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LIVE! Remove all tweets on exit polls: EC to Twitter

May 15, 2019


23:19  WB governor condemns vandalising of Vidyasagar statue:  
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Wednesday condemned the vandalising of a bust of 19th century Bengali icon Iswarchandra Vidyasagar at a college and said the culprits should be traced and punished.

Kolkata witnessed wide-spread violence during BJP president Amit Shah's road show on Tuesday. During the violence, a bust of Vidyasagar was vandalised at the college named after the social reformer.

Tripathi is also the chancellor of the Calcutta University to which the Vidyasagar College is affiliated.

"As the chancellor of Calcutta University, I am greatly pained at the vandalising of Vidyasagar statue. The real culprit for breaking the statue must be traced out and suitably punished," he said in a statement.

He said a new bust of the great social reformer of Bengal should immediately be installed and the Calcutta University should take initiative to it.

-- PTI
22:50  Remove all tweets on exit polls: EC to Twitter:  The Election Commission of India has ordered Twitter India to remove all the tweets related to 2019 Lok Sabha elections exit polls.

Earlier, the EC had sought an explanation from three media houses as to why action should not be taken against them with respect to displaying poll surveys. 

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.

The seven-phased Lok Sabha polls began on April 12. The last phase of polls will be held on May 19. The counting of votes will be done on May 23.
22:34  India joins initiative to combat extremism online:  
India joined France, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries on Wednesday in launching a major initiative in Paris to combat terrorism and extremism online and secure the internet.
  
The initiative -- 'Christchurch call to action' --  was named after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in an attack on mosques, officials said.
"A free, open and secure internet is a powerful tool by which to promote connectivity, enhance social inclusiveness and foster economic growth," the declaration on Christchurch call to action said.
It said the internet is, however, not immune from abuse by terrorist and violent extremist actors, and there was a need for collective efforts globally to secure the internet from terror groups.
"This was tragically highlighted by the terrorist attacks of 15 March 2019 on the Muslim community of Christchurch terrorist attacks that were designed to go viral.
"The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world," it said.
The declaration said the Christchurch attack highlighted the urgent need for action and enhanced cooperation among the wide range of actors with influence over this issue, including governments, civil society, and online service providers, such as social media companies, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
The event to launch of the initiative was attended by several world leaders and high-ranking officials including from India, diplomatic sources said.
The initiative outlines collective, voluntary commitments from governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online and to prevent the abuse of the internet.
"All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.
"It must also recognise the internet's ability to act as a force for good, including by promoting innovation and economic development and fostering inclusive societies," it said.
The countries which were of the initiative expressed commitment to ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws that prohibit the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression, according to the declaration.

-- PTI
22:13  Classic case of breakdown of Constitutional machinery in WB: Jaitley on EC action:  
The Election Commission cutting down campaign period in West Bengal shows there is a classic case of breakdown of the Constitutional machinery in the state, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said Wednesday.
  
In wake of violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata during a roadshow by BJP President Amit Shah, the Election Commission  cut short campaign for nine Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal by 24 hours. 

The Commission banned the campaigning in the nine constituencies from 10 pm, Thursday. Earlier the campaign was to end on Friday.

A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held West Bengal to be a "state in anarchy", said Jaitley in series of tweets.

Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given, he noted.

"A free campaign is not possible and therefore the campaign has to be cut short. This is a classical case of breakdown of the Constitutional Machinery," the minister said.

The BJP and the TMC have traded charges of inciting the violence. 

During the violence, a bust of Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised.

The Election Commission invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19.

The EC also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) and Additional Director General, CID from their postings in West Bengal.

-- PTI
21:31  EC running under the BJP: Mamata jibes poll body:  The Election Commission's decision to order campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline hasn't gone down well with Mamata Banerjee. 

In a press conference she hit out at the poll panel and the prime minister along with BJP party president Amit Shah, who she blames for the violence that took place during his road show on Tuesday. 

Banerjee said, "Election Commission is running under the BJP. This is an unprecedented decision. Yesterday's violence was because of Amit Shah. Why has EC not issued a show-cause notice to him or sacked him?"

She added that the Election Commission's decision is unfair, unethical and politically biased. "PM Modi given time to finish his two rallies tomorrow," she said. 

The West Bengal CM further said, "Amit Shah created violence through his meeting, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue was vandalized but Modi did not feel sorry for that today. People of Bengal have taken this seriously, action should be taken against Amit Shah."
21:17  Manmohan may have to sit out of Rajya Sabha for sometime as his term ends in June:  
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh may have to sit out of the Rajya Sabha for sometime till a sitting Congress member resigns after being elected to the Lok Sabha, as his term comes to an end this June.
  
Singh has been a five-time Rajya Sabha member and his current six-year term ends on June 14.

The Election Commission has announced elections on June 7 to fill the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, one of which is represented by Singh and the other by Santiuse Kujur, also a Congress member.

The Congress does not have the required numbers in Assam to get Singh re-elected to the Rajya Sabha as the BJP is in power in the state.

There is speculation that the BJP may offer one of the seats falling vacant to Union minister and ally LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who is not contesting the Lok Sabha elections this time.

Sources say if the party decides to give Manmohan Singh another term, he will have to be adjusted from among the seats falling vacant after some of its Rajya Sabha members win in the general elections.

Six Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant in July from Tamil Nadu, where the DMK may offer one of the seats to Singh, in case the party wants. Otherwise, he may have to wait till April 2020 when 55 seats in various states will fall vacant and the Congress will get some of them.

To fill up the two vacancies, the commission has announced biennial election on June 7, for which a notification will be issued on May 21.

The counting of votes will be held on the evening of June 7, an hour after the polling concludes at 4.00 pm.

-- PTI
20:59  5 injured in blast outside a mall in Guwahati:  
An explosion rocked Assam's Guwahati today. The blast was reported from Guwahati's Zoo Road. According to unconfirmed reports, it is believed to be a grenade blast which took place outside a mall in central Guwahati. 

As per inputs trickling in, five people are said to be injured in the blast. 

However, no loss of life has been reported so far. 

Those injured have been referred to Guwahati Medical College Hospital. 

Meanwhile, the area has been cordoned off. Heavy security is present at the spot. 

20:45  Vandalism of Vidyasagar's bust shows BJP's pseudo-nationalism: Chandrababu Naidu:  
A day after the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised in Kolkata during BJP chief Amit Shah's roadshow, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday claimed that the incident is an indication of the party's "pseudo-nationalism."

Naidu took to Twitter to condemn the violence that erupted in Kolkata yesterday and said the agitation was a representation of BJP's "true colours."

"Strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by the BJP and its workers yesterday in Kolkata. After desperately trying to destabilise the state government of West Bengal through CBI, ED and IT, they are now resorting to direct violence which shows their true colours," Naidu's tweet read.

"Vandalising the statue of a great reformer like Sri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is an indication of the pseudo-nationalism practised by the BJP. This incident underlines the need for all the opposition parties to stand united against the destructive tactics of Amit Shah-led BJP," he said in another tweet. 

Clashes broke out on Tuesday during Shah's mega road show in Kolkata after sticks were hurled at his convoy. Security personnel had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the crowd.

-- ANI
20:26  Gandhi takes fresh swipe at Modi, coins new word 'Modilie':  
Taking a fresh swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said there's a new word in the English dictionary -- "Modilie". 
 
Gandhi has been accusing Modi of speaking "lies" on various issues, including on the Rafale jet deal.

"There's a new word in the English Dictionary. Attached is a snapshot of the entry," he tweeted, ending his sentence with a smiley.

Gandhi also put up a picture of a screenshot of a photo-shopped page of an English dictionary explaining the meaning of "Modilie". 
In the fabricated page, "Modilie" is described as a "mass noun". 
The photo-shopped page lists three meanings and examples of the usage of the word. 

-- PTI
19:56  EC stops all campaigning in Bengal from tomorrow:   The Election Commission has taken a tough decision and ordered that no poll campaigning will be held in 9 parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal - Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata from 10 pm tomorrow till the conclusion of polls.

The poll panel said that this was the first time that they had imposed Article 324 for the first time. 

Speaking at a press conference, the EC said, "The Commission is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of Vidyasagar. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration."

Further addressing the media, the EC said, "ADG CID, Rajiv Kumar stands relieved and attached to MHA. He should report to MHA by 10 am tomorrow. Principal Secy, Home & Health Affairs WB govt stands relieved from his current charge immediately for having interfered in process of conducting polls by directing WB CEO."

The decision came after the state witnessed unparalleled violence on Tuesday when BJP president Amit Shah took out a road show in the state's capital -- Kolkata. 

Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said.

Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance.

Image: Policemen try to douse the flames as violence erupted during the road show of BJP president Amit Shah in Kolkata. Photograph: ANI Photo
19:20  Priyanka's Varanasi roadshow gathers crowds:  
In a big show of strength in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra started her roadshow in Varanasi on Wednesday evening.

Accompanied by Congress candidate for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against Modi, Priyanka Gandhi began by garlanding the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the gates of the Banaras Hindu University.

Priyanka Gandhi and other leaders, including Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, waved at the large crowd as the procession wound its way through Varanasi's roads.

Congress workers raised anti-Modi slogans along the route.

The Congress show of strength in the temple town comes nearly three weeks after Modi held his own roadshow in Varanasi, a day before filing his nomination papers.

The local unit of the Congress had made elaborate arrangements to pull in the crowds for the roadshow, a party leader said.

Like Modi's roadshow, Priyanka Gandhi's event will also end at the Dashashwamedh ghat. She will then offer prayers, first at the Kashi Vishwanath temple and then at the Kaal Bhairav temple in Kotwali area.  -- PTI
19:00  Will make sedition law more stringent: Rajnath:  
Hitting out at the Congress for promising to abolish sedition law in its poll manifesto, Union minister Rajnath Singh has said the Bharatiya Janata Party will make it more stringent.

"Congress talks about abolishing sedition law but on coming back to power, the BJP will make it so stringent that no one would dare to act against it," the home minister said addressing an election rally at BLJ ground in Mirzapur in favour of alliance partner Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel on Tuesday.

"Our forces finished off terrorists in air strikes after the Pulwama attack but the Congress people are asking for the number of those killed. Braves do not count bodies, vultures do," he said.

On country's economy, he said inflation had been the main electoral issue during polls but not in 2004 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, as it was the management of the two BJP prime ministers (A B Vajpayee and Narendra Modi) who did not allow prices to go out of hands.

Attacking the Congress president, the home minister said Rahul Gandhi is talking about party's proposed 'NYAY' minimum income guarantee scheme, whereas from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Sonia Gandhi, they had been raising the slogan of 'garibi hatao' (eliminating poverty).

On the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samaj Party alliance, he said, the two parties have come together as they are afraid of the popularity of Prime Minister Modi but their alliance will have no impact on the polls.

The BJP leader also offered prayers at the famous Vindhyavasini Devi temple in Mirzapur on Wednesday.   -- PTI
18:33  Mamata holds march to protest 'BJP's vandalism':  
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holds a march from Beliaghata to Shyambazar to protest against vandalism of a bust of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in Kolkata yesterday, which her party alleges was done by Bharatiya Janata Party members.

BJP president Ami Shah, however, said that the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal has vandalised the statue to gain sympathy.

BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.  -- ANI/PTI

IMAGE: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inspects the vandalised statue after the clashes in Kolkata on Tuesday night. Photograph: Handout photo via PTI
18:24  Pak airspace to be shut for Indian flights till May 30:  JUST IN: Pakistan's airspace to remain shut for Indian flights till May 30, says a senior official.   -- PTI
18:08  CPM wants EC probe on Vidyasagar vandalisation:  The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday strongly condemned the vandalisation of the bust of 19th-century social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and demanded the Election Commission to launch an investigation into the violent clashes during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow.


"During Amit Shah's roadshow, a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised. We condemn this despicable act. Vidyasagar was an icon of the Bengal Renaissance. He was a leader in modernising our society and gave a thrust to our national freedom. This is a serious matter," CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said. 


Describing the incident as a "serious matter", Yechury said CCTV footage should be examined by the EC, adding that the poll body should take "appropriate punitive action" against perpetrators."


EC should take cognisance of this serious matter. The CCTV footage should be investigated. If the police were not doing its job properly, they should be probed and action should be taken against them," he said.
17:59  Strict action against those involved in Punjab `sacrilege' cases: Rahul:  Intensifying his attack on the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday promised strict action against those involved in the 2015 desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. 


Recalling his previous visit to the Punjab town, where the first incident of "sacrilege' took place and two people died in police firing at protesters, Gandhi said, "Your 'dharm' was disrespected.' Strict action will be taken against the perpetrators, he promised. "I give you a guarantee on this.' The row over the 2015 incidents continues in Punjab with the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government, blaming the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state for it. 


At another rally on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi's sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had also tried to corner BJP's ally SAD over the issue. 


The Congress focus on the desecration religious scriptures comes at a time when the BJP has renewed its attack on the party over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, both emotive issues in state which goes to the polls on Sunday. -- PTI
17:50  PM Modi mocks everyone over 'VIP treatment' but his own brother wants police escort: Robert Vadra:  Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi's husband Robert Vadra on Wednesday in a Facebook post hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mocking others about 'VIP treatment' while his own brother demands police escort for himself. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones"! This holds true for our PM who mocks everyone about "VIP Treatment"! Now, his dear brother sits on a dharna demanding escort vehicle. Kya ye hain achche din?" Vadra said in a post on Facebook.Vadra's post came in the wake of reports that Prahlad Damodardas Modi, the brother of the prime minister had sat on a dharna at a police station in Rajasthan on Tuesday. 


He was apparently miffed that the state government did not give a separate vehicle for policemen escorting him.


Modi's brother's sat on a dharna at Bagru police station on the Jaipur-Ajmer National Highway after he accused police of denying him adequate security.


Vadra also said his security cover was reduced by half a couple of years ago but he accepted the decision gracefully.


"Now WATCH how PM's BROTHER is sitting on DHARNA for want of escort vehicle."Earlier on March 8, Vadra had cornered Prime Minister Modi for not addressing real issues and said: "I am shocked to hear my name again in your rally. There are glaring issues such as poverty, joblessness, women empowerment etc which are staring right at you, but you chose to talk about me, out of everything else." -- ANI
17:45  Abhinandan's unit gets a telling new patch :  
In a break from politics and polls, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's unit is using a new patch showcasing his bravery by calling itself the 'Falcon Slayer' for striking down a Pak F-16 during the February 27 aerial battle. The unit also calls itself AMRAAM dodgers as the MiG-21 evaded 4-5 AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles fired by Pakistani F-16.
17:39  TMC attacked Shah as Didi wanted revenge: Modi:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Trinamool Congress attacked Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted that her party will take revenge against the BJP.

"Mamata didi had declared publicly two days ago that she will take revenge. She fulfilled her agenda within 24 hours, BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow was attacked," the PM said in Basirhat, West Bengal.

He also hit out at Banerjee over the arrest of BJP youth wing leader for sharing a morphed image of the West Bengal CM on social media.

"Didi, the daughters youre putting into jail will teach you a lesson. Why are you so angry over one photo?

"You yourself are an artist. I request you to make the ugliest portrait of myself and gift it to me after May 23, after my swearing-in as PM. I will not file an FIR against you," the PM said.   -- ANI/PTI
16:54  Yogi explains why Modi will rule for next 25 yrs:  
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday invoked socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia to suggest that Narendra Modi is set to run the country for many more years because of his focus on providing toilets and fuel for the poor.

In an interview to PTI, the chief minister expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party will win 74 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in his state, three more than it bagged on its own in 2014.

Adityanath said the socialist leader's dream has been fulfilled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP will form the government with a clear majority after the 2019 elections.

"Dr Lohia told Shrimati Indira Gandhi ji in Parliament that this country lives in the villages.

"The day every poor person in this country has a toilet in his home and his fuel requirements are met, whoever is the PM then shall rule for at least 25 years," he said.

He said Lohia addressed the then prime minister around 1966 or 1967 but it is only now that his desire has come true.

"I think there are lot of people who do politics in the name of Dr Lohia but his dream has been fulfilled by PM Modi," Adityanath said.

He said this election will be the first one to shatter all forecasts around caste, religion, region and vote banks.

The chief minister said during Modi's term houses have been provided to 1.5 crore poor people, power connections to four crore people and free cooking gas connections to seven crore women.

In these five years, 10 crore toilets were built, 12.5 crore farmers helped under the Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, 15 crore young people benefited from the Mudra Yojana and 37 crore Jan Dhan accounts opened.

"These are statistics which are not based on caste, region, religion, vote bank or language. Considering the respect that the common man has today for the PM, the public is inclined towards him," the BJP leader said.

He stressed that general elections are different from bypolls as they decide who shall be the prime minister.

"The BJP will win this election in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Amethi, Azamgarh and Badaun -- and it will be more than 74 seats in Uttar Pradesh," Adityanath said, listing the constituencies where the BJP has not done well in the recent past.

"It is the first time after independence that a poor person has got a home, a power connection and a cooking gas connection," he said.   -- PTI
16:16  Apollo chief on Jayalalithaa's death:  Dr PC Reddy, Chairman of Apollo Hospital on former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa death probe case: "Our request was that medical evaluation should be done by medical experts, that is all we asked, Supreme Court has said yes." 


The Justice Arumughaswamy Commission is a one-man panel probing the death case of Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The commission has no medical expert.


The AIADMK-led state government had set up the inquiry commission to look into circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016 at Apollo Hospitals. The Madras High Court had on April 4 rejected Apollo Hospital's objections to an inquiry commission set up to probe her  death  looking into aspects of treatment given to her.


As mandated by its terms of reference, the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry was empowered and entitled to go into the appropriateness, efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa during her 75-day hospitalisation in 2016. 
16:07  India is making fun of Modi: Rahul:  Congress President Rahul Gandhi Wednesday lashed out at Narendra Modi, saying the Prime Minister thinks "only person can run the country' while actually it is the people who run the nation. Gandhi noted that Modi used to make "fun" of former PM Manmohan Singh "but after five years now Modiji does not make fun of Manmohanji. Today the country is making fun of him (Modi)". 


Addressing a poll rally at Bargari in Faridkot in favour of Congress candidate Mohd Sadique from Faridkot Lok Sabha seat, Gandhi referred to sacrilege incidents in 2015 and promised strict action against those involved in desecration of religious scriptures. 


"I recall coming here when your 'dharam' (Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib) was disrespected. And those who did wrong, strict action will be taken against them and I give you guarantee on this,' said Gandhi. 


On Tuesday, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, while addressing a poll rally in Bathinda, had lashed out at the BJP's ally SAD over the sacrilege issue. Attacking Modi, Gandhi said, "The PM thinks only one person can run country, but actually it is people who run it." 


Gandhi also raised the Rafale jet deal issue and dared Modi to hold a debate with him on corruption. Criticising the BJP government for demonetisation and "Gabbar Singh Tax', he claimed these two decisions of Modi government had "destroyed' the economy and left lakhs jobless. 


The Congress President also hit out at Modi for not crediting Rs 15 lakh in accounts of every citizen, saying the prime minister "lied" to people on this and on giving two crore jobs. -- PTI
16:02  Odisha pegs Fani loss at Rs 12,000 cr, seeks relaxation of norms:  Seeking a relaxation in disaster assistance norms, the Odisha government Wednesday estimated a tentative loss of Rs 12,000 crore due to cyclone Fani that killed at least 64 people and damaged more than 5 lakh dwelling units in the state's coastal districts. 


The state government, which has launched a massive restoration work in the cyclone-ravaged areas, in a preliminary report to a visiting inter-ministerial team, said an initial assessment has put the overall loss at approximately Rs 12,000 crore.


While the loss to public properties was to the tune of Rs 5,175 crore, expenditure towards relief and response stands at Rs 6,767.56 crore, the report said.


"We have submitted a tentative loss figure to the central team. This amount may increase as the officials will undertake door-to-door survey to access the actual loss caused by the cyclone. The government will prepare a full report on the loss after the completion of the detailed survey," Special Relief Commissioner B P Sethi said. 


In its preliminary report, the state government has estimated the highest loss in the power sector at Rs 1,160 crore, while the loss in the panchayati raj and the drinking water department stands at Rs 587 crore. -- PTI
15:24  Nationalist govt will rule WB after May 23: Yogi:  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday slammed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for allegedly fanning violence during Amit Shah's roadshow on Tuesday, saying it 'was a murder of democracy.'


"It was a murder of democracy. This move by goons will end the TMC government in the state. In a few days, TMC goons will be searching for shelters to hide their faces. Mamata Banerjee is frustrated which is why she is taking such steps," he said addressing a public rally in Barasat.


He also alleged that the Chief Minister is trying to block the term 'Ram' in the state and added: "She is emboldening goons."


Yogi also rakes up the ban imposed on Durga Puja by the government last year saying, while the whole nation observed Durga Puja and Muharram together, as their dates had clashed, only West Bengal government banned the celebration of Durga Puja.


"The whole country including Uttar Pradesh observed Durga pooja and Muharram together. No violence took place in my state as I had given prior warning to people. Why could not West Bengal do the same? TMC government here is very undemocratic. I am sure that after May 23, a nationalist government will be formed and will rule West Bengal," he said. -- ANI
15:10  Prove I was there: Tejinder Bagga:  Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga, BJP: Nobody takes Derek O Brien seriously. I challenge him if he can prove that I was within 500 metres of the spot where violence broke out. I will leave politics if I am proved wrong or else he should leave politics if he fails to prove the charge.


Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Bagga was on Wednesday released, hours after being arrested by the West Bengal police following violence at Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata.


Taking to Twitter, the BJP leader alleged that he was arrested from his hotel room at around 2 am. Bagga claimed that police had smashed the door of his hotel room and took him into custody. He further described the situation of West Bengal as "Emergency-like".
15:04  The Modi cult could threaten the BJP too:  A joke doing the rounds this election season is that Narendra Modi set out to rid India of the Congress -- or, in his oft-repeated words, ensure a "Congress-mukt Bharat.' He has managed to make it "BJP-mukt" instead.


This is an exaggeration, of course. 


The Bharatiya Janata Party has not disappeared. Neither has its parent and mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Workers of the BJP and RSS organize Modi's countless rallies across the country, and they play a central role in the actual mobilization of voters at the booth level on voting day.


But like all jokes, it also contains a degree of truth and highlights the most striking feature of the long-drawn-out general elections of 2019 -- the overwhelming dominance of Narendra Modi. Read more
14:47  Senior journalist Tunku Varadarajan @tunkuv says it like it is. "I am no fan of TMC and "Didi," but the sight of Amit Shah saffronising the civilised city of Calcutta makes me ill."
14:46  Amit Shah is a liar: TMC :  
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O'Brien holds a press conference over the violence and the desecration of the bust of the reformist Ishwar Chanrdra Vidyasagar during BJP president Amit Shah's road show in north Kolkata yesterday. 


O' Brien hits out at Amit Shah saying, "I do not have words to condemn the incident. I am myself ashamed...  that, as people of Bengal, we cannot respect Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar because of these BJP goons. These leaders will be leaders of the nation? Those who cannot respect icons?"


Answering a question on Amit Shah's presser where the BJP president alleged that the TMC was responsible for the violation and the desecration, O'Brien said, "Amit Shah is a con-master. Amit Shah is a liar."


"Anybody can come and do a procession, but what were the outsiders doing there... Who is this fellow Tejinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested, is he not the same guy who slapped somebody in Delhi? You have taken in your outsider goons.


"BJP hired goons from outside. We are not alleging that the BJP is responsible for the desecration of the Vidyasagar's statue, we have proof that they did it. The video is proof. "
14:17  Terrorists hatched plot to bomb Matoshree in 1989: Narayan Rane:  Terrorists had planned to carry out a blast at Matoshree, the Thackeray home in 1989, forcing Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray to direct every member of the house to shift to a safer place for a few days, claims former Sena member Narayan Rane. 


Sharad Pawar, who was the chief minister of Maharashtra then, called Bal Thackeray's youngest son Uddhav and informed him about the threat, the BJP-backed Rajya Sabha member says. He also claims that Thackeray was on the hit-list of Khalistanis. The separatist Khalistani movement had found supporters in several cities, including Mumbai.


On March 19, 1988, Bal Thackeray organised a press conference, where he circulated a questionnaire seeking assurances from the torchbearers of the Sikh community in the city that they had not been financing the movement's activities, says Rane.


According to him, Thackeray declared at the presser that if the Sikhs continued to fund extremism, he would ensure that they were socially and economically boycotted in the city. Rane mentions these incidents in his memoir "No Holds Barred: My Years In Politics'. 
14:09  Pawar urges govt to act on severe drought situation in Maharashtra:  The Nationalist Congress Party Supremo and Rajya Sabha Member from Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the drought condition across the state.


Pawar, in his letter, urged the state government to take necessary steps to alleviate one of the most severe droughts Maharashtra is facing since 1972.


"There is a severe drought situation in the entire state of Maharashtra including Satara, Solapur, Beed and Ahmednagar district. In terms of severity, the situation is most grave since 1972. Sincere measures should be taken into consideration and the state government should take all possible decisions for the entire drought situation on a prior basis," his letter reads.


Pawar has also sought time for a meeting with the Chief Minister to discuss crucial issues in the state. -- ANI
14:01  Shocked Bengal witnesses vandalism of Vidyasagar bust:  Enter, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar.


One of the greatest names of the Bengal Renaissance has been pitchforked into the final lap of an election so far yoked to muscular nationalism, calumny and preposterous claims.


Smashed to pieces by suspected BJP supporters, a bust of the polymath appears to have brought to the fore a culture clash that has marked the BJP's foray into Bengal.


The vandalism, which carries the whiff of a targeted attack as the bust was accessed by smashing a glass case, has offered chief minister Mamata Banerjee a chance to underscore how Bengal's pride has been trampled upon.


Mamata sought to paint the opponent as a group incapable of respecting Bengal's cultural stalwarts. "I don't have words to condemn the incident. I'm myself ashamed and I apologise' that as people of Bengal, we cannot respect Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar because of these BJP goons. These leaders will be leaders of the nation? Those who cannot show respect for the icons?' Courage is good, not dussahas',' the Trinamul leader said.


Read the report here


Image: The front page of the Telegraph newspaper today. 
13:49  Didi's Reichstag Fire moment?:   BJP's Swapan Dasgupta @swapan55 tweets: "Didi is seeking to make the vandalism of the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar her Reichstag Fire moment."


On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down. The Nazi leadership and its coalition partners used the fire to claim that Communists were planning a violent uprising. They claimed that emergency legislation was needed to prevent this. The resulting act, commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship.


Image: The vandalised bust of reformist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside the college in his name in Kolkata. Courtesy: @derekobrienmp
13:31  Visas of 90 Pak brides withheld by China over trafficking fears:   Amidst a raging controversy over Pakistani girls being trafficked to China after fake marriages, the Chinese embassy here has withheld visas of 90 Pakistani brides, according to a media report. 


China's Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan Lijian Zhao said on Tuesday that 140 applications have been received this year from Chinese nationals, seeking visas for their Pakistani brides. 


Only 50 visas were granted, while the remaining requests were withheld, he said, adding that the embassy had received 142 such applications in 2018, The Express Tribune reported.


The Pakistan Government has recently ordered the Federal Investigating Agency to take action against the gangs involved in smuggling of Pakistani girls to China on the pretext of contracting marriage.


According to local media reports, poor Christians girls, are lured, with money and promises of 'good life', by the illegal matchmaking centres to marry Chinese men who are either visiting or working in Pakistan.


These centres produce fake documents of Chinese men showing them either as Christians or Muslims. Most of the girls reportedly became victims of human trafficking and are forced into prostitution.


"This sudden spike in number of transnational marriages alerted the officials and we approached our Pakistani counterparts who have launched an investigation into the matter,' the Chinese diplomat said.


However, Zhao said that the media reports twisted the facts as there was no evidence to prove that the women were forced into prostitution and subjected to heinous crime of organ harvesting.
13:25  No 'cognisable offence' against Rahul for remarks against PM: Police tells court:  The Delhi Police Wednesday told a city court that no "cognisable offence" was made out against Congress President Rahul Gandhi on a complaint against him for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016. 


In an action taken report filed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, the police said Gandhi allegedly made the defamatory statement against the Prime Minister for which a suit may be filed. It told the court that "no police action was made out". 


"As per the contents of the complaint no cognisable offence is made out. Rahul Gandhi made the defamatory statement against PM Narendra Modi for which a defamatory suit may be filed by the individual against whom the statement was made," the police said in the action taken report (ATR). 


The court had on April 26 directed the police to file an ATR on a plea seeking registration of FIR against the Congress President. The complaint, filed by advocate Joginder Tuli, has sought direction to the police to register an FIR against Gandhi for allegedly making derogatory remarks in 2016 against PM Modi, accusing him of hiding behind the blood of soldiers and cashing in on their sacrifice. -- PTI
12:56  CPM protests Vidyasagar bust desecration:  In Kolkata, CPI (Marxist) holds a protest against the statue of Vidyasagar vandalised in violence during BJP President Amit Shah's roadshow yesterday.  CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury says,"an investigation should be done to find out how could this happen in Kolkata."
12:50  Even CPM won't vandalise Vidyasagar bust: BJP:  BJP Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly on Wednesday criticised All India Trinamool Congress for allegedly creating disruptions during BJP chief Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata saying, a protest is allowed in a democracy, but 'throwing stones is not a protest.'


Raising questions over the identity of people pelting stone from inside Vidyasagar College, she further added, "TMC is now trying to put the blame of CPM but I want to say that no leaders of CPM can ever order to vandalize Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust."


"Anyone can protest but it doesn't mean tearing down all the posters. It is not legal. TMC people can stand to give a speech but the question is tearing poster-banner and throwing stones is not protest", Ganguly told ANI.


She also denied any role of BJP workers in smashing of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust inside Vidyasagar college premises and said, "The route of our roadshow was not inside the Vidyasagar College and we were peacefully following the road-show. Our party workers were nowhere near the Vidyasagar statue. The stone pelting has started from inside the college and the way West Bengal Chief Minister promptly reached the place, people are questioning her intentions. This drama will no longer be tolerated in West Bengal."
12:28  Won't apologise, says BJP worker on bail for meme:  BJP Youth Wing Convenor Priyanka Sharma who was arrested for sharing a meme on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gets bail and addresses a press conference. 


"My bail was granted yesterday, but still I wasn't released for another 18 hours. They didn't allow me to meet my advocate and family. They made me sign an apology," she said. "I will fight this case. I will not apologise," she added. 


Sharma was freed by West Bengal authorities on Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court ordered her immediate release.Sharma, arrested for sharing a meme on Mamata Banerjee, reached her party's office in Kolkata by noon after walking out of Alipore Correctional Home.


Earlier in the day, the top court had censured the West Bengal government after Sharma's counsel contended that her release was being delayed. "Why was she not released immediately?" the bench asked the counsel of the state government.


The two-judge bench threatened to issue a contempt notice against the state government after Sharma's lawyer told the court that his client was not being allowed to walk free despite the top court's directive of immediate release yesterday.  
12:21  Monsoon to hit Kerala on June 6: IMD:  The monsoon will hit the Kerala coast on June 6, five days after its normal onset date, the India Meteorological Department said on Wednesday. 


"This year, the statistical model forecast suggests that the monsoon onset over Kerala is likely to be slightly delayed. The southwest monsoon onset is likely to set over Kerala on 6th June with a model error of plus or minus 4 days," the IMD said. 


The normal onset date for monsoon over Kerala is June 1, which also marks the start of the four-month rainfall season. 


"Conditions are becoming favourable for advance of southwest monsoon over the southern part of Andaman Sea, Nicobar Islands and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal during May 18-19," the IMD said. On Tuesday, private weather agency Skymet said the monsoon would hit the Kerala coast on June 4, with an error margin of two days. PTI
12:09  Yogi takes lead role in Gorakhpur, Ravi Kishan plays supporting cast:  In the battle to redeem lost pride in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, popular Bhojpuri actor and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan is playing second fiddle as Yogi Adityanath takes centre stage in the electoral fight. Sharing dais with the chief minister during poll rallies, the BJP candidate is often seen standing alongside the 'maharaj' with folded hands.


Regarded as the fiefdom of the Gorakhnath peeth, the seat with 19.54 lakh voters has 10 candidates in the fray. However, a direct contest appears on the cards between BJP candidate Kishan and alliance nominee, Rambhuwal Nishad of the SP.


Though Yogi Adityanath won the seat from 1998 to 2017, the shock defeat during the 2018 bypolls was a massive loss of face for the ruling party, coming months after its emphatic win in the 2017 Assembly elections.


The election on the seat, this time round, is being treated by the party and loyalists as an opportunity to avenge the humiliation and restore faith in the leadership of Yogi Adityanath.


"The fight on the seat is to retain the pride of Maharaj...the Hindu Yuva Vahini and BJP are one in the contest this time round and are in the campaigning as one unit," zonal vice president of BJP Satyendra Singh said. 


Leading the campaign from the front is the chief minister himself, who is camping here for the May 19 polling in the last phase and has addressed over two dozen rallies. 


This week, he will be holding a big road show in Gorakhpur city along with BJP president Amit Shah. Lending all out support is the Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by Adityanath, which has been actively involved in the campaigning with the CM asking for presence of one worker each of the BJP and the HYV at all booths.


Since the defeat in the bypoll had also been attributed to the low turn out, the major focus is on increasing polling percentage in Gorakhpur city. -- PTI
11:59  BJP protests Bengal violence:  The BJP holds a protest against the violence during BJP President Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata, West Bengal yesterday. Union Ministers Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and Vijay Goel also present.
11:56  TMC behind violence at road show yesterday: Shah:  
BJP president Amit Shah's press conference in Kolkata, blaming the TMC for the violence during his road show yesterday. 


"Mamata Banerjee claims that BJP is doing it, I want to tell her, we are fighting in every state in the nation,unlike you on 42 seats in West Bengal. 


"Violence didn't take place in 6 phases of elections anywhere but Bengal which proves that TMC is responsible for it.  


Violence only in West Bengal in all six phases of polls, no incident reported anywhere else.


"The Trinamool Congress is behind the violence in West Bengal not the BJP. I was saved by the CRPF.  The Kolkata police stood as mute spectators," Shah said. 


He also warned Mamata Banerjee not to think she was God. 


Meanwhile, the TMC has sought a meeting with the Election Commission over the destruction of a statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during clashes between workers of the ruling party and the BJP.


Supporters of the BJP and the TMC fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by former's president Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.

Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said.
11:40  Priyanka invokes Vadra's Punjabi roots :  Businessman Robert Vadra, husband of Congress General Secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh (East), Priyanka Gandhi, on Wednesday hailed his wife for showering praises on the Punjabi community by making reference to his roots.


Taking to Facebook, Vadra wrote a message endorsing Priyanka's speech at a public gathering in Punjab and also shared a short one-minute video of the same. 


"Well said, Priyanka. May God keep people of Punjab and all Indians in 'chardi kala' (relentless optimism)," Vadra wrote in Hindi, English and Punjabi. 


In the video-clip shared by Vadra, Priyanka can be heard talking of her husband's Punjabi roots, saying: "I am delighted to be here. My husband is a Punjabi and he has faced all hardships with a smile. I salute the land and people of Punjab. Punjabi community is always happy and strong-willed even in the face of challenges. They are always happy and in a state of 'chardi kala'."


In her maiden visit to Punjab this election season, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday had attempted to strike a chord with the people by starting her speech in Punjabi. -- ANI
11:30  Amit Shah presser on Bengal road show violence :   BJP president Amit Shah is now holding a press conference alleging that the TMC is responsible for the violence and the descreation of educationist and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust yesterday during his rally. Details in a bit. 
11:16  EC meet today with WB observers on poll violence :  
The Election Commission will hold a meeting with West Bengal observers on poll violence in the state at 11.30 am today via video conferencing.
This comes a day after clashes broke at the mega roadshow of BJP president Amit Shah in Kolkata resulting in utter chaos after sticks were hurled at his convoy and police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. 


Clashes reportedly broke out on Tuesday after some miscreants started throwing sticks at the convoy in which Shah was travelling in.


The incident took place on College Street when allegedly some TMC supporters began sloganeering and the furious BJP supporters responded by pelting stones and sticks at the University gates, resulting in chaos and mayhem.


Since the Lok Sabha polls began on April 10, BJP and TMC have been at loggerhead in West Bengal.


Voting for nine seats in the state will be held in the seventh and final phase of the general election on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23. -- ANI

10:44  Shah: Why am I being called outsider in Bengal?:  BJP national president Amit Shah has rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's charge that he is an "outsider" in West Bengal and said he has come to the state to campaign for his party. 


Shah wondered if he is called an outsider for coming to West Bengal, "which is very much a part of India", then why not Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee be labelled as an "outsider" when she visits New Delhi? The BJP leader was addressing a meet of intellectuals in the city on Tuesday. 


"I am president of a national party and I am here to campaign for my party. "I am being called an outsider for coming to West Bengal. What kind of statement is this? If a person from West Bengal goes to Mumbai or Bengaluru, will he be called an outsider? When Mamata didi goes to Delhi will she be called an outsider?" Shah asked. 


Shah's remarks came following Banerjee's repeated allegations about Shah being an "outsider" who comes to the state to "create division" among the people. 


"If the BJP wins the assembly polls in West Bengal, a Bengali will be the chief minister. Neither I nor Kailash Vijayvargia will be the CM," Shah said. 


 Vijayvargiya, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, is the BJP's national general secretary, who is in charge of the saffron party in West Bengal. Shah also criticized a section of the media for blaming BJP workers for Tuesday's violence during his roadshow in north Kolkata.


"A section of media is presenting it in such a way as if we started the clash. The news should be that TMC goons attacked the convoy. But a section of news organisations are trying to paint it in a different way," Shah said. BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive roadshow by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by police. -- PTI
10:30  Mayas suggestion to EC:  
If Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has her way, poll candidates would be barred from visiting religious places or offering prayers before an election. 


"Roadshows and offering prayers have become a fashion during elections, where a lot of money is spent. The Election Commission should add this expense to the candidate's expenditure limit," Mayawati told a gathering on Monday. 


She added the EC should also pass an order stopping media from showing the candidates while they visit public places or offer prayers when the Model Code of Conduct is in place. 

-- Business Standard
10:28  Why did star campaigners of BJP, Cong avoid MP?:  
Why did the star campaigners of both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress avoid campaigning for their most senior leaders in Madhya Pradesh? 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed seven public meetings in the state but none of them was for a senior leader or minister. 


He did not visit Morena or Tikamgarh, from where cabinet ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Virendra Khatik are contesting. Modi also gave Bhopal a miss Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is contesting against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh from the seat. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has done something similar. 


He held rallies at 17 locations across the state but did not campaign for Chief Minister Kamal Nath's son Nakul Nath (Chhindwara), Digvijaya Singh (Bhopal), Kantilal Bhuria (Ratlam) or Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna). Both the leaders preferred to campaign for new leaders.

-- Business Standard
10:12  Mumbai BJP chief takes off on much-needed break? :  
Spotted at Mumbai's international airport on Tuesday night, Ashish Shelar, the BJP's Mumbai boss, with his wife and son. A holiday just before counting day? A respite from the sound and fury of campaigning?

10:05  Mamata killing democracy: Fadnavis:  Launching a blistering attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said that his Bengal counterpart is "scared of her defeat and hence is killing democracy in her state".


Speaking to ANI about clashes during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday, Fadnavis said, "Democracy is being murdered in West Bengal. The way in which Amit Shah's roadshow was attacked and police's behaviour afterwards, seeing all this I believe that Mamata is scared of her defeat and is killing democracy and doesn't even want to let anyone campaign in the state."


Fadnavis also appealed to the Election Commission to take necessary measures in order to ensure free and fair polls. "I appeal the Election Commission to ensure free and fair polls in the state. Our leaders are not being allowed to campaign, our party workers are being murdered, what kind of democracy is this," he said.


Yesterday, Shah too had condemned the violence at his roadshow and accused "TMC goons of resorting to violence due to frustration".


Clashes reportedly broke out after some miscreants started throwing sticks at his convoy.


The incident took place on College Street when allegedly some TMC supporters started raising slogans and BJP supporters responded by pelting stones and sticks at the Calcutta University gates, resulting in chaos and mayhem.


Image: Firefighters douse burning vehicles caused by a mob during BJP president Amit Shah's election roadshow, yesterday. Photograph: PTI Photo
09:27  Now, Aiyar abuses reporters, calls PM 'coward':  
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Tuesday pushed aside a microphone, made fists and used an expletive at reporters who questioned him about his "neech" jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
   
He also called the prime minister a coward.
 
Aiyar lost his temper at TV reporters who met him at the Punjab government guest house in Shimla and questioned him over an article he wrote, recalling a slur he directed at Modi in 2017.
 
"Don't you know there is a person in India, Narendra Modi. Haven't you heard about his sharp attacks. Go and ask him questions," he told them in Hindi.
 
"No, He doesn't talk to you as he is a coward. He doesn't talk to the media," he said.
 
Then he raised his arms, waiving them about in an apparent imitation of Modi.
 
He also made a fist at the reporters and pushed away a microphone. "You won't ask me any question," he warned one of them.
 
He then used an expletive in English, while asking them to leave.
 
With another set of reporters during the day, Aiyar was calmer.
 
He said it was just one line in his article and he will not get involved in media's "games".
 
"I am a fool, but not such a big fool," he said.
 
Referring to Modi in his article in Rising Kashmir and The Print, Aiyar wrote, "Remember how I described him on 7 December 2017? Was I not prophetic?"
 
In 2017, the former Union minister had called Modi "neech aadmi" following which he was suspended from the Congress party.
 
This time too, the Congress has condemned the remarks in the article. -- PTI
08:57  TMC seeks meeting with EC in aftermath of Shah roadshow violence:  
The Trinamool Congress has sought a meeting with the Election Commission over the destruction of a statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during clashes between workers of the ruling party and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Supporters of the BJP and the TMC fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by former's president Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said.
"Trinamool parliamentary team comprising Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque seeks meeting with EC in aftermath of attack on Bengal's heritage after Shah roadshow in Kolkata. BJP outsider ruffians resort to arson & break Vidyasagar's bust," the TMC said in a tweet.
Earlier, Brien, also TMC spokesperson, took to Twitter and alleged that "violent mob of outsiders" were behind the attack. -- PTI
08:55  Man shot at cousin for voting for Congress:  
A man allegedly shot at his cousin brother for voting for the Congress in Jhajjar in Haryana on Monday.

According to locals, on May 12  a clash between Congress supporters and BJP supporters took place. 

After voting, Dharmender, a BJP supporter shot his cousin brother Raja because he voted for the Congress. 

Mother of the victim also sustained injuries in the incident.

Station House Officer, Jhajjar Ramesh Kumar said, "We got information about firing incident in Sailana village on Monday. When we reached there, accused Dharmendra fled away from the spot. The bullet was fired from an illegal weapon. We have registered the case based on the complaint of victim Raja."

"There was a quarrel between Dharmendra and Raja on the polling day. Dharmendra was asking Raja to vote in favour of the BJP but Raja did not listen to him. On Monday morning, Dharmendra started firing aiming at Raja who was later admitted to PGI. His condition is stable now," said Phulmati, mother of the victim. -- ANI 
08:52  UK Parliament to vote on Brexit deal again in June:  
Having rejected United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal thrice already, the British Parliament will vote on an exit deal again in the first week of June, according to a Downing Street spokesman.

Political lines across the UK have been divided over conditions on which the UK will leave the European Union. 

UK already missed the March 29 deadline to do so, now having until October 31 to leave the bloc.

"This evening the Prime Minister met the Leader of the Opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) in the House of Commons to make clear our determination to bring the talks to a conclusion and deliver on the referendum result to leave the EU," the spokesman said.

The latest vote coincides with US President Donald Trump's visit to the UK from June 3 to 5.

The vote is slated to take place before lawmakers leave for summer recess, the statement added.

"We will, therefore, be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning June 3," he said, adding that official talks are ongoing.

"It is imperative we do so then if the UK is to leave the EU before the summer Parliamentary recess," the spokesman also stated. -- ANI
08:38  Putin praises 'objective' Mueller investigation:  
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday favoured the restoration of "full-scope relations" with the United States during a meeting with the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Sochi.

The Russian leader's comments come as the United States announced its intent to withdraw from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing breaches by Russia as the reason behind the decision.

The US is slated to withdraw from the accord by August this year, warning that the treaty will terminate if "Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance" with it, according to an official statement.

During the meeting with Pompeo, Putin outlined his recent phone conversation with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, left the impression that the US wanted to restore relations as well.

"As you know, a few days ago I had the pleasure to talk to the US president over the phone, I had an impression that the president was in favor of restoring the Russia-US ties, contacts, jointly resolving the issues of common interest," Sputnik quoted Putin as saying.

"On our part, we have repeatedly said that we would also like to restore the full-scope relations," he added.

Pompeo, on the other hand, said that the two countries would hold more extensive conversations on arms control in the "weeks ahead."

"We'll have a more extensive set of conversations both on arms control and an opportunity to discuss all broad strategic security issues between our two countries in the weeks ahead," Pompeo said.

"As for its extension, what we agreed to do is gather teams that will begin to work not only on New START... and its potential extension but on a broader range of arms control issues," the US official also said.

This comes as US suspended its obligations under the INF treaty, which aimed to curb the arms race between the US and Russia. Moscow, in retaliation, mirrored Washington's move immediately.

The Russian leader also welcomed the probe undertaken by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential elections in the United States. 

He said that Mueller conducted an "objective" investigation, which proved no Russian interference in Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign.

"We should give (Mueller) credit. In general, he conducted an objective probe and confirmed the absence of any traces and collusion between Russia and the current administration, which we initially characterised as complete nonsense: there was no interference on our part in the elections in the United States at the state level, and could not be," Putin stated. -- ANI
00:20  Ecuador defends handover of Assange docs to US:  
Ecuador confirmed on Tuesday it would hand over to the United States documents and computer hardware belonging to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, insisting it was complying fully with the law.
  
The prosecutor's office in Quito would determine "what goods should or should not be shared," said Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, who confirmed the handover in an interview with Ecuador's ECTV.

He said the delivery of Assange's documents would take place "in full compliance with the law." Assange's lawyers said Monday they had received an e-mail from prosecutors informing them of the planned handover of items left behind by Assange when his seven-year stay at the London embassy ended in his arrest last month.

Prosecutors have authorised police to carry out a search next Monday of the room which the Australian occupied and seize his personal belongings.

Valencia defended the handover, saying: "This is derived from a very clear order from a competent judicial authority." "It will be the Prosecutor's office that decides what goods should or should not be shared with the United States authorities and which are personal effects that must be returned to its owner," he said.

The belongings, including computers, mobile phones, memory sticks and other electronic devices, will be sent to the United States as part of Ecuador's response to a request from the US Department of Justice for cooperation into its investigation into Assange, according to an e-mail cited by the Australian's legal team.

Assange's legal team in Ecuador has filed a petition seeking to block the handover, and failing that, at least allowing Assange to be present at the search.

Assange, 47, is currently in a London jail. A US indictment charges him with "conspiracy" for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defense computers in March 2010.

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