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LIVE! Amit Shah admitted to AIIMS with swine flu

January 16, 2019


23:03  India lodges strong protest with Pak over death of civilian in unprovoked firing:  
India on Wednesday summoned an official of the Pakistan High Commission and lodged a strong protest over the death of an 'innocent civilian in unprovoked ceasefire violation' by Pakistani forces on January 11 in Sunderbani area of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Ministry of External Affairs said India also protested Pakistan's continued support to infiltration of terrorists into India, including supporting cover fire provided by Pakistan forces.

"Pakistan High Commission official was summoned today and a strong protest was lodged at the death of an innocent civilian in unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan forces on 11 January 2019 in Sunderbani Sector," the MEA said.

It further said, "Our strong concerns were also shared at continued unprovoked firing and ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and the International Boundary."

A civilian was killed in unprovoked firing by Pakistani forces on January 11.

The year 2018 had witnessed the highest number of 2,936 ceasefire violations by Pakistan troops in the last 15 years along the Indo-Pak border, according to official figures.  -- PTI
22:07  Amit Shah admitted to AIIMS with swine flu:  
BREAKING: Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah is getting treatment in All India Institute of Medical Sciences for swine flu.

'I'm suffering from Swine Flu, which is being treated. By the grace of god and with your love and blessings, I will be fine soon,' Shah tweeted.

More details awaited.
21:43  PSLV-C44 to launch Kalamsat, Microsat satellite on Jan 24:  
The Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday said its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will launch the Kalamsat payload and Microsat-R satellite from Sriharikota on January 24.

PSLV is a four stage launch vehicle with alternating solid and liquid stages.

"The PSLV with 2 strap-on configuration has been identified for this mission and the configuration is designated as PSLV-DL. PSLV-C44 is the first mission of PSLV-DL and is a new variant of PSLV," the ISRO said.

It will be launched from First Launch Pad (FLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota.

"Kalamsat, a student payload will be the first to use PS4 as orbital platform. PSLV-C44 will also carry Microsat-R, an imaging satellite," the agency said.

In PSLV-C44, the fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle would be moved to higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments.

Kalamsat will be the first to use PS4 as orbital platform, ISRO said. -- PTI
21:14  No Pakistan delegation at Vibrant Gujarat Summit: Rupani:  
No delegation from Pakistan would be attending the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said here Wednesday. Heads of state of some countries are expected to reach Gandhinagar for the 9th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit beginning January 18.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event and hold one-on-one meetings with the leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

There was a controversy when the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), while inviting global trade bodies for the investors' meet, had also invited the Karachi Chamber of Commerce for the mega event. Indo-Pak diplomatic ties have been strained in recent times over the issue of terrorism.

"No delegation from Pakistan is coming for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit," Rupani said.

The issue (of Pak participation) was discussed, he added.

He did not elaborate. Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh had last week said there was nothing wrong in inviting Pakistan's trade body for the summit.

The GCCI had decided to invite global trade bodies during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and the state government had agreed to it.

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce was among the global trade bodies invited by GCCI. The Gujarat government had not sent any invitation, Singh said.

The Pakistani trade body was invited to participate in the 'Global Conclave of International Chambers' event to be held during the Summit.

In 2013, a trade delegation from Pakistan had come to Gujarat to participate in the summit but due to tension on the border, the delegation left without attending the main event.

No Pakistani delegation was invited for the investor meets held in 2015 and 2017. The summit was initiated in 2003 by Modi when he was the chief minister, to promote investment in Gujarat and to establish it as the preferred investment destination in India.  -- PTI
20:58  Top gainers in the market today.
20:58  BSE Sensex today.
20:41  CPI-M hits back at Modi, says PM speaking like RSS 'pracharak':  
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on the Kerala government over the Sabarimala issue, the Communist Party of India-Marxist on Wednesday said though he took an oath on the Constitution, but he was speaking like a 'pracharak' of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The party said the Modi's comments on the issue were 'atrocious and condemnable'.

'Mr Modi forgot that he had taken oath on the Constitution of India and he spoke as an RSS pracharak not as the Prime Minster. His statement constitutes a direct assault on the Indian Constitution and the Supreme Court,' the party said in a statement.

It said the state government was implementing the judgement of the Supreme Court, and the prime minister's statement has 'dangerous implications for the future'.

"This means that any Supreme Court judgement which does not suit the interests of the BJP and RSS will be defied and the government seeking to implement it will be attacked by them. In the history of independent India this is an unprecedented situation. All those who subscribe to the constitution and secular democratic values will condemn the stand of the PM," the party said.

On a visit to Kerala on Tuesday, Modi tore into the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front government over the Sabarimala temple issue, saying this will go down as 'one of the most shameful behaviour' by any party and government in the country.

Since the shrine opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festivities on November 17, it witnessed massive protests by devotees and right-wing outfits against the state government's decision to implement the Supreme Court's order, allowing women of all ages to enter the temple.

Traditionally, girls and women in the menstruating age group of 10-50 years were barred from offering prayers at the shrine, the presiding deity of which is 'Naishtika Brahamachari' (perennial celebate).

The hill shrine would be closed on January 20.

Violence involving BJP-RSS and the ruling CPI-M rocked parts of Kerala during the January 3 shutdown with several houses and shops of rival leaders and workers being attacked over the entry of two women into the temple.  -- PTI
20:05  Justices Maheshwari, Khanna elevated to SC amid protest by BCI:  
Karnataka high court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Delhi high court judge Sanjiv Khanna were on Wednesday elevated as judges of the Supreme Court, the government said.

The five-member SC Collegium had on January 11 recommended the elevation of the two to the top court.

Earlier in the day, the Bar Council of India had protested the SC collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Khanna by superseding several other judges and termed the decision as whimsical and arbitrary.

The BCI, which is an apex body of lawyers, said the decision of the five-member collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was viewed by the Bar and the common man as unjust and improper.

Before the BCI made a statement protesting the decision of the collegium, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court also wrote a note to the CJI and other members of the collegium -- Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra -- for ignoring the seniority of Chief Justices of the high courts of Rajasthan and Delhi, Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon, respectively.

Sources said Justice Kaul was of the view that wrong signal would go out if the two Chief Justices, who are up in the seniority list than Justice Khanna, would be left out for elevation as apex court judges.  -- PTI
19:07  Prof sacked after FB post likening virgin woman to sealed bottle:  
Jadavpur University on Wednesday divested professor Kanak Sarkar of teaching duties and barred him from entering the campus with immediate effect, pending inquiries, following outrage over his Facebook post in which he likened a virgin woman to a 'sealed bottle'.

"In view of the recommendation of the department of International Relations, Prof Kanak Sarkar is divested of his teaching duties with immediate effect. Substitute arrangements will be decided in the meeting of the Board of Studies on January 18," a university notification said.

Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das told reporters that Sarkar won't be allowed to 'take classes or enter the varsity campus with immediate effect' till the inquiries of the university-appointed committee, the State Women's Commission and National Women's Commission are over.

"We took the step after talking to students and department of International Relations and the internal code of conduct committee of the institute on the issue," he said.

Sarkar, a professor of International Relations department, had likened a virgin woman to a 'sealed bottle' or 'packet' in his post on Sunday.

Though he had deleted the post, screenshots of it went viral.

A top university official said, "The university is taking stringent measures in consultation with legal experts against Sarkar in sync with the statute of the institute."

Facing criticism, a defiant Sarkar had appeared to justify his comments, asserting that it was intended for 'fun' among a social media group of friends and 'not for public consumption'.

"Someone took a screenshot of the post and forwarded it, which triggered the response. I did not intend to hurt anyone's sentiment or insult any woman," he said.

He also said according to a Supreme Court order every individual is entitled to express his opinion.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Students of Jadavpur University stage protest in campus demanding expulsion of Prof. Kanak Sarkar over his remarks. Photograph: ANI
18:01  Odisha Cong working president resigns from party, to join BJD:  
In a major setback for the opposition Congress in poll-bound Odisha, its working president and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das has resigned from the primary membership of the party.

He has, however, not resigned from the membership of the Odisha assembly, election to which is slated to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls this year.

Das, a two-time legislator, has sent his resignation letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled to visit the state on January 25. In the letter, Das apologised for resigning from the party.

A copy of the resignation letter was also sent to Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik and All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Odisha, Jitender Singh.

In the letter, Das said he will join the ruling BJD to take forward the developmental activities in his Jharsuguda assembly constituency.

Das stated that he has resigned from the Congress following requests by voters of Jharsuguda who want the area to be developed.

'I do not have any complain against Niranjan Patnaik, president, PCC, Odisha. I have a very cordial relationship with him... I apologise for this resignation as done so (sic) for the moto i.e development first. So I should join hands with Naveen Patnaik,' he said in the letter and indicated that he would join the BJD on January 24.

Two days ago, when Das indicated that he would quit the Congress, Niranjan Patnaik had said it will not affect the poll prospects of the party.

Das is a popular leader in Jharsuguda district.

He had defeated BJD candidates in 2009 and 2014 assembly elections. He is also credited with ensuring Congress victory during the 2017 zilla parishad elections in Jharsuguda.

Of the nine zilla parishad seats in Jharsuguda district, Das had ensured victory of Congress candidates in eight. Niranjan Patnaik wrote on Twitter, 'As I had clarified to media, news like this does pain me. But, in hindsight, I think this is good for us. People who are not committed to the ideology & treat politics as commercial activity are doing great service to us by quitting.'  -- PTI
17:39  PM-headed panel likely to meet on Jan 24 to appoint new CBI director:  The high-powered Selection Committee is likely to meet on January 24 to appoint the new CBI Director, sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads the committee, in which the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are the other members. The sources said the government had proposed the meeting on January 21 earlier while Kharge wanted the meeting on January 24 or 25. 


After mutual consultations, the government has finalised January 24 as the date for the meeting to select the new CBI Director, a post which is lying vacant ever since the government removed Alok Verma and appointed him as Director General Fire Service. 


IPS officer M Nageswara Rao was named the interim director of the CBI. The Congress has been attacking the prime minister for not appointing a regular CBI Director. Kharge had also written to the prime minister demanding early holding of the meeting of the high powered committee to appoint a regular CBI Director. -- PTI


Image: Former CBI director Alok Verma
16:59  Selection Panel to meet on January 24 to decide on new CBI director.
16:54  Gurmeet Ram Rahim sentencing in murder case via video conference:  The Special Court of CBI in Panchkula, Haryana, on Wednesday agreed to pronounce the quantum of punishment to Gurmeet Ram Rahim, convicted in the murder of journalist Ramchander Chhatrapati along with three others, through video conference on Thursday.


Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim will be produced in the court through video conference from Sunaria jail in Rohtak, where he is currently serving 20-year prison term since 2017 for raping two of his women followers.


Three other accused, who were also convicted in the journalist's murder case, will be produced in the court from Ambala jail through video conference.


The decision comes after Haryana government on Tuesday filed an application in the CBI Special Court here, seeking the pronouncement of quantum of punishment through video-conference.


The Dera chief has been found guilty of orchestrating the killing of Chhatrapati, a Sirsa-based journalist after the scribe wrote against Ram Rahim in his newspaper titled 'Poora Sach.' The scribe was shot in 2002, and the case was registered in 2003. -- ANI 


Also read: 'Ram Rahim verdict shows no one is above the law'
16:36  Day after Mamata's show, Amit Shah to hold 3 rallies in Bengal :  The BJP will kick-start a three-day series of rallies to be addressed by party chief Amit Shah across West Bengal on January 20, a day after Mamata Banerjee's mega show featuring opposition leaders from across the country. 


The announcement by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh comes amid an apex court directive asking the state government to allow the saffron party to hold public meetings.


In a show of strength ahead of the national polls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has organised a massive rally in Kolkata on January 19, which is likely to see participation of lakhs of her supporters. Leaders of all major opposition parties have been invited to the rally to be held at the Brigade Parade ground in the heart of the city.


"We will start organizing our public rallies from January 20. Amit Shah will address the first rally on January 20 in Malda," Ghosh said. On January 21, Shah will address two rallies in Suri in Birbhum district and Jhargram. On January 22, he will address rallies at Krishnanagar in Nadia district and Jaynagar in South 24 Parganas district, Ghosh said.


The BJP has identified West Bengal as a priority state for the upcoming national elections and Shah has set a target of 22 of the state's 42 Lok Sabha seats. The party is also looking to host a few rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. 


Ghosh had earlier said that they were talking to the central leader for the PM's rallies but nothing was confirmed. Over the last few years, the party has emerged as the main opposition in the state with a significant show in rural polls and by-elections. 


The BJP had planned 'Rath Yatras' touching all Lok Sabha constituencies in the state to boost its chances in the national elections. However, it was denied permission by the state government and has since been caught in legal tangles.


Yesterday, the Supreme Court put the programme on hold saying the state government's law-and-order apprehensions over the event was not "totally unfounded" and asked the BJP to submit a fresh request and seek necessary approvals. 
16:12  Mumbai's BEST calls off strike :  BEST bus services resume after the Bombay High Court today ordered the BEST union to call off their strike. The court on Wednesday directed the BEST employees' union to call off their indefinite strike asking them to announce the same within one hour.


During the hearing, the BEST employees' union lawyer raised two concerns, stating that the BEST union does not want to deal with BEST alone and the 15 step increment should be provided instead of 10 step.


"We are ready to call off the strike but we have two concerns. First- we don't want to deal with BEST alone as they will make us sign wet lease. We don't want to sign wet lease. We want someone who understands our issues, someone who is not a bureaucrat. 


Second- instead of 10 step increment, we need 15 step increment," BEST employees' union lawyer said.


The court asked a BEST lawyer if a 15 step increment is possible, he said: "It will be very difficult for us. It is not possible for us. It will increase the financial burden."The court ordered a 10 step increment as an interim relief and asked the state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation  to consider the demands of increased payment from January instead of February.
16:03  Sensex, Nifty end marginally higher :  Equity indices ended marginally higher Wednesday after a see-saw session, tracking mixed cues from the global markets amid geopolitical uncertainties. 


After swinging nearly 200 points, the 30-share BSE Sensex index settled 2.96 points, or 0.01 per cent, higher at 36,321.29. The broader NSE Nifty inched up 3.50 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 10,890.30. 


In the Sensex pack, Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, Infosys, ICICI Bank, TCS, SBI, Reliance Industries, ONGC, Axis Bank and NTPC rose up to 2.66 per cent. On the other hand, losers included Bharti Airtel, Bajaj Finance, Asian Paints, Vedanta, HCL Tech, HUL, Hero MotoCorp, Kotak Bank, HDFC, HDFC Bank and ITC, declining up to 1.38 per cent.  -- PTI
15:30  AP's non-Cong, non-BJP meet with Jagan Reddy, KCR's son:  Continuing his efforts to forge a non-BJP, non-Congress front ahead of the coming Lok sabha polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to hold talks with YSR Congress to try and rope it into the proposed coalition. 


In the middle of "gatbandhan" politics as parties prepare for the national election, Andhra Pradesh leader Jaganmohan Reddy's meeting with Telangana's ruling TRS today has drawn attention.


Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao or KCR's son KT Rama Rao (aka KTR) met Jaganmohan Reddy in Hyderabad to invite his YSR Congress party to join a non-BJP, non-Congress Federal Front.

Jaganmohan Reddy is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.

This is the first direct talks between the leaders of two parties since KCR floated the idea of a front as an alternative to both the ruling BJP and the Congress. Rao deputed the party's working president and his son K T Rama Rao and other senior leaders to hold parleys with the leader of the opposition in Andhra Pradesh, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy Wednesday, a release from the ruling TRS said. 


"TRS president and the Chief Minister decided to hold talks with YSR Congress party on the issue of joining hands for the federal front. "TRS party's working president K T Rama Rao, senior leader and MP Vinod Kumar and general secretaries Palla Rajeshwar Reddy and Sravan Kumar Reddy were asked to hold discussions with Jaganmohan Reddy. 


KCR, as he is popularly known, had met Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on January 10 as part of his efforts towards forging a 'non-Congress, non-BJP' federal front of regional parties. 


Rao had also met Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJP) chief Naveen Patnaik, seeking to drum up support for the federal front. The TRS returned to power in the December 7, 2018 assembly elections, winning 88 seats in the 119-member Telangana Assembly, pushing the Congress to a distant second position with 19 seats. The BJP won in only one segment. 
15:10  Parrikar should focus on his health and retire: Velingkar:  Former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar Wednesday said Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar should give priority to his health and retire, instead of continuing to occupy the top post. He also said the Goa BJP once felt that a "dynamic" leader like Parrikar should become the prime minister of the country.


Velingkar, who was once a strong supporter of Parrikar, had fallen out with him after the BJP-led state government decided to give grants to English medium schools. In 2016, he formed his own political outfit Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM). 


"If I was with him (under current circumstances), I would make him retire. Health comes first," 70-year-old Velingkar told PTI. Parrikar, 63, who is suffering from a pancreatic ailment, has been recuperating at his private residence near Panaji. He had undergone treatment at hospitals in Mumbai, Delhi and the USA last year. 
14:53  Advocate Sanjay Jain is the new Additional Solicitor General of India :  President Ram Nath Kovind appoints senior advocate Sanjay Jain as the Additional Solicitor General of India for the Supreme Court of India with effect from the date of the assumption of charge of the office till 30th June 2020, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
14:38  This is what Rahul thinks is India's greatest strength:   Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said democracy is India's greatest strength and must be defended at any cost, as he cited an incident when an Afghan lawmaker had told him that arguments that take place in Indian Parliament, are carried out with guns in that country.


Narrating the incident in a Facebook post, Gandhi recalled that one day in Parliament, he saw a group of MPs from Afghanistan sitting in the visitors' gallery. 


"And, I was thinking, 'these MPs have come from abroad and look what we are doing: we are shouting and screaming and yelling. At least when they are here why can't this place be in order?" Gandhi said. 


The Congress president said later the Afghan MPs visited him in his office and he told them that he was sorry that they were sitting in the visitors' gallery and the lawmakers were not having a nice debate and sort of arguing. 


"And, then, one of the MPs started crying! I was a bit surprised. I asked her 'what happened?'. You know, Mr. Gandhi,' she said, 'in my country the arguments that you have in this building, your Parliament, are carried out with guns. "Our democracy is our greatest strength. We must defend it at any cost," the Congress chief said. --  PTI
14:22  BEST union to withdraw stir, accepts 10-step pay hike formula:   The BEST workers' union Wednesday agreed to withdraw its ongoing strike after accepting the '10-step' pay hike to be granted to them by way of an interim measure by the civic transport undertaking's management. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) workers, its management and other parties concerned will now go for mediation to resolve their dispute. 


Around 32,000 BEST workers have been on strike since January 8 over their various demands, including pay hike, revision of pay scale of junior level employees and merger of BEST's budget with that of the BMC. 


A state appointed high-powered committee had earlier this week suggested that the BEST employees' salary be hiked in 10 steps as an interim measure. 


The BEST workers' union's counsel Neeta Karnik Wednesday said this was agreeable to employees but they want an independent mediator to resolve the issues. "We cannot sit with BEST. We want an independent mediator who has knowledge of labour laws...we want a retired high court judge to be appointed as mediator," Karnik said. 


 A division bench of Chief Justice N H Patil and Justice N M Jamdar agreed to this and directed the parties to suggest names. "The mediator shall within a period of three months discuss demands put forth by the employees, like 20-step pay hike, merger of BEST and BMC budgets, and so on," the court said in its order. 


The BEST union and its management agreed to have retired high court justice F I Rebello as the mediator. After the court dictated its order, Karnik made a statement before the bench that the strike will be called off by Wednesday afternoon. The court noted that the first step was to ensure the strike was called-off. 


"The strike should not have happened at all. The situation should not have been brought to this extent. The BEST and BMC should show more consideration towards the BEST workers. It is not easy for families to survive with low salaries," Chief Justice Patil said. -- PTI
14:04  'IAS officer's resignation not in country's interest' :  Former Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Kavinder Gupta on Wednesday expressed disappointment over former IAS officer Shah Faesal's decision to quit government service, and said such a decision is not in the interest of the country.


Speaking to ANI, Gupta opined, "Faesal must work for the country instead of resigning from the post. Such a decision is not in the country's interest. We want such people to work for the country's welfare instead of speaking in support of militants, supporting militants is like supporting Pakistan. His father was too killed by the militants. He should work for the country."


Faesal, who joined the service in 2010, announced his resignation on January 9 over "unabated killings" in the Valley and "lack of any sincere reach-out from the Union government."


The 35-year-old alleged "insidious attacks on the special identity of the J&K State and growing culture of intolerance and hate in the mainland India in the name of hypernationalism."


He went on to add that "voices of reason in this country cannot be muzzled for long and the environment of siege will need to end if we wish to usher in a true democracy." 


Read our exclusive interview with Shah Faesal here
13:52  All missing Cong MLAs will be back tomorrow: K'taka minister :  Karnataka minister, Zameer Ahmed Khan (pictured) on the poaching threat: "Who is scared today? Had we been scared, it would've been us in the resort sitting with our MLAs. But it is BJP who is sitting with their MLAs in a resort. Yes, two to three MLAs are in Mumbai. All of them are coming back and they will return by tomorrow." 


A Karnataka Congress Legislature Party meeting has been called on 18 January in Bengaluru. A political crisis in brewing in Karnataka, where two Independent MLAs Tuesday withdrew support to the seven-month-old ministry amid trading of poaching charges by the ruling coalition and the BJP.
13:13  Cong reassures aggrieved MLAs, calls for K'taka legislature meet :  A Karnataka Congress Legislature Party meeting has been called on 18 January in Bengaluru. A political crisis in brewing in Karnataka, where two Independent MLAs Tuesday withdrew support to the seven-month-old ministry amid trading of poaching charges by the ruling coalition and the BJP.


KH Muniyappa, Congress MP, told ANI, "I invite all who left the fold to come back and not worry. Second generation Congressmen who won election must not feel insecure. Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal are aware of your grievances, you will be given chance in next cabinet expansion."
 

Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda had said on Tuesday that the BJP would stake claim to power in Karnataka if the Congress-JDS coalition government falls. 


Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy however reiterated he enjoyed the support of 120 MLAs and alleged that Yeddyurappa was making "futile attempts" to destabilise his government.   


In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress-79, JDS 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each, besides the Speaker.  


A group of Youth Congress workers Wednesday protested outside a resort in Haryana where the BJP's Karnataka MLAs have been camping in an "effort to thwart any poaching attempt" by the ruling JDS-Congress coalition. 


 Around 20 Youth Congress workers led by Haryana Pradesh Congress General Secretary Pradeep Singh raised slogans against the NDA government outside the five-star ITC Grand Bharat resort located on the outskirts of Gurgaon. 


The protesters alleged that the BJP was "disrespecting the Constitution and murdering democracy" in the country. 


Meanwhile, sources said BJP's Karnataka unit chief B S Yeddyurappa is likely to hold a meeting with the party MLAs who are camping at the resort and discuss the prevailing situation in the state. They said the 104 BJP legislators will stay put till the top leaders in the party give their nod to return to Karnataka. 


Mobile phones of the first-time MLAs have been "kept aside" to safeguard them against any poaching attempt, the sources said. -- PTI


Image: Karnataka Congress leader and the party's firefighter, DK Sivakumar.  
12:52  Scrap sedition law, a colonial hangover: Sibal:  Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal Wednesday demanded that the sedition law be scrapped as those in power are "manipulating" it. He also called for a change in the government to save the country. "Scrap sedition law (section 124A,IPC), a colonial hangover. 


"Real sedition is when those in power manipulate institutions, misuse the law, breach peace and security by inciting violence. Punish them in 2019. 'Sarkar badlo Desh bachao' (change government, save country)," Sibal said on Twitter. His reaction come two days after former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and others were slapped sedition charges in a charge sheet filed in the court. -- PTI
12:49  More than 150 people diagnosed with scrub typhus in Mizoram:  At least 152 people have been diagnosed with the scrub typhus disease at Thenzawl town in Serchhip district, Mizoram health department officials said on Wednesday. Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi and the bacteria is carried and spread by mites, they said. The officials said that the scrub typhus outbreak began in November 2018. -- PTI
12:26  Jaitley in New York for cancer treatment, may not be back for budget:  Finance minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to be in the capital to present the government's interim budget -- its last before the Lok Sabha elections --  on  February 1 as he has developed another serious ailment for which he will likely undergo surgery in the United States. Jaitley has already left for New York for treatment of soft tissue cancer in his thigh, a type of tumour which can spread to other parts of the body quickly.  Read the report here. 
12:06  K C Venugopal, Karnataka Congress in-charge: I'm in touch with all our MLAs, this drama is going to end in a day or a two. We are all together, there is no internal fight in Congress. This is all baseless.
11:44  Sheila Dikshit set to takeover as Delhi Cong prez:  Sheila Dikshit ahead of taking charge as president of Delhi Congress: Politics is full of challenges, we will strategise accordingly. BJP and AAP both are a challenge; we will meet the challenges together. There is nothing on alliance with AAP yet.
11:27  I'm in touch with 'missing' Cong MLAs, don't worry: Kumaraswamy:  A day after two independent MLAs from Karnataka quit the HD Kumaraswamy government, 99 BJP MLAs who flew to Delhi over the weekend are still holed up at a five-star resort in Gurugram. The MLAs are at the resort since the weekend, when the BJP had a two-day leadership conclave. The 99 MLAs are occupying 60 of its 100-odd rooms, say reports. 


The chief minister has maintained a confident mien saying that they will remain in control despite the two independent MLAs quitting the coalition.


The Congress party, the alliance partner in the coalition government with the JD-S has moved its MLAs to a hotel in Mumbai. Reports say that three of the MLAs are missing. However, Kumaraswamy rubbished the rumours saying, "The MLAs (Congress MLAs in a Mumbai hotel) are unreachable to the media, not to me. I am in touch with everybody and I am speaking to everybody, they will come back. Our coalition is going on smoothly. I was relaxed and I am relaxed. Don't worry, be happy."

The seven-month alliance of the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress party  in Karnataka has been suffering from berth pangs right from the inception with many MLAs unhappy at being denied ministerial berths, making them open to poaching. 
11:01  SC to hear plea against CBI interim chief next week:  Just In: SC to hear next week an NGO's plea challenging the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI chief.
10:47  Punjab: Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Jaito, Master Baldev resigns from the party.
10:45  Don't take political mileage from Kanhaiya case: Sena to BJP:  
The Shiv Sena on Wednesday said the BJP has no moral right to criticise student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who has been charged with sedition, after teaming up with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Sena also asked the ruling BJP to refrain from taking political mileage from the sedition case against Kumar, a former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union.

The BJP committed a "sin" by aligning with People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, it said, claiming that she considered Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as a martyr.

The BJP was part of the PDP-led government in Jammu and Kashmir but pulled out of the coalition last year.

"The BJP committed the biggest sin of aligning with Mehbooba Mufti, who considers Afzal Guru a freedom fighter and a martyr. Now the BJP, for its own benefit, should not try and take political mileage out of the sedition case filed against Kanhaiya," the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

"Kanhaiya Kumar speaks well. Since he represents the harried and unemployed youth, he cannot give slogans hailing Afzal Guru or independence for Kashmir. Anyway, what moral right does the BJP have to condemn Kanhaiya Kumar?" it asked.

-- PTI
10:24  Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in the running to head World Bank:  
Indra Nooyi, the former PepsiCo CEO, is reportedly being considered to become the next head of the World Bank.

The New York Times, citing several people familiar with the matter, said that Nooyi has been courted by Ivanka Trump as an ally to the Trump administration. However, the report said the process for picking the next World Bank chief remain fluid and is still in the early stages.

Nooyi stepped down from her job as PepsiCo's chief executive in October. She led the snacks and beverage company for 12 years.

It is unclear whether Nooyi would accept the job, according to the report. However, Ivanka Trump has referred to Nooyi as a "mentor" and an "inspiration."

The report comes a day after the White House denied that Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump and a senior advisor to him, was in the running for the World Bank job. Instead, the White House confirmed Ivanka was overseeing an internal search for candidates.

The bank's presidency became vacant after Jim Yong Kim announced last week he was stepping down effective Feb 1.
10:00  After weak opening, rupee rises 13 paise to 70.92 vs USD in early trade:  The rupee opened on a weaker note but soon pared the losses and appreciated by 13 paise to 70.92 against the US dollar in opening trade Wednesday, driven by gains in domestic equities and weakening of the greenback in overseas markets.


The rupee opened on a weak note at 71.10 at the interbank forex market then lost further ground and touched a low of 71.12. The domestic unit however pared the losses and touched a high of 70.92, registering gains of 13 paise over it's previous close.


Forex dealers said, selling of the American currency by exporters supported the rupee. The rupee Tuesday plunged by 13 paise to close at 71.05 against the US dollar. -- PTI
09:55  Confidential Kotler prize is most famous :  A tweeter asked Union minister Smriti Irani: "Madam... I am confused which is more authentic -- your Yale degree or this Kotler Award?'

You know the answer when Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and Omar Abdullah vie with one another to congratulate the recipient of the "first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award'.


The certificate, held by the smiling recipient, reads: "Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi.'Prime Minister Modi has been roasted on social media after the PMO's Twitter handle posted on Monday three pictures of him posing with the award, and a host of ministers sang hosannas.


"It is an acknowledgement of his selfless service & outstanding contribution".


This is a momentous achievement, and a proud day for all Indians!' tweeted junior minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.


But one factor stood out like a sore thumb: no one had any idea what the "first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award' was all about. A person associated with the organisers described it as "a very confidential award'.


Read the column here
09:41  Shah asked me twice to induct Prashant Kishor into JD-U: Nitish:  
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday night claimed that he had twice received suggestions for inducting poll strategist Prashant Kishor into his JD-U by BJP national president Amit Shah.

Kumar, who also heads the JD-U, said this at an event organised by a private news channel while responding to queries as to whether he looked at the poll strategist-turned-politician as his political successor.

Kishor was inducted into the JD-U in September last year and elevated to the post of national vice-president weeks later triggering speculation that he was being thought of by Kumar as his political heir.

"He was not a newcomer for us. He had worked with us in the 2015 assembly polls. For a brief period, he was busy elsewhere. Please let it be known that none other than Amit Shah had asked me twice to induct Kishor in the JD-U," he said.

"Prashant Kishor has been assigned the task of attracting young talent, from all social segments, to politics which was becoming inaccessible to those not born in political families," he added.

"I have a lot of affection for Prashant Kishor. But please, let us not talk in terms of successors. This is not a monarchy," Kumar said.

-- PTI
09:22  Another yuvraj:  The Bharatiya Janata Party unit in Uttar Pradesh is understandably unhappy with the visit of Lalu Prasad's son Tejashwi to the state, his hobnobbing with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party brass and his mockery of the government at the Centre. 

A day after his visit to the state, UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey mocked him, saying both the yuvrajs (Tejashwi and Akhilesh Yadav) had "inherited" power and had done little to improve the lot of their states.

Describing Tejashwi's comments as maansik dewaaliyaapan (mental bankruptcy), he said the people of the two states knew that these two political families were "responsible for the backwardness of UP and Bihar".

-- Business Standard
09:07  Rahul did not take stand against corruption when it mattered in Bihar: Nitish:  
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar 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 RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
 
Kumar, who also heads the JD-U, 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.

-- PTI
08:44  Sabarimala witnesses clashes as 2 women attempt to enter shrine:  
Massive protests broke out near the Sabarimala temple in Kerala this morning after two women tried to trek up to the hill shrine. 

The women were surrounded by a large number of protesters around 1 km after they crossed the base camp.

The women were taken to safety by the police in a vehicle. They had earlier refused to return without offering prayers, saying they followed the 41-day penance.

The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple. The group was stopped after they crossed the Pamba base camp.

"There is Ayyappan there. Ayyappan has no objection to women entering the temple. Why are these people protesting then?" one of the women, from north Kerala's Kannur, told reporters.

The temple has been the site of tension since the Supreme Court ruled on September 28 to end the age restriction on women. The court order has not been accepted by the devotees and protesters who believe women should not be allowed near the shrine's deity, Lord Ayyappa.
08:16  'Cut from list': Shashi Tharoor says not allowed into temple with Modi:  
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has alleged that he and other local leaders were not allowed to enter Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Kerala visit on Tuesday. 

In an attack on Twitter, Tharoor, who is member of parliament  from Thiruvananthapuram, accused the Prime Minister's Office of striking their names from the list of people allowed in the temple when the PM was there.

"Received Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the SreePadmanabhaSwamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram for the unveiling of a plaque of the Swadesh Darshan project. But when the local MP, MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) and mayor were to enter the temple with him for darshan, we learned that the PMO had cut us from the list," he tweeted.

PM Modi visited Kerala on Tuesday. He offered prayers at the centuries-old Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Governor Justice P Sathasivam and state Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran accompanied PM Modi inside the temple.

Shashi Thaoor is one of the most bitter critics of PM Modi and his government's policy. He has been attacking the government on a host of issues including the implementation of GST and the 2016 note ban. He recently called PM Modi's party a sinking ship.
07:51  Britain's Theresa May suffers crushing defeat over Brexit deal:  
British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal was defeated by a crushing margin in parliament, further complicating the country's historic exit from the European Union and triggering a no-confidence motion against her government.  
May's bid to get the Withdrawal Agreement, struck between London and Brussels, through a House of Commons was defeated by a margin of 202 to 432 - a majority of 230, the biggest defeat ever suffered by a British premier in modern history. 
Within minutes after the defeat, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that his party would move a motion of no-confidence against May's government, to be held on Wednesday.
Britain is set to exit the 28-member European Union, which it joined in 1973, on March 29. With just over two months to go until the scheduled departure, Britain is still undecide on what to do.
Hardline Brexiteers and Remainers opposed the agreement for different reasons. Many feared that Britain could lock itself into an unfavourable trading relationship with the European Union.
Over 100 lawmakers of May's Conservative party - both Brexiteers and Remainers - overwhelmingly voted against the deal, leading to the worst parliamentary defeat for a government in recent British history.
The crushing defeat also marks the collapse of her two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit.
Following her defeat in the House of Commons, May said that the MPs have established what they are against but not what they are for.
"The house has spoken and the government will listen. It is clear that the house does not support this deal but tonight's vote tells us nothing what it does support.
"Nothing about how, or even if, it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum parliament decided to hold," she said.

-- PTI
00:09  25% hike in college seats to enable quota for economically weak :  
The human resource developmen ministry announced on Tuesday that it will implement 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker section of the general category from the 2019 academic session and increase around 25 per cent seats in higher educational institutions and universities across the country.
 
Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar informed that the decision was taken at a meeting of officials from the ministry, University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education.
"The reservation will be implemented from the 2019-2020 academic session itself. Nearly 25 per cent seats will be added to ensure that the reservation does not disturb the existing quota for SC, ST and other categories. There are around 40,000 colleges and 900 universities across the country and supernumerary quota will be provided in these," Javadekar told reporters.
The minister, however, did not specify the number of seats which will be added.
"The modalities are being worked out and within a week's time we will have the exact number of seats that will be added. The operation manuals about how to implement the quota will be issued soon. The colleges and universities will also be asked to mention the quota in their prospectus as well and make infrastructural arrangements accordingly," he added.
Javadekar also said that the private universities are also ready to implement the quota.
The Rajya Sabha on January 9 approved amending the Constitution to provide 10 per cent reservation to general category poor in jobs and education, with the government terming the landmark move as "slog over sixes".
The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. -- PTI

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