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LIVE! Modi, Macron to hold meet before G7 summit

July 12, 2019


23:50  Accept resignations of MLAs at once: Bihar Speaker urges K'taka counterpart:  
Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on Friday voiced disapproval over the "delay" on part of his Karnataka counterpart K R Ramesh Kumar in taking a decision on the resignations of MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD-S coalition in the southern state.
 
"The matter has been unnecessarily allowed to snowball the Speaker (of Karnataka) indeed had no option when the members had met him personally and tendered their resignations," Chaudhary said in the release issued by the Vidhan Sabha secretariat.
"Delay on part of the Speaker is surprising. It appears he has been thinking in terms of getting the members disqualified on ground of their defying the party whip. However, their resignations have preceded issuing of any whip by their parties and such a course of action by the Speaker would not have been in accordance with norms," Chaudhary said.
He said defiance of whip would have made no difference as action taken under the 10th Schedule of Constitution (anti-defection law) also has the same effect, that of a member being disqualified.
"The delay has led to a situation wherein the matter has reached the Supreme Court and the action of the assembly Speaker has been subjected to judicial scrutiny...  instances like these lower the dignity of the legislature and hamper its credibility. It would be better for the Speaker to accept the resignations without any delay. This would enhance his stature and protect the dignity of the legislature," the Bihar assembly Speaker added.
The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Karnataka Speaker from taking any decision till Tuesday on the resignation and disqualification of 10 rebel MLAs.
The 10 rebel MLAs moved the apex court alleging that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations.
They are: Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, A H Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.

-- PTI
23:29  Modi, Macron to hold meet before G7 summit:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be holding a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron before the G7 summit in France, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said on Friday. 

"Our two leaders have decided that they will meet before the Biarritz summit to further strengthen the India-France relationship," Gokhale said during his address at the French National Day Celebrations.

"We are in an era where our historically cordial ties have been further consolidated by the remarkable personal rapport shared by our two leaders, President Macron and PM Modi," he added. 

The Foreign Secretary added that the G7 summit provides a platform to the leaders to chart a road to a more prosperous world. 

France held its National Day celebrations in New Delhi on Friday, where the French Ambassador to India, Alexandre Ziegler, indicated an end to his tenure during his address. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the 4th time I'm celebrating the National Day with you here and perhaps it's the last time. I have to say that I'm charged with as much enthusiasm and energy...I'm charged with a profound affection for this country and its people and with the conviction that we will achieve nothing without India," the diplomat said. 

-- ANI
23:22  Mumbai Press Club backs boycott of Kangana Ranaut :  
The Mumbai Press Club on Friday said it fully backs the decision of the Entertainment Journalists Guild to boycott actor Kangana Ranaut for refusing to apologise for lashing out at a PTI reporter during a press conference.
  
Members of the Mumbai Press Club said in a statement that they strongly condemn Ranaut's language and behaviour towards the news media, particularly towards PTI journalist Justin Rao.

On Sunday, Ranaut launched an attack on the reporter even before he could ask his question during a song launch event of her film "JudgeMentall Hai Kya", the statement added. 
She accused the journalist of running a "smear campaign" against her and her last release "Manikarnika".

Instead of making amends, the release said, Rangoli Chandel, Ranaut's sister and manager, launched an "abusive" attack against news media on Twitter.

While "JudgeMentall Hai Kya" producer Ekta Kapoor apologised for the incident, Ranaut has refused to do so.

"The Entertainment Journalists' Guild, which first raised the issue, has pointed out that this is not the first time Ms Ranaut and her manager-sister have insulted and abused journalists. It has become part of their unprofessional conduct," the release said.

"The Mumbai Press Club stands fully behind the Guild to demand Ms Ranaut tender an apology to Justin Rao and the other journalists for her behaviour. We also fully support their call for a complete boycott of her events," it said.

The Mumbai Press Club said it had examined the footage of the press conference.  While the reporter was "fully composed", Ranaut was abusive and insulting even though as a journalist he was fully within his rights to criticise her work. 

-- PTI
22:42  India-US trade talks end without major progress:  
US and Indian trade negotiators ended talks on Friday without making major progress on a range of disputes over tariffs and other protectionist measures imposed by both sides that are straining bilateral ties, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.

Many of the toughest questions on agricultural commodities, e-commerce, and steel and aluminum, have been put off until Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal goes to Washington for talks with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer next month. The dates for that trip are yet to be settled.

No breakthrough, said one of the senior Indian officials involved in the talks in New Delhi, which lasted a little over three hours. He declined to make any further comment.

Two other Indian officials said they hoped that some of the issues will be resolved when Goyal goes to Washington.

Fridays talks were more about understanding each others positions in various disputes, they said.

In a short statement issued late on Friday, the Indian government said the countries agreed to continue their discussions for addressing mutual trade concerns.
22:31  Trump's US Labour Secretary Acosta resigns:  
US Labour Secretary Alex Acosta resigned on Friday, amid a backlash over a secret plea deal he negotiated a decade ago with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of sexually abusing young girls.
  
Acosta, 50, a former federal prosecutor, had been facing mounting calls to quit over the deal that saw Epstein serve just 13 months in a county jail.

"I called the president this morning and told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside," Acosta said in a joint appearance with US President Donald Trump at the White House.

Epstein, 66, was charged on Monday by prosecutors in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Trump, who had defended Acosta after Epstein's arrest, described him as a "tremendous talent" and "great secretary of labour" who had done a "very good job." 

The US president said Patrick Pizzella, Acosta's deputy, "will do the job. Highly recommended by Alex. Going to be acting. He's already been told."

According to prosecutors, Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage teen girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. Some were as young as 14.
21:53  'Negligence, docs' lapses led to Tabrez's death':  
Negligence on the part of police and doctors' lapses led to the death of Tabrez Ansari, a 24-year-old Muslim youth who was allegedly beaten up by a mob and forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'Jai Hanuman', a three-member probe team has said.
 
Two police officers have already been suspended in the case and action would be taken against the erring doctors, the team said in its report.
Ansari was attacked by the mob on June 17 in Jharkhand's Seraikela-Kharswan district while returning from his aunt's place. He was tied to a pole and thrashed for over seven hours on charges of theft before being handed over to police.
A severely wounded Ansari was taken to a district hospital, which cleared him for jail.
Four days later, when his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to another hospital, where the doctors declared him "brought dead". Ansari had reportedly suffered serious injuries on the head.

Corroborating Dodde, a civil surgeon who has been transferred to Khunti after the incident, said that X-ray and full body scan should have been carried out, but the tests were not performed as there was no symptom of brain injury.
The probe report also stated that the police did not respond on time.

Eleven people, including main accused Pappu Mandal, have been arrested so far in connection with the incident. 

-- PTI
21:39  Mumbai: Kid who fell into storm water drain not yet found:  
A 3-year-old child who fell into an open storm water drain on Wednesday night remains untraceable after a 46-hour continuous search and rescue operation, a Mumbai civic official said.

Divyansh Singh had fallen into a drain at Ambedkar Chowk in Malad East at around 10pm that day, and officials on Friday evening claimed the search team had covered 10 kilometres of the drain line so far but in vain.

"Our search team of 50 BMC, Fire Brigade and NDRF personnel has searched the drain line by opening all manholes along the stretch. We have not found the child but we are hopeful," the civic official said.

The child's fall into the drain near Goregaon-Mulund Link Road was captured by CCTV cameras in the vicinity.

Divyansh's father, Suraj Bhan Singh, alleged that authorities were not doing enough to trace his son.

-- PTI
21:14  Chinese soldiers enter Demchok sector in Ladakh:  
Chinese soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh division of Jammu and Kashmir last week after some Tibetans hoisted Tibetan flags on the occasion of Dalai Lama's birthday, security officials said on Friday.
The officials in the know said several PLA personnel drove in their SUV's into Koyul village in Demchok sector, located close to the LAC, on July 6 and lodged a protest over hoisting of the Tibetan flags by the refugees settled there.
They, however, said since the LAC was not demarcated properly for decades, this has led to differing perceptions of it by India and China.
There was another version of the incident on the LAC with South Block sources saying the Chinese personnel, who were in "civilian clothes", did not cross the LAC but showed banners that read "Ban all activities to split Tibet".
"On July 6, some 11 Chinese in civilian clothes arrived in two vehicles when the Ladakhi villagers were celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday. They then showed them banners and waited there for 30-40 minutes but did not cross the Line of Actual Control," the sources said. The Tibetans were celebrating the 84th birthday of the Dalai Lama.
India and China share a disputed border and the armies of the two countries were engaged in a stand-off for 73 days in 2017 in Doklam.
Security officials said that the officers on both sides decided to resolve the matter amicably.
      
Indian army personnel were also present at the spot and did not allow the Chinese soldiers to proceed any further, the officials said.
The PLA personnel entered 1.5 km into the Indian territory, they said. Earlier, the officials claimed that the Chinese soldiers had entered 5 km.
After a couple of hours, the Chinese troops returned to their side following an assurance by Indian army officials that they would look into the action by the refugees.

-- PTI
20:30  Novak Djokovic into the finals of Wimbledon:  
Novak Djokovic, ranked number 1 at Wimbledon is into the finals of Wimbledon. He beat his opponent the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets -- 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

Djokovic will now await the winner of the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal semifinal which will take place later in the day. 
20:21  No role in 26/11 Mumbai attack: Hafiz Saeed:  
Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation on Friday challenged terror financing cases lodged against him in a petition filed in the Lahore High Court.

Saeed, along with Amir Hamza, Abdur Rehman Makki, M Yahya Aziz and four others filed a plea at the LHC, naming the federal government, Punjab government and the Counter Terrorism Department as respondents.

The petition asked the court to declare the First Information Reports registered against the petitioners null and void. It further adds that Saeed has no relation with the banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Al Qaeda or any other similar organisations.

The accused are not involved in any activity against the state. Accusations by the Indian lobby naming Saeed as the mastermind behind Mumbai attacks are not based on reality, the petition said.

Earlier this month, Punjabs CTD, in a major crackdown against terror financing, registered 23 cases against the JuD chief and 12 aides for using five trusts to funnel funds to terror suspects

The CTD said a large-scale investigation had been launched into the finances of proscribed organisations JuD, LeT and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation in connection with the implementation of UN sanctions against these designated entities and persons. The government had attributed the action to orders from the National Security Committee that met on January 1 this year. Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting.

India had dissed the hype in Pakistan around the formal complaints, pointing that it appeared to be aimed to mislead the international community into believing that there had been a change in Islamabads approach to cross border terrorism.

19:42  Siddaramaiah exudes confidence of winning trust vote; says it's a joint decision:  
Senior Congress leader Siddaramiah on Friday said the decision to seek a trust vote by the coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy was taken by the two ruling partners and asserted it has the numbers.

The Congress Legislature Party Leader also said he had been talking to disgruntled party MLAs barring Roshan Baig because he has been suspended.

"Yesterday we took the decision (on the trust vote) after discussions," the former chief minister said.
     
Kumaraswamy, whose government is teetering on the brink of collapse after 16 MLAs of the ruling combine resigned, made the announcement about trust vote in the assembly earlier Friday.
     
Replying to questions, Siddaramaiah said without numbers or confidence none will seek a trust vote.
    
"We have confidence, so we are moving the confidence motion," he added.
     
On how the ruling combine would muster the numbers, Siddaramaiah said, How can we disclose now? You will come to know when the vote of confidence is moved. Things like how it will happen, who will be present cannot be disclosed now."
     
To a question, he ruled out the possibility of a counter-operation to the alleged toppling bid of BJP, saying his party did not belive in operations.
      
-- PTI
19:24  Rahul breaks silence on K'taka, blames BJP:  
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party uses 'money power' and 'intimidation' to topple governments and accused the saffron party of doing the same in Karnataka.

Sixteen MLAs including 13 from the Congress, have resigned and two Independents have withdrawn support to the 13-month-old Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in the southern state.

"BJP uses money power or threat to topple governments wherever it can. You saw this first in Goa, in the Northeast, and now are trying to do the same in Karnataka. It is their way of functioning. They have money, power, and they use it. This is the reality," Gandhi told reporters in Ahmedabad.

"The Congress is fighting for truth, because truth makes Congress stronger," he said in reply to a question on what his party would do now.

The former Congress president was here to appear before a metropolitan court in a defamation case filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank in which BJP chief Amit Shah is one of the directors.   -- PTI
18:35  MP next? Cong tries to keep its flock together:  
Alarmed over political developments first in Karnataka and then in Goa, the ruling Congress party in Madhya Pradesh is making all efforts to keep its flock together.

A dinner was organised at the official residence of State Health Minister Tulsi Silawat on Thursday to show 'unity' among various groups in the party.

The dinner was attended by Chief Minister Kamal Nath, senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, all the ministers and the MLAs of the party.

Besides them, the dinner was also attended by Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and independent MLAs.

The Congress government in the state enjoys a slim majority with their support.

Though the Congress leaders have termed the dinner as 'routine' development, many feel that the entire exercise was a well-crafted move to project that the party was a 'united house'.

A minister claimed that the state government would run for five years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nath.

Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot also slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party over the recent crisis that has hit the Congress in Karnataka and Goa.

"They are displaying their character every now and then...be it in Goa, Karnataka, Manipur or Mizoram. They did a similar thing in Bihar. If we gather at a place for dinner, they see politics in it. They are desperate without power just like the condition of a fish is without water," he said.

Energy Minister Priyavrat Singh claimed that something different from what has happened in Goa and Karnataka might happen in Madhya Pradesh.

"Dinner was a routine thing. There is nothing to fear. Delhi is keeping an eye on the developments in Karnataka and Goa," Forest Minister Umang Singhar said.

BJP leaders, however, are predicting 'weather change' in the state.

BJP MLA Narottam Mishra said: "Monsoon has moved from Goa. Very soon, weather change will take place in Madhya Pradesh. They count their MLAs every day after waking up."

Another BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma alleged the Congress government is doing destruction instead of development in the state.

BJP leader Yashpal Singh Sisodia also claimed that each minister has been deputed to 'keep an eye' on four MLAs.

BSP MLA Ram Bai, who has never hidden her displeasure with the government, said: "The government is not listening to us. Our family members have been implicated in false cases." -- ANI
18:12  DGCA finds safety lapses by IndiGo, issues notices to 4 execs:  
Four senior executives of IndiGo airline were issued show cause notices Friday by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after a special audit team of the aviation regulator found safety lapses, according to sources privy to the development.

The DGCA carried out the audit at the IndiGo office in Gurgaon on July 8 and July 9, the sources said.

"Captain Sanjiv Bhalla, Head of Training; Captain Hemant Kumar, Chief of Flight Safety; Captain Ashim Mitra, Senior Vice President -- Operations; Captain Rakesh Srivastava, QA (Quality Assurance) and Ops Safety -- these four executives of IndiGo have been issued show cause notices today," a source told PTI.

The DGCA is conducting special audit of all airlines and airports which are in monsoon-affected areas in the wake of multiple landing incidents across the country.   -- PTI
17:55  K'taka BJP MLAs at Ramada, Cong at Clarks tonight:  
Karnataka BJP MLAs leave for the Ramada resort from the state assembly. 


Amid the ongoing political turmoil in Karnataka, the Congress and the BJP have decided to move their legislators to different hotels in the city after the Assembly proceedings on Friday.


Congress MLAs will be lodged at Clarks Exotica Convention Resorts while those of the BJP will stay at Ramada Hotel in Bengaluru. The state unit of the BJP has booked 30 rooms for two days at the facility.


"All party MLAs will move to a hotel and come back on Monday," senior BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa told media persons in Bengaluru.


The rebel Congress MLAs were also supposed to be present in the Assembly session, which is currently underway. The dissidents came back to Bengaluru yesterday to meet the Speaker, as per Supreme Court directions but flew back to Mumbai at night ignoring the whip issued by the Congress-JDS coalition leader.


Chikkodi legislator and chief whip of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government, Ganesh Hukkeri, had directed MLAs to attend the Assembly session for passage of the Finance Bill on Friday.
17:16  Markets succumb to late sell-off; post weekly loss:  Equity benchmarks were caught in a late-session bear grip Friday as trading sentiment remained risk-averse amid global headwinds and uncertainty over the earnings front. Investors were also cautious ahead of the release of key macroeconomic data, traders said. 


Building on its positive opening, the 30-share BSE Sensex crossed the 39,000-mark in afternoon trade, but suffered a sudden bout of selling to end at 38,736.23, down by 86.88 points or 0.22 per cent. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty dropped 30.40 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 11,552.50. 


In the post-Budget week, the Sensex lost 777.16 points or 1.96 per cent, while the Nifty dropped 258.65 points or 2.18 per cent. Global equities were trading flat as investors digested a slew of economic data amid heightened geopolitical and trade tensions. -- PTI
17:07  Confident of proving majority: K'taka CM's wife:  Even as her husband and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy sought permission for facing a floor test in Karnataka Assembly, Anitha Kumaraswamy said that she is confident that JD(S)-Congress coalition will prove its majority on the floor of the House.


"We are confident of proving majority and all those MLAs who have resigned will definitely come back. I know they will realise their mistake," said Anitha, JD-S MLA representing Ramanagara constituency.


"The ball is now in the Speaker's court and he will have to take the decision after getting convinced," she added.Meanwhile, one of the rebel Congress MLAs, BC Patil, who is in Mumbai, said that there was no going back and they would abide by the order of the Supreme Court.


"We will abide by the Supreme Court order. Our decision is final. There is no going back," said Patil.


Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had ordered a status quo until Tuesday on a plea filed by 10 dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S) seeking a direction to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignation and not proceed with the applications for their disqualification.


A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Deepak Gupta will again hear the matter on Tuesday.The bench had on Thursday directed the Speaker to meet the rebel MLAs who were asked to give their resignations afresh in person. The speaker met them and took their resignations but did not take any decision saying he has to follow procedures and satisfy himself whether they were genuine and voluntary.


The 13-month-old Congress-JD(S) government had earlier this month slumped into crisis following the resignation of 10 MLAs. -- ANI
16:32  SBI waives RTGS, NEFT, IMPS charges:  State Bank of India has waived charges on NEFT and RTGS transactions through internet and mobile banking from July 1, after the RBI decided to do away with the charges with an aim to move the country towards less-cash economy. 


The country's largest bank, which has about 25 per cent market share, has also decided to do away with the charges on fund transfer through mobile phones using the IMPS (immediate payment service) from August 1. 


The real-time gross settlement system is meant for large-value instantaneous fund transfers, while the National Electronic Funds Transfer system is used for fund transactions of up to Rs 2 lakh. 


"The bank will also waive-off IMPS charges for its INB, MB and YONO customers effective from August 1, 2019," the state-owned lender said in a statement. 


Before July 1, SBI used to charge between Re 1 and Rs 5 for transactions through NEFT, and Rs 5-50 for RTGS route. 


At March-end, 2019, the number of SBI customers using internet banking were more than six crores, while 1.41 crore persons were using mobile banking services. 


The bank claims to have around 18 per cent market share in mobile banking transactions.  -- PTI
16:24  The Super 30 Review:  Know before you go...


"Part of that problem is at the centre of its storytelling -- a woefully miscast Hrithik Roshan.


He doesn't look the part.


He doesn't sound the part.


Though an intrinsically solid actor, it is awkward to watch Hrithik's natural intensity and intelligence fight hard and fail miserably to make the posturing idealism, excessive tan or heavy-handed accent work.


Roshan sports a new shade of brown in every scene and his attempt to speak Bihari sounds like an Amitabh Bachchan fan mimicking Lal Badshah.


"No amount of scribbling equations on the blackboard like A Beautiful Mind's John Nash, projecting naivet like Koi... Mil Gaya's Rohit or arranging samosas for famished students applying mathematical 'mandawali' on a susceptible hotelier helps in taking him seriously."


Read the Rediff.com review on Super 30 here 
16:13  CoA to review India's CWC'19 performance:  The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators will be reviewing India's performance in the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, a BCCI source confirmed on Friday.


"Team India's performance in the World Cup will be assessed and reviewed at an appropriate time," a BCCI source told ANI.


The CoA committee is led by chairman Vinod Rai, Diana Edulji and Lt Gen (Retd) Ravi Thodge.


Earlier, it was announced that the support staff comprising of head coach Ravi Shastri, batting coach Sanjay Bangar, bowling coach Bharat Arun have been given an extension of 45 days (till the West Indies tour). 


When the tour of West Indies ends, the future of the support staff will be found out.India were knocked out of the World Cup as they lost their semi-final match against New Zealand by 18 runs on Wednesday.


The Virat-Kohli led side failed to chase down 240. Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni tried their best to revive the innings, but their dismissals paved the way for a Kiwi win. Jadeja was dismissed for 77 whereas Dhoni was sent back to the pavilion after playing a knock of 50 runs.


In the other semi-final, England defeated Australia by eight wickets to enter the finals.


With England and New Zealand set to lock horns in the finals, a new World Cup winner is guaranteed as these two sides have never won the tournament before.


England takes on New Zealand in the final on July 14 at Lord's Cricket Ground. -- ANI
16:01  There is a plan behind $5 trillion economy: FM :  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that the Budget 2019 would boost investments without compromising on fiscal consolidation roadmap and hit out at former Finance Minister P Chidambaram for his jibe at the government's call for making India a five trillion dollar economy.


Replying to a general discussion on the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, she also said the big picture presented in the Budget was backed with a plan and comprehensive steps have been envisaged for the next 10 years.


She said every estimate projection that has been given is realistic. "When we say we have a vision for India, it's not without a plan. And the plan is to increase investment coming into the country," she said.


She said the target of the government to make India a USD 5 trillion economy was not "without a plan" and hit out at Chidambaram, who was not present in the house, for calling it "simple arithmetic" and "magic of compounding".


"Is that why during UPA, no attention was given to the economy but scandals were going on. All attention there. Economy will anyway double in every five years. Don't bother and concentrate on increase on personal income," she said amid opposition by Congress members.


"What is this, sir? What is former finance minister trying to imply," she said asking the Congress why it failed to double the economy in the first 60 years of the country.


The Minister said: "The inflation rate, the depreciation of the currency and the exchange rate...so many things will have to be managed so that country's economy doubles ...It is not that easy that only the money lender will keep an account."


She also gave point-by-point rebuttal of the charges levelled by Chidambaram, especially calling the government's tax collections including income tax and GST targets and projections as "unrealistic"."


All these are very realistic. We will absolutely receive these targets," Sitharaman said questioning Chidambaram's figure and its source.


Responding to the former Finance Minister's attack that "bold" decisions or "structural reforms" were missing from the Union Budget to fast-track growth despite a huge mandate, she said GST was the biggest reform that the BJP government took.


She also hit at Congress for putting obstacles in passing the GST Bill and Rahul Gandhi calling it 'Gabbar Singh Tax'.


On charges over farm distress, Sitharaman said the strategies adopted by the government to double farmers income was based on the Committee's recommendations. -- ANI
15:44  Hafiz Saeed challenges terror financing cases filed against him:  United Nations proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed on Friday filed a plea in the Lahore High Court challenging terror financing cases lodged against him.


In the petition, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief said that he has no relation with the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Qaeda or any other similar organisations, reported the Express Tribune.


The plea asked the court to declare the FIR registered against him as "null and void".


Last week, the Counter-Terrorism Department of Pakistan's Punjab province registered multiple cases against Saeed and 12 of his aides, including his brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki.As per the charges, their terror outfits were operating under the guise of charities and were involved in funnelling funds to terror suspects.


Cases were registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act against five proscribed outfits in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Multan - Dawatul Irshad Trust, Moaz Bin Jabal Trust, Al Anfaal Trust, Al Madina Foundation Trust, and Alhamd Trust.The action came ahead of the crucial financial bailout meeting between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund in Washington today.


However, India has called Pakistan's action of charging Saeed "cosmetic".

-- ANI
15:39  Mamata marches for water conservation:  Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee holds a padyatra in Kolkata to create awareness among citizens to conserve water. Tollywood director Raj Chakraborty was also present.
15:32  Sex ratio at birth improves at national level:  Ministry Of Women And Child Development revealed that Sex Ratio at Birth is showing improving trends and SRB has increased from 923 to 931 at National level for the time period between FY 2015-16 and 2018-19.


In reply to a question on the impact of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' scheme on the CSR of the country, the Ministry cited the latest reports of Management Information System stating that at State and Union Territory level, SRB in 21 States and UTs is showing improving trends whereas, in 03 states and UTs, SRB is stable in the financial year 2018-19 in comparison to previous FY 2017-18.


It also stated that a declining trend has been registered in the Child Sex Ratio in some States and Union Territories of the country and as per the census 2011, the Child Sex Ratio in comparison of census 2001 has declined in 21 States/UTs.


Talking about the effective steps taken by the Government in this regard, the government specified that multi-sectoral interventions and Media Campaign and Advocacy in 405 Districts and Media Campaign and Advocacy only in 235 Districts of BBBP have been initiated for greater coverage and reach in the country. -- ANI
15:10  K'taka Cong MLAs will stay at resort tonight:  Karnataka's resort politics continues. The Congress party will move its MLAs to Clarks Exotica Convention Resorts in Bengaluru, after the Assembly proceedings today.


Beleaguered Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday sought permission for facing a floor test during the ongoing session of the Assembly.


"After all these developments, I am seeking your permission and time to prove the majority in this session," he told Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in the Assembly while the House was paying condolences to former members who died during the inter-session period.


Reacting to the chief minister's statement, former Home Minister and BJP leader R Ashok said Kumaraswamy should fix a time like Monday or Tuesday to face the floor test. He cannot make a vague demand, he said.


Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had ordered a status quo until Tuesday on a plea filed by 10 dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S) seeking a direction to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignation and not proceed with the applications for their disqualification.


A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Deepak Gupta will again hear the matter on Tuesday.  


Image: Clarks Exotica Convention Resort and Spa, Bengaluru, where the Congress MLAs will be staying. Pic: Clarksexotica.com
14:53  Lalu gets bail in fodder scam :  
Jharkhand high court today granted bail to imprisoned Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in Deoghar treasury case of fodder scam. 

Earlier, the court had sentenced him to 3.5 years in jail in the case.
14:38  SGPC invites Imran Khan to attend nagar kirtan:  Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to take part in the grand 'nagar kirtan', scheduled to commence from Nanka Sahib in Pakistan, on the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak.


Speaking to ANI, President of SGPC, Gobind Singh Longowal said that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Governor VP Singh Badnore have also been invited to attend the 'kirtan' in Pakistan.


"On July 25, after a holy ritual, the Nagar kirtan will commence from Nankana Sahib, the place where Guru Nanak was born," Longowal said. He said that as many as 550 devotees, including prominent religious leaders, will go to Pakistan for the ritual."


"On the arrival of the Nagar kirtan at Attari-Wagah border, leaders such as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal are scheduled to welcome the devotees, for which a formal invitation has been sent to them," said the president of SGPC.Longowal said that Sikhs who live outside the country have also been invited to be a part of the event. -- ANI
14:14  Thankful to BJP-RSS for ideological battle: Rahul:  Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he is thankful to his opponents in the RSS and the BJP for providing him with opportunities to take his ideological battle against them to the public. Gandhi arrived in Ahmedabad to appear before a metropolitan court in a defamation suit filed against him by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman, Ajay Patel. 


"I'm in Ahmedabad today, to appear in another case filed against me by my political opponents in the RSS/BJP. "I thank them for providing me these platforms & opportunities to take my ideological battle against them to the public. Satyameva Jayate," he said in a tweet after reaching Ahmedabad. 


The defamation suit alleges that Congress leaders, including Gandhi, had falsely claimed that the bank was involved in a "scam" to swap Rs 750 crore in scrapped notes with valid currency within five days of demonetisation in 2016. -- PTI
14:04  Sonakshi reacts to cheating allegations levelled against her:  "Would request the media not to fan these bizarre claims of an unscrupulous man," Sonakshi Sinha tweeted in response to the allegations levelled against her by an event organiser, accusing the actor of accepting payment for an event she did not attend."


An event organizer who couldn't live up to his commitment obviously thinks he can make a fast buck by maligning my crystal clear image in the press," she tweeted on Friday.


In February, a case was registered against the actor and four others for allegedly accepting Rs 24 lakh for a stage performance and not turning up for the event. 


The event was scheduled to take place in September 2018.The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday visited the Mumbai residence of Sonakshi in a bid to reach out to the Bollywood actor. 


However, the 'Dabangg' actor was not available at home.In the post, the actor asserted that she is ready to cooperate with the authorities during the course of the investigation.


"There is full cooperation with the authorities from my end for the investigation to be conducted," she wrote.The case was registered under sections 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust)of the Indian Penal Code. -- ANI
13:32  Karnataka CM seeks trust vote :   Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy tells the Speaker KR Ramesh in the Assembly that he seeks a trust vote and asks the Speaker to fix a time. "After all these developments, I am seeking your permission and time to prove the majority in this session," Kumaraswamy tells the Speaker.
13:08  K'taka crisis: SC to take up MLAs' case on Tue:  
Hearing in the matter of rebel Karnataka MLAs: Supreme Court orders to maintain status quo. The matter will be heard again on Tuesday. 

The SC asks the Speaker to decide on neither disqualification nor resignation of 10 MLAs till Tuesday. 

Adjournment was on the basis of an oral submission by Mukul Rohatgi, the counsel for the MLAs that disqualification of 8 of 10 MLAs was returned by the Speaker.
13:00  Train carrying water reaches Chennai:  Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, the first train carrying water from Jolarpet railway station in Vellore district reaches Chennai. The state government had announced to bring in water from Vellore by rail wagons as Chennai is facing water crisis. 


A train with 50 tank wagons with 50,000 litres of water in each, left Jolarpettai at 7.20 am. The train is expected to reach Villivakkam around 2.00 pm where it will inaugurated by Tamil Nadu ministers, officials said. Jolarpettai is 217 km away from Chennai in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district. 


The train was supposed to reach on Thursday, but leakages in the valves led to the delay. 


Chennai has been grappling with an acute water crisis over the past four months. The southern metropolis is facing a daily water deficit of at least 200 million litres, and the four reservoirs supplying to the city have run dry. 


The rich haven't been spared either, but their suffering is nothing compared to the working class. Rampant unplanned development, deficient monsoon last year coupled with inadequate urban planning has brought Chennai to its knees. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier requested the railways to help them ferry the water to the city. -- PTI
12:52  Speaker told us 'go to hell': Rebel K'taka MLAs:  Hearing in the matter of the Karnataka rebel MLAs: Rebel MLAs say Speaker questioned their move to approach the Supreme Court and said "go to hell" to them in front of the media.


Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi is appearing for the 10 rebel MLAs from Karnataka and Abhishek Manu Singhvi is representing the Karnataka Speaker. Dr Rajeev Dhavan is  arguing for Karnataka CM. 


The rebel MLAs tell the SC that the Speaker has no immunity with regard to acceptance of resignations.


CJI Ranjan Gogoi asks Speaker's counsel, AM Singhvi, "Does the Speaker have the power to challenge the SC order?"


Singhvi refers to provisions and says he holds a Constitutional post.  "I am constitutionally obligated to decide on plea for disqualification of MLAs also.


Dr Rajeev Dhavan, arguing for Karnataka CM, objects to the submissions of the rebel MLAs that the speaker has acted in a mala-fide manner.  


Rohatgi submits to the Supreme Court that the Speaker is answerable to this court, except under certain circumstances. He may not respond under certain sections and provisions, he is entitled exemption. 


Singhvi argues that these MLAs' intention in giving resignation is something different, and it is to avoid disqualification. 


Dr Rajeev Dhavan, arguing for Karnataka CM, objects to the submissions of the rebel MLAs that the speaker has acted in a mala-fide manner.  


"MLAs in a plea have levelled corruption allegations and order was passed without hearing me. Plea of MLAs should not have been entertained," says CM to SC.

Details awaited.
12:14  K'taka Assembly session begins, all MLAs arrive:  Karnataka MLAs arrive at the Vidhana Soudha as the state assembly session begins today. The BJP's BS Yeddyurappa says that the party will give a whip to attend the session from today to the end of this month. 


In a fresh turn of events in the state, Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has agreed to meet on Friday three of the five rebel Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations in the "prescribed" format.


The meeting is scheduled to be held at 4 pm.


Ten dissident MLAs had met Kumar on Thursday evening after they were directed by the Supreme Court to meet the Speaker and resubmit their resignations in person.


Following the meeting with the MLAs, the Speaker had said that he will consider "to his satisfaction" whether the resignations were genuine and voluntary before taking a decision.


Talking to the media Kumar dismissed the charge that he was delaying a decision on these resignations to help the government which has allegedly lost its majority.


"I need to examine these resignations (of rebel MLAs) all night and ascertain if they are genuine. The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision. I have video-graphed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court," said Kumar.


The 13-month-old Congress-JD(S) government had earlier this month slumped into crisis following the resignation of 10 MLAs.


Image: Karnataka Congress minister DK Shivkumar and the party's only firefighter heads to the Assembly this morning. 
11:55  SC seeks Maha govt's response on Maratha reservation:  The Supreme Court sought the Maharashtra government's response on Friday on pleas challenging a Bombay High Court order that upheld the grant of reservations to the Maratha community in education and jobs. 


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not stay the Bombay High Court court order upholding the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota law, but made it clear that the aspect allowing the reservation for Marathas with a retrospective effect from 2014 would not be made operational. 


The bench was hearing two appeals, including one filed by J Laxman Rao Patil challenging the high court order that upheld the constitutional validity of the quota for the Maratha community in education and government jobs in Maharashtra. -- PTI


File pic
11:52  3 ex-Congs MLAs, 1 BJP may join Goa cabinet:  Four Goa MLAs, including three Congress rebels who joined the ruling BJP a couple of days ago, would be inducted in the state cabinet on Saturday, sources said on Friday. 


Ten of the 15 Congress MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, switched sides and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday. 


Accompanied by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the breakaway group met BJP president Amit Shah and its working president J P Nadda in New Delhi on Thursday. All the MLAs returned to Goa on Friday.


However, Sawant stayed back to attend a high-level meeting on the issue of mining in Goa, which has come to a standstill following a February 2018 Supreme Court order. 


The meeting will be held in the national capital on Friday evening. Shah, who is also the Union home minister, and Union Minister of Mines Pralhad Joshi will attend the meeting. 


A top BJP source said three of the 10 former Congress MLAs and Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly Michael Lobo would be sworn-in as ministers on Saturday. 


However, he did not disclose the names of the three former Congress MLAs who would get ministerial berths. When contacted, Lobo, a BJP MLA, confirmed that he and three other MLAs would join the Sawant-led cabinet. 


Lobo was instrumental in convincing the 10 Congress lawmakers to switch sides, giving the BJP an overwhelming majority in the 40-member state Assembly, the sources said. In order to accommodate the new MLAs in the cabinet, Sawant would be dropping four ministers, most of them from the BJP's alliance partners, the sources said. -- PTI


IMAGE: Ten of 15 Congress members led by leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar gives letter for merger of their faction in BJP to Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in Panaji. 
11:40  India lifted 271 mn people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016: UN:  India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values during the period with strong improvements in areas such as "assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition," a report by the United Nations said. 


The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) was released Thursday. 


The report said that in the 101 countries studied '" 31 low income, 68 middle income and 2 high income - 1.3 billion people are "multidimensionally poor", which means that poverty is defined not simply by income, but by a number of indicators, including poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence. The report identifies 10 countries, with a combined population of around 2 billion people, to illustrate the level of poverty reduction, and all of them have shown statistically significant progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, namely ending poverty "in all its forms, everywhere". 


The 10 countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam. 


The report said that within these 10 countries, data shows that 270 million people moved out of multidimensional poverty from one survey to the next. "This progress was largely driven by South Asia. In India, there were 271 million fewer people in poverty in 2016 than in 2006, while in Bangladesh the number dropped by 19 million between 2004 and 2014," it said. 


Noting the examples of pro-poor reduction, where the poorest regions improved the fastest, the report said that Jharkhand in India reduced the incidence of multidimensional poverty from 74.9 per cent in 2005-06 to 46.5 per cent in 2015-16.
11:31  Cong leader moves SC in case filed by rebel MLAs:  A Karnataka Youth Congress leader moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking to intervene in a case filed by 10 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs for a direction to the Assembly speaker to accept their resignations. 


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by the counsel of Anil Chacko Joseph, the Youth Congress leader, that the resignations by the rebel MLAs were nothing but a kind of defection and sought a hearing as an intervenor. 


The apex court has listed for hearing on Friday the petition of the 10 rebel MLAs seeking a direction to Karnataka Assembly speaker K R Ramesh Kumar for accepting their resignations. 


Chacko, in his application, said that a resignation had the same effect as defecting from a party and that the MLAs were "bought or persuaded to resign by payment of enormous sums of money". The apex court allowed Chacko to be heard as intervenor in the matter. -- PTI


Image: Congress leader and Karnataka Minister DK Shivkumar with former Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora and party leader Naseem Khan outside the Renaissance Hotel at Powai in Mumbai on Wednesday.
11:24  Rs 24 lakh no-show case: Cops at Sonakshi's home :   The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday visited the Mumbai residence of Sonakshi Sinha in an apparent attempt to reach out to the Bollywood actor.


The ongoing investigation by UP Police is in connection with a case registered against the actor for allegedly not performing at an event despite accepting payment for the same.


In February, a case was registered against the actor and four others for allegedly accepting Rs 24 lakh for a stage performance but not turning up for the event. The event was scheduled to take place in September 2018.The case was registered under sections 420 (cheating) and 406 of IPC. -- ANI
11:23  Supreme Court declines to stay reservation for Marathas. Says, there won't be retrospective effect of the Maratha reservation. Details awaited.
11:20  China is 'primary challenge' to US national security: US army general:  China is the "primary challenge" to the United States national security over the next 50 to 100 years, a top American army general said on Thursday.


At the confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee, President Donald Trump's nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley said that China had learned from watching the US military capabilities and have adopted many of the "doctrines and organisations", CNN reported.


"China went to school on us. They watched us very closely in the First Gulf War, the Second Gulf War. They watched our capabilities. And in many many ways, they have mimicked those, and they have adopted many of the doctrines and organisations." he said. -- ANI
11:15  Sidharth, Parineeti on the Kangana-scribe spat:  Reacting to the controversy over Kangana Ranaut's spat with a journalist, Sidharth Malhotra opined that the media and actors must maintain a professional relationship.


The 'Queen' actor recently sparked controversy after she engaged in a spat with a journalist at the music launch of her upcoming film 'Judgementall Hai Kya'.


Responding to the incident, Sidharth termed his relationship with media as one of "mutual love and respect".


"Media and an actors' relationship sometimes seems to be like that of a couple who fight and get angry. Things shouldn't be taken personally, you are here doing your work and the same goes for us," he said.


"When we call you to attend an event, we have no intentions of misbehaving with you," he added while addressing a question raised by a journalist.


The 'Student of The Year' actor revealed that he himself is friends with a number of people from the media fraternity.


"I sometimes do not care about things much. There's been a lot written about my films a lot of times and I think it is media's professional opinion. It won't affect my hard work, my next film so I perceive it this way," the actor added.


Sidharth was attending a music launch event for his upcoming 'Jabariya Jodi' alongside co-actor Parineeti Chopra.


Terming the relation of media and actors as a "weird sort of friendship", Parineeti said everyone needs to be more responsible.


"We're always dealing with actors being misquoted and also the media getting misconstrued, so I hope both sides are able to maintain this relationship to be a friendly one but at the same time professional one because a lot of reputations are getting affected," she opined."Everybody needs to be more responsible," Parineeti concluded.


The Kangana-journalist spat
11:11  Janmashtami in Mathura should be celebrated like Deepotsav in Ayodhya: Yogi :  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Thursday said that Janmashtami in Mathura should be celebrated like 'Deepotsav' in Ayodhya. Ramnavami in Ayodhya and Navratri in Vindhyachal should be celebrated the same way, he said in a meeting with the Braj Teerth Development Board in Lucknow. 


"If you will be able to make this happen then all these events will be able to gain global recognition and tourists from all over the world will be attracted towards them. And this will boost the tourism in Uttar Pradesh," the chief minister said. 


He said all the development projects should be completed within time, maintaining the quality and standard. 


"All the places related to Lord Krishna should be well lit and halogen lights should be replaced with LED lights. For environment conservation, plastic should be completely banned from these places," Adityanath said. 


During the meeting, a discussion was also held for overall development of Vindhyachal on the lines of Kashi Vishwanath. Around two dozen projects are underway in the region and the chief minister has directed officers to complete them before November. -- PTI
10:53  Minor fire in Delhi hospital:  A minor fire broke out in the operation theatre of ESI Hospital in west Delhi's Basai Darapur on Friday morning, with fire fighters evacuating six patients to safety, fire officials said.  


No one was injured in the blaze, they said. The fire department said they received a call about the blaze at 9.10 am, after which six fire tenders were rushed to the spot. 


The fire broke out in the ceiling of the operation theatre on the third floor of the hospital after which six patients were rescued to safety, Atul Garg, Chief fire officer said.  The fire was brought under control by 9.25 am, the fire official added. The cause of the fire is being ascertained, the officer said. 
-- PTI


Image: The fire broke out in the ceiling of the operation theatre
10:44  India's Canada consul gets added responsibility:  Former MEA spokesperson and presently High Commissioner to Canada, Vikas Swarup, has been appointed as Secretary (Consular, Passport & Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs) in the Ministry of External Affairs. 
10:41  Posters of Amartya Sen's 'Jai Shri Ram' comment in Kolkata :  In West Bengal, banners displaying an image of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and his earlier statement on chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', seen in Kolkata. 


On July 5 Amartya Sen had said, "I haven't heard Jai Shri Ram earlier. It is now used to beat up people. I think it is has no association with Bengali culture. Nowadays, Ram Navami is celebrated more in Kolkata which I haven't heard earlier."


Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said the slogan, "Jai Shri Ram", is being used "to beat up people" across the country. "I have not heard Jai Shri Ram before (in this way). It is now used to beat up people. I think it has no association with Bengali culture," said Amartya Sen at a public event.


Sen said he has never heard of Ram Navami being celebrated in West Bengal before, adding it has now gained popularity. "I had never heard of Ram Navami before. I asked my four-year-old grandchild who is your favourite deity? She replied, 'Maa Durga'. The significance of Maa Durga cannot be compared with Ram Navami," said Sen.


"If people of a certain religion are scared to move freely or are fear-bound, it is a serious matter," he said.


His comments came days after a clash broke out between two groups over parking space and a temple was vandalised in Old Delhi.


West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh criticised Sen for this comments. "Amartya Sen probably doesn't know Bengal. Does he know about Bengali or Indian culture? Jai Shri Ram is chanted in very village. Now entire Bengal says it."
10:32  K'taka Speaker to meet 3 rebel Cong MLAs at 4 pm:  In a fresh turn of events in Karnataka, Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has agreed to meet on Friday three of the five rebel Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations in the "prescribed" format.


The meeting is scheduled to be held at 4 pm.


Ten dissident MLAs had met Kumar on Thursday evening after they were directed by the Supreme Court to meet the Speaker and resubmit their resignations in person.


Following the meeting with the MLAs, the Speaker had said that he will consider "to his satisfaction" whether the resignations were genuine and voluntary before taking a decision.


Talking to the media Kumar dismissed the charge that he was delaying a decision on these resignations to help the government which has allegedly lost its majority.


"I need to examine these resignations (of rebel MLAs) all night and ascertain if they are genuine. The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision. I have video-graphed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court," said Kumar.


The 13-month-old Congress-JD(S) government had earlier this month slumped into crisis following the resignation of 10 MLAs.


Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Karnatka rebel MLAs said, "We'll ask the court to implement its order so that the Speaker takes a decision as soon as possible. If all MLAs appeared before him, gave affidavits and moved the SC that they want to resign, what further verification is required I don't understand."
10:23  And another picture villagers trying to cross the semi-submerged bridge. 
10:18  Dangerous crossings :  As PM Modi's government promises a USD 5 trillion economy, it is people like this who fall by the wayside and remain there. In Madhya Pradesh, locals in Pipariya village of Damoh district cross a stream on a damaged wooden bridge. "We risk our lives. Many fall down while crossing," villagers said. 

Chief Executive Officer, Patharia panchayat says, "Probably half the construction of the bridge was done. We'll write to them to complete it."
10:07  LS sat till 11:58 pm for debate on railways!:   The Lok Sabha sat till 11.58 pm on Thursday to conclude the discussion on demands for grants for the Railway Ministry, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi saying it is for the first time in nearly 18 years that the Lower House has sat for this long. 


Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to reply to the debate Friday afternoon, following which the demands for grants will be put to vote. Nearly a 100 members participated in the debate which began Thursday afternoon and concluded at 11.58 pm. "It is a record," Joshi said. 


During the debate, the Opposition accused the Modi government of trying to sell off railways' assets instead of focusing on services, but the BJP asserted that the transport behemoth is breaking new ground everyday especially in areas of infrastructure and safety. 


The Congress, TMC and other parties tore into the government as they opposed alleged attempts to "privatise" the railways and claimed that the NDA dispensation was "selling dreams" like the 'bullet train' to the people, which were "not feasible". 


Countering the opposition's allegations, BJP MP Sunil Kumar Singh said the performance of railways is much better now than under the Congress rule and the national transporter was achieving new milestones. 


Railway accidents have reduced by 73 per cent in the five-year period of Modi government from 2014 to 2019, he noted. -- PTI


Image: S Angadi, MoS Railways said after the session ended yesterday that railways was like a family that takes everyone together  and satisfies everyone. All members gave good suggestions. Railways has changed since PM Modi came, what Vajpayeeji did for roads, Modiji is doing for railways.
09:54  Ceasefire violation by Pak in Poonch:  At about 8 am today, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation with firing of small arms and shelling with mortars along LoC in Mankote, Krishna Ghati Sector in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Army is retaliating.
09:23  Water crisis: 1st water train leaves for Chennai:  
The first train carrying water to Chennai left for the parched city on Friday from Jolarpet railway station carrying 2.5 million litres of water. 

Scorching heat and delayed monsoon have crippled Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu with an acute water crisis.

A second train will also carry more water to Chennai. 

The Chennai Metro Water has set a target of ferrying 10 million litres a day.

"Based on slots available for movement of these trains the capacity could go up," said a railway official.

Various hotels and restaurants in the city have stopped offering meals at noon due to water shortage.

People are forced to draw water from the ground illegally and over 200 motors have been seized by the Chennai Metrowater department.
08:57  Cong's LS leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury likely to chair PAC:  
Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is likely to chair parliament's Public Accounts committee, a source said on Thursday.
 
Fifteen of the 24 members of the PAC were unanimously elected by the Lok Sabha. They include Chowdhury and former Union ministers Jayant Sinha and Ram Kripal Yadav.
The remaining nine members of the panel will be elected from among the Rajya Sabha members.
Besides it, 29 members of Parliament's estimates committee were also elected unanimously, which include former Union minister P P Choudhary and DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran.
The Lok Sabha speaker also constituted two more parliamentary panels -- one on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the other on Public Undertakings. -- PTI
08:38  BJP hardly care about Constitution: Congress :  
Amid the political upheaval in Karnataka, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and said that the party and its leaders "hardly care" about the Constitution.

"It looks as if the BJP government has come to power just to finish secularism, democracy, and Opposition. Their only goal is to have one political party, which is against democracy and constitution. BJP and its leaders hardly care about the Constitution," Azad said on Thursday.

Talking about the Congress and Janat Dal-Secular MLAs residing at a Mumbai hotel, Azad claimed that the legislators were flown to Mumbai in a special aircraft and were not allowed to meet anyone except BJP leaders.

"With the active support of government and Raj Bhavan, BJP leaders made Congress leaders and ministers fly to Mumbai in special aircraft and provided them security from Maharashtra government. They were not allowed to meet anyone except BJP leaders," he said.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party chief Rahul Gandhi had on Thursday led a protest of party lawmakers against the BJP-led government over political developments in Karnataka and Goa, with the party also staging a walkout in both the houses of Parliament.

The party members protested in the morning in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament complex holding 'Save Democracy' banners. "We are protesting against Karnataka and Goa issue," Rahul Gandhi told ANI.

The 13-month-old Congress-JDS government in Karnataka had on Saturday slumped into crisis following the resignation over 10 MLAs.

The dissident MLAs met Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Thursday and tendered their resignations. -- ANI
00:12  Amal Clooney slams Trump over attacks on media:  
Human rights attorney Amal Clooney took a swipe at US President Donald Trump while warning about the diminishing freedom of the world's press.

Clooney made her comment without directly naming Trump, but she left little to the imagination.

"Today, the country of James Madison has a leader who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse," Clooney said.

Clooney was speaking at the Global Conference for Media Freedom, held in London. She serves as the British government's envoy on media freedom.

Earlier in her speech, Clooney cited Madison as being a staunch protector of the free press.

"As James Madison -- one of America's founding fathers -- warned us more than 200 years ago, the right to a free press is the only effectual guardian of every other right. Yet today journalists are under attack like never before," Clooney said.

Clooney also criticised world leaders more generally when speaking about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in October.

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