Wed, 26 June 2019
PM leaves to attend G20 Summit, lists out agenda
23:28 BJP youth wing to block roads on Tuesdays to recite Hanuman Chalisa
The Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing has decided to block a section of roads in and around Kolkata every Tuesday to recite Hanuman Chalisa to protest against what they allege Muslims 'blocking' roads to offer namaz every Friday.
The development prompted the ruling Trinamool Congress to accuse the BJP of deliberately trying to create communal tension in West Bengal.
On Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) organised an event and recited the Hanuman Chalisa near Bally Khal in neighbouring Howrah by blocking the entire stretch of a busy road for about an hour.
"We have seen major roads being blocked on Fridays for namaz. Though this causes huge traffic snarls, it has been continuing in the state for the past eight years," BJYM Howrah district president O P Singh told reporters.
"As long as this continues, we will also recite Hanuman Chalisa every Tuesday on all the main roads near Hanuman temples. If they can do it, why can't we do it?" Singh said.
BJP state president and Lok Sabha MP Dilip Ghosh came out in support of the BJYM's decision.
"If Muslims can do it, why can't Hindus do it? Does Hindus living in Bengal don't have the right to practise their religion?" he asked.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader and minister Firhad Hakim hit out at the BJP over the proposed plan.
"In West Bengal, every person has the right to practise his or her religion. We believe in secularism," Hakim said.
"But the BJP is trying to flare up communal tension in the state to serve their vested political interests."
The issue comes amid a raging debate over 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans and the BJP's accusation that the TMC was 'appeasing' the Muslims in the state. -- PTI
22:36 PM leaves to attend G20 Summit, lists out agenda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he would reinforce India's strong support to reformed multilateralism at the G20 summit, crucial to preserve rule-based international order.
In his departure statement, he said issues such as women empowerment, artificial intelligence and common efforts to address challenges like terrorism will be high on his agenda.
The prime minister emplaned for Osaka, Japan to participate in the summit.
"The summit will provide an important opportunity to reiterate and reinforce our strong support to reformed multilateralism, which is crucial for preserving rule-based international order in today's fast-changing world," Modi said.
The summit, he said, will also be a platform for sharing India's strong developmental experience of the last five years, which provided the basis for a resounding mandate by the people of India to the government to continue on the path of progress and stability.
He said the two-day Osaka summit will also be an important stepping stone for India towards hosting the G20 summit in 2022 'when we usher in a New India in the 75th anniversary year of our Independence'.
On the sidelines, Modi said, he looks forward to engaging with leaders of our major partner countries on important issues of bilateral and global importance.
"I also look forward to host the next Russia, India and China (RIC) Informal Summit on the sidelines, and also to participate in the next informal meetings of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and JAI (Japan, America and India) leaders," he said. -- PTI
21:30 I'm not Cong president: Rahul to party MPs
"I am not the Congress president and I am not going back on my decision," Rahul Gandhi told his party's Lok Sabha members after they jointly made a plea to him on Wednesday to reconsider his decision of quitting the post.
The Congress had convened a meeting of its Lok Sabha members to evolve the party's strategy in the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday.
Soon after the meeting, chaired by Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi, started, some party MPs from Tamil Nadu urged him to reconsider his decision and wanted a resolution to be passed, sources said.
All the party MPs then joined them and made a plea to Rahul, but he stuck to his decision, they said.
According to the sources, Rahul said he has asked the Congress Working Committee to make arrangements to instal a party chief in his place and lamented that nothing has been in this regard so far.
Rahul had quit taking full responsibility for the party's Lok Sabha poll debacle. He had conveyed his decision at the meeting of the CWC on May 25.
The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, rejected his resignation and asked him to revamp and restructure the party at all levels instead.
Rahul has not been meeting party leaders since then and has not been actively involved in the party's affairs.
He was to hold a meeting of Congress leaders from Maharashtra on Wednesday, for the party's poll preparedness for upcoming assembly elections there, but it has been postponed now to June 29.
Rahul is likely to meet leaders from Haryana on Thursday. -- PTI
21:24 Mamata gives Rs 50,000 for 3 pushed out of train for not chanting 'Jai Shri Ram'
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced compensation for three people who sustained injuries after being pushed off a train in the city for allegedly refusing to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'.
A madrassa teacher and two others were allegedly pushed off a moving train in the city on Monday.
"I have spoken to the victims and have announced compensation of Rs 50,000 each for the three persons. We condemn such incidents and stern action should be taken by the police in this case. We will not allow such things in the state," Banerjee told reporters.
Hafeez Mohd Sahrukh Haldar, who received minor injuries in the incident, said he was beaten up by a mob, which was shouting slogans and asked him to follow suit.
"We were attacked by a group of men. We were thrashed and then I along with two other persons, who were also beaten up by the mob, was thrown out of the train at Park Circus railway station (in the city)," he told reporters.
Banerjee had also announced compensation for victims of political violence in Bhatpara, which has been witnessing frequent post-poll violence between rivals Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress.
The fight between the two parties has intensified in the area ever since Arjun Singh crossed over from the TMC to the BJP, and won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, under which Bhatpara falls. -- PTI
20:43 Let's speak for religious freedom: Pompeo
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called for speaking 'strongly' in favour of religious freedom rights and asserted that the world is worse off when they are compromised.
His remarks assume significance as they come days after the State Department, in its annual 2018 International Religious Freedom Report released last week, alleged that mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018, amid rumours that victims had traded or killed cows for beef.
"India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let's stand up together for religious freedom for all, let's speak out strongly together in favour of those rights for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off," Pompeo said in his India policy speech at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
He also said the US is pleased to see the UN designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.
Recently India voted against Palestinian NGO that supported terrorism at the UN and showed rewarding terrorism is wrong, he said.
"India is more and more standing up on world stage and the US welcomes its assertiveness," Pompeo said.
He hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, saying they are leaders who aren't scared to take risks and the two countries are poised to do 'incredible things together'. -- PTI
20:34 Look-out notice for son of Kerala CPM leader in rape case
The Mumbai Police has issued a look-out notice for Binoy Kodiyeri, the son of a Communist Party of India-Marxist leader from Kerala, in connection with a rape case.
Kodiyeri, 37, the son of Kerala State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) K Balakrishnan, has filed an anticipatory bail application before a court in Mumbai.
While the bail plea is expected to be heard Thursday, a notice asking airport, railway and other authorities to look-out for him was issued Tuesday, a police official said.
A team of the Mumbai Police also visited Kodiyeri's residence in Kerala while looking for him, he said.
A 33-year-old former bar dancer had alleged that Kodiyeri sexually abused her after promising marriage, and she has an eight-year-old son from him.
Oshiwara police in Mumbai have registered a case under the Indian Penal Code sections 420 (cheating) and 376 (rape) against him. -- PTI
20:15 Jagan orders action against Naidu over 'graft'
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday ordered a probe into alleged corruption in power purchase agreements signed during the previous Telugu Desam Party rule and initiation of legal action against his predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu and all others concerned over the issue.
Jagan, who held a high-level review meeting on the power sector, said there was 'massive corruption' in purchase of power and also in the setting up of new generating stations in the last five years that pushed the electricity sector in the state into the red.
Who purchased power at high prices and who decided to do so? Will peoples money be looted in such brazen manner? Conduct an inquiry and take legal action against all those involved, including the then chief minister and the then energy minister, he said, according to an official release.
He also announced a Cabinet Sub-Committee would be set up to probe various scandals in over 30 issues under the Chandrababu Naidu regime.
'The power sector in the state is in a totally sinking stage because of the massive corruption in power purchase agreements and steep escalation of costs in setting up new generating stations. The sector is steeped in deep losses because of this,' it quoted the chief minister as saying.
The two state-owned power distribution companies (Discoms) owed Rs 18,375 crore to power producers in the last five years, he said.
On the other hand, the state government owed Rs 10,400 crore to the Discoms, Jagan said.
He pointed out that the Discoms suffered a loss of Rs 2,636 crore in the last three years on the purchase of solar and wind power. Instead of buying power as per the merit order, the TDP government altered rules indiscriminately and purchased on a must-run condition at higher prices from solar and wind power producers.
Between 2015 and 2018, wind power was bought at Rs.4.83-4.84 a unit and solar power at Rs 4.50 to Rs 6.80 per unit, he said.
The chief minister questioned the need for buying at higher prices from solar and wind power producers when the governments own generating stations offered electricity at Rs 3.25 per unit.
He also said a committee would be constituted to re-negotiate the PPAs with solar and wind power producers and get the rates reduced.
The agreements be cancelled if the power producers did not fall in line, he suggested.
See what other states are paying and find out where we can get power at lesser prices, he added.
Referring to the expansion of AP Gencos Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station (Krishnapatnam) and Narla Tata Rao Thermal Power Station (Vijayawada), the chief minister questioned why the cost here was Rs 7 crore per Mega Watt when other states were doing it for Rs 4.49-4.64 crore.
They have looted heavily in similar fashion in Polavaram project as well. At least now explore ways to reduce the costs and see how much money could be saved. Take required steps to go for reverse tendering, he said at the review meeting. -- PTI
19:27 Sabarimala issue led to LS poll debacle: CPI-M
After the Lok Sabha poll drubbing in Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front could win only a single seat, the ruling Commuist Party of India-Marxist on Wednesday admitted the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple did cause a "big impact" at the hustings.
This was stated in a post-poll evaluation report, prepared by the party's central committee and discussed during the two-day state committee meeting here on Sunday and Monday, excerpts of which were published in party mouthpiece "Deshabhimani" on Wednesday.
A day after the human wall of women was organised by the ruling front on January 1, two women had trekked the holy hills and offered prayers at the Sabarimala temple.
This was much used by the Opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP during the election campaign, creating a "big impact" among party sympathisers, it was stated in the report.
This is the first time that the CPI-M has openly admitted the entry of the two women -- Bindu and Kanakadurga (both in their forties) -- into the Lord Ayyappa temple on January 2 had contributed to the Front's defeat.
The Supreme Court had on September 28 last year allowed women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, where earlier women and girls in the menstrual age were forbidden.
Protests had broken out in the state after the LDF government decided to implement the verdict.
Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had stated that Sabarimala women's entry issue was not the reason for the ruling Left front's rout in the LS polls and had claimed that many voted for Congress-led UDF, which won 19 seats, expecting it to form the government at the Centre.
While the CPI-M and the LDF government decided to favour the SC court verdict, the Congress and the BJP first supported and later changed their stance.
They launched a "vicious" campaign against the LDF and succeeded in attracting the section of voters close to LDF, the report stated.
The fear that the BJP would ride to power at the Centre once again, created a pro-UDF wave among secular minds and led to votes being polled in favour of the UDF, it said.
The report said the CPI-M failed to read the pulse of the people, which was a "serious" flaw. -- PTI
19:11 Shah reviews security situation in J-K
Signifying the importance given to Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Wednesday chose the state for his maiden visit after assuming office and reviewed the security situation.
Breaking away from protocol, Governor Satya Pal Malik, accompanied by his advisors and some top officials of the state administration, received Shah at the airport, officials said.
Governors in the past have normally only received the prime minister while visiting the state.
Immediately after his arrival here, the Home minister, who is on a two-day visit, chaired a high-level meeting of civil administration officials and top bosses of various security agencies in the state, the officials said.
Malik, his advisor incharge Home Affairs K Vijay Kumar, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, state Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, DGP Dilbagh Singh and divisional commissioners from the Valley and Jammu were present in the meeting, they said.
The Home minister was briefed about the overall security situation in the state, especially in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, the officials said.
The officials also informed Shah about various steps taken to eliminate the top militant leadership, while ensuring that the ultras are not able to carry out Pulwama-like attacks, they said.
Shah was also briefed about the steps taken for ensuring smooth and safe conduct of the annual Amarnath Yatra, which is due to commence on July 1, the officials said.
The Home minister is slated to visit the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, they said.
He is also scheduled to meet the families of policemen killed in militant attacks in the state. -- PTI
18:13 People with more than 2 kids cannot contest panchayat polls in U'khand
The Uttarakhand assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill barring people with more than two children from contesting panchayat polls and also making minimum educational qualifications mandatory for rural election candidates.
The Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was tabled in the assembly on Tuesday and a discussion on it was to be held on Wednesday.
But that could not be done as the opposition disrupted the proceedings.
The bill was passed unanimously by voice vote amid the continuing bedlam in the House by the Opposition insisting on a debate on a video purportedly showing "some people close to the chief minister negotiating a monetary deal".
The amendment approved by the Assembly, makes it mandatory for panchayat poll candidates to have passed class 10. While women and SC/ST male candidates need to pass only class eight, SC/ST women need to pass only class five to be eligible to contest in rural polls.
It also states that people with more than two living children, one of whom is born 300 days after the enforcement of the new law, would not be eligible to contest rural elections.
Panchayat polls in Uttarakhand are due later this year. -- PTI
18:02 Naidu meets Javadekar on Polavaram, project gets 2-year extension
Vice President of India and chairman, Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu today called the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, to his chamber in the Upper House and suggested to him that the ministry should consider keeping in abeyance the 'stop work order' on Polavaram multipurpose project for another two years in the interest of the nation in general and Andhra Pradesh in particular, as it is a national project and also the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh.
The last 'stop work order' had been kept in abeyance for one year from July 3, 2018, to July 2, 2019. Prior to that the 'stop work order' had been kept in abeyance thrice, in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.
The vice president also impressed upon the minister the need to allow the work to continue on the project without any hindrance.
The minister responded positively and assured the VP that the matter would be given due consideration, it is learnt.
Later in the day, Javadekar tweeted: 'Government gives two year extension to construction work related to Polavaram multipurpose project in Andhra Pradesh.'
17:47 IAF lost 27 aircraft in crashes since 2016: Govt
The Indian Air Force lost 27 aircraft, including 15 fighter jets and helicopters, in crashes since 2016, minister of state for defence Shripad Naik said on Wednesday.
The quantum of provisional loss in 11 cases of crashes was approximately Rs 524.64 crore, he said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
In the 2016-17 fiscal, six IAF fighter jets, two helicopters, one transport aircraft and one trainer crashed. In 2017-18, the air force lost two fighter jets and one trainer aircraft in crashes.
The number rose sharply in 2018-19 with the IAF losing seven fighter jets, two helicopters and two trainers.
This included the crash of the MiG-21 fighter jet which was being piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during a dog-fight with Pakistan Air Force planes on February 27.
On the same day, an Mi-17 helicopter also crashed killing six air force personnel.
In 2019-20, so far, an AN-32 transport aircraft crashed in Arunachal Pradesh, killing 13 air force personnel earlier this month. -- PTI
17:36 Gayle to retire after home series against India
Dashing West Indies batsman Chris Gayle will retire from international cricket after the home ODI and Test series against India scheduled in August-September.
The 39-year-old had last month stated that he would call it quits after the ongoing World Cup but speaking to the media on the eve of the game against India in Manchester, the left-hander said he has had a change of mind.
"It's still not the end. I still have a few games to go. May be another series to go, as well. Who knows, we will see what happens. My plans after World Cup? I may play a Test match against India and then I will definitely play the ODIs against India. I won't play the T20s. That's my plan after the World Cup," Gayle said.
West Indies media manager Philip Spooner later confirmed that the assignment against India will be Gayle's last in national colours.
"Yes, Chris will play his last series against India," Spooner said.
India's tour of West Indies comprises three T20 Internationals, three ODIs followed by a couple of Test matches.
The T20Is will open the tour from August 3, the ODIs are lined up from August 8 and the Tests will take place from August 22 to September 3.
Gayle has appeared in 103 Tests, accumulating 7215 runs at an average of 42.19. In 294 ODI appearances, Gayle put together 10345 runs, while in 58 T20 Internationals, he has 1627 runs.
The man who calls himself the 'Universe Boss' is a fan favourite for his flamboyant stroke-play and is considered a game-changing batsman.
17:29 India will look at national interest: MEA to US
India on Wednesday told the US that it will go by its national interest while dealing with other countries, including with sanctions-hit Russia from whom New Delhi is procuring S 400 missile defence systems.
This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to his American counterpart Mike Pompeo during an extensive bilateral meeting in Delhi.
In a joint press interaction, Pompeo said India is an important partner of the US and that the bilateral ties were reaching new heights. While answering a question on the issue of sanctions under the US' Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which may also impact India's procurement of the S400 systems from Moscow, Jaishankar said India has relationships with several countries. "We have many relationships...they have a history. We will do what is in our national interest and part of that strategic partnership is the ability of each country to comprehend and appreciate the national interest of the other," Jaishankar said.
The US Secretary of State's meetings with the Indian leadership are the first high-level interactions between the two countries after the return of the Modi government to power last month.
Pompeo's visit comes ahead of a meeting between Modi and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, later this week. -- PTI
17:17 Assam govt excludes 1 lakh people from draft NRC
Ahead of July deadline, the Assam government on Wednesday published a list of names of over one lakh people who have been excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens published last year.
The additional exclusion list, published as per provisions contained in Clause 5 of the Schedule of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, contains names of 1,02,462 persons.The persons named in the exclusion list are the persons or whose descendants were found to be Declared Foreigner (DF) or Doubtful Voter (DV) or whose cases were pending at Foreigners Tribunals after publishing of draft NRC.
The list also includes names of people who were found ineligible while appearing as witness in hearings held for disposal of claims and objections.
The list, however, does include the results of claimants, who appeared for hearings held for disposal of claims and objections during the period of 15th February 2019 to 26th June 2019 and their results will be appearing in the final NRC. -- ANI
BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya has been arrested for thrashing a Municipal Corporation officer in Indore.
16:23 Oppn objects to Team India's orange jersey
The Samajwadi Party and the Congress party are upset that Team India will wear an orange jersey when they play against England on Sunday. The ICC says the colour options were given to the BCCI and they chose what they felt went best with the colour combination. "The whole idea is to be different as England also wears a same shade of blue as India. The design is taken from India's old T20 jersey which had orange in it," ICC said.
The Samajawadi Party's Abu Azmi said the change in colour of the jersey amounted to the saffronisation of the game.
England, the hosts of World Cup 2019, are also sporting a blue jersey and they have the right to retain their kits. Speculation were rife ever about the home-away jersey format at the quadrennial event ever since the ICC came up with a statement, saying it allowed teams to provide two different coloured kits.
"For televised ICC events all participating teams will be required to provide for two different coloured kits, except for the host country who has a preference in the choice of colour and may, if it chooses to do so, provide only one coloured kit to be worn in all matches throughout the event. In advance of the event the teams will be notified which coloured kit will be worn in each match," the ICC had said in a release.
Notably, South Africa changed the colour of their shirts from green to yellow for their second World Cup 2019 match against Bangladesh who also wear green kits on June 2. Bangladesh had also unveiled an away kit with a dominant red colour.
16:05 Encephalitis deaths a shame on nation: PM
Speaking for the first time on the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome deaths in Muzaffarpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called it "unfortunate and a matter of shame for the nation".
"The deaths in Bihar due to AES are unfortunate and a matter of shame for us. We have to take this seriously," he said in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address in Rajya Sabha. Modi said that he is in constant touch with the Bihar government. "I am sure we will collectively come out of this crisis soon," he added.
"The need of the hour is to strengthen Ayushman Bharat. We want our poor to get the best quality and affordable medical treatment," he said.The death toll due to AES mounted to 132 in Muzaffarpur district on Wednesday. Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, which is handling the largest number of patients in the district, reported 111 deaths while there were 21 deaths in Kejriwal Hospital.
15:51 BJP MP Vijayvargiya's slap-happy son booked
A case has been registered against BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya and 10 others for thrashing a Municipal Corporation officer in Indore with a cricket bat. Akash is the son of senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya.
The officer, who was in the area for an anti-encroachment drive, was beaten up with the cricket bat mercilessly and slapped three times before the police tried to stop the legislator.
A few bystanders also held the officer by his collar and slapped him repeatedly, while an unidentified man attempted to rip the officer's shirt apart.
Speaking to media after the incident, Akash, while narrating the sequence of events that unfolded, claimed that certain Congress legislators were getting buildings in Indore demolished in connivance with the Municipal Corporation without consulting him. Despite repeated requests to wait for proper investigation to be done before demolition, Akash claimed that officers paid no heed to his pleas and sent "gangs" to displace people from the structures that had to be demolished.
"This is just the beginning, we will end this corruption and goodaism. 'Aavedan, nivedan aur fir dana dan' this is our line of action," Akash Vijayvargiya said.
15:33 Samant Goel, who played key role in Balakot strikes, is new RAW chief
The government has also named Arvind Kumar as the new director of the Intelligence Bureau. Kumar is an IPS officer from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, also of the 1984 batch. Read the report here.
15:19 Modi on Bihar encephalitis deaths
PM Modi: The deaths in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome are unfortunate and a matter of shame for us. We have to take this seriously. I am in constant touch with the state Govt and I am sure we will collectively come out of this crisis soon. The need of the hour is to strengthen Ayushman Bharat. We want our poor to get the best quality and affordable medical treatment.
15:19 Modi on Bihar encephalitis deaths
PM Modi: The deaths in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome are unfortunate and a matter of shame for us. We have to take this seriously. I am in constant touch with the state Govt and I am sure we will collectively come out of this crisis soon. The need of the hour is to strengthen Ayushman Bharat. We want our poor to get the best quality and affordable medical treatment.
14:58 Jharkhand lynching has pained me: PM
PM Modi on the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand: "The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too.But, some here in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a whole state. None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand."
14:51 PM: Do you want old India which supported tukde tukde gang?
PM in RS:
"This same attitude is visible when it comes to discussing 'One Nation, One Election.' Yes, some may not like this idea or have views on this. But, it is important to present these ideas and have discussions on this.
"The voters now are very very aware, they not only know what is happening in Lok Sabha but also what is happening in Rajya Sabha, and they voted this time keeping these facts in mind.
"Now they are slamming New India. Do they want old India back? Old India where cabinet decisions were torn in press meets, old India where Navy was used for personal trips, old India where numerous scams existed, old India which supported tukde tukde gang?"
14:36 Blaming EVMs a new disease: PM in RS
PM's speech in the Rajya Sabha:
"By saying farmers sold themselves just because of Rs 2,000 scheme is an insult to farmers. I am shocked, even media was abused, it was said elections were won because of the media. What do such people mean? That media is on sale? Does same logic apply to Tamil Nadu and Kerala? Some people kept raising the EVM issue in this House. Blaming EVMs a new disease.
"I want to tell them there was a time when we had just 2 MPs in Parliament. People made fun of us. But, we worked harder and won trust of people. We did not make excuses and blame polling booth.
"We should appreciate how our electoral processes have improved over the years. In 1950s polling process took long time to complete. Violence and booth capturing were common in some places. Now, news is about rising voter turnout. This is a healthy signal."
14:15 PM in RS: If Cong loses does it mean India lost?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is replying to the 'Motion of Thanks on the President's Address' in the Rajya Sabha. "It is after long that a government with full majority won once again with a full majority. In this mandate we see the wish of the people for stability. In fact, this trend of stable governments is being seen in many states as well.
"I was saddened when some leaders said the BJP and allies won the elections but the nation lost, democracy lost. I want to clearly say that such statements are unfortunate. Why question the wisdom of voters?
"It is an insult to the democracy when some people say I have won but the people of the country have lost the elections. Voters of the country have chosen stability. The people were fighting the elections more than political leaders.
"Did India lose in Wayanad? Did India lose in Rae Bareli? Did India lose in Trivandrum, what about Amethi? What kind of argument is this? If Congress loses then does that mean India lost? There is a limit to arrogance. Congress could not win a single seat in 17 states."
14:09 J-K affected by cross-border terrorism: MoS Home
MoS Home G Kishan Reddy in Lok Sabha on being asked if reason for Pulwama attack was intelligence failure: "No, J&K is affected by cross-border terrorism for last three decades. But large number of terrorists have been neutralised in the past few years due to sustained action against terrorists.
"All agencies are working in a coordinated manner and intelligence inputs are shared among various agencies on a real time basis. The investigation by NIA has so far resulted in identifying conspirators, suicide attacker and the vehicle provider."
13:53 Maha: Criminal case against farmers for planting GM seeds
In a first in Maharashtra, at least 12 farmers from Akola district have been booked for allegedly sowing banned herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBT) cotton seeds, police said Wednesday.
The farmers had allegedly planted the seeds in their farms in Adgaon and Akoli Jahangir villages as part of a protest organised by Shetkari Sanghatna against the Union government's ban on the use of genetically modified Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) cotton and brinjal seeds.
On June 10, several hundred farmers had sowed the GM cotton and brinjal seeds in the east Maharashtra district. The Sanghatana has been opposing the ban on GM crops claiming that they gave higher yields at lower costs and brought benefits to cultivators. -- PTI
12:49 Pompeo meets Jaishankar, Doval, Modi
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Upon Pompeo's arrival, Ajit Doval received him personally outside South Block, while Jaishankar will be hosting a lunch for him."Welcoming a special guest! Continuing the emphasis on high-level Indo-US exchanges, EAM @DrSJaishankar warmly welcomed @SecPompeo as the first US dignitary to visit India after elections. @SecPompeo is the first Foreign Minister to be hosted by EAM, tweeted Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, alongside a photo of the two leaders shaking hands.
Earlier in the day, the diplomatic sources here said that Jaishankar and Pompeo's meeting was being seen as an opportunity for both the leaders to get to know each other better.
The two will set the stage for the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump at the sidelines of G-20 Summit in Osaka, sources added.
Image: Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
12:44 Fathers of two AES victims among 19 booked for protest
The fathers of two children who died of acute encephalitis syndrome in Bihar's Vaishali district are among 19 people named in an FIR for blocking traffic on the Muzaffarpur-Hajipur highway during a protest on June 18.
The residents of Harvanshpur village were demanding water tankers for their village after seven children succumbed to AES over the period of a fortnight. The 19 have been booked under IPC Sections 147, 148 and 149 (rioting and unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order), 283 (obstruction in public way), 353 (assault) and 504 (breach of peace).
Read the report here.
12:39 Youth Cong workers urge Rahul not to resign
In Delhi, Youth Congress workers demonstrate outside the residence of Rahul Gandhi and raise slogans urging him to take the party forward. "Rahul Ganhi zindabad! Rahul Gandhi sangharsh karo hum tumhare saath hain! Hamara neta kaisa ho Rahul Gandhi jaisa ho!" They are urging him to take back his resignation and continue as party president.
12:10 HM in Srinagar today to review Amarnath yatra
Home Minister Amit Shah will arrive in Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon to review the overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra in particular.
This will be the Home Minister's first visit to the state since assuming office.
During his two-day visit, Shah will meet Governor Satya Pal Malik to discuss the prevailing security scenario in the state.
As per the schedule, the Home Minister will on Wednesday review the security arrangement for the Amarnath Yatra and then take stock of the developmental activities. He will also hold meetings with BJP workers and office bearers and some delegations in the evening.
On both the days, Shah will meet the families of BJP workers killed by terrorists.On June 27, Shah will again review the overall security situation in the region and later hold meetings with delegations. He will fly out of Srinagar in the afternoon.
The month-and-a-half long annual Amarnath Yatra this year is scheduled to begin on July 1. -- ANI
12:04 AAP MLA moves SC against disqualification notice for joining BJP
Rebel Aam Aadmi Party MLA Devender Sehrawat Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the disqualification notice under the anti-defection law issued to him by the Delhi Assembly Secretariat for joining the BJP.
The mater was mentioned for urgent listing before a vacation bench comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai. The bench initially told senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for Sehrawat, to approach the Delhi High Court in the matter. Later, the bench asked Sorabjee to circulate the petition and to mention the matter before it on Thursday. -- PTI
11:48 Militant killed in encounter in J-K
Security forces on Wednesday killed an unidentified militant in an encounter in a forest in Tral in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, police said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the Branpatri forest area of Tral on Wednesday morning following information about the presence of militants in the area, a police spokesperson said.
The hiding militants opened firing on security forces, who retaliated, triggering a gun battle, he said. "One militant was killed in the gun battle while there were no casualties among the security forces," he added. The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained.
11:42 KC Venugopal to meet 21 Cong candidates who lost LS polls today
Karnataka Congress in charge KC Venugopal is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday with 21 Congress candidates who lost in the Lok Sabha elections.
The meeting will take place in Bengaluru.Both the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS), which contested the recent Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka as allies, failed to make a mark.
The BJP had won 25 of the 28 seats along with an Independent backed by it leaving just one seat each to Congress and JDS.
On Sunday, Congress leader KH Muniyappa had blamed JDS for the coalition's rout in the Lok Sabha elections, asserting that stitching an alliance with HD Deve Gowda's party cost dearly. Muniyappa had also said that Congress will contest alone in the local body elections next year.
11:16 Assam govt publishes additional NRC list
The Assam government publishes additional exclusion list of 1,02,462 persons to the draft National Register of Citizens.
As per provisions contained in Clause 5 of the Schedule of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, an Additional Draft Exclusion List consisting of 1,02,462 persons has been published today.
The persons whose names appear in the Additional Draft Exclusions List are those persons whose names were included in the Draft NRC published on 30th July 2018, but have been subsequently found ineligible.
More details awaited.
11:03 India's candidature for UNSC non-permanent seat endorsed by Asia Pacific group
In a highly significant diplomatic win for India and testament to its global stature, India's candidature for a non-permanent seat at the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term has been unanimously endorsed by the Asia-Pacific group at the world body.
Elections for five non-permanent members of the 15-nation Council for the 2021-22 term will be held around June next year.
"A unanimous step. Asia-Pacific Group @UN unanimously endorses India's candidature for a non-permanent seat of the Security Council for 2 year term in 2021/22. Thanks to all 55 members for their support," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted Tuesday.
A video message accompanying Akbaruddi's tweet said "Asia-Pacific Group endorses India for Non-Permanent Seat of United Nations Security Council. 55 countries, 1 nominee - India for non-permanent seat of UN Security Council Term 2021-2022."
The video message thanked all the countries in the Asia Pacific group for endorsing India's candidature. Among the 55 countries supporting India's candidature are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Vietnam.
Each year the 193-member General Assembly elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term at the UN high-table. The five permanent members of the Council are China, France, Russia, UK and the US. -- PTI
10:43 4-cornered UP bypolls after SP-BSP divorce
With the electoral alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party ending in a divorce, the upcoming bypolls to 12 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh are likely to witness a four-cornered contest.
The Lok Sabha election and the 2017 UP Assembly election were rather triangular, where the Samajwadi Party had a tie-up with the Congress (in 2017 UP Assembly polls) or the BSP (2019 Lok Sabha election).
It was in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that the BJP, Congress, SP, BSP and the RLD contested individually in the state.
Bypolls will be held in 11 Assembly seats of UP, as sitting MLAs were elected as MPs, and in Hamirpur due to disqualification of BJP MLA Ashok Kumar Singh Chandel following conviction in a murder case. Of the four ministers who contested the Lok Sabha elections, except Mukut Bihari Verma, who lost from Ambedkar Nagar, three others won the poll.
They include Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Allahabad, Satyadev Pachauri from Kanpur and SP Singh Baghel from Agra. Joshi was MLA from Lucknow Cantonment, while Satyadev Pachauri represented Govindnagar (Kanpur). Baghel was the sitting MLA from Tundla (SC) assembly seat.
10:35 Dalit men beaten up for attending birthday party with girl in Bundi
Two Dalit men were allegedly beaten by a mob here for attending a birthday party with a female friend. The victims were forced to remove their clothes and then thrashed by the villagers on Monday. The action from the police came after a video clip of the incident went viral on social media.
"A man had filed a complaint about the same yesterday. A case has been registered against accused Shishupal, Surajmal and others for thrashing and insulting the men," said Satnam Singh, ASP Bundi.
"The investigation into the matter is underway and strict action will be taken against the accused," he added.Last week, an eight-year Dalit boy suffered severe burn injuries after he was made to sit on hot tiles as a punishment for an alleged theft in Maharashtra's Arvi. It is alleged that the boy was made to take off his clothes and sit on the tiles which were hot due to the scorching heat. -- ANI
10:23 Rupee slips 12 paise to 69.48 vs USD in early trade
The rupee opened on a weak note and declined 12 paise to 69.48 against the US dollar in opening trade Wednesday, amid simmering geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and higher crude oil prices. The rupee opened weak at 69.40 at the interbank forex market and then fell further to 69.48, down 12 paise over its last close.
The rupee had settled at 69.36 against the US dollar on Tuesday. Forex traders said, rupee is trading in a narrow range as market participants are cautious amid rising tensions between the US and Iran.
On the global front, the trade concerns between the US and China, and rising US-Iran tensions are poised to dominate a high-stakes G20 summit from Friday. Besides, strengthening of the American currency in the overseas market weighed on the local unit.
Meanwhile, foreign fund inflows and strong opening in domestic equities supported the domestic currency. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.60 per cent to USD 66.09 per barrel. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net buyers in the capital markets, putting in Rs 1,157.87 crore Tuesday, as per provisional data.
Domestic bourses opened on a positive note Wednesday with benchmark indices Sensex trading 121.08 points higher at 39,556.02 and Nifty up 21.60 points at 11,818.05. -- PTI
09:56 Gau rakshaks thrash 2 men for 'smuggling' beef
Two people were allegedly beaten up by a mob in Haryana's Gurugram district on Tuesday on the suspicion of smuggling beef.
Savita Kataria, the person who led the group, said that the two pickup vans were intercepted by a group of "cow protection unit" near Islampur village, 3 km from Gurugram, in the morning.
Shathil Ahmad, a resident of Palwal district, and Tayaid were arrested and a search is on for two others who fled the spot, said Gurgaon police PRO Subhash Bokan.
According to Kataria, residents of the village went on a rampage after "they saw beef inside the vehicles" and thrashed Ahmad and Tayaid.
The police said the accused were on their way to deliver the beef consignment in Delhi, adding that the two vehicles had been seized.
"We have registered an FIR under various sections of the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015," the police added.
09:34 Amit Shah to visit Srinagar today, review security arrangements ahead of Amarnath Yatra
Home Minister Amit Shah will fly to Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday to review the overall security situation in the state and also discuss security arrangements for Amarnath Yatra, in particular.
This will be Shah's first visit since taking office.
He will also meet Governor Satya Pal Malik to discuss the current situation of the state.
The Home Minister will return to the national capital on Thursday.
08:58 Bulldozers raze Rs 5 cr complex built by Naidu
The demolition of an upscale building with glass walls used by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu as a venue to meet the public, hold press conferences and conduct administrative work began late yesterday night.
Its demolition had been ordered by current Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, who claimed the building was "illegal".
The building, called 'Praja Vedika', is located near Mr Naidu's residence, which Mr Reddy's YSR Congress has claimed is also built illegally, and was constructed by the Telugu Desam Party government in 2017 at a cost of Rs 5 crore.
Reddy last weekend held his first meeting with district collectors since becoming chief minister and announced the demolition of 'Praja Vedika' during the meet.
The TDP chief had earlier written to the new chief minister to allow him to retain the hall so he could work from there as the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
"I wish to continue the same arrangement, that the 'Praja Vedika' be declared as the residence annexe of the leader of the opposition, to facilitate me to meet legislators, visitors, common public and discharge my duties," he wrote.
Naidu's TDP was voted out in assembly polls in April, with Reddy's YSR Congress claiming a massive mandate. The party also decimated the TDP in parliamentary elections, winning 22 of 25 seats to become the fourth-largest in parliament, behind only the BJP, the Congress and the DMK.
08:32 Security forces exchange fire with terrorists in Pulwama
An encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in forests of Kahlil Tral area of Pulwama district on Wednesday.
The exchange of fire is underway.
Further details are awaited.
08:07 Jaishankar to meet US Secretary of State Pompeo today
As the visiting US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday, New Delhi will stay firm on the S-400 deal with Russia and seek waiver under the US law.
Jaishankar and Pompeo will prepare the groundwork for the Prime Ministers meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka. Though the timing has not been finalised yet, it is likely to be held on June 28.
Jaishankar is scheduled to accompany the PM for the G-20 summit, just like Pompeo will join Trump in Japan. This is a departure from the past, as then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not accompany the PM on his overseas visits. Both Jaishankar and Pompeo are likely to be present at the Modi-Trump meeting.
Jaishankar, who will be meeting his American counterpart Pompeo for the first time, is also likely to counsel the US interlocutor that both US and Iran should de-escalate the situation, diplomatic sources said.
Jaishankar and Pompeo are likely to broadly discuss the friction over trade, but sources said that since the two ministers are not in-charge of the trade portfolio, they will leave the specific and detailed discussions to be carried out by commerce ministers from both sides. So, the issues related to data localisation, e-commerce and concerns over the 5G and Huawei will be dealt separately by the concerned ministries.
00:29 Stephanie Grisham is new White House press secy
President Donald Trump's long term close aide Stephanie Grisham, who is currently First Lady Melania Trump's spokesperson, will be the new White House Press Secretary.
Grisham, 42, would succeed Sarah Sanders. She will take the office on July 1.
The 30th White House Press Secretary, Grisham, currently is the press secretary of First Lady Melania.
Originally from Arizona, she worked for the Trump presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016.
Soon after Trump was sworn in as the President, she was appointed as the White House Deputy Press Secretary. She later moved on to become the spokesperson of the First Lady. As such the announcement in this regard came from Melania.
"I am pleased to announce" Grisham will be the next Press Secretary and Communications Director.
'She has been with us since 2015,' the First Lady tweeted, adding that she and Trump 'can think of no better person to serve the administration' and the country.
'Excited to have Stephanie working for both sides,' she added.
There are indications that Grisham would hold three positions simultaneously: White House Communications Director, White House Press Secretary and Press Secretary to the First Lady. -- PTI
00:04 New British PM to be announced on July 23
Britain's new Prime Minister, either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, will be announced on July 23, the United Kingdom's ruling Conservative Party said on Tuesday.
The party, in charge of the leadership contest to replace Theresa May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, did not indicate the timeframe for when the new Tory leader would take charge at 10 Downing Street after a formal handover of power.
"The announcement of the next leader of the Conservative Party will be made on Tuesday 23 July. This process has been agreed with both candidates," the Conservative Party said in a brief statement.
The two candidates were chosen from a field of 10 by the Conservative party's 313 MPs.
Postal ballots are set to be issued to an estimated 166,000 Tory party members across the UK between July 6 and 8, with polls set to close by 5pm on July 22 after which the counting process will begin for the result to be declared the next day.
A candidate achieving more than 50 per cent of the vote among Party members will be declared Leader of the Party.
According to reports, the new leader is unlikely to move into Downing Street right away, with a possible wait of a few days.
The UK Parliament's autumn recess is set to kick off from July 25, which could mean that the new prime minister is unlikely to face MPs in the House of Commons until early September.
"Parliament would express its will if there were any likelihood of that becoming an issue," Commons leader Mel Stride told MPs on Tuesday when asked about this expected delay.
Meanwhile, former foreign secretary Johnson, the frontrunner in the race, focussed on a series of interviews after his opponent -- foreign secretary Hunt -- accused him of cowardice by not agreeing to appear in a television debate.
"It's time this country frankly stopped being so down about its ability to get this thing done," Johnson said in one of many interviews, as he tried to shift the focus away from a few days of negative publicity around a domestic row with his girlfriend.
"For three years we've been sitting around wrapped in defeatism telling the British public that they can't do this or that. It is pathetic, it's absolutely pathetic," he said, in reference to Brexit.
Amber Rudd, the UK work and pensions secretary who is supporting Hunt in the race, said Johnson was making a mistake by shying away from the debates and demanded he 'go further' in explaining his Brexit plan.
"This is an incredibly difficult situation and Boris needs to explain how he will deal with both sides of the Conservative Party that have concerns and try and break the impasse with the European Union. Enthusiasm and optimism is not sufficient," she said.
Both candidates will carry on travelling up and down the UK for scheduled hustings to try and swing enough votes in their favour. -- PTI
IMAGE: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt at 10 Downing Street, London. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters