and named as the member of the 15th Finance Commission, according to an official order issued Monday.
He is a 1982 batch Indian Administrative Service officer of Manipur cadre.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved extension in service of Jha, Finance Secretary and Secretary, Department of Expenditure, for a period of one month beyond his superannuation, i.e. January 31 this year, said the order issued by the Personnel Ministry.
He will take over as the member, 15th Finance Commission vice Shaktikanta Das, with effect from March 1 this year, it said.
Das has taken over as the Reserve Bank of India Governor. -- PTI
20:17 Fresh trouble for BJP as Rajbhar's party threatens to quit NDA :
In fresh alliance trouble for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Rajbhar's Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party on Monday threatened to break its alliance with the saffron party and join the opposition coalition if its demand of sub-quota in the existing OBC reservation was not met.
SBSP general secretary Arvind Rajbhar, son of the party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, said the coming together of arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh had posed a "big challenge" for the BJP.
"I think the alliance is a big challenge for the BJP. If it doesn't agree to the demand of sub-categorisation of OBC quota put forward by Om Prakash Rajbhar, this alliance will remain a big challenge for the BJP," he said.
Om Prakash Rajbhar, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led government in the state, has been vocal about implementing an expert group recommendation on sub-categorisation of the 27 per cent OBC quota into three categories to benefit the most backward castes.
Asked if his party could join the opposition alliance in case the SBSP's demands were not met, Arvind Rajbhar said: "We haven't had any talks with the opposition. If the BJP doesn't agree to our demand (sub-categorisation), in that scenario, we can go into the grand alliance, all options are open.
"The Congress also wants that we should align with them and the 'Mahagathbandhan' (SP-BSP) also wants that we join them," he said.
Arvind Rajbhar's remarks come about a week after another National Democratic Alliance constituent Apna Dal-Sonelal warned the BJP of going to "any extent" if it does not change its attitude to smaller parties in the ruling coalition.
THe SBSP has four MLAs in Uttar Pradesh, while Apna Dal-S has nine. The BJP has a huge majority with more than 300 MLAs in the state's 404-member legislative assembly. -- PTI
19:14 Court allows Michel to make phone calls to family, lawyers abroad:
A Delhi court on Monday allowed alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, to make phone calls to his family members and lawyers abroad.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted 15 minutes a week to Michel to make international calls.
The accused had moved the court claiming that the jail authorities had rejected his plea seeking the permission. Michel, who was extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year.
The court had earlier imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers while he was in the ED's custody, after the agency had said he was misusing the legal access by passing chits to his lawyers, asking them how to tackle questions on 'Mrs Gandhi'.
The ED's counsels, D P Singh and N K Matta, had also claimed that during questioning, Michel had spoken about the 'son of an Italian lady' and how he was going to become the next prime minister of the country.
"We also need to decipher who is the 'big man' referred to as 'R' in the communications between Michel and other people," the ED had told the court.
On January 5, Michel was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in the CBI case related to the scam.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
The CBI, in its chargesheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer due to the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros. -- PTI
19:08 Retail inflation slows to 18-month low of 2.19% in Dec:
Retail inflation declined to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December 2018 mainly on account of sliding prices of fruits, vegetables and fuel.
The inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 2.33 per cent in November and 5.21 per cent in December 2017.
The previous low inflation was 1.46 per cent in June 2017.
According to the data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, food inflation remained in the negative zone at 2.51 per cent compared to (-) 2.61 per cent in the November.
The rate of price rise in vegetables, fruits and protein-rich eggs continued to decline.
However, there was a marginal increase in prices of meat, fish, and pulses.
Fuel and light inflation was 4.54 per cent in December, down from 7.39 per cent in November on back of reduction in prices of petrol and diesel.
Another data released earlier in the day showed that inflation based on wholesale prices fell to an eight-month low of 3.80 per cent in December, 2018, on softening prices of fuel and some food items.
The Wholesale Price Index-based inflation stood at 4.64 per cent in November 2018 and 3.58 per cent in December 2017. -- PTI
18:17 Bulandshahr: NSA invoked against those arrested for cow slaughter:
The Bulandshahr district administration on Monday invoked the National Security Act against seven people arrested in connection with the alleged cow slaughtering incident in Siyana tehsil last month, officials said.
Cattle carcasses were found strewn in the fields outside village Mahaw in Siyana on December 3 after which a mob went on the rampage, attacking the local Chingrawathi police post.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, 44, and civilian Sumit Kumar, 20, of Chingrawathi village were killed of gunshot injuries in the ensuing violence.
Two separate FIRs were registered -- one for the violence in which nearly 80 people including 27 named and the other for cow slaughter -- at the Siyana police station.
"Yes," District Magistrate Anuj Jha said in response to a PTI query on whether the stringent NSA was invoked against those arrested in the cow slaughter case. -- PTI
17:57 Defence minister's day in Port Blair:
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today watched a joint amphibious exercise off the Campbell Bay coast, the southern-most island of the nation, which saw participation of the three armed forces.
Andaman and Nicobar is an Integrated Services Command.
"Smt @nsitharaman inspects Joint Amphibious Exercise by Integrated Service Command, ANC off the Campbell Bay coast, the southern most island of the nation," the defence minister's official twitter handle tweeted.
Andaman and Nicobar archipelago is straddled strategically near the mouth of the Malacca Straits. The Malacca Straits is also an important sea lane of communication and is used by navies of several countries, including China which has been stepping up its military infrastructure in the Indian Ocean region. Sitharaman also reviewed the presentation made by senior officials of the Andaman and Nicobar Command. -- PTI
17:44 10% reservation for economically weak comes into force:
The constitutional provision to provide 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and education to economically backward section in the general category has come into force Monday, a government notification said.
The Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019 received the assent of the President on Saturday.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, the Central government hereby appoints January 14 as the date on which the provision of the said Act shall come into force," a gazette notification by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment read. The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, by adding a clause which allows states to make "special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens".
These "special provisions" would relate to "their admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state, other than the minority educational institutions". It also said the reservation would be "in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10 per cent of the total seats in each category".
The bill was passed by Parliament on January 9. -- PTI
17:41 Murray knocked out of Australian Open:
Andy Murray has been knocked out of the Australian Open losing to Spains Roberto Bautista-Agut in the first round. The Scotsman was defeated 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2 in a superb five-setter at the Hisense Arena.
17:38 Jet Airways shares zoom over 16% on resolution plan reports:
Shares of Jet Airways soared over 16 per cent Monday amid reports of likely finalisation of a resolution plan. The stock surged 16.13 per cent to close at Rs 294.40 on BSE. Intra-day, it jumped 17.15 per cent to Rs 297. At NSE, shares of the company zoomed 15.67 per cent to close at Rs 293.40. On the equity volume front, 35.21 lakh shares of the company were traded on BSE and over 3 crore shares changed hands at NSE during the day.
Meanwhile, BSE has sought clarification from Jet Airways on January 14, 2019, with reference to news that Jet has rallied on likely finalisation of resolution plan. As per reports, the resolution plan is likely to be finalised after lender's meet this week. -- PTI
17:23 Kashmir still a challenge due to Pak's destabilising activities: Rajnath:
Kashmir is still a challenge due to destabilising activities by Pakistan, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lakhimpur Kheri, UP, today. He was talking to the press after inaugurating the administrative building, residential block and officers' mess at the SSB sector headquarters here. "Kashmir is still a challenge due to destabilising activities by neighbouring Pakistan. However, the Army, the CRPF, the J&K police and intelligence bureau men are acting in better coordination," he said.
Speaking about Naxal incidents, the home minister said they had dropped by 50 per cent during the last four years. Extremist violence in northeastern areas saw a decline of 80 per cent, Singh said.
Lauding improvements made on the internal security front, he said, "No major terrorist incident had taken place in India during the last four-and-a-half years (of the Narendra Modi government)."
Singh said the country's economy today was counted as the world's fastest growing. "By 2030, the Indian economy would rank among top three economies of the world," he said.
"The Modi government has launched the world's largest universal health care scheme Ayushmaan Bharat which has benefitted 7.5 lakh people so far," Singh said. -- PTI
17:16 Senior Congress leader C P Joshi to be speaker of Rajasthan assembly:
Senior Congress leader C P Joshi is set to be the speaker of the 15th Rajasthan Assembly, party sources said on Monday.
The election of the new speaker will be held on January 16 and Governor Kalyan Singh will administer the oath of office on the same day, they said.
Joshi, 68, has been elected from the Nathdwara assembly constituency.
He was the Member of Parliament from Bhilwara in the 15th Lok Sabha and had served as the union minister for road transport and highways, and panchayati raj from 2009 to 2013.
Senior BJP MLA Gulab Chand Kataria took oath as the pro tem speaker of the Rajasthan assembly on Monday.
The pro tem speaker will conduct the first meeting of the 15th Legislative Assembly beginning on Tuesday.
Once a new speaker is elected, Kataria, who was the home minister in the previous government, will be the Leader of Opposition, while Rajendra Rathore will be his deputy (leader of opposition) in the assembly. -- PTI
17:02 Chargesheet politically motivated, let the trial begin: Kanhaiya:
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others, named in a chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police in a sedition case on Monday, termed the move as 'politically motivated' and questioned its timing, ahead of the parliamentary election.
"The chargesheet is politically motivated. However, we want the charges to be framed and a speedy trial in the case so that the truth comes out. We also want to see the videos that have been placed on record as evidence by the police," Kumar told PTI.
The Delhi Police also charged former students -- Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya -- for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event organised on JNU campus on February 9, 2016 to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru.
Khalid, who addressed a student gathering at St. Joseph's College in Bangalore on the 'role of youth in safeguarding the Constitution', said, "We reject the allegations. The move to file the chargesheet three years after the alleged incident is an attempt to divert the attention (of the people) right before (parliamentary) elections. We will fight it out in court."
Others charged in the case are Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat and Basharat.
As many as 36 others, including Communist Party of India leader D Raja's daughter Aprajita, Shehla Rashid (then vice-president of the JNUSU), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri have been named in column 12 of the charge sheet due to insufficient evidence against them, police sources said.
Former JNUSU leader Shehla Rashid, who had led the campaign for the release of Kumar and other students, said, "This is a completely bogus case in which ultimately everyone will be acquitted. The timing of the charge sheet right before the elections just reflects how the BJP wants to reap electoral benefits out of this. I was not even on campus on the day of the event."
CPI Leader D Raja said, "It is politically motivated. After three years Delhi police is filing the charge sheet in the case. We will fight it legally in court and politically outside court."
A case was registered on February 11, 2016 under Sections of 124 A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons at Vasant Kunj (North) police station following complaints by BJP MP Maheish Girri and the ABVP.
The February 9 event happened despite the varsity administration having cancelled the permission following a complaint by the ABVP, who had termed it as 'anti-national'. -- PTI
16:47 WPI inflation at 8-month low in Dec, raises rate cut hopes:
Softening prices of fuel and some food articles pulled Wholesale Price Index inflation to a eight-month low of 3.80 per cent in December raising hopes for a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India.
This is the second consecutive month of decline in WPI-based inflation.
The inflation was 4.64 per cent in November, 2018 and 5.54 per cent in October. In December 2017, WPI inflation stood at 3.58 per cent.
According to the government data released Monday, deflation in food articles stood at 0.07 per cent in December, against 3.31 per cent in November.
Vegetables continued its deflationary trend for six months and was at 17.55 per cent in December, compared to 26.98 per cent in the previous month.
Inflation in the 'fuel and power' basket in December slumped to 8.38 per cent, nearly half of 16.28 per cent in November.
This was on account of lowering of prices of petrol and diesel through December. Individually, in petrol and diesel inflation was 1.57 per cent and 8.61 per cent, respectively, and for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) it was 6.87 per cent during December.
"The continuing deceleration in the growth of WPI and softening of global fuel prices provide ample opportunity to MPC (monetary policy committee) to cut down policy rate at earliest which will kick start investment and revival in overall industrial growth," Assocham said.
Inflation in manufactured items slowed to 3.59 per cent in December, from 4.21 per cent in November. Among food articles, potato prices became cheaper substantially with inflation at 48.68 per cent in December, as against 86.45 per cent in November.
Inflation in pulses stood at 2.11 per cent, while in 'egg, meat and fish' it was 4.55 per cent. Onion witnessed deflation of 63.83 per cent in December, compared to 47.60 per cent in November.
Deflation in fruits was at 3.69 per cent in December, as against 2.49 per cent in the previous month.
The 3.80 per cent inflation is the lowest in 8 months, and a lower inflation than this was last seen in April at 3.62 per cent. Data for retail or consumer price index-based inflation would be released later in the day.
The RBI mainly takes into account retail inflation data while formulating monetary policy. In its fifth monetary policy review for the fiscal, last month, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged, but held out a promise to cut them if the upside risks to inflation do not materialise.
The central bank has lowered retail inflation projection to 2.7-3.2 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal, citing normal monsoon and moderate food prices. -- PTI
16:07 BJP to move its K'taka MLAs to Gurugram to prevent poaching :
Just in: BJP will be sending 102 Karnataka MLAs to a resort in Gurugram over fears they will be poached by the JDS-Congress. Remember, Gurugram, which is in Haryana is a BJP-ruled state.
This comes amid reports that the BJP is making fresh attempts to topple the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka through what is being called 'Operation Kamal'.
Reports say that plans are afoot to poach disgruntled Congress MLAs and if all goes according to plan, the state will have a new government after Makar Sankranti. The festival is being celebrated today.
Congress trouble-shooter and Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar had alleged on Sunday that three of its MLAs had been whisked away by the BJP to Mumbai and are now untraceable. The MLAs have been located at a Mumbai hotel, but
Congress sources claim that the party has foiled at least half a dozen similar attempts by the BJP since forming the government last year. They say BJP is using Congress MLA Ramesh Jharkiholi, who was dropped from the cabinet, to mobilise support.
Sources say Jharkiholi is trying to get at least 10 Congress MLAs on his side, but he has been able to get just two so far. One more MLA, Umesh Jadhav from Gulbarga, is also allegedly planning to switch sides, said sources.
Confirming these developments, DK Shivakumar said the BJP was making a desperate attempt to topple the government.
Former Karnataka CM and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, however, rubbished the reports. "There is no truth to all these rumours (of reports of three Congress MLAs in touch with BJP). This is between Congress and JDS. We are not in touch with any of their MLAs. We are only focused on keeping our MLAs energised."
Image: Former Karnataka CM and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa
15:48 Sachin Bansal invests Rs 150-cr in Ola:
Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has pumped in about Rs 150 crore in ride-hailing platform Ola, according to documents filed with the Corporate Affairs Ministry.
"... 70,588 fully and compulsorily convertible, cumulative 'Series J' Preference Shares' having face value of Rs 10 having the rights, privileges and preferences... is hereby allotted at a subscription price of Rs 21,250," the documents showed.
This translates into an investment of about Rs 150 crore by Bansal, who left Flipkart after the US retail giant Walmart picked up 77 per cent stake in the e-commerce company for USD 16 billion. The resolution was passed at a board meeting of ANI Technologies, the entity that runs Ola, on January 12, according to the documents. E-mails sent to Ola and Bansal did not elicit any response.-- PTI
15:39 Delhi police files chargesheet against Kanhaiya Kumar, 9 others :
The Delhi Police Monday filed its chargesheet in a court against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, and students Umar Khalid, Anirban, and seven others, in a sedition case lodged in 2016. Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Anand put up the charge sheet for consideration before a competent court on Tuesday. The chargesheet has been filed under IPC section 124A (sedition), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine, forged document), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 149 (unlawful assembly with common object), 147(rioting), & 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in 2016 year for allegedly organising an event in the JNU campus against the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru. There was outrage when allegations were made that "anti-national slogans" had been raised.
Shehla Rashid and CPI leader D Raja's daughter Aparajita Raja have also been named in the chargesheet filed in JNU sedition case along with Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and others.
The opposition slammed the police for "working at the behest of the ruling BJP".
Image: Kanhaiya Kumar (centre) with Umar Khalid (to his left). File pic.
15:38 Alliance will work as long as Akhilesh bows down before Mayawati: SP MLA :
The SP-BSP alliance will run as long as Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav agrees to everything BSP chief Mayawati says and bows down before her, according to SP MLA Hariom Yadav.
"SP-BSP alliance will not work in Firozabad. It won't be successful here. This gathbandhan will run only till our president (Akhilesh Yadav) agrees with Behenji (Mayawati) and bows down before her," Hariom said on Sunday.
On January 12, BSP and SP announced that they will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls together, keeping the Congress aside.
Foes-turned-friends BSP and SP will contest on 38 seats each, while two Lok Sabha seats have been left for other parties. Both BSP and SP decided not to field candidates against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli and Amethi, respectively. -- ANI
14:52 Prashant Bhushan approaches SC against CBI interim chief :
NGO Common Cause through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan approaches Supreme Court against M Nageswara Rao's appointment as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Last week, a high power select committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge and Justice AK Sikri decided to removed Alok Verma from the post of CBI Director, two days after he was reinstated to the post by the Supreme Court on January 8.
After 39 years of service, Verma, who was asked by the select committee to join as DG of Fire Services, Home Guards and Civil Defence, refused to take charge and resigned.
Verma had ordered the withdrawal of all transfers facilitated by Nageswara Rao when he was first appointed the interim director in a midnight change of guard at the CBI in October last year.
Verma had also recalled 13 officers, including AK Bassi and SS Gurm who were part of a special investigation team that was probing corruption allegations against special director Rakesh Asthana in the Moin Qureshi case.
Two days ago, Rao, as the interim CBI chief, had withdrawn the transfer orders and brought them back to be a part of the SIT.
Image: CBI interim chief Nageswara Rao
14:18 Woman accuses Pak High Commission staffer of touching her inappropriately:
A staffer of the Pakistan High Commission was taken to a police station here for reportedly touching a woman inappropriately, police said Monday. The woman and the staffer were brought to Sarojini Nagar police station on Sunday, they said.
According to the woman, the man touched her inappropriately in the market, a claim rejected by the staffer. The man said his hand merely brushed past the woman due to heavy crowd in the market, police said.
A senior police official said the matter was sorted out after the man apologised to the woman. The police also denied media reports that the staffer was detained. -- PTI
14:12 Asha Bhosle shared this kickass pic and we just can't!:
If you haven't seen this yet, here you go. Legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle recently shared a picture that we could relate to. She tweeted this picture of herself with a group of people, all of whom are busy with their mobile phones. She wrote, "Bagdogra to Kolkata... Such good company but still, no one to talk to. Thank you Alexander Graham Bell."
13:57 Pothole story:
Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary has urged party members and civic workers to be careful about the increasing number of potholes in Uttar Pradesh. Citing instances of the state government's alleged apathy towards the condition of the roads in the state, Chaudhary tweeted images of pothole-ridden stretches and asked party workers to wear helmets while campaigning.
The UP government had promised to make the state pothole free by June 15, 2017. To remind the government about its promise, the RLD had launched a campaign in October 2018, #Selfiewithgaddha, asking people to post their pictures with potholes, thus forcing the government to act on its promise. -- Business Standard
13:45 In defence of Durga puja:
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has urged Durga puja committees in Kolkata to unite against "unholy forces". Last week, the Kolkata branch of the Income Tax Department had served notices to at least 40 big-budget Durga pujas in the city to file their TDS and also disclose the sources of donation.
"Are Tirupati Balaji, Golden Temple, Jagannath Temple, Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Ajmer Sharif going to be taxed, too?" asked the West Bengal CM. Launching a blistering attack on the central government, Banerjee said, "We will not allow them to loot people who want to respect Goddess Durga and celebrate their own festival." -- Business Standard
13:38 Fire at Kumbh Mela site, no one injured:
A cylinder exploded in a tent at the Digambar Ani Akhara at the Kumbh Mela site in Prayagraj, triggering a massive fire on Monday, a day before the fair officially opens, police said. There were no immediate reports of any one being injured, Akhara police station inspector Bhaskar Mishra told PTI. Fire fighters rushed to control the blaze which engulfed the makeshift structure at the venue.
13:32 Heard of the Directorate of Gopalan? Here's what it does:
The Directorate of Gopalan in Rajasthan has issued a letter to all district collectors asking them to motivate donors, NGOs, social workers and cow lovers to adopt stray cows and felicitate them on August 15 and January 26. The Directorate of Gopalan of the state government works for cattle conservation, research and development.
"The idea behind the step is to conserve cows with cooperation from people. Those who adopt stray cows and undertake welfare activities will be felicitated by district collectors on the occasion of Independence day and Republic day," Vishram Meena, director, Gopalan directorate, said.
"The directorate issued a letter to all district collectors on December 28 with details of the campaign for the conservation of stray cows. There are people who adopt stray animals in cow shelter homes. They celebrate their birthdays, wedding anniversaries and such occasions by spending time with their adopted cows. We have asked the collectors to push such initiatives," he said.
Meena said the interested parties can give their proposal to the respective district collectors. After verification of the claims, the collectors will felicitate such people with a certificate at the district level, he said.
The order also mentions that whoever wants to adopt cows can deposit the amount decided by the local cow shelter and can visit the cows anytime. Those who want to keep the stray cows at their houses can also do so, it added. -- PTI
13:05 No chuda-dahi for Lalu today:
This will be the third year in a row that Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's (pictured) family will give the traditional makar sankranti festivities a miss. The reason? Prasad had not been granted bail in the fodder scam case.
Party spokesperson Bhai Virender said RJD members would have celebrated the event with the traditional chuda-dahi meal on Monday if Prasad had got bail.
People in Bihar consume chuda-dahi or curd with flattened rice during the festival. Many RJD leaders still remember how makar sankranti had always been a big event for party workers across Bihar to pay a visit to the former Bihar chief minister at his residence. -- Business Standard
Image: Lalu Prasad Yadav celebrates Sankranti with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in 2017
12:57 Woman conquers male-only bastion:
Another male bastion busted: Defense PRO Dhanya Sanal becomes the first woman to trek to the Agasthyarkudam peak after 2018 Kerala High Court order that women cannot be excluded from trekking to the peak. Sanal said she would stick to take the pathway and go into prohibited areas and hurt the sentiments of the tribals.
12:54 Maha CM speaks to Sena chief over ongoing Mumbai BEST bus stir:
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Monday intervened in the BEST bus strike in Mumbai and spoke to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to find a solution. Over 32,000 employees of the BEST are on strike since Tuesday last week and 3200-odd buses in its fleet are off the roads.
The telephonic conservation between Fadnavis and Thackeray took place after a meeting Monday in Mantralaya between striking BEST union functionaries and state chief secretary D K Jain failed to break the deadlock.
The details of the telephonic conservation between Fadnavis and Thackeray were not immediately known. The Shiv Sena has been unable to end the strike despite its affiliated union, the BEST Kamgar Sena, announcing a pullout a day into the strike. -- PTI
12:52 'Kumbh is the greatest show on Earth':
"Kya Facebook mein dalogi?" asked the Naga sadhu.
I said, 'If I have your permission, I will. Your wish.' He said, 'Theek hai'.
So I did put it on Facebook and wrote that I had baba's permission.
To meet the other Naga sadhus I had to walk 20 km in the 45 degrees May heat. I wanted to take photographs, they first shooed me off, then every day I spent a couple of hours there."
Radhika Shastry attended the last two Kumbh Melas and published a book of photographs, Kumbh -- The Greatest Show On Earth.
She spoke to Rediff.com's Archana Masih
about her encounters with Naga sadhus, a morning with the brilliant chief of the transgenders and the sadhu standing on one leg for 6 years with another 6 to go. Read more
12:36 WPI inflation at 8-month low of 3.80% in Dec :
Inflation based on wholesale prices fell to a 8-month low of 3.80 per cent in December, 2018, on softening prices of fuel and some food items. The WPI-based inflation stood at 4.64 per cent in November, 2018, and 3.58 per cent in December 2017.
According to the government data released Monday, deflation in food articles stood at 0.07 per cent in December, against 3.31 per cent in November.
Vegetables, too, saw deflation at 17.55 per cent in December, compared to 26.98 per cent in the previous month. Inflation in the 'fuel and power' basket in December slumped to 8.38 per cent, nearly half of 16.28 per cent in November.
This was on account of lowering of prices of petrol and diesel through December. Individually, in petrol and diesel inflation was 1.57 per cent and 8.61 per cent, respectively, and for liquified petroleum gas it was 6.87 per cent during December.
Among food articles, potato prices became cheaper substantially with inflation at 48.68 per cent in December, as against 86.45 per cent in November. Inflation in pulses stood at 2.11 per cent, while in 'egg, meat and fish' it was 4.55 per cent.
Image: Egg, meat and fish inflation stood at 4.55 per cent.
12:20 Six weeks notice to Centre to reply on snooping PIL :
Update: The Supreme Court on Monday has given the Centre six weeks to respond to a plea challenging the notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system. The PIL challenging the government's December 20 notification came up before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
12:05 Cong shouldn't treat JD-S as third grade citizens: Kumaraswamy:
As Karnataka's ruling coalition constituents Congress and JD-S get down to brass tacks for the Lok Sabha polls, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said his party should not be treated as "third grade citizens" and that both the partners adopt a "give and take policy" to put up a united fight against the BJP.
With the coalition partners expected to hold talks on the tricky seat-sharing issue amid pressure within the Congress not to cede much to Janata Dal (Secular), Kumaraswamy stressed there should not be any "pettiness" on both sides.
In an interview to PTI, the chief minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma was "fading" with growing anti-incumbency, and pitched for Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the top job while also admitting that there was a lack of consensus among anti-BJP parties on choosing Gandhi.
As his government completed seven months in office, the JD(S) leader downplayed reports of contradictions within the coalition and said he would overcome all the "bitterness" smoothly.
"Both of us (Congress-JD(S)) should go together (in Lok Sabha polls) is our opinion. Because the reason behind forming this government (in Karnataka) is to stop the BJP from coming to power and improve the atmosphere in the country..." Kumaraswamy said when asked whether the JD(S) would go it alone if seat-sharing talks fail.
He said after the formation of the coalition government in the southern state, a lot of changes had taken place in the country's political landscape, including BJP's downslide and Congress victory in some bypolls and assembly elections in three states. "...in my opinion if Congress loses its way and tries to move with overconfidence, what will happen they will understand, with their past political experience, I do not think they will forget them.
"They should treat us respectfully. They should not treat us as third grade citizens. There should be give and take policy," Kumaraswamy said.
The JD(S) has demanded 12 out of 28 seats for the Lok Sabha polls, to which the Congress has expressed its reservations. In the 2014 polls, BJP had won 17 seats in the state, Congress 9 and JD(S) 2 seats.
11:55 Koregaon-Bhima case: SC refuses to quash FIR against activist Anand Teltumbde:
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to quash Pune Police's FIR against civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde for his alleged role in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima violence and for his alleged Maoist links. The apex court also refused to interfere with the ongoing investigation in the case.
However, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S K Kaul extended by four weeks the interim protection from arrest granted to him by the Bombay High Court.
The apex court said Teltumbde can seek regular bail from the competent trial court in this time. On December 21, the Bombay High Court dismissed the petition filed by Teltumbde seeking the quashing of the FIR and granted interim protection from arrest for three weeks.
At the Elgar Parishad event at Shaniwarwada in Pune, held a day before the January 1 caste clashes at Koregaon-Bhima, located near Pune, several activists allegedly made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements that contributed to the violence, police said. -- PTI
Image: Violence during the caste clashes at Koregaon-Bhima near Pune.
11:31 SC notice to Centre on MHA's snoop order:
The Supreme Court issues a notice to the Centre on a Public Interest Litigation against the MHA's December 20 notification allowing 10 agencies to monitor any computer resource. The SC says it will examine the issue and seeks the Centre's reply in six weeks.
A PIL was filed last month in the Supreme Court challenging the governments notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system.
The petition filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma seeks quashing of the governments December 20 notification. According to the governments notification, 10 Central probe and snoop agencies are now empowered under the Information Technology Act for computer interception and analysis, Ministry of Home Affairs officials said.
The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.
10:54 Would you take a dip in this river?:
Clearly, many devotees thought better than to take a dip in the Gomti river in Lucknow on Makar Sankranti because of the staggering filth. A devotee said that people throw flowers in the river even though the government has asked people not to do so. The devotee told ANI that the govt should have cleaned it ahead of Makar Sankranti.
10:35 3 Congress MLAs in Mumbai hotel with BJP leaders: Karnataka minister:
Karnataka Minister and senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar said the BJP's ''Operation Lotus'' to topple the state's coalition government was for real, alleging that three Congress MLAs were camping in a hotel in Mumbai in the "company of some BJP leaders".
"Horse trading is going on in the state. Three of our MLAs are in Mumbai in a hotel with some BJP MLAs and leaders. We are aware of what has transpired there and how much has been offered to them," he said.
Operation Lotus is a reference to the BJP allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to defect to ensure stability of its then-government headed by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in 2008.
Shivakumar, who had earned the reputation of being a "trouble-shooter" in the Congress for bailing out the party from many crises in the past, accused Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of being "lenient" towards the BJP.
"Our chief minister is bit lenient towards the BJP. By ''lenient'', I mean he is not exposing the facts he knows. All the MLAs have conveyed to the chief minister about the ongoing conspiracies. They have also told Siddaramaiah about it.
"The chief minister is adopting a policy of wait and watch. If I was in his place, I would have exposed it within 24 hours," Shivakumar said.
The minister said former chief minister Siddaramaiah and Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao were aware of the development.
Shivakumar, however, exuded confidence that the BJP would not succeed in its attempt."You have been saying that a ''kranti'' (revolution) may happen after Makar Sankranti. Let us see. It is not so easy because there is already anti-defection law in place, but we are aware of what you are hinting at," he said in an apparent reference to the opposition BJP in the state.
The minister also wondered why the income tax department and the anti-corruption bureau failed to initiate any action on a complaint by Dinesh Gundu Rao on the matter.
Many Congress MLAs in the Karnataka have alleged that they were approached by the BJP leaders to quit their party and join them.The BJP has trashed the charges, saying
10:11 Tamil Nadu takes the bull by the horns :
In Tamil Nadu, the registration of bulls and bull-tamers was concluded yesterday in Madurai, ahead of Avaniapuram Jallikattu, scheduled to be held tomorrow on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
09:56 Sensex falls over 150 points ahead of key macro data release:
The BSE benchmark Sensex Monday dropped over 150 points tracking weakness in other Asian markets amid heavy selling by foreign investors. Market sentiment also turned cautious ahead of the release of key macroeconomic data.
The 30-share index fell 174.61 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 35,835.23 in early trade. Similarly, the NSE Nifty shed 60.10 points,or 0.57 per cent, to 10,733.85.
On Friday, the Sensex had fallen 377.81 96 points to end at 36,009.84; and the Nifty too slipped by 26.65 points to close at 10,794.95. According to analysts, this week, stock market movement will be driven by announcement of macroeconomic data points and quarterly earnings by various companies, including bluechips RIL and Wipro.
The government is scheduled to release wholesale price index and consumer price index data later in the day. The market would also continue taking cues from the movement of rupee, crude oil and investment trend by foreign investors, traders said. -- PTI
09:53 Kumbh 2019: Security tightened for world's largest human congregation :
Scores of devotees from across the country took a holy dip at Sangam Ghat on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad, on Monday.
Makar Sankranti or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, in reference to deity Surya. The day marks the first day of sun's transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
According to local authorities, approximately 1,17,000 people offered prayers to Akshay Vat, a sacred fig tree mentioned in the Hindu mythology in Prayagraj.
In the wake of Kumbh Mela, the local police is keeping a strong vigil and monitoring the regions adjoining the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries. They have also restricted vehicular movement in Prayagraj roads due to a large footfall of tourists.
The administration has taken the help of NGO's and citizens in maintaining law and order.
"As per the order by the Director General of Police to all the senior police officials in all the districts, it has been instructed to ensure that any sort of illegal industrial activity or waste should not be discharged into the Ganges and its tributaries including the Yamuna," Praveen Kumar, Inspector General (Law & Order), Uttar-Pradesh Police had stated on January 10.
Kumbh is the largest human congregation in the world, with lakhs of pilgrims participating in the festival with the belief that taking a dip in the holy water of Ganges River will pave the way for their salvation and would rid them of their sins.
Image: Devotees take holy dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
09:41 Petrol touches Rs 70-mark in Delhi for first time in 2019 :
On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, fuel prices on Monday continued to witness an upward trend with petrol and diesel being sold at Rs 70.13 and Rs 64.18 per litre respectively in the national capital.
This is the first time that fuel prices reached Rs 70-mark in the year 2019.
While petrol price witnessed a hike of 38 paise, diesel got costlier by 49 paise in Delhi.
In Mumbai, petrol and diesel are being retailed at Rs 75.77 and Rs 65.73 per litre respectively.
This comes amid the perpetual rise and fall in the petrol and diesel prices across the country.In the last week of 2018, the fuel prices witnessed a dip in its prices by plummeting to its lowest. -- ANI
09:33 Bachchan siblings next up on 'Koffee With Karan':
Karan Johar is all set to host the Bachchan siblings - Abhishek Bachchan and Shweta Bachchan Nanda - in the upcoming episode of his popular talk show.
The promo of 'Koffee With Karan' gives a sneak peak of the amazing camaraderie that the two share. From pulling each other's legs to revealing their secrets, the teaser proves that the star kids are just like any other brother-sister duo.
In the clip, KJo asks the 'Manmarziyaan' star in the Rapid Fire round, who he fears the most - mother Jaya Bachchan or wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. When the actor chooses Jaya Bachchan, his sister immediately responds that it is actually his wife who he is more scared of. "It is my Rapid Fire, be quiet!" retorts Abhishek. Further, when Karan asks Shweta what she tolerates about her brother, she quips, "His sense of humour!"
09:18 Indonesia finds cockpit voice recorder of crashed Lion Air jet:
Indonesia has found the cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air plane more than two months after the Boeing Co 737 MAX jet crashed into the sea near Jakarta, killing all 189 on board, an official said on Monday.
Its been found, but we have not received information of the location yet, Haryo Satmiko, deputy chief of Indonesias transport safety committee, said by text message.
The cockpit voice recorder is one of the two so-called black boxes crucial for the investigation of a plane crash.
Image: Rescue team members arrange the wreckage, showing part of the logo of Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
09:09 Modi left out, Rahul Gandhi and LK Advani invited for Raj Thackerays sons wedding:
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has invited top politicos in Delhi like Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his sons wedding but has not yet invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Interestingly Modis cabinet colleagues along with top BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani have all been invited for the January 27th wedding at St Regis hotel at Lower Parel.
Thackeray, who was going to travel to Delhi last week, did not do so but sent his two close aides Harshal Deshpande and Manoj Hate to do the job.
The list of people invited so far includes former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Jawdekar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Menaka Gandhi.
Both were unable to meet Rahul Gandhi at his residence.
When asked whether he would invite Modi for the wedding, Thackeray in his press meet last year said: Does Modi believe in the institution of marriage?
Thackeray who was once a strong supporter of Modi is now his bitter critic and advocates a stance of a Modi-mukt Bharat.
08:43 26/11 plotter Tahawwur Rana to be extradited to India?:
There is a "strong possibility" of Tahawwur Hussain Rana - currently serving a 14-year jail term in the US for plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack -- being extradited to India, an informed source said.
The Indian government, with "full co-operation" from the Trump administration, is currently working on completing the necessary paperwork to ensure the extradition of the Pakistani-Canadian national before his current jail term ends in December 2021.
Rana was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack. Some 166 people, including US nationals, were killed in the attack carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.
In 2013, Rana was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.
According to the US officials, he is set to be released in December 2021.
"There is a strong possibility of extradition of Rana to India on completion of his jail term here. We (US and India) are working on this," a source said.
But the "challenge" is to complete the necessary paperwork during this period and overcome the cumbersome bureaucracy of the two countries and the independent judiciary, the source said.
India's ministry of external affairs, ministry of home affairs and ministry of law and justice and the US' State Department and the Department of Justice, each of them has their own extradition procedure in place.
08:30 Tejashwi Yadav predicts BJP's "whitewash" after meet with Mayawati:
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday met BSP chief Mayawati, a day after she announced an alliance with her rival, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
After the meeting, Tejashwi Yadav said the BJP would be "whitewashed" in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Tejashwi Yadav welcomed the "grand alliance" in Uttar Pradesh between Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party -- in which both the parties agreed to contest in 38 seats each. He said his father, RJD chief Lalu Yadav, had always talked about a Bihar style alliance of regional parties to defeat the BJP.
A grand alliance of regional parties -- chiefly the RJD and Nitish Kumar's JDU-- had defeated the BJP in the Bihar assembly election. Kumar, however, ended the alliance over corruption allegations against Lalu Yadav and his family. He later formed a government in Bihar with support from the BJP.
Currently, the Bihar grand alliance has the Congress, Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) and Mukesh Sahni's Vikassheel Insan Party as its members.
"There's atmosphere today where they want to scrap Baba Saheb's (BR Ambedkar) constitution and implement 'Nagpur laws'. People have welcomed the step taken by Mayawati-ji and Akhilesh-ji.The BJP will be whitewashed in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They won't win even one seat in Uttar Pradesh. The SP-BSP alliance will win all seats," he said.
08:11 Is Sitharaman giving clean chit to Pak on Uri, Pathankot attacks: Chidambaram:
Hitting out at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for reportedly stating that no major terror attack took place during the BJP-led government's rule, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram asked whether she was giving a clean chit to Pakistan in the Pathankot and Uri attacks.
"'There has been no terrorist attack from Pakistan since 2014' says Defence Minister. Will the Defence Minister take the map of India and locate Pathankot and Uri?" Chidambaram tweeted.
"By saying these attacks were not by or from Pakistan, is the defence minister giving a clean chit to Pakistan in respect of the Pathankot and Uri attacks?" he asked.
Incredible statement of the week that people should remember after May 2019, Chidambaram said of her remarks adding that the truth is the opposite.
The Congress had attacked Sitharaman on Saturday as well for her remarks when party spokesperson Manish Tewari said, if the defence minister's statement was to be true, "then what was the Uri attack, where 19 soldiers were killed in a terror strike, and the Pathankot terror strike?"
Both the terror attacks had taken place in 2016.
07:48 Can't take open-and-shut stand on Sabarimala, let people decide: Rahul:
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had earlier argued that all women should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple, said he cannot take an "open-and-shut position on the issue as there is validity in the arguments of both the sides.
Speaking at a press conference in Dubai on Saturday, Gandhi said the issue is "much more complicated" and he would leave it to the people of Kerala to decide on the matter.
He admitted that his initial position on the Sabarimala issue was different than what it is today.
"I have heard both the arguments, my initial position was different than what my position is today. After I heard the arguments of people of Kerala, I can see validity in both the arguments that traditions need to be protected. I can see validity in the argument that women should have equal rights. So I would not be able to give you an open-and-shut position on this," Gandhi said.
"After I spoke to the people in Kerala and the Pradesh Congress Committee team in the state and they explained the details, I realised that the issue is much more complicated and both sides have a valid position. I would leave it to the people to decide on this," he said.
After the Supreme Court verdict, Gandhi had said that all women should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple, noting that his view on the issue was different from that of his party's Kerala unit.
The Congress in the capital had welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, while the party MPs from Kerala opposed it.
The shrine was out of bounds for girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age. The Supreme Court's September 28 verdict allowed women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.