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LIVE! Rahul didn't take stand against corruption when it mattered: Nitish

January 15, 2019

23:42  Rahul didn't take stand against corruption when it mattered: Nitish:  
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday attributed his sudden exit from the opposition alliance to Congress president Rahul Gandhi's "inability" to take a stand on corruption charges against his former deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Kumar, who also heads the Janata Dal-United, claimed that his party was instrumental in the Congress getting 40 seats to contest in the 2015 assembly polls.
The chief minister said he had felt let down by Gandhi, then the party's vice-president, when he "did not come up with even a statement that could have made me have second thoughts (about leaving the alliance)".
Kumar had quit the alliance, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, in July 2017 after the CBI lodged an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges and the following strife between him and the RJD.
"It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD's) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees," Kumar claimed.
He was speaking at an event here organised by a private news channel.
"Rahul Gandhi had famously tore that ordinance. It was the JD-U which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage," Kumar said.
In 2003, Gandhi had torn an ordinance brought by the Manmohan Singh government with a provision to protect convicted politicians against disqualification.
Stating that he resigned as he had no other choice, Kumar said his resignation was immediately followed by an offer of support from the BJP. "So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar," he said.
"We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA's formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government," he said. -- PTI
23:34  NSA for cow slaughter, cop's killers run free: Sibal on Bulandshahr:  
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal attacked the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday over the invoking of the National Security Act against three persons arrested in connection with an alleged cow-slaughter incident, saying the NSA for those accused of killing cows while freedom for those involved in the killing of a policeman.
The Bulandshahr district administration on Monday invoked the NSA against three persons arrested in connection with an alleged cow-slaughter incident in Siyana tehsil last month.
Cattle carcasses were found strewn in the fields outside Mahaw village in Siyana on December 3 last year after which a mob went on a rampage, attacking the local Chingrawathi police post.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh (44) and a civilian -- Sumit Kumar (20) of Chingrawathi village -- died of gunshot wounds received in the ensuing violence.
"Wah Yogi ji (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath)...NSA for those accused of killing cows. Freedom for those involved in killing Inspector Subodh Kant Singh," Sibal said in a tweet.
"When law is allowed to be obstructive, agendas become destructive," the former Union minister added.
Two separate FIRs -- one for the violence against nearly 80 people (including 27 named) and the other for cow slaughter -- were registered at the Siyana police station.
Seven persons were arrested in the cow-slaughter case, three of whom were charged under the NSA. -- PTI 
22:50  PM offers prayers at Padmanabhaswamy temple:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi offeres prayers at the centuries-old Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, known as one of the 108 'divyadesams' of Lord Vishnu.
22:45  After Rahul's jibe, Kotler congratulates Modi:  
With Congress president Rahul Gandhi mocking the prime minister for being awarded the Philip Kotler award, the marketing guru took to Twitter to congratulate Narendra Modi for the honour and hailed his "selfless service towards India". 
"I congratulate PM @narendramodi for being conferred the first ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award. He has been selected for his outstanding leadership & selfless service towards India, combined with his tireless energy," Kotler said on Twitter Tuesday. 
He said Modi's efforts in India have resulted in "extraordinary economic, social and technological advances". 
"His winning the first Philip Kotler Presidential award raises the bar for future recipients," the marketing guru said.
Gandhi earlier took a dig at Modi saying he wanted to "congratulate" him on winning the "world famous" Philip Kotler Presidential award.
"In fact it's so famous it has no jury, has never been given out before & is backed by an unheard of Aligarh company. Event Partners: Patanjali & Republic TV :)," he said on Twitter.
In a sharp retort, Union minister Smriti Irani, while tagging Gandhi's tweet, suggested that unlike Prime Minister Modi, who was awarded by someone else, Gandhi family members had conferred themselves the country's top civilian honour --Bharat Ratna.
"Rich !!! Coming from a person whose illustrious family decided to confer the Bharat Ratna' on themselves," she tweeted. 
Modi had on Monday received the first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award here. 
According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, the award focuses on the triple bottom-line of 'people, profit and planet' and will be offered annually to the leader of a nation.
Philip Kotler is a professor of marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. -- PTI
22:40  Ravi Shankar Prasad stable: AIIMS sources:  
The condition of Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is admitted to AIIMS, is stable, hospital sources said on Tuesday.
Prasad was admitted to the hospital on Monday following complaints of nasal congestion.
"He is in the ICU, under observation. His condition is stable," a source said.
The Union Law and Justice minister is admitted in the pulmonary medicine department.
Prasad is likely to be shifted to a private ward on Wednesday. -- PTI  
22:02  RBI to inject Rs 10,000 cr through open market operations this week:  
The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday said it would inject Rs 10,000 crore into the system through purchase of government securities on January 17 to increase liquidity.
The purchase will be made through open market operations.
"Based on an assessment of prevailing liquidity conditions and also of the durable liquidity needs going forward, the RBI has decided to conduct purchase of ... Government securities under OMOs for an aggregate amount of Rs 100 billion on January 17, 2019," the central bank said in a statement.
The eligible participants should submit their offers in electronic format on the RBI Core Banking Solution (E-Kuber) system on January 17.
The result of the auction will be announced on the same day and payment to successful participants will be made on the following day.
The RBI plans to inject liquidity under OMOs for Rs 50,000 crore in January 2019.
The central bank has so far injected Rs 20,000 through OMOs in January. -- PTI 
21:53  Ex-Arunachal CM quits BJP, says party is now a platform to seek power :  
Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gegong Apang has resigned from the party, saying it was no longer following the principles of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"I am disappointed to see that the present day BJP is no longer following the principles of the late Vajpayeeji," Apang said in his resignation letter sent to BJP chief Amit Shah.

"The party is now a platform to seek power. It serves a leadership which hates decentralisation or democratic decision making and no longer believes (in the values) the party was founded for," he added.

Apang said the BJP did not get the people's mandate in 2014 in Arunachal Pradesh.

"But the BJP leadership used every dirty trick in the trade and installed the late Kalikho Pul as chief minister. Despite an adverse Supreme Court ruling, a BJP government was reinstalled. Neither a proper investigation was done in Pul's suicide nor the present BJP leadership thought of morality and ethics by installing many more BJP governments in the northeast," said Apang.

He said that during the state level executive committee meeting held on November 10 and 11 at Pasighat, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav did not allow many members and office bearers to place their views.

"The decision to put Pema Khandu's name as chief minister before the election is neither the norm nor the tradition that a cadre-based party like BJP had followed. The BJP in the past has always asked the views of legislature and party members and then decided on leadership issues. Such undemocratic practices are not for the parties that grew under the leadership of Advani, Vajpayee, BS Shekawat, Kushabhau Thakre, Madan Lal Khurana, Rajmata Scindia and Sikandar Bakhl," he added.
21:13  Amid political turmoil, 'relaxed' HDK watches trailer of son's movie :  
It was a different battlefield a 'relaxed' chief minister H D Kumaraswamy watched amid the political crisis in Karnataka ahead of Lok Sabha polls.      

Taking time off from the turmoil his government is facing due to two MLAs withdrawing support to the government, Kumaraswamywatched a trailer of the movie 'Kurukshetra', the Kannada period movie based on the Mahabharata, based on the poetic marvel 'Gadayuddha' by poet Ranna.
His son Nikhil Gowda has played the role of Abhimanyu.
The movie has been produced by MLA Muniratna.
Enthralled with the trailer, Kumaraswamy said never before a movie of this scale ever been made inKannada, where every minute detail was taken care of.
The two Independent MLAs, H Nagesh (Independent) and R Shankar (KPJP) Tuesday withdrew support to the seven month old ministry amid turmoil triggered by charges of horse trading flung at each other by the ruling Congress-JDS coalition and the BJP. -- PTI
20:59  Alicia Keys to host Grammy Awards:  
Singer Alicia Keys will be hosting the 2019 Grammy Awards.
The 37-year-old singer made the announcement on her social media channels with a behind-the-scenes video.
"IT'S OFFICIAL! 15-time GRAMMY winner @AliciaKeys will host the 61st #GRAMMYs, marking her first time as master of ceremonies for Music's Biggest Night," announced the official Grammys Twitter account.
The awards are scheduled to happen on February 11. -- PTI 

20:43  Countrywide probe, vast records led to 3 yrs for JNU chargesheet: Police:  
Amid criticism over filing of chargesheet after almost three years in the Jawaharlal Nehru University sedition case, the Delhi Police has said such cases "generally take such time" as it involved probe spread across the country and involved voluminous records and evidence.
The police on Monday filed the 1,200-page chargesheet in a Delhi court against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others, saying he was leading a procession and accused him of supporting seditious slogans raised on the campus in February 2016.
Kumar and others have questioned the delay in filing of the chargesheet, alleging that its timing just a few months before the general elections had political undertones.
A core member of the investigating team, however, said it was not a delay as "these kind of cases generally take such time".
"The probe was spread across the country. A lot of evidence had to be collected, which also included the statement of a large number of accused and suspects as well as the witnesses," he said.
He said the maximum time was consumed in the interrogation of accused/suspects and witnesses of the case.
Police has also charged former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during the event held on the JNU campus on February 9, 2016 to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru.
In its chargesheet, the police has claimed that it has video clips to prove the offence which has been corroborated by the statements of the witnesses.
Police has alleged that Kumar had incited the mob to shout anti-India slogans.
A case was registered on February 11, 2016 under sections 124A and 120B of the IPC against unidentified persons at the Vasant Kunj (North) police station, following complaints from Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maheish Girri and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. -- PTI
20:37  India needs a decisive PM, not maverick leadership: Jaitley:  
Citing achievements of the Narendra Modi government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday said India needs a decisive prime minister with a clear mandate to deliver economic growth and satisfy the country's aspirations, and not an unworkable alliance with maverick leadership.
Jaitley in a blog said India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy under Modi though it is still not satisfied with 7-7.5 per cent GDP growth and wants to "break the 8 per cent barrier".
"Who should be India's Prime Minister, if India were to achieve this? Should he/she be constrained by his/her rival aspirants who have reluctantly supported him/her out of mere dislike for a common opponent or does India need a Prime Minister with a clear mandate as in 2014. 
"Only such a Prime Minister can deliver growth and satisfy the Nation's aspirations" Jaitley said in an apparent dig at 'mahagathbandhan' being propped up by opposition parties with the sole objective of defeating the BJP in the forthcoming general elections.
The pre-requisite for ensuring growth is a decisive leadership, consistency in policy direction and a strong and stable government, and not "an unworkable alliance with maverick leadership whose longevity is a suspect can never achieve this" he said in the blog titled 'Political stability, Decisive Leadership and a Clear Mandate - Their Relationship with Growth' .
Sources said Jaitley is in the US for a medical check-up. He had a kidney transplant last year.
Under Modi, Jaitley said India recorded a growth rate of 7.3 per cent during 2014-15 to 2018-19 as against 6.9 per cent in UPA 1 and 6.7 per cent in UPA 2. Also, the inflation too during the five-year period remained at a low of 4.6 per cent as against 5.7 per cent in UPA 1 and 10.1 per cent in UPA 2. -- PTI
20:35  Mehbooba calls local insurgents 'sons of soil', bats for dialogue:  
Terming local insurgents as "sons of soil", Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Centre should initiate dialogue with the insurgents leadership in Jammu and Kashmir to end the "gun culture".
"Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture," she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.
"I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well," she said.
The former chief minister, however, said it was "too early (for talks with militants)". 
Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence. 
"Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets. 
"If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then," she said. 
The PDP president had on Monday questioned the timing of filing of chargesheet in the 2016 JNU sedition case, in which seven Kashmiris have been named, saying the students were being used to score political points ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
"No surprises here. We are months away from the 2019 general election and like always, using Kashmiris to score extra political points with the Indian electorate has become somewhat of a pre-requisite," she had said in a series of tweets.
"Timing of the chargesheet couldn't be any more suspicious. When UPA was in power, it decided to send Afzal Guru to the gallows and to this day, J&K is paying a price," she said. -- PTI
19:55  Exports grow marginally in Dec 2018; trade deficit narrows to 10-mth low:  
The country's exports growth remained almost flat in December 2018, recording a marginal expansion of 0.34 per cent to USD 27.93 billion, mainly on account of global trade tensions.
Subdued exports and declining imports have narrowed the trade deficit to ten-month low of USD 13.08 billion in December 2018 as against USD 14.2 billion in the same month previous year.
According to trade data released by the commerce ministry, in last December, exports grew by 0.34 per cent (lowest in three months), while imports entered negative zone, registering a decline of 2.44 per cent to USD 41 billion.
Last time, imports had plunged into negative territory in September 2016. It was dipped by 2.54 per cent then.
The import of gold too contracted by 24.33 per cent to USD 2.56 billion in December 2018.
During the month under review, several key export sectors recorded negative growth. It includes engineering goods, gems and jewellery, leather, pharmaceuticals, marine products, iron ore, tea and coffee.
Commenting on the figures, exporters body FIEO said that the marginal growth in exports was due to uncertain global cues and challenges on the domestic front.
"China's exports contracted in December 2018, highlighting fragile global conditions. The weak global economic outlook are showing no signs of respite," Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said.
Engineering Export Promotion Council Chairman Ravi Sehgal too said the unfolding global situation comprises not only problems on account of trade tensions between China and the US but other issues like uncertainty over Brexit fall-out in the European markets. -- PTI
19:31  80% claims made in 'Accidental Prime Minister' false: Ex-NSA:  
Former National Security Adviser M K Narayanan on Tuesday asserted that "80 per cent of the claims" made in the book, The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, were "false".
Slamming the author of the controversial book, Sanjay Baru, Narayanan said the journalist and former media adviser to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was "not a big player".  
Baru had written the book during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to make money, alleged the NSA, believed to be close to the former PM.
"It's a book full of lies. Eighty per cent of his claims are false. He was not a big player of the game (in the government). He was nobody," Narayanan said in a session with the Bharat Chamber of Commerce.
He alleged that Baru could not manage the media and ran away in 2008 as he had thought the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would not return to power.
"The contents (of the book) are his own views," the former IPS officer added.
Narayanan was one of the officials instrumental in the Indo-US nuclear deal, a major achievement of the Manmohan Singh government.
Baru's book spawned a film on Singh's tenure in office that was released on January 11. -- PTI 

Image: A still from the film The Accidental Prime Minister
19:25  21-yr-old cricketer dies on the field in Kolkata :  
Promising all-rounder Aniket Sharma on Tuesday collapsed on a cricket field and died moments later owing to a possible cardiac arrest, hospital officials said.
Aniket, 21, from Paikpara Club, was brought dead to RG Kar Medical Hospital.
He is survived by his mother and father.
A southpaw, who could also bowl right-arm off spin, Aniket joined the club last year and according to his coach was a fine talent.
"He was a good cricketer. He was a brilliant team man and a good fielder too. We are shocked to say the least," his coach said.
"We were all there on the field, warming up. He wanted to play football for some time. But before that, while warming up he suddenly collapsed on the field and we rushed him to the hospital," a teammate said.
Aniket's club Paikpara were scheduled to take on Milan Samiti in a Cricket Association of Bengal First Division League match.
"We are trying to postpone the match which is scheduled for tomorrow. This is a very unfortunate incident and we are shocked," said CAB joint secretary, Avishek Dalmiya.
Former Bengal captain Sambaran Banerjee, who runs a club of his own, expressed shock at the incident too.
"I have no words to express how sad I am. This is too tragic."
According to hospital sources, his body will be taken for post mortem to diagnose the cause of his death. -- PTI
18:58  PM slams Kerala govt over Sabarimala :  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the left government in Kerala on the Sabarimala issue, saying Communists do not respect India's culture and spirituality.
Hitting out at the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front and the opposition spearheaded by the United Democratic Front in the state, he said both the fronts were two sides of the same coin and accused them of neglecting people of the state.
"We know that the Communists do not respect India's culture, history and spirituality," Modi said at a public meeting in Kollam.
Modi said the Congress party has multiple stands on the Sabarimala issue.
"They say one thing in Parliament and another in Pathanamthitta (where the Lord Ayyappa shrine is located)," the PM said. -- PTI 
18:40  Will stake claim to power if Cong-JDS govt falls: BJP:  
The BJP would stake claim to power in Karnataka if the Congress-JDS coalition government falls, Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda said on Tuesday, hours after two Independent legislators in the state withdrew support from the seven-month-old Kumaraswamy dispensation.
Gowda said the Kumaraswamy government would collapse on its own due to squabbling and that the Congress-JDS 'friendship" was on the "brink of divorce".
"The friendship is at the brink of divorce. It is time for break-up. A party with 37 seats has formed the government. It will collapse on its own due to squabbling. If the government collapses, we will certainly form the government," he told reporters here.
Gowda was replying to a query on whether there was any likelihood of the BJP staking claim to power in the event of the collapse of the coalition government.
The Congress and JDS had formed the government after the May 2018 assembly polls threw up a fractured verdict with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats in the 224-member Assembly.
The Congress had secured 79 seats and the JDS 37.
BJP Lok Sabha member Prathap Simha said it was everybody' wish to see Yeddyurappa as the next chief minister and the party would not sit quiet after winning 104 seats. -- PTI
17:55  Modi couldn't walk the path of Vajpayee: Mehbooba:  Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti: We shook hands with BJP as they had the mandate. We want to have talks on Jammu & Kashmir issue just like Vajpayeeji held talks with Hurriyat and Pakistan. But Modiji couldn't walk on the path of Vajpayeeji even though he had the mandate.
17:38  Six Sankranti pilgrims drown as boat capsizes in Narmada :   Six persons died Tuesday after a boat ferrying them capsized in the Narmada river in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district, police said. Altogether 36 persons have been rescued so far, and are admitted to a local hospital, an official said.

The boat was carrying around 60 people who were on way to perform a river worship ritual on the occasion of Makar Sankranti when it capsized, the official said.

Rescue operations are underway, the official said. The deceased hailed from villages along the river in the tribal-dominated district in north Maharashtra, police said. Prima facie, it appears that the incident occurred as the boat was carrying more number of people than its capacity, police said. -- PTI
17:12  Former ESPN-Star Sports CEO Sawhney appointed ICC's chief executive:  
The International Cricket Council today appointed media professional Manu Sawhney as its new chief executive officer, replacing incumbent David Richardson, who will step down after the World Cup.
Richardson's contract expires at the end of this summer's ODI World Cup in England.
Sawhney, the former CEO of Singapore Sports Hub and Managing Director of ESPN Star Sports, will join the organisation next month before formally taking over the reins from Richardson in July, the ICC said in a statement.
The appointment was ratified by the ICC Board following a global search and appointment process led by the apex body's chairman Shashank Manohar and the Nominations Committee.
Manohar said: "He brings 22 years of outstanding commercial experience to the ICC and will lead the delivery of our new global growth strategy for the game...Manu stood out as the man to work with our Members and take cricket forward."
Sawhney, was with ESPN Star Sports for 17 years and, during his tenure as Managing Director was responsible for scaling the business and doubling annual revenues.
"He has proven success in a number of leadership roles in both sport and broadcasting. He is a strategic thinker and understands the cricket landscape and its complexities. The decision of the Nominations Committee to recommend Manu to the Board was a unanimous one..."
Additionally, Sawhney led the global broadcast partnership deal with the ICC that ran from 2007-2015. He is also a non-executive director and member of the Audit Committee of Manchester United Ltd.
He said: "It is a great privilege and responsibility to serve the global cricket community as CEO of the ICC." -- PTI
17:01  CAG refuses to share Rafale details, cites breach of Parliament:  
The Comptroller and Auditor General has refused to disclose details about its audit in the controversial Rafale aircraft deal, saying the process is not yet complete and any disclosure at this stage will amount to breach of the Parliament's privilege, an RTI reply said.
In its response to Pune-based activist Vihar Durve who had sought the report from CAG, the country's auditor said, "The audit is under progress and the report is yet to be finalised. The information cannot be given under Section 8(1)(C) of the RTI Act as the disclosure would cause breach of  Parliament". 
Section 8(1)(C) of the Right To Information (RTI) Act exempts information the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature.
Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets, saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision making process" warranting setting aside of the contract.
It rejected the pleas seeking lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement.
"The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General, and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain," the bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said, relying on the sealed note submitted by the government.
After the Congress raised the issue that no such CAG report had been placed before the PAC, the government approached the court seeking changes in the judgment.
In the application, the Centre said the two sentences in paragraph 25 of the judgement appeared to have been based on the note submitted by it along with the pricing details in a sealed cover, but indicated the words used by the court lent a different meaning.  
The Centre made it clear that it did not say that the CAG report was examined by PAC or a redacted portion was placed before Parliament. It clarified that the note had said the government "has already shared" the price details with the CAG, which was written in past tense and "is factually correct". 
However, where it was stated by the Centre in the note that the report of the CAG "is" examined by the PAC, was a description of the procedure which is followed in the normal course, but in the judgement, 'is' was replaced with the words 'has been', according to the application. -- PTI
16:15  I know my strength, says a confident Kumaraswamy :  Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy reacts to two independent MLAs withdrawing support. "If the two MLAs withdraw their support, what will be the numbers? I'm totally relaxed. I know my strength. Whatever is going on in media in the past week, I am enjoying."

In a blow to the Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka, two MLAs Tuesday withdrew support to the government headed by H D Kumaraswamy.

H Nagesh (Independent) and R Shankar (KPJP) have written to governor Vajubhai Vala conveying their decision. In separate identical letters, available to the media here, the lawmakers said they were withdrawing support extended to the coalition government of the Congress and the JDS with immediate effect.

The MLAs, who are now staying in a Mumbai hotel, requested the governor to take "necessary action." Both the Congress and the BJP have been accusing each other of trying to lure legislators.

The BJP MLAs are presently camping in Gurgaon, amid reports that some Congress and Independent MLAs are staying at a hotel in Mumbai. -- PTI
16:01  Indian killed in Afghan bomb attack: MEA:  An Indian national was among those killed in the terror attack in Afghanistan's capital on Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs said and called for the perpetrators of the assault as well as those who provide them shelter to be brought to justice expeditiously.

A bomb exploded near a heavily-fortified foreign compound in Kabul, killing at least four people and wounding over 100. The Taliban on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul that ripped through surrounding neighbourhoods.

"India strongly condemns the horrific terror attack in Kabul yesterday in which an Indian national and many others lost their lives," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement Tuesday. -- PTI
15:53  Will take care of Mayawati's farm loan waiver concerns: MP CM:  Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath Tuesday said his government will take care of BSP supremo Mayawati's concern over waiving off loans of farmers who had borrowed from money lenders. Nath was answering a question on Mayawati's concern over 100 per cent benefit to farmers under the scheme, including those who had borrowed from money lenders.

"I had called Mayawatiji in the morning to wish her on her birthday. I assured her that I will take care of her concern on the issue of loans taken by farmers from sahukars (money lenders) and will take action on it," Nath told reporters. He was speaking after formally launching the Jai Kisan Rin Mukt Yojana (farm laon waiver scheme) as promised by the ruing Congress in its manifesto for the Assembly polls. -- PTI
15:48  SC asks Bengal govt to allow BJP's rath yatra:  In a big blow to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Trinamool government to allow proposed public meetings and rallies of BJP under its "Ganatantra Bachao Yatra".

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked BJP's West Bengal unit to submit a revised schedule of its proposed 'Rath Yatra' with the authorities and seek necessary approvals.

The bench also comprising Justices L N Rao and SK Kaul asked the West Bengal government to consider the revised schedule of BJP for 'Rath Yatra' keeping in mind the fundamental right of speech and expression under the Constitution.

The bench said the apprehension of the state government of possible law and order situation cannot be called "unfounded" and BJP will have to take all possible steps to address the apprehension in reasonable manner. -- PTI
15:25  Our govt stable: K'taka Dy CM:  G Parameshwara, Deputy Karnataka CM on two independent MLAs withdrawing their support: We have been saying that BJP is luring our MLAs through money and power but their attempts to destabilise the govt will fail. Our govt is stable.
15:22  We want a change in the govt: Independent MLA:  Independent MLA, R Shankar: Today is Makar Sankranti, on this day we want a change in the govt. The govt should be efficient, so I am withdrawing my support (to the Karnataka govt) today
15:21  No understanding among coalition partners: Independent MLA:  H Nagesh, Independent MLA, Karnataka: My support to the coalition govt was to provide good and stable govt which utterly failed. There's is no understanding among coalition partners. So, I decided to go with BJP to install stable govt and see that govt performs better than the coalition. 
15:16  Supreme Court asks West Bengal government to allow rallies and meetings of BJP in state.
15:12  2 Independent MLAs withdraw support from K'taka govt, to join BJP:   Two Independent MLAs, H Nagesh and R Shankar, withdraw their support from the Karnataka govt. Both the MLAs say they will support the BJP. The JD-S-Cong government had denied them a ministerial berth. Nagesh and Shankar had been holed up in a hotel in Mumbai and have expressed their dissatisfaction with the government.

The BJP now is six short of forming government. Though the BJP won 104 seats in the Karnataka election, it was eight short of the majority mark of 111.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has alleged that the BJP was trying to lure MLAs of the ruling combine, the Opposition party made a counter attack accusing Congress-JD(S) of horse-trading, leading to a fresh political war in the state.

As the coalition government and the BJP levelled charges against each other, Kumaraswamy rubbished reports of an "instability" in his government, saying, "I have sufficient numbers for giving a stable government here, it is not necessary for Congress or JD(S) to poach the MLAs from BJP, we have sufficient numbers."
14:48  Man detained for allegedly sending e-mail threatening to kidnap Kejriwal's daughter:  A man has been detained for allegedly sending an e-mail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal threatening to kidnap his daughter, police said on Tuesday.

The accused, Vikas Rai, is a resident of Samastipur in Bihar and has been preparing for competitive exams in Delhi, they added. Police have also seized the phone he allegedly used to send the e-mail. Further details are awaited as his questioning is underway.

The Chief Minister's Office had received an anonymous e-mail on January 9 which was forwarded to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. A Protective Service Officer has been deployed for Kejriwal's daughter by North district Police, officials said. -- PTI
14:36  Exclusive! Why I Quit the IAS:  Shah Faesal, the first Kashmiri to top the civil services, resigned after serving the Union government for nine years, to enter politics last week.

Faesal, who trained as a doctor, returned to India after a fellowship at Harvard University's Kennedy School last month.

In a telephone interview from Srinagar with's Archana Masih, Dr Faesal speaks about the urgent need to fill the political vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir, how the problem of stone pelters can be dealt with -- and why even though he worries for his life sometimes, he is not cynical, sceptical or pessimistic about Kashmir.  Do read
14:33  HC seeks Centre's response on plea for SIT probe into phone tapping of Doval:  The Delhi High Court Tuesday sought response of the Centre on a plea seeking setting up of an SIT to investigate alleged illegal phone tapping of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao also issued notice to the agency and sought its response on the plea which contended that such activities are "very dangerous for the country".

The petition, filed by Sarthak Chaturvedi, has alleged that some CBI officials have abused their powers by violating the existing guidelines on phone tapping and surveillance. It has questioned as to whether permission was received for tapping the phone of Doval and others by the CBI. -- PTI
14:25  Kumbh Mela 2019: Yogi Govt's 'Gimmicks' Are Harming Hinduism. Read the column here.
14:15  Cong claims all K'taka MLAs loyal, but three still missing :  Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar from the Congress said the government was stable. "It will run for full five years under the leadership of CM HD Kumaraswamy. But another MLA Zameer Ahmed of the Congress admitted, "Around five MLAs of our party are in Mumbai. We will not sit silently if attempts of poaching are made, even we are in touch with some BJP MLAs. We had talked with 2-3 of our MLAs while other MLAs' phones are off. I can assure you no one will leave."

Meanwhile, BJP MLAs from Karnataka who have camped themselves in Gurugram on Monday evening said that they had assembled to strategise for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and had not run away fearing poaching by the ruling Congress-JDS alliance.

Speaking to ANI, Shashikala Jolle, an MLA from Nippani constituency, said: "There are 104 BJP MLAs and we are together. We have been called here to strategise for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. There are no talks of forming the government. If there is anything, our leaders will tell you."

Another BJP lawmaker Poornima Srinivas said that the BJP does not need to disrupt the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance government, claiming there are internal rifts among their ranks and they will fall out soon.

"JD(S) and Congress both lacked the number to form the government. So they formed an alliance. Now, there are fights between them. There is no need for us to ensure a premature end for their reign," the MLA from Hiriyur constituency said.

The charges of horse-trading were triggered after three Karnataka Congress MLAs visited Mumbai earlier on Monday, reportedly along with some BJP MLAs. This was followed by the Congress alleging that the BJP was trying to poach the ruling party's MLAs to destabilise the JDS-Congress alliance government in Karnataka.

However, Karnataka BJP unit chief BS Yeddyurappa refuted those charges, saying that his party had nothing to do with the three Congress lawmakers' Mumbai visit, and accused the Congress-JDS alliance of poaching bid.

Later in the day, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy accused Yeddyurappa of fabricating stories, adding that there is no need for the Congress-JDS alliance to poach on any party's lawmakers.

Image: BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa and other Karnataka BJP MLAs at a hotel in Gurugram. Pic: ANI
13:42  Kharge calls out CBI interim chief's 'illegal' appointment :  Leader of Congress Mallikarjuna Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, terming the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the CBI's interim director "illegal" and demanding that a meeting of the selection committee be convened immediately to appoint a new chief of the probe agency.

Kharge, who is part of the prime minister-headed three-member panel that removed Alok Verma as CBI chief, alleged that the government is scared of a CBI led by an "independent" director.

"Actions of the government indicate that it's scared of a CBI headed by an independent director," Kharge wrote in his letter to PM Modi. He also demanded that the government come clean on the issues and make public the CVC report, Justice A K Patnaik's report and minutes of the January 10 meeting.

Rao's appointment as CBI interim chief is "illegal", the Congress leader wrote in the letter.

Barely two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him, Verma was Thursday last removed as CBI director by the high-powered committee headed by PM Modi on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, in an unprecedented action in the central probe agency's 55-year history.

There were eight charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the committee that also comprised Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee. -- PTI
13:32  Smriti reacts to Rahul's jibe:  Smriti Irani reacts to Rahul Gandhi's tweet on the PM being conferred the Phillip Kotler award. Irani quips: "Rich !!! Coming from a person whose illustrious family decided to confer the 'Bharat Ratna' on themselves."
13:28  Want to congratulate PM on winning 'world famous' award, quips Rahul :  Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for receiving the Philip Kotler Presidential award, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he wants to "congratulate" him on winning "the world famous" prize that has no jury and has never been given out before.

Gandhi's jibe comes a day after Modi received the first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award in New Delhi.

The award focuses on the triple bottom-line of 'people, profit and planet'. It will be offered annually to the leader of a nation, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said. According to the award citation, Modi was selected for his "outstanding leadership for the nation".

"I want to congratulate our PM on winning the world famous 'Kotler Presidential Award'!" Gandhi said on Twitter. "In fact it's so famous it has no jury, has never been given out before & is backed by an unheard of Aligarh company. Event Partners: Patanjali & Republic TV :)," Gandhi added. -- PTI
12:45  Akhilesh greets 'bua' on her birthday:  Lucknow: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav greets Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati at her residence, on her birthday today. The SP and the BSP have decided on a 50-50 seat-sharing deal under which each party will contest 38 seats. Both parties will leave two seats for the smaller parties. Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats. The parties, however, will not contest in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively.
12:41  PM's Rs 1550 crore pre-poll bait for Odisha:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday accused the past governments at the Centre of ruling like "sultanates" and neglecting the country's rich heritage. He said the government led by him is committed not only to conserving and preserving the country's rich cultural heritage but also to clubbing ancient identities with modernity.

"Past governments ruled like Sultanates and neglected our rich heritage. They ignored our glorious civilization and failed to pay attention to their preservation," Modi said at a BJP rally in the western Odisha town of Balangir.

The prime minister said some people are even opposing celebration of International Yoga Day without understanding that yoga is India's ancient asset. Claiming that priceless antique pieces and ancient idols were stolen and moved out of the country in the past, he said the NDA government has taken concrete steps to bring back the precious idols from abroad. Before addressing the rally, the prime minister unveiled a slew of projects worth Rs 1,550 crore for Odisha. -- PTI
12:33  How BJP's panna pramukhs will work in MP:   After its hugely successful booth-level strategy failed to leave the usual impact on the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls late last year, the BJP is working harder to fire up the rank and file. Its cadre in the state is now working on a three-month programme calendar prepared by the party's central leadership to woo back voters before the general elections. The party has appointed new panna pramukhs (page in charge) at the booth level after dropping many of the incumbents.

The new panna pramukhs have each been handed a page from the electoral roll with mobile numbers and addresses of at least 15 families. It is the duty of the person in charge to contact these families from time to time, listen to their problems and then solve them, and, if possible, lead the members of these families to the polling booth during this year's election.

-- Business Standard
12:30  Cabinet expansion in MP :  Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath will expand his cabinet later this week. While a formal announcement on the expansion or the possible date is awaited, Nath's meeting with his party's central leadership in Delhi on Sunday fuelled speculation that it would happen before January 20. Other senior party leaders from the state were also present at the meeting where they gave their suggestions on the prospective candidates to be inducted into the CM's team.

According to sources, MLAs of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one independent MLA may get cabinet berths. Nath formed his cabinet on December 25, inducting 28 ministers, all from the Congress. Given that the Congress was able to form the government in the state with support from the SP and the BSP, it is likely their demands will be met.
-- Business Standard
12:22  SC to hear Zakia Jafri's plea against clean chit to Modi in Guj riots after four weeks:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear a plea by Zakia Jafri, challenging the SIT's clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots, after four weeks.

Zakia, the wife of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri who was one of the 68 killed in Ahmedabad's Gulberg society, has challenged the Gujarat High Court's October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT's decision.

The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi. "You are asking for four weeks and we are giving you four weeks. List the matter after four weeks," the bench said.

The court previously said it will also look into the application by social activist Teesta Setalvad on becoming a co-petitioner in Zakia's plea ahead of hearing the main case.

Jafri's counsel told the apex court that a notice needs to be issued in the plea as it pertains to alleged "larger conspiracy" during February 27, 2002 and May 2002. It also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, the petitioner filed a protest which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering "substantiated merits".

On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was "no prosecutable evidence" against them.

Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, triggering riots in Gujarat. -- PTI
12:16  Pakistan violates ceasefire in Sunderbani Sector, Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Army is retaliating.
12:15  Indian-origin WH deputy spokesman Raj Shah quits Trump administration:   Raj Shah, an Indian-origin top spokesman in the White House press office, has left US President Donald Trump's administration to join an arm of a lobbying firm, becoming the latest of several senior officials to quit in recent months.

Shah, 34, White House deputy spokesman and a former researcher at the Republican National Committee, was in the administration since president Trump took office in January 2017.

His portfolio recently included helping prepare Justice Brett M Kavanaugh for his Senate confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. Shah will lead the Media Group, the press wing of Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm with offices in Florida and Washington, The New York Times reported.

He will work with Jamie Rubin, a Democrat who was a spokesman for Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, the report said, quoting the officials. -- PTI
11:57  Forget past differences, work for victory of all SP-BSP candidates: Mayawati:   Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on Tuesday appealed to workers of her party and the Samajwadi Party to forget their past differences. On Saturday, the BSP and the SP announced an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to unitedly fight the BJP.

"Forget past differences and ensure victory of all joint candidates of the SP and the BSP. This will be my ideal birthday gift," Mayawati said at a press conference in Lucknow on the her 63rd birthday.

The SP and the BSP have decided on a 50-50 seat-sharing deal under which each party will contest 38 seats. Both parties will leave two seats for the smaller parties. Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats. The parties, however, will not contest in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively. The 'gathbandhan' has kept the Congress out of the alliance. -- PTI
11:40  'This is the price you pay for speaking out against Modi':  Almost three years after the controversy surrounding Jawaharlal Nehru University students, the Delhi police filed a chargesheet on Monday, January 14, under Sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code against Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and several others.

Khalid and others were also accused of shouting anti-India slogans during an event organised on the JNU campus on February 9, 2016, to 'commemorate the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru'.

The case was registered at the Vasant Kunj (North) police station following complaints by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maheish Girri and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"In another four months, people will show the rulers of this country that they believe in the Constitution and anti-Constitutional forces who are ruling us will not be allowed to remain in power," Khalid tells's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
11:37  JNU sedition case: Chargesheet to be heard on Jan 19:  A Delhi court Tuesday fixed January 19 for consideration of the charge sheet against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in the 2016 JNU sedition case. The court put up the matter for hearing on the date as Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat was on leave Tuesday.

The Delhi Police had on Monday filed a chargesheet at a city court against Kanhaiya Kumar and others, saying he was leading a procession and supported seditious slogans raised on the varsity campus in February 2016. Police also charged former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event on the university's campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru. -- PTI

Image: Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and Anirban Bhattacharya in a file pic, have been charged with sedition, which they deny.
11:06  Arun Jaitley travels to US for kidney ailment :  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has unexpectedly left for the US for a medical check up relating to his kidney ailment, sources said. Jaitley, who had undergone a renal transplant surgery on May 14, 2018, had not travelled abroad in last nine months. He was scheduled to attend the 10th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in London in April last year, but cancelled his visit due to his kidney ailment.

Sources said, he left for the US on Sunday night for a medical check up. Jaitley is to present his sixth and the BJP-led NDA government's last budget on February 1. Though it is supposed to be an interim Budget, it is widely expected that his speech would have been full length budget speech.

Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS last year in early April following which he underwent dialysis. He had a renal transplant surgery on May 14, 2018. In his absence, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was given the additional charge of Finance Ministry on May 14. Jaitley, 66, who had stopped attending office at the beginning of April, and was back in North Block - the seat of Finance Ministry - on August 23. Jaitley had in September 2014, undergone a bariatric surgery to treat weight gain that he suffered because of a long-standing diabetic condition.

That surgery was first performed at Max Hospital, but Jaitley was later shifted to AIIMS because of complications. He had a heart surgery several years ago. PTI
11:02  Woman who made history by entering Sabarimala attacked by relatives :  Kanaka Durga, one of two women who made history by becoming the first woman in the menstruating age, to enter the Sabarimala hill temple in Kerala, was attacked by relatives on her return home yesterday.

She has been admitted in a hospital at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district.

Her husband had filed a missing person report and his family had disowned her following her Januray 2 entry into the hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, considered to be a celibate deity.

Following threats by hardline groups Bindu Ammini, 40, a law lecturer at Kerala's Kannur University and Kanaka Durga, 39, a civil servant, had gone into hiding after entering the hill shrine.

Their entry sparked widespread protests and a day-long strike in Kerala.
The women had said they were facing threats from protesters, but that they trusted the authorities to keep them safe and planned to return home soon.

Also read: How two women entered Sabarimala temple

Image:  Kanaka Durga (wrapped in a white shawl) with Bindu Ammini had entered the shrine on the intervening night of January 1-2, 2019. 
10:53  Dawn in Kumbh mela with a holy dip and cries of 'Har Har Gange' :  At the break of dawn, chants of 'Har Har Gange' reached its crescendo as lakhs of devotees, ascetics and religious leaders of various orders congregated at the Sangam in Allahabad on Tuesday for a ritual dip, marking the beginning of the Kumbh Mela.

The confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati has called out to the religious for centuries and Makar Sankranti, which marks the beginning of the festival, is one of the sacred bathing days of the 50-day Kumbh Mela.

Devotees braved the cold weather to take a dip in the icy water as they reached the Kumbh Nagari which witnessed a huge rush of people from far-away lands as early as 4 in the morning.

Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh) who have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation in the world, were the first to take the holy bath known as 'Shahi Snan'.

They marched majestically, dancing and humming devotional songs, all the way to the confluence. "Me and my family came around 4:30 am thinking that it will be too crowded later. "Not that it is any less crowded now. Also, we didn't want to miss the march of various akharas that will be taking part at the Shahi Snan ritual," said 35-year-old Anshuman, who had just taken the holy dip.

Attracting eye-balls of one and all, especially the foreigners, was the march of Naga sadhus, a martial order of ascetics who move about naked with ash smeared on their whole body.

"It is surreal. I had always heard about them. In fact, one of the reasons we wanted to come to the Kumbh was to see them in real as we are told that this is the only festival in which they arrive in numbers," said Manuel Matthaus, who had come from Germany. -- PTI
10:39  Tamil community in Dharavi, Mumbai, celebrates Pongal. 
10:36  Pongal being celebrated in Madurai.
10:34  Tamil Nadu feeling bullish:  Tamil Nadu: Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming event begins in Avaniapuram, Madurai, on the occasion of Pongal.
10:27  Low visibility, fog, derails train schedules to Delhi :  Delhiites woke up to a cold morning with the minimum temperature settling at 7 degrees Celsius, two notches below normal. As many as 13 trains were running late due to fog, officials said. According to a meteorological department official, humidity was recorded at 92 per cent. "The maximum temperature is likely to hover around 19 degrees celsius," the weatherman said. On Saturday, the maximum and minimum temperatures were 19.5 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius respectively. -- PTI
10:14  Rupee depreciates 10 paise against USD; falls below 71 mark:  The rupee depreciated by 10 paise and fell below the 71 per dollar mark in opening trade Tuesday amid strengthening greenback, sustained foreign fund outflows and surging crude oil prices.

At the Interbank Foreign Exchange, the rupee opened weak at Rs 70.79 then fell further to 71.02 against the American currency, down by 10 paise over its previous closing price.

In highly volatile trade, the local currency also touched a high of 70.75 per US dollar, showing a rise of 17 paise over its last close. The rupee Monday plunged 43 paise to close at nearly one-month low of 70.92 against the US dollar. -- PTI
09:57  Sensex rallies over 300 points; Nifty reclaims 10,800 mark:  The BSE benchmark Sensex Tuesday rallied over 300 points tracking positive cues from other Asian markets amid heavy buying by domestic institutional investors.

Market sentiment was also upbeat after government data revealed that retail inflation dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December 2018, creating headroom for the RBI to cut interest rate in its monetary policy review next month.

The 30-share index Jumped 328.44 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 36,182 in early trade. Similarly, the NSE Nifty reclaimed the 10,800 mark by rising 93.65 points, or 0.87 per cent, to 10,831.25.

On Monday, after a volatile session, the Sensex had settled 156.28 points, or 0.43 per cent, down at 35,853.56, while the Nifty fell 57.35 points, or 0.53 per cent, to finish at 10,737.60.

In morning session on Tuesday, the biggest gainers in the Sensex pack were Yes Bank, Reliance, Infosys, Bajaj Auto, Asian Paints, ONGC, Bajaj Finance, SBI and TCS, surging up to 2 per cent. While, Bharti Airtel was the only loser in the index, down 0.44 per cent.

According to analysts, quarterly numbers and management commentary from India Inc will be keenly watched by market participants, and will play a crucial role in further upside.

Besides positive cues from other Asian markets, investor mood was boosted by encouraging macroeconomic numbers released on Monday. 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.
-- PTI
09:30  BJP's Amit Shah celebrates Uttarayan by flying kites:  
BJP president Amit Shah celebrated the festival of Makar Sankranti, known as Uttarayan in Gujarat by flying kites with his supporters and party members. 

Shah flew kite on the terrace of a house in Vadaj area. 

Shah was accompanied by Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani, state youth wing president Rutvij Patel and dozens of party workers.
09:06  Ivanka Trump to help US choose candidate for World Bank:  
US President Donald Trump's daughter and advisor Ivanka will help the United States choose its candidate to lead the World Bank but she will not be the one, the White House said.
Jim Yong Kim abruptly announced last week that he would cut short his tenure as president of the Washington-based global development lender more than three years before his second term was to end.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney "have asked Ivanka Trump to help manage the US nomination process as she's worked closely with the World Bank's leadership for the past two years," said Jessica Ditto, the White House Deputy Director of Communications.
However, Ditto said reports that Ivanka Trump "is under consideration are false." 
London's The Financial Times reported on Friday that both Ivanka Trump and Washington's former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley were among possible US candidates to replace Kim.

Through an unwritten post-war agreement with Europe, the World Bank has always been led by an American while a European has always been in charge of the IMF.
However, that is likely to face a serious challenge both because US President Trump has shown little interest in, if not antagonism to the Bank, and has upended the traditional alliances that make the agreement possible
08:33  Kumbh Mela starts with Shahi Snan in UP:  
Amid tight security, the 55-day long Kumbh Mela commenced with the Shahi Snan of Akharas at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.

Security measures have been heightened in Prayagraj and surrounding areas for the auspicious occasion.

Besides saints and seers, foreign tourists have also started coming to attend the event.

The Kumbh Mela is the largest human congregation in the world, with over 130 million pilgrims expected to participate 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.

The Kumbh Mela will end on March 4. 

-- ANI
07:55  Justice Sikri told PM, Kharge he didn't want to be in panel: Sources:  
After a political controversy that drove Justice AK Sikri to turn down a post-retirement job offer, NDTV citing sources said that the Supreme Court judge did not want to be part of the three-member selection committee that decided to remove Alok Verma as CBI chief. 

Justice Sikri, sources say, had conveyed his reluctance to the two other members of the high-powered panel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the opposition's representative.

He reportedly told them it was a "pure executive function". Opposition leaders have questioned why he agreed to be on the panel despite the possibility of conflict of interest.

"In future, no judge would like to be part of this process of appointment. All judges will recuse themselves from this process," said sources close to Justice Sikri, whose vote was the decider in the sacking of Alok Verma from the CBI just two days after he was partially reinstated by the Supreme Court.

"See, I don't want the controversy to be dragged. I want it to die," Justice Sikri told news agency PTI.

Justice Sikri, 65, has now turned down the post of president/member of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal, the arbiter of disputes among 53 countries in the Commonwealth. He was to take up the job after his retirement on March 6. Sources say Justice Sikri told the centre he had decided to withdraw his candidature to the London job as "he was pained". He had already made it clear, say the sources, that this was not a post with remuneration.
00:10  China has 'underground wall' to protect nuclear weapons from potential attacks:  
China has built an "Underground Steel Great Wall" below the mountains to hide its nuclear weapons from the potential attacks, said a top Chinese defence scientist who recently received the country's highest defence award from President Xi Jinping.
Qian Qihu, 82, said China's "underground steel Great Wall" could "guarantee the security of the country's strategic arsenal" against potential attacks, including those from future hypersonic weapons, state-run Global Times reported on Sunday. 
Qian, an academician of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the daily that the "Underground Steel Great Wall" is a series of defence facilities located deep under mountains.
While the mountain rock is thick enough to resist enemy attacks, entrances and exits of these facilities are often vulnerable and Qian's work was to provide extra protection for these parts, the daily said.
China's nuclear strategy follows the principle of "no first use" and requires the country to have the capability of withstanding a nuclear attack before it responds with its strategic weapons, the daily said. 
Qian, who received the 2018 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award during a conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, said the "Underground Steel Great Wall," is the "country's last national defence line." 
If other lines of defence including the strategic missile interception system, anti-missile system and air defence system fail to function against hypersonic missiles and recently developed bunker-busters, his work can still thwart such attacks, he said.
"The development of the shield must closely follow the development of spears. Our defence engineering has evolved in a timely manner as attack weapons pose new challenges," Qian said.
He said the hypersonic weapons that move 10 times as fast as the speed of sound are capable of changing trajectory mid-flight and penetrate any anti-missile installations.
"National defence challenges do not only emerge from the development of advanced attack weapons but are also a result of an unpredictable international environment," Qian said. 
He cited the recent US stance whereby the Donald Trump administration is mulling lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons deployment.
Asked how he would spend the eight-million-yuan cash award, Qian said that part would go to research on national defence, and the rest used for social welfare projects such as fighting poverty and supporting poor students. 
"I have never had a thought of earning any prize money for my research, nor would I think it came too late. I am only grateful that national recognition offers a great opportunity to raise the public's national defence awareness, " he said.
Qian's work guaranteed the safety of the country's strategic weapons, launch and storage facilities as well as commanders' safety during extreme times, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator told the daily. -- PTI

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