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LIVE! Navy abandons efforts to pull out decomposed body of miner

January 20, 2019


20:32  Navy abandons efforts to pull out decomposed body of miner:  
The Indian Navy abandoned all efforts on Sunday to pull out the decomposed body of a miner that it spotted four days ago inside a coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills District, officials said.
  
The navy divers had spotted the decomposed body of a trapped miner on Wednesday, using an unmanned, remotely-operated vehicle  at a depth of around 160 feet inside the mine's main shaft.

At least 15 miners are trapped inside the mine since December 13 last year after one of them accidentally punctured the wall of the mine, leading to its flooding.

"The Navy today suspended the pulling of the remains, which they had been trying since yesterday evening, as too much disintegration (of the body) took place with every pull by the ROV jaw," operation spokesperson R Susngi said.

The families of four of the 15 miners had on Saturday urged the rescuers to retrieve the decomposed body so that they could perform the last rites.

A multi-agency operation, which included de-watering of the main shaft where the miners are trapped, and of the nearby mines, has failed to yield any result as the water level has not gone down.

-- PTI
20:17  Cries of help are of those wanting freedom from tyranny: Rahul on PM's 'bachao' jibe:  
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday over his "bachao, bachao" swipe at the Opposition, saying the cries of help were of people "begging" to be freed from "your tyranny and incompetence".
  
Gandhi's attack came a day after Modi, taking a dig at the Opposition rally organised by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, said the BJP had only one MLA in West Bengal, "but still they are so afraid of us, because we follow the path of truth, that they have gathered parties from across the country and are crying 'bachao , bachao, bachao' (save us)".

"Your Highness, The cries for help are the cries of millions of unemployed youth; of farmers in distress; of oppressed Dalits & Adivasis; of persecuted minorities; of small businessmen in ruin; begging to be freed from your tyranny & incompetence. In 100 days they will be free," Gandhi said in a tweet.

On a day when several opposition parties came together on a common platform in Kolkata, Modi had hit out at their proposed Mahagathbandhan, saying it was a combine of those who were angry at his stringent action against corruption as they had been stopped from looting public money.

-- PTI
20:07  Sonia, Rahul to visit their Lok Sabha constituencies on Jan 23-24:  
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are likely to visit their respective parliamentary constituencies Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh on 23-24 January, a party leader said on Sunday.
 
During his two-day visit, the Congress chief is expected to take part in several party programmes and a meeting of the district vigilance and monitoring committee, the leader said.
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also expected to attend the district vigilance and monitoring committee meeting in her constituency Rae Bareli, the leader added.

The Gandhis will arrive at the Fursatganj airport on January 23, from where they will leave for their respective constituencies. They will depart for Delhi on January 24.

-- PTI
19:48  Federer to play Roland Garros for first time since 2015:  
Roger Federer announced on Sunday he will return to the clay for another crack at the French Open this year for the first time since 2015.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who won at Roland Garros in 2009, made the announcement straight after being knocked out of the Australian Open in the last 16 by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Its a bit of a desire. Im in a phase where I want to have fun and Ive missed not doing it, he told reporters of the French Open.

He missed the tournament in 2016 with an injury and skipped the clay season the last two years.

I dont feel it is necessary to have a big break again, he added.
19:10  PM-led panel on CBI chief to meet on Thursday:  
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led high-powered panel on CBI chief will meet on Thursday and discuss probable names for the coveted post.
  
The panel meeting will be attended by Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi or his nominee and Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, officials said.

Among the officers whose name would be discussed at the meeting are J K Sharma and Parminder Rai from the 1982 batch -- the senior most but lacking experience in the CBI. 

Special Secretary (Internal Security), Home Ministry, Rina Mitra of the 1983-batch is another contender. She served in the CBI for five years and had a long tenure in Madhya Pradesh state vigilance where she handled serious corruption cases. 

Current chief of National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences Javeed Ahmed, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, has served the CBI for 13 years -- starting as an SP to DIG from 1994 to 2002 and as joint director from 2009-14, they said.

Closely following him in terms of experience is O P Galhotra, former Rajasthan DGP, who has served in the agency for 11 years -- as an SP from 1996-2000 and as a Joint Director from 2008-15, the officials said. 

Director General, National Investigation Agency, Y C Modi, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is a favourite in the race to the top post in the CBI.

The selection panel would meet Thursday to find a replacement for Alok Verma was removed as the CBI director on Januray 10, three weeks before he was to demit his office.

A 1979-batch IPS officer, Verma was locked in a bitter tussle with agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer. 

-- PTI
18:38  BJP MLA expresses regret for calling Mayawati 'worse than a eunuch':  
BJP Uttar Pradesh MLA Sadhana Singh expressed regret on Sunday for calling BSP chief Mayawati worse than a eunuch. In her statement, Singh said she had no intentions of disrespecting anyone and expressed regret for hurting sentiments.

In the recent speech that I had given, my intentions were not to humiliate anyone, rather I just meant to remind Mayawati of the help extended to her by BJP during the June 2, 1995 guest house incident. I did not mean to cause embarrassment to her, but if my words have hurt anyones feelings, I regret it, Singh said in her statement.

The National Commission for Women has taken suo moto cognisance of Singhs remarks and said a notice would be issued seeking her reply.

Singh, who was addressing a public gathering on Saturday, made the remarks while referring to the 1995 guest house incident, where the BSP chief and several other party leaders were attacked by Samajwadi Party workers.

Speaking on the recent announcement of BSP-SP alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, she claimed that a woman (Mayawati) who underwent a chirharan (disrobe) was now compromising with the perpetrators and went on to label her worse than a eunuch.
17:56  Sasikala, aides were given VIP facilities in jail, reveals RTI:  
A Right to Information query has revealed that former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's close aide Sasikala, who is serving a four-year jail term after being convicted in disproportionate assets case, has been enjoying VIP facilities. 

"She was entitled to one room but was given four. In the other four rooms, female convicts were staying up to February 14, 2017. Once Sasikala reached, they were sent out and all five rooms were given to her. There is no provision for cooking food in the prison but jail authorities deputed one convict to cook for Sasikala. Systems in place were ignored. People used to come in groups, go to her room directly and stay for 3-4 hours. Rules were violated," said RTI activist Narasimha Murthy.

D Roopa, then Deputy Inspector General, Prisons, had first flagged in 2017, that Sasikala and her associates were getting special treatment in jail like separate kitchen, extra rooms and extended visiting hours. Roopa has also suspected the role of the then Director General and her boss, HS Satyanarayan Rao, who had called her allegations "wild and baseless". 

In her letter to the higher officials, Ms Roopa had written that Sasikala was being given VIP treatment for a bribe of Rs. 2 crore. The government had appointed Retired IAS Officer Vinay Kumar to head a panel to probe the allegations. The Vinay Kumar Committee report, which is now out, says that rules were broken and Sasikala and her aides were allowed to cook in their cells among other facilities.

Reacting to the RTI findings that Sasikala enjoys special facilities given to her by Bangaluru Central Prison, Deputy Chief Minister, G Parameshwara, who was then the home minister said,"I don't think so."
17:41  Federer crashes out of Australian Open:  
Roger Federer, seeded third, has been dumped out of the Australian Open by 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets. 

Federer, the defending champion, lost 7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7 to Tsitsipas, who will now be playing his first grand slam quarter final against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut. 
17:06  Tamil Nadu wishes to see Rahul Gandhi as PM: DMK chief Stalin:  
Days after M K Stalin created ripples within Opposition circles by proposing Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate for 2019, the DMK chief Sunday clarified that he was talking about the aspirations of people of Tamil Nadu.

I had said this about Rahul Gandhi in Chennai, what was wrong in it? It is the wish and aspiration of the people in Tamil Nadu. But in West Bengal, they have decided to finalise this after the election. It is their wish, he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Addressing an event in Chennai in December to unveil the statue of his father, K Karunanidhi, Stalin had proposed the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu as the new prime minister. Asking Rahul to give the nation good governance and defeat the fascist NDA government, Stalin appealed to all Opposition parties to strengthen the hands of the Congress president and save the nation.
16:28  'Was Cong's poll win due to chor EVMs?': Ram Madhav questions Abdullah's remark:  
Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav on Sunday responded to Farooq Abdullahs remarks that the EVM is a chor machine and questioned the Congress if it too agreed with Abdullahs remarks in light of the recent electoral victories in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Speaking the grand opposition rally in Kolkata, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah had said that the Election Commission should stop the use of EVMs.

EVM is a chor machine. We should meet the Election Commission of India and the President to urge them to stop the use of EVMs, Abdullah said at the United India Rally organised by the Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

I dont want to react to Farooq Abdullah, I want to ask Congress leadership in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan whether they agree that because EVMs were chor they could win in those states. First answer that, then lets see, Ram Madhav said.

Most opposition parties have demanded that ballot papers be used in the coming Lok Sabha elections and have alleged that the EMVS can be tampered with and the results manipulated.
16:09  Modi to visit J-K on Feb 3: Ram Madhav:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 3 to lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate various projects in all three regions of the state, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Sunday.
  
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate projects worth Rs 35,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, during his visit.

"The prime minister is visiting the state next month and will visit Leh, Jammu and Srinagar. He will address a mega rally in Jammu in which over two lakh people are expected to turn up," Madhav told reporters here.

He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for AIIMS, IIM, IIT, Jammu-Akhnoor road, Shahpur-Kandi road, Sunderbani college and IIMC in Jammu during his visit.

The prime minister will also inaugurate an engineering college in Kathua and the Jammu ropeway project, he added.

-- PTI
15:56  Dhaka cafe attack suspect arrested in Bangladesh:  
A suspected Islamist extremist, who allegedly supplied arms, explosives and money to the militants who carried out 2016 terror attack on a cafe in Bangladesh, has been arrested, police said on Sunday.
  
The militant was arrested from a bus in Gazipur city in central Bangladesh and has been identified as absconding Holey Artisan attack suspect Mamunur Rashid Ripon, said the police's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion.

"He was arrested around 1 am on Sunday aboard a bus travelling from Haluaghat to Dhaka," RAB spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan was quoted as saying by the bdnews.

Accrding to investigators, Ripon, a top tier neo-JMB militant, was responsible for supplying arms, explosives and money to the militants who carried out the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upmarket cafe in Dhaka on July 1, 2016 that killed 22 people, including a 19-year-old Indian girl.

Eighteen foreigners were among those shot and hacked to death by five militants in the 10-hour standoff at the cafe before military commandos stormed the building and freed some two dozen other people. 

According to Khan, Ripon was in possession of Tk 150,000 
(Rs 1.27 lakh) at the time of his arrest.

On Jul 23, 2018, two years after the incident, the police identified 21 people in connection with the attack.

Investigators said a total of 21 militants were involved in planning the assault but 13 of them were killed in subsequent anti-terrorism operations by security forces.

According to the investigation report, the attack was carried out by Neo-JMB militants after six months of planning. Six of the accused, Jahangir Alam alias Rajib Gandhi, Rakibul Hasan Regan, Rashedul Islam alias Rash, Sohel Mahfuz, Mizanur Rahman alias Baro Mizan and Hadisur Rahman Sagar, were brought to the court for the indictment.

-- PTI
15:34  PM Modi thanks Kapil Sharma for praising his sense of humour in tweet:  
Following popular comedian Kapil Sharma sharing a picture of him interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media, the PM retweeted thanking him for his praises.

The original picture of Kapil Sharma shows the two talking to each other and also gives a glimpse of actor Dilip Joshi, who essays the role of Jethalal Gada in 'Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah' as well.

Taking to his social media account, Kapil captioned the photo, "Respected pm Sh @narendramodi ji,it was nice meeting u n great knowing ur inspiring ideas and progressive views about our film industry and our nation. N sir I must say u have a great sense of humor too! regards."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too retweeted the image and wrote, "When @KapilSharmaK9 appreciates somebody's humour, it sure makes that person happy and I am no exception. :) Thank you for the kind words Kapil."

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met and interacted with several celebrities when he inaugurated India's first cinema museum in Mumbai recently.

Earlier PM Modi had met with a delegation from the Indian Film Industry that included Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, and Alia Bhatt among others as well. In a separate meeting, the PM Modi interacted with ace actor Anil Kapoor as well.

-- ANI
15:13  Kumbh to generate Rs 1.2 lakh crore revenue: CII:  
The mega Kumbh Mela, which began on January 15 and will continue till March 4, is expected to generate a revenue of Rs 1.2 lakh crore for Uttar Pradesh, says apex industry body Confederation of Indian Industry.
  
Although the Kumbh Mela is spiritual and religious in nature, the economic activities associated with it generate employment for over six lakh workers across various sectors, CII said in a report.

The Uttar Pradesh government has allocated Rs 4,200 crore for the 50-day Kumbh Mela this time, which is over thrice the budget of the Maha Kumbh in 2013, making the mega pilgrimage perhaps the costliest ever.

The hospitality sector aims at employing 2,50,000 people, airlines and airports around 1,50,000 and tour operators around 45,000. The employment numbers in eco-tourism and medical tourism are being estimated at 85,000, says a CII study.

Apart from this there will be around 55,000 new jobs in the unorganized sector comprising of tour guides, taxi drivers, interpreters, volunteers etc. 

This will lead to increase income levels for government agencies and individual traders. 

Attracting a massive number of foreign tourists from various countries like Australia, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, the Kumbh is a festival of the world.

"The 'mela' is expected to generate a revenue of Rs1,200 billion for Uttar Pradesh, the state where it is being held, while neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Uttarkhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh will also benefit from the enhanced revenue generation with a large number of national and foreign tourists expected to explore other destinations.

The Kumbh Mela gets its worldwide reputation as a mega-event not only because of the sheer number of people who attend the fair but also for a widespread display of cultural traits of a nation, which is bound by ties of faith and traditions.

Around 12 crore people are expected to visit the Kumbh between now and Maha Shivratri on March 4, when the Mela will come to a close on Maha Shivratri day.

-- PTI
14:41  Mahagathbandhan an alliance of corruption, negativity: PM:  
Taking a dig at the Opposition's show of unity during a rally in Kolkata, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said their "mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) was an alliance of corruption, negativity and instability.
  
The Opposition was staring at a defeat in forthcoming elections and looking for excuses ahead of their impending loss and thus are vilifying electronic voting machines, Modi said, addressing BJP's booth-level workers through video-conference.

Leaders from over a dozen opposition parties gathered in Kolkata Saturday and vowed to put up a united fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and oust Modi from power.

Several opposition leaders at the rally demanded the use of ballot papers instead of EVMs which they said were the source of "all sorts of malpractices".

"The Opposition's mahagathbandhan is an alliance of corruption, negativity and instability. The Opposition has 'dhanshakti' (money power), we have 'janshakti' (people's power)," Modi said.

He also wished the ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar a speedy recovery, and called him the "architect of modern Goa". 

-- PTI
14:20  Karnataka Congress issues notices to 4 MLAs who skipped CLP meeting:  
The Congress in Karnataka Sunday issued notices to its four MLAs seeking explanation from them for their absence at the Legislature Party meeting, asking why no action should be taken against them under the anti-defection law.

The notices were sent to Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as minister in the recent cabinet rejig and is said to be extremely unhappy over it, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli, Congress sources said.

Exposing fissures in the party, the four lawmakers had skipped the Congress Legislature Party meet on Friday, which was called as a show of strength against the BJP's alleged attempt to topple the party's coalition government with the JD-S in the state.

The absence of the four lawmakers posed no imminent threat to the seven-month-old Congress-JD-S government in the numbers game, but suggested that all was not well within the Congress which is still wrestling with dissidence.

In the notice issued to Jarkiholi, while seeking response from him for not attending the meeting, CLP leader Siddaramaiah has also sought an explanation about the media reports that he was joining the BJP and about his visit to Delhi and Mumbai to meet saffron party leaders.

Asking as to why he has not issued any statement so far rejecting these reports, the CLP leader said, "Your conduct suggests that you will voluntarily quit from the membership of the Indian National Congress. You have got elected as a legislator on Congress symbol and cannot quit as party member under the Constitution."

Ahead of the meet, Siddaramaiah had issued notices to all party MLAs, warning that their absence would be viewed "seriously" and action initiated according to the
anti-defection law.

Soon after the CLP meet, which was attended by 76 MLAs, the Congress legislators were shifted to a resort on the city outskirts in a counter move to BJP's alleged toppling bid.

The BJP legislators, who were camping at a luxury hotel in Gurgaon, returned home last night.

-- PTI
13:50  Row erupts over Cong MLA giving luxury car to Siddaramaiah:  
Amid political turbulence in Karnataka, Congress MLA Byrathi Suresh has courted a fresh controversy after media reports of former chief minister Siddaramaiah receiving a luxury car from him surfaced. 
  
Denying the reports, Congress leader and minister D K Shivakumar said Siddaramaiah has not been gifted Mercedes-Benz car by Suresh, but it had been given for his travelling purposes.

"There is no gift or anything. We sometimes take our friends' vehicle to travel. There is no issue. Is there any record that he has received a gift or anything? Nothing, no
record," he said.

In June last year, Siddaramaiah was in the eye of a controversy after the then minister K J George allegedly gifted him a Toyota Land Cruiser with fuel coupons for a year.

George, then, had deflected the charges by saying that he had lent the vehicle as Siddaramaiah was uncomfortable travelling long distances in an Innova.

Earlier in February 2016, Siddaramaiah had been mired in controversy over a Rs 70 lakh worth diamond-studded Hublot watch gifted to him.

He later handed over the watch to then Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa amid uproar in the assembly, declaring it a state asset. Both the opposition BJP and JD-S members had staged a dharna in the well of the House.

Countering the allegations, Siddaramaiah had said that the pre-owned "HUBLOT BIG BANG-301-M" wrist watch was presented to him by his Dubai-based NRI friend Dr Girish Chandra Varma as a personal gift.

Siddaramiah also said Varma had no official dealings with the government of Karnataka or its organisations.

-- PTI
13:10  Include Ram Mandir in manifesto and we'll support you: VHP's offer to Congress:  
In a warning to the BJP over the delay in construction of Ram Mandir, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has said it is open to backing the Congress ahead of Lok Sabha elections if the party manifesto promises to build the temple in Ayodhya.

Speaking to the media during the Kumbh in Prayagraj, VHP executive vice-president Alok Kumar said, The Congress has closed all its doors for us, but if they open their doors and include the Ram Mandir in their manifesto, we may think of supporting the party. 

Kumars statement came days before VHPs Dharm Sansad on January 31, during which right-wing outfits are likely to up the pressure on the BJP government at the Centre to bring in a legislation for Ram Temple. 

We will seek blessings from seers and saints in the Dharm Sansad. We will also put forth the issue of Ram Mandir and seek advice from seers and saints. Only then will we decide our next move, Kumar said.

However, speaking to News18 on Sunday, Kumar claimed his statement has been overstretched. The VHP has met all political parties in the recent days and requested them to support the legislature if it comes up in Parliament. We believe that the temple issue should be a matter of consensus in the political field. We shall request all parties to include this in their manifesto. We will thank the parties that do it. However, that does not mean support to any party, its not our job and we do not do it, Kumar said.
12:47  Sikh man attacked in hate crime in US:  
A Sikh man has been brutally assaulted in an alleged hate crime by a white man who pulled his beard, kicked and punched him in the face at a store in the US, the latest such incident in the country.
  
Harwinder Singh Dodd, who was working at a convenience store in the US State of Oregon, was racially targeted on Monday by a 24-year-old Andrew Ramsey.

Ramsey targeted Dodd because of his perception of the employee's religion, FOX 12 TV news reported, citing a court document. 

Ramsey wanted rolling papers for cigarettes, but did not have an ID and the clerk would not sell them to him, Justin Brecht, a legislative policy adviser in the Oregon State Capitol and a former combat Marine, was quoted as saying by the report.

When Dodd asked Ramsey to leave, he attacked him by pulling his beard, punching him in the face, pulling him to the ground and kicking him, Brecht said, adding that they held Ramsey down until officers got there, the report said.

"He was bleeding, he had gotten punched quite a bit in the face, and kicked on the ground and thrown to the ground very brutally. It was very serious."
Ramsey has been charged with a hate crime, assault, police said, adding that he threw his shoe at Dodd and tried to steal his head covering. 

He was also charged with assault in the fourth degree, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.

Hate crimes increased by 40 per cent in Oregon from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI.
In August 2018, in about a week, two sikh men were brutally assaulted in the US State of California that raised concerns over increasing incidents of hate crimes in the country.

Last year, the South Asian Americans Leading Together published a report documenting a 45 per cent increase in hate violence and rhetoric against Indians, Sikhs, and South Asian Americans from the year prior.

-- PTI
12:20  Zomato apologises after family finds plastic fibre in paneer dishes:  
After ordering paneer dishes from the restaurant discovery and food delivery platform, Zomato, an Aurangabad resident on Friday found plastic fibre in his food.

I ordered paneer chilly, paneer masala, etc for my children. When we started eating, my daughter told me the paneer was very hard and her teeth hurt while chewing it. When I tasted it, I found fibre, said Sachin Jamdare.

I was really worried about my childrens health. I went to the restaurant to speak with the owner. They did not entertain my issue, saying that maybe Zomato guy did something. I went to the police station and lodged a complaint. I wanted to raise awareness among our countrymen how these people can play with our health for something as little as Rs150, Jamdare said.

Meanwhile, Zomato released a statement, issuing an apology for the incident and saying that the restaurant has been suspended from their platform.

Zomato is deeply committed to food safety, quality, and hygiene. We apologise for the anguish this incident must have caused to our user. We have suspended the restaurant from our platform pending results of the external FDA investigation and in the meanwhile, have refunded the entire amount to the user, the statement read.

A police official confirmed that the complaint has been received and that they have sent samples of the food for testing, adding that investigation will be conducted after the results are received.
11:55  The National Commission for Women has taken suo motu cognisance of the objectionable statement made by BJP MLA Sadhana Singh about BSP chief Mayawati. The Commission will be sending a notice to Sadhna Singh regarding the statement in question
11:49  Karnataka BJP MLAs return from Gurgaon:  
Karnataka BJP MLAs have returned to the state from Gurgaon where they were lodged in a private resort for the past a few days.
 
State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa had asked all 104 party MLAs to return and they flew back to the state late Saturday night, BJP MLC Lehar Singh said.

"Some of them have directly flown back to their constituencies and others including former deputy chief ministers R Ashoka and K S Eshwarappa returned to Bengaluru," he said.

With the Congress on tenterhooks to keep its numbers intact, the party's MLAs are remaining sequestered in a resort on the city outskirts fearing a poaching bid by BJP.

Yeddyurappa had said BJP would not destabilise Karnataka's ruling coalition.

"Let the Congress-JD(S) leaders not have any doubt about it," he said, after chinks in the ruling coalition were exposed when four MLAs skipped the Congress Legislature Party meet on Friday.

As the fissures became evident, the Congress on Friday swiftly moved all its MLAs to the resort in a bid to "escape" the BJP's alleged bid to woo its MLAs.

Top Congress sources had said on Friday that at least eight party MLAs have "committed" themselves to BJP. The BJP also announced that a seven-member team led by Yeddyurappa would tour drought-hit districts from Monday.

CLP leader Siddaramaiah had welcomed Yeddyurappa's decision to call back all BJP MLAs and asked him to "walk the talk" on not trying to destabilise the ruling coalition.

"I welcome Yeddyurappa's decision to call back the BJP legislators from Delhi and send them to monitor the drought management in the state," he said in a tweet in Kannada.

Congress minister D K Shivakumar said he was in touch with all the MLAs.

Asked about senior ministers resigning to accommodate disgruntled legislators in the cabinet, he said, "I have voluntarily offered (to resign)...in the interest of the party. If my leaders want, I'm ready." 

-- PTI
11:23  Huge controversy over BJP MLA's offensive comments against Mayawati:  
A lawmaker of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh has drawn severe criticism from the opposition for offensive comments targeting Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati who, she said, "was a blot on womankind", accusing her of "selling her dignity for power".

"She (Mayawati) has no self-respect... she was almost molested earlier and yet... in history, when Draupadi was molested, she took a vow to seek revenge... but this woman, she lost everything, but still sold her dignity for the sake of power. We strongly condemn Mayawati ji. She is a blot on womankind. A woman who gulped insults for comfort and power ... is a blot on womankind," Sadhana Singh, the legislator from Mughalsarai, said at a rally on Saturday.

The lawmaker's comments were in apparent reference to the infamous episode when Ms Mayawati was assaulted by Samajwadi Party workers at a guest house in Lucknow in 1995 that triggered decades of animosity. That ended when the two parties decided to come together for the national elections in Uttar Pradesh, with a "gathbandhan" or alliance announced at a joint press conference by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav last week. 

The BSP chief said that she had decided to put the past behind her "for the sake of the nation", seemingly aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had, at a rally, taunted her for "forgetting" that episode while allying with the Samajwadi Party.

The BJP lawmaker's comments drew a sharp reaction from Mayawati's party which said that the language reflected the party's "frustration with the SP-BSP alliance". "They have lost their mental balance in fear of losing the election in Uttar Pradesh," said the BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra.

The Congress, cold-shouldered by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav for the alliance in UP, described the lawmaker's comments as "disturbing".
11:02  Cold, foggy morning in Delhi, 10 trains delayed:  
It was a cold and foggy morning in the national capital on Sunday, with the minimum temperature settling at 7C.

A cover of moderate fog enveloped the city, with visibility dropping to 400 metres at Safdarjung, at 8.30 am, said a MeT department official.

The MeT Department has forecast generally cloudy sky later in the day with the maximum temperature hovering around 26C.

Saturday was the warmest day in January this year at 25.9C.

Relative humidity at 8.30 in the morning was 97 per cent.

A railways official said 10 north bound trains, including Unchahar Express, Brahmputra Mail, Kaifiyat Express, Bhagalpur-Anand Vihar Garib Rath, were running late due to fog, with an average delay of two to three hours.  -- PTI
10:51  Amit Shah discharged from AIIMS, says BJP leader:  
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has been discharged from the All India Institutes of Medical Science and has reached his residence, BJP leader Anil Baluni said on Sunday.

Shah was diagnosed with swine flu on Wednesday and was undergoing treatment at the AIIMS under the supervision of Director Dr Randeep Guleria.

The BJP chief took to Twitter to inform the countrymen about his ailment.

He wrote: 'I have been affected by swine flu disease and the treatment for the same is going on. With the blessings of God and love and good wishes of all of you, I shall be healthy soon.'   -- ANI
10:04  No respite for citizens as fuel prices continue to rise:  
Fuel prices across the country have witnessed yet another revision on Sunday.In Delhi, petrol is being sold 23 paise higher at Rs 70.12 per litre and diesel at Rs 65.45 per litre after a 29 paise hike.

Skyrocketing prices of fuel are also burning holes in the pockets of those residing in Mumbai, where petrol is retailing at Rs 76.58 per litre (increased by 23 paise) and diesel at Rs 68.53 per litre (31 paise increase).

The upwards price revision comes in the backdrop of the recovery in crude oil prices in anticipation of tightening supply.

At present, all the oil marketing companies of the country revise the domestic prices of petrol and diesel on a daily basis, in accordance with the international crude oil and rupee-dollar.  -- ANI
09:52  Kumbh Mela 2019: Devotees take holy dip at Triveni Sangam at Prayagraj.
09:46  Another BJP leader killed in Madhya Pradesh:  
Balwadi Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manoj Thackeray has been found dead in a field in Warla police station limits in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh.

He had gone for a morning walk today.

More details awaited.

This comes days after BJP leader Prahlad Bandhwar was shot dead by an unidentified person in a busy area of Mandsaur on Thursday evening, police said.

The victim was president of the local municipal council. City Superintendent of Police (CSP) R M Shukla said Bandhwar was attacked when he was standing outside District Cooperative Bank, located in Nai Abadi area, at around 7 pm.   -- ANI/ PTI
08:28  Congress expels ex-Union minister Srikant Jena:  
The Congress on Saturday expelled former Union Minister Srikant Jena and former MLA Krushna Chandra Sagaria for alleged anti-party activities, a senior leader said.

The announcement was made late at night by Odisha Congress' disciplinary committee convener Ananta Prasad Sethi.

"Both Jena and Sagaria have been expelled from the party as per the approval of the All India Congress Committee," Sethi said in a statement.

They issued anti-party statements to the media causing damage to the Congress and were expelled from the primary membership of the party, Sethi added.

"They also issued remarks against OPCC (Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee) functionaries," the Congress leader alleged.

While Jena was a former Union Minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance government, Dalit leader Sagaria represented Koraput in the state assembly.

Sagaria had in November resigned from the membership of the Odisha assembly, as he was allegedly upset over failing to ensure justice for a rape and murder victim and her family at Kunduli in Koraput district.

Earlier in the day, Sagaria had strongly criticised OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik.

"Congress is not a property of Niranjan Patnaik. He is indulging in anti-party activities by giving statements on who will get ticket or not in the media," Sagaria had said.

The action against Jena and Sagaria comes just two days after Congress suspended Sundergarh MLA Jogesh Singh from the party due to anti-party activities. Singh resigned from the party on Friday.

Earlier, OPCC working president and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das had quit the party and joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal headed by Naveen Patnaik.  -- PTI

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