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Fri, 08 November 2019
Fadnavis changes Twitter bio after resignation

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23:42   Fadnavis changes Twitter bio after resignation
After submitting his resignation on Friday evening, Devendra Fadnavis changed his Twitter bio to 'caretaker chief minister of Maharashtra'.

Fadnavis' personal Twitter handle is @Dev_Fadnavis.

Fadnavis on Friday evening submitted his resignation to Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari after failing to resolve the impasse on government formation with ally Shiv Sena.

The tenure of the 13 Maharashtra assembly ends on Saturday evening. Fadnavis was appointed caretaker CM by the Governor.

As caretaker chief minister, Fadnavis will not be able to take policy decisions.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis' wife Amruta on Friday said she was proud ofhis 'decision and stance' after he tendered his resignationfrom the top post.

'Proud of your decision & stance @Dev_Fadnavis @BJP4India @bjp4mumbai @BJP4Maharashtra,' Amruta Fadnavis tweeted.   -- PTI
22:46   PM on Ayodhya: No victory or defeat for anyone
PM tweets, 'Whatever decision SC delivers in Ayodhya case, it'll not be a victory or defeat of anyone.

'My appeal to the countrymen is that it should be the priority of all of us that this decision should further strengthen the great tradition of peace, unity and goodwill of India.'   -- ANI
22:31   Maha man held for FB post on Ram temple
A 56-year-old man was arrested on Friday in Maharashtra's Dhule district for writing an objectionable post on the eve of Supreme Court's verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, police said.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Saturday its verdict in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

Sanjay Rameshwar Sharma, a resident of Old Agra Road in Dhule, had posted a message in a regional language on his Facebook wall claiming he would celebrate Diwali after getting 'justice' for Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, and stressed it would remove a 'dark spot of history'.

After police teams monitoring social media posts came upon Sharma's Facebook post, he was arrested under sections 153 (1) (B), 188 of Indian Penal Code (commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities), an official said.

He will be produced in court on Saturday, he added.

Sharma reportedly has been arrested in two cases in the past three months, for allegedly beating up a man for befriending a girl from another community, and for assaulting two others.  -- PTI
21:56   All schools, colleges in UP shut till Nov 11
All schools, colleges, educational institutions and training centres in Uttar Pradesh to remain closed from November 9 to November 11.  -- ANI
21:46   SC Ayodhya verdict at 10.30 am tomorrow
The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Saturday its verdict in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

The apex court is likely to pronounce judgement at 10:30 am in the morning.

A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had reserved the judgement on October 16 after marathon hearing of 40 days.  -- PTI
21:11   SC to deliver Ayodhya verdict tomorrow
BREAKING: Supreme Court to deliver verdict on Ayodhya matter tomorrow.   -- ANI
20:58   Aydohya: NSA, Gangsters Act for hate messages
Social media posts and WhatsApp messages that incite communal hatred or violence would draw severe punishment, including jail term, for offenders, the Gautam Buddh Nagar administration said on Friday, ahead of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

The offenders would not only be arrested but action against them would be taken under the Gangsters Act and the National Security Act (NSA), District Magistrate B N Singh said in an official statement.

The Noida Police also carried out a flag march in mixed population areas and densely crowded locations to review law and order situation, as it reached out to communities asking them to be cautious against flaring up emotions by any means once the judgment, expected this month, is out.

"As everybody is aware, the verdict in the Ayodhya land matter is awaited and the district administration is committed to ensuring peace in Noida and Greater Noida. We are conducting peace meetings and reaching out to prominent people of all communities to ensure amity and amicable atmosphere," Singh said.

"However, citizens have been warned that severe action would be taken against any anti-social elements who try to disturb peace by ways of social media posts, or sending/forwarding messages on WhatsApp, etc." he said.

"The administration would arrest such offenders under the CrPC Act while the police would initiate proceedings under the IPC. The administration would also invoke the Gangsters Act and the NSA against such people after which it could attach their properties too," he added.

Noida Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal said a comprehensive flag march involving circle officers, personnel from all police stations in the city, emergency response vehicles, patrolling units and anti-riot vehicles, was carried out on Friday.

"The Ayodhya case is a sensitive matter and we reached out to citizens in mix-crowd areas, densely populated places and those staying near places of worship. People were told to contact the police and phone numbers of officials were made duly available to them so they can contact the police at anytime," he told PTI.

"People have been cautioned against doing anything that riles up the emotions of any community, asked not to post or forward unverified information related to the case," Jaiswal said.   -- PTI
19:58   PM to flag off first batch of Kartarpur pilgrims
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday flag off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims that will travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province through the Kartarpur Corridor which is being thrown open on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The prime minister will inaugurate passenger terminal building, also known as Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5 km-long Corridor.

The Corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib -- also called Kartarpur Sahib -- the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, in Narowal district in Pakistan.

Before the inauguration ceremony, Modi will pay obeisance at Ber Sahib Gurudwara at Sultanpur Lodhi, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said on Friday.

He will later participate in a public programme at Dera Baba Nanak. The inauguration of the ICP check post will facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.

India had signed an agreement with Pakistan on October 24 on the modalities for operationalisation of the corridor at 'Zero Point' of the international boundary at Dera Baba Nanak, the statement said.

The first batch of pilgrims include former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Akal Takht jathedar Harpreet Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former CM Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu. SGPC members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab including ministers are also part of the 'jatha'.

Punjab Minister Tript Rajinder Singh said that all members of first batch have been asked to reach by 10 am.

The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, its design inspired by 'Khanda' which a symbol of faith in Sikh community, has been constructed on 18 acres of land.

The fully air-conditioned building, akin to an airport, has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5,000 pilgrims a day.

The project was executed by central government agency -- Land Ports Authority of India.

It has all the necessary public amenities such as kiosks, washrooms, child care, first aid medical facilities, prayer room and snacks counters inside the main building. The national flag has been hoisted at the site on a 300-ft-tall post.   -- PTI
19:41   Firm on demand for CM's post: Udhhav
We are firm on demand for CM's post, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said in his press conference this evening.

"I will fulfill promise made to my father to install Sena CM and I don't need Shah, Fadnavis for that," he said.

"I stopped talks with the BJP because it tried to prove me liar," he said.  -- PTI
18:46   Never closed door for discussion; BJP called me a liar: Uddhav
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's press conference continues:

"It is very sad that while cleaning the Ganga their (the BJP's) minds became polluted.

"I felt bad that we entered into an alliance with the wrong people. There was attempt to finish off Shiv Sena with sweet talk," the Sena chief said, flanked by his son and newly-elected Sena MLA Aditya Thackeray.

"BJP trying to prove Sena liar, which is not acceptable. I won't speak to people who call me a liar," Thackeray said.

"We had never closed the doors for discussion, they (BJP) lied to us so we did not talk to them. We have not yet held talks with the NCP," he said.   -- ANI/PTI
18:35   Sena doesn't need BJP for CM's post: Uddhav
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray addresses a press conference in Mumbai:

"Watched 'caretaker' CM's media briefing and felt concerned," he said.

Giving examples of other leaders like Dushyant Chautala who is now an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he said that several leaders in the past have spoken against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

This was in response to former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis' remark that critical comments of Shiv Sena leaders against the PM and Shah will not be tolerated anymore.

"I had promised Balasaheb that there will be a Shiv Sena chief minister one day, and I will fulfill that promise. I don't need Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis for that," Thackeray said, mentioning his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Equal sharing of power agreed upon in Amit Shah's presence and I am shocked, hurt over being labelled as liar, Thackeray said.

The Sena chief said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, as an independent body, should decide who is lying on the '50:50' formula for CM's post.
18:20   Modi, Shah blinded by personal revenge: Cong
The Congress on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government of personal vendetta and endangering the life of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after their Special Protection Group cover was removed.

The SPG cover for Rahul Gandhi was withdrawn and the Central Reserve Police Force took over the security at his residence 12, Tughlaq Lane.

The CRPF had also reached Sonia Gandhi's residence at 10, Janpath, and was working out modalities for replacing SPG.

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the decision to remove the SPG cover for Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi is 'shocking and vindictive'.

"It makes the family vulnerable. Not to forget that two members of the family former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated.

"The state has a duty to protect and the SPG cover was not a favour," he said.

Sharma said the United Progressive Alliance government never withdrew Atal Bihari Vajpayee's security cover.

"It continued under Modi government until his death".

By withdrawing SPG cover, government is playing with the lives of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka, Cong leader K C Venugopal said.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are blinded by personal revenge and political vendetta in withdrawing SPG cover from Gandhis," he alleged.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, "The BJP has descended to the ultimate personal vendetta mechanism, compromising the lives of family members of two former Prime Ministers to acts of terror and violence."

The family members of Gandhi family would be provided with Z-plus security cover by the CRPF personnel, officials said.

With this, the nearly 3,000 force would now be guarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi only.

The decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam terrorists on May 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment, a senior home ministry official said.   -- PTI

IMAGE: Congress workers protest near Union Home Minister Amit Shah's residence against the government's decision to withdraw SPG cover given to the Gandhi family. Photograph: ANI
18:12   Preparing for Indo-US military drill
Personnel of the Indian Army Service Corps perform a stunt on a motorcycle ahead of a military drill along with the United States army scheduled to be held in Visakhapatnam and Kakinada next week.

The first tri-services India-US amphibious exercise, known as Tiger Triumph, will be held in Visakhapatnam and Kakinada from November 13-21.

Around 1,200 Indian soldiers, sailors and airmen and 500 of their US counterparts will participate in the nine-day exercise.

Training under Tiger Triumph will focus on developing counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

The exercise will include events and field training that simulate moving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief forces from ship to shore.

Part of the training will incorporate surface movements from ship-to-shore, where US and Indian forces will demonstrate naval integration, advance interoperability and exchange best practices.

INS Jalashwa, USS Germantown, INS Airavat and a survey vessel in a hospital ship role will participate.  -- Agencies
17:56   Odd-even to be relaxed for Guru Nanak Dev birth anniversary
There will be no odd-even restrictions on vehicles on November 11-12 in Delhi to ensure hassle-free commute on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.

The decision has been taken so that there is no disturbance in celebrations of birth anniversary of Guru Nank Dev, the founder of Sikhism, Kejriwal said at a press conference.

Originally, the government had announced the odd-even scheme between November 4 and November 15 to fight air pollution. It is effective between 8 am to 8 pm.   -- PTI
17:27   Sena reacts: Fadnavis was not at 50:50 meeting
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut holds a presser in response to the Devendra Fadnavis' media conference.  Raut said Devendra Fadnavis was not present when the rotational CM issue was discussed. "We have never disrespected the PM or Amit Shah. In a democracy the party with the largest number of votes can form government and my good wishes are with the BJP but let me also tell you that if we want we can also have a CM from the Shiv Sena," Raut said.  


This is reaction to what Fadnavis said at his press conference minutes earlier: "I again want to make it clear that it was never decided that for 2.5 years each the CM post will be shared. There was never a decision on this issue. Even Amit Shah ji and Nitin Gadkari ji said this was never decided," the former Maharashtra CM had said.   


Raut has mentioned several times earlier that the 50:50 equation of power sharing was discussed with BJP president Amit Shah. 


Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will hold a press conference at 6 pm. 
17:09   Will ensure Maharashtra CM is from BJP: Fadnavis
Back to Devendra Fadnavis' press conference:


"The governor has asked me to be the acting CM," Fadnavis says. 


"Statements and remarks made by certain leaders that the BJP is trying to poach leaders is false. I'm stating this on record, that we will never take leaders from other parties. It's obvious then there are reservations about whether we should join hands with such a party (Shiv Sena) to stay in power. I can assure that we will make sure CM is from the BJP," he said. 


He also stated that he wanted to make it clear that it was never decided that for 2.5 years each the CM post would be shared. "There was never a decision on this issue. Even Amit Shahji and Nitin Gadkariji said this was never decided," he said. 
16:57   Shiv Sena seeks police protection for newly-elected MLAs
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has sought police protection in Mumbai for its newly-elected MLAs, who will be shifted to a resort, till November 15, apparently fearing defection from its legislative rank.


Sena secretary Milind Narvekar has written a letter to the Mumbai police commissioner, seeking necessary protection for the party's MLAs till November 15. In the letter, Narvekar said all MLAs would be staying at Retreat hotel in suburban Malad. "Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be meeting his MLAs frequently for future decisions. We request you to provide necessary security measures," Narvekar said. A police official confirmed receiving the letter.
16:55   Sena never discussed rotating CM with me: Fadnavis
Devendra Fadnavis addressing the media now after stepping down as Maharashtra CM. He says he has submitted his resignation to the governor who has accepted it. He says he has got a chance to serve the state for the last five years and is thankful for the opportunity. 


"We stood by affected farmers, we built highways, the metro, the airport and a slew of other projects under my leadership. Because of the work we have done the people have given us the mandate for another five years. Our strike rate in the elections have in fact been 70 per cent.

"IN the very first press conference held by Uddhav Thackeray he had said all options are open to form government. We wonder why he said all options were open even though we have together got the mandate to form government. The 2.5 years demand that the Shiv Sena has been asking for has never been put before me. We have shared a very close relationship but in all this time, but never once have they discussed the 50:50 demand with me. 

"I have tried to speak to Uddhav several times, but he has not taken my call.  Shiv Sena did not make time to have discussions with me or the BJP but did find time to meet the Congress and NCP. "

"The manner in which Shiv Sena leaders have been speaking in the past few days, they will surely get their TV space, but will not form government.

"The BJP stance has been clear, that we want to form government, not break it. 

"We have immense amount of respect for Balasaheb Thackeray and would never dream of disrespecting him. We have made sure we never say anything incorrect against them. The Shiv Sena which has been in a pre-poll alliance with us has spoken against us and against PM Modi has been unacceptable. It has hurt us. 


 
There has been no headway in government formation even a fortnight after Assembly poll results were announced on October 24. The BJP and Shiv Sena are locked in a tussle over the issue of the chief minister's post, resulting in a stalemate in government formation despite the Assembly poll results giving the alliance a combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House. In the polls, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 and the Congress won 44 seats.
16:33   Devendra Fadnavis steps down as Maharashtra CM
Things hotting up in Mumbai: Devendra Fadnavis steps down as the chief minister of Maharashtra. Fadnavis handed over his resignation to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan moments ago. He was accompanied by senior state ministers to the governor house. Fadnavis is expected to address the media any time now.  The term of the existing assembly is set to expire on Saturday. 
16:27   Uddhav to meet holed-up MLAs this evening
Developments in Maharashtra: Sharad Pawar says: Shiv Sena and BJP have got mandate and they should form govt .This is what Ramdas Athawaleji (RPI Chief) and me have discussed and we agreed on this point.  Also, the delay in forming government is affecting the state economically and generally as well.


Sunil Prabhu of the Shiv Sena says party chief Uddhav Thackeray will meet party MLAs at Hotel Rangsharda in Mumbai, later today. Devendra Fadnavis will be addressing the media at 4:30 pm today. 


Yesterday, the Sena MLAs passed a resolution, authorising Uddhav Thackeray to take a 'final decision' on government formation in Maharashtra. After the meet, held at Thackeray's Bandra residence 'Matoshree', the legislators went to Rangsharda Hotel, close to the party chief's home, where they will stay amid the ongoing uncertainty over government formation and fear of switching sides. 


"It is necessary for all the MLAs to be together in the prevailing situation. Whatever decision Uddhavi takes will be binding on all of us," Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu said. "Threats and blackmailing won't work now," said Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who has been the public face of the party's new-found belligerence during the last fortnight. "We also have options (to form government)," he said, but did not elaborate.

Results of the October 21 assembly poll were declared on October 24.
16:25   Govt withdraws SPG security cover of Gandhis
The government has withdrawn the Special Protection Group cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, and they will now be given Z-plus security by the CRPF, officials said on Friday.


The decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment, a senior official said. 


The Gandhis will be without SPG protection after 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988. 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now be the only person being protected by the elite SPG commandos. The Gandhi family will be covered by CRPF personnel. 


Under the Z-plus security, the Gandhis will have commandos from the paramilitary force in close proximity besides guards at their homes and where ever they travel in the country, the official said. 


SPG protectees, under the rules, are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their carcade. In August this year, the government withdrew the SPG cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh. The SPG Act, enacted by Parliament in 1988, was initially supposed to provide security to only the prime minister and former prime ministers of the country. 


The Act was amended after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to include the immediate family members of former prime ministers, paving the way for Sonia Gandhi as well her children to get SPG security. The need for a separate force for guarding the prime minister of the country was felt after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards on October 31, 1984. -- PTI
15:31   SPG cover withdrawn from Gandhis
Govt Sources: Govt has decided to withdraw SPG protection from the Gandhi family (Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra), they will now be accorded Z+ security, reports ANI.
15:24   Cong to herd MLAs to resort to prevent poaching
Amidst the speculations of possible horse-trading of its MLAs allegedly by the ruling BJP, the Congress party has decided to lodge all its legislators at one place in order to keep its flock intact.


Congress leader Manikrao Thakare said, "Some people are saying that MLAs have been approached. We follow the orders of our high command and all our MLAs are together. Our MLAs have been asked to stay together in such a situation of crisis in Maharashtra. All MLAs are waiting for orders to where to go and stay."


"Those who have been given mandate should form the government but it doesn't seem to happen. Congress-NCP has the mandate to sit in opposition. BJP is also trying to get President Rule imposed in State so that power remains with it," he said.


Congress leader Thakare and Praniti Shinde met senior party leader and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar on Friday to discuss the present situation. Earlier on Friday Wadettiwar had said that the Congress does not fear BJP's "poaching" and warned that opposition parties will stitch government together if the BJP tries to influence MLAs across the party lines.


Yesterday, the Shiv Sena lodged its MLAs at Hotel Rangsharda, amidst the fear of poaching.


As the deadline -- November 9 -- for government formation in Maharashtra ends today, the Shiv Sena is not ready to settle for anything less than equal share in Cabinet portfolios and the chief minister's post for 2.5 years.


The BJP has emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats in the recently held Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena got 56 seats in 288-member Vidhan Sabha. -- ANI
15:04   India won't forget Tughlaqi blunder: Sonia on demo
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday held the Modi government responsible for taking away livelihoods through demonetisation and said her party will ensure that the nation never forgets or forgives the "Tughlaqi blunder". 


She said the prime minister and his colleagues have never taken responsibility for the "faux pas" that claimed over 120 lives and proved a death knell for India's medium and small businesses. 


"No matter how much the Modi government may try and evade responsibility for this ludicrous and short-sighted measure, the nation and its people will ensure that they are held accountable," Gandhi said in a statement.


"The prime minister and his colleagues have stopped speaking about demonetisation since 2017, hoping that the nation will forget. Unfortunately for them, the Congress will ensure that neither the nation nor history, forgives or forgets. Because unlike the BJP, we serve in the 'National Interest'," she added.


She said three years on, demonetisation is perhaps the single most appropriate metaphor for the BJP's "ill-conceived governance model".


"It was a preposterous measure fuelled by false propaganda, which did untold damage to innocent and trusting countrymen. This, in a nutshell, is a summary of the Modi Government's approach to Governance," she said. 


"Yet, despite all the empty rhetoric about holding himself accountable, the prime minister and his colleagues never once took responsibility for - or even acknowledged - this faux pas that claimed over a hundred and twenty lives (by a conservative estimate), proved a death knell for India's medium and small businesses, snatched the livelihoods of India's farmers and reduced millions of families to the very margins of poverty," she noted. 


Gandhi recalled that on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Modi demonetised the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes by one sweeping measure and promised the nation to wipe out black money, eliminate fake currency and purge terrorism and naxalism. 


The BJP government even told the Supreme Court that black money to the tune of Rs 3,00,000 crore will be purged as it would not return into the system. Subsequently, the prime minister added the objective of abolition of cash currency usage and to replace it with a digital economy, she said. 


"Three years later, Prime Minister Modi has failed spectacularly on all these counts," she said. The Congress chief said the RBI has confirmed that 99.3 per cent of all the devalued Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes have been re-deposited with zero windfall gain. 


"Fake notes turned out to be a miniscule and negligible percentage of the notes in circulation (again, as per the RBI)." Terror and naxalite activities have actually seen an increase after demonetisation as per the government's own published data and the currency in circulation has actually seen a 22 per cent increase over pre-demonetisation level, she noted.


"The simple question being asked by every Indian is - What did the Demonetisation achieve? "What it did instead, was to wipe out over one crore jobs from the economy (and still counting), take the unemployment rate to a 45 year high, shaved two full percentage points off GDP growth and ensured that India's international rating moved from 'stable' to 'negative'. It is now widely acknowledged as a herculean blunder by independent economists and taught, across the world, as a cautionary tale of 'what governments should not do'," she said. -- PTI
14:49   No deal with Sena on sharing CM post: Gadkari
Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari on Friday said there was no deal between his party and the Shiv Sena over equal distribution of portfolios, including sharing the post of chief minister. The assertion by Gadkari indicates the BJP is not budging firm its stand of not sharing the chief minister's post with ally Shiv Sena. 


The former BJP president, who arrived in Mumbai on Friday, had first indicated he would not intervene to break the deadlock between his party and the Shiv Sena over sharing power in Maharashtra.


However, speaking to reporters, he said, "As per my information, there was no deal between the BJP and the Shiv Sena over equal sharing of portfolios in Maharashtra. "Even the late Balasaheb Thackeray had once stressed on the arrangement between Shiv Sena-BJP that the party having more number of elected legislators will have a claim on the post of chief minister." -- PTI
14:19  
And Batote in Ramban distric, Jammu and Kashmir, gets winter clothes. 
14:18  
Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir receives snowfall.
14:18   Heavy snowfall disrupts normal life in JK, Himachal
Heavy snowfall lashed Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttarakhand on Friday.Flight operations were adversely affected at Srinagar airport and road traffic between the valley and the Jammu region is also likely to be affected especially through the Mughal Road, an official of the Met department said.


Moderate to heavy snowfall was reported from Srinagar, Rajouri, Batote in Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir, while Himachal received snowfall in Rashel village, Kyelang, and Khoksar in Lahaul-Spiti.


Badrinath located in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand also received fresh snowfall.


Presently, a snow-clearance operation is carried out in Srinagar to clear the traffic.


Meanwhile, private airline operator Indigo tweeted, "6ETravelAdvisory: Due to runway unavailability at #Srinagar airport, all flight operations to/fro #Srinagar have been suspended for today". -- ANI

Image: A man clears snow in Srinagar. Mechanised snow-clearance operations were also underway in the city following heavy snowfall.
14:04   NCW seeks immediate probe into attack on woman police officer
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday sought an immediate probe into the alleged attack on a senior woman police officer during the Tis Hazari Court complex clashes last week. In the violence on Saturday, at least 20 Delhi Police personnel and several lawyers were injured.


Taking cognisance of media reports on the alleged attack on the officer, the NCW, in a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, said an audio of the woman's personal security officer and a 1.40 minute long video corroborates the case. 


The panel in another letter to the Bar Council of India said action should be taken against the lawyers involved in the incident.


"The video shows that the woman officer was faced with a tough situation when a group of lawyers tried to grab her collar and charge at her," NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said in the letter.


The officer had to be "escorted" out of the spot with difficulty, she said. The commission strongly condemns such an incident and urges that the matter be thoroughly investigated, Sharma said. "I, therefore, request you to take immediate steps to inquire into the matter for appropriate action at the earliest," she said. 


Sharma sought an action-taken report from the police in the matter within seven days. The commission recommended that the matter be taken up for investigation "independently". -- PTI


Image: NCW chief Rekha Sharma
13:32   No prefix for Shivaji in KBC irks Nitesh Rane
A question on quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) on Sony TV, which had a reference to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, has triggered a controversy and invited the charge that it showed "disrespect" to the 17th century Maratha warrior. Maharashtra BJP MLA Nitesh Rane on Friday demanded an apology from the entertainment giant for "disrespectful" reference to Shivaji Maharaj. Rane said, @sonykbc10 has insulted (Shivaji Maharaj) by referring him in first person singular form. It should tender apology at the earliest. 


Issuing a warning, he said, If they delay it (apology) further, the show will not have any life line to continue further. The controversy erupted when a question was asked in the show, hosted by megastar Amitabh Bachchan, about the contemporaries of Aurangazeb, a Mughal emperor who ruled major parts of India in the 17th century. Among the four options, Chhatrapati Shivaji was mentioned as "Shivaji", while other options were Maharana Pratap, Rana Sanga and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.


Irked with such a reference, several people took to social media to criticise Sony and seek an apology. PTI
13:31   Gadkari in Mumbai, but won't meet any politician
Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, who arrived in Mumbai on Friday, indicated he will not intervene to break the deadlock between his party and the Shiv Sena over sharing power in Maharashtra. Gadkari's visit triggered speculation in political circles that he may step in to break the fortnight-long BJP- Sena logjam over sharing the chief minister's post, which is delaying goverment formation in the state. 


When contacted by reporters, Gadkari said, "I am not meeting any politician today. I am here to attend a public function today evening." It is unclear whether the Union minister would attend a core committee meeting of Maharashtra BJP leaders scheduled on Friday at the official residence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. 


Gadkari, however, on Thursday had stressed that the BJP should get the post of chief minister because it has won more seats than the Shiv Sena. The Sena, however, has claimed Fadnavis had in February said that "all the portfolios will be equally shared" between the BJP and Shiv Sena. 


Fadnavis and the BJP have denied agreeing to splitting the chief minister's post and equal distribution of portfolios between the saffron allies.


The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the October 21 Assembly polls winning 105 seats, and its ally Shiv Sena, distant second largest with 56 seats, have not staked claim to form government together or separately till now. -- PTI
12:51   SC adjourns CBI's plea against Bombay HC order protecting advocates Grover, Jaising
The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned a plea of the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the Bombay High Court order which restrained it from taking any coercive action against NGO Lawyers Collective and its founding members, senior lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear the matter on November 14.The CBI had registered a case against Grover and Lawyers Collective over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in use of foreign funds received by the NGO.


Even though the FIR registered by the CBI does not name Jaising as an accused, the MHA complaint, which is part of the FIR, mentions her name.


Both Jaising and Grover approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the FIR and said that no prima facie offences are made out in the FIR.


Taking cognizance of it, the court restrained the CBI to not take a coercive step against the duo. The agency had then challenged the same in the Supreme Court.


The agency said the High Court has neither rendered any finding as to how the FIR registered against the accused parties is unsustainable and bad in law nor referred to any finding as to how the continuance of the probe against them would be contrary to law.


The agency alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2009 and 2015, but failed to disclose a major part of it. -- PTI
12:40   Efforts being made to paint me saffron: Rajini
Superstar Rajinikanth on Friday said the BJP has not invited him to join the party, but insisted efforts were being made to paint him with "saffron", the idealogical colour the national party is associated with. Attempts were being made to paint both himself and Thiruvalluvar with saffron, the veteran star said referring to the recent controversy surrounding the Tamil saint-poet.


When asked about senior BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan's recent meeting with him and the former's repeated assertions that the actor should join the party, Rajinikanth said no such has invitation has been made to him.


"No offer has been made (from BJP to join the party).. definitely not," he said. "Attempts are being made to paint me with BJP colour.. trying to paint me with saffron like Thiruvalluvar was done with.. Neither Thiruvalluvar nor me will get trapped," he said with a big laugh. 


On November 1, the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit on its Twitter handle had written a couplet from Thiruvalluvar's classic "Thirukkural," questioning the use of education if the Almighty was not worshipped.


Tagging the couplet, the saffron party targeted the Dravidar Kazhagam, DMK and the Left parties for allegedly deriding God and for berating believers and questioned "what is the use of their education." Also, the party had posted a picture of Thiruvalluvar in saffron robes with sacred ash on his forehead. -- PTI
12:37   Don't get overly excited: Hindu leader on Ayodhya
Security has been heightened in Ayodhya ahead of the verdict in the title dispute case. Earlier yesterday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a video conference with all district magistrates and senior officials directing them to crack down on those trying to disrupt peace.


"There is no doubt that Ayodhya Ram Mandir - Babri Masjid dispute is very old now but the Supreme Court will now decide on the matter. Everybody has put up their front. This is a moment of examination for everyone. If the verdict comes in favour of the Ram temple also, the Hindus should not get over-excited. The entire world is looking at India so we should be restrained in our reaction to the verdict," Swami Chakrapani, President of All India Hindu Mahasabha said.


"From day one, the stand of the Muslim community is that they will respect and accept the verdict of the Supreme Court. Even if the verdict will come against us, then also we will accept and respect the verdict," Mohammad Sajid Rashidi, President of All India Imam Association said.


"There are people who say that "kuch bhi ho, Ram Mandir wahin banega" (Whatever happens, Ram temple will be built at the disputed site). What if the verdict is in favour of Babri Masjid? Will the government, VHP, and other organisations, help in the construction of the mosque? They will not do that. Peace and harmony should be maintained," he added.


A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has concluded the hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case and reserved its verdict.The apex court is expected to deliver its verdict before November 17.
12:13   Approach Sena if you are ready to share CM post: Raut to BJP
Update on the Maharashtra government formation. Man of the moment senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said on Friday that the BJP should approach the Shiv Sena only if it agrees to share the chief minister's post with the junior saffron ally in Maharashtra. 


Talking to reporters, he said the BJP should not misuse the provision of "caretaker" government and remain in power in Maharashtra, where there is an impasse over the next dispensation. 


Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should resign as the term of the existing assembly is ending (on November 9), the Sena spokesman said. 


To a question on Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari's trip to Mumbai and possibility of him visiting 'Matoshree' (the residence of Thackerays) to break the logam over government formation, Raut said the BJP should approach the Sena only if it is willing to share the CM post. "Gadkari is a resident of Mumbai. There is no news that he is coming. He will go to his house. Has he told you that he is bringing a letter giving the Sena 2.5 years of chief ministership?" he asked.
11:52   Demo's 3rd anniv: Masterminds scot free,says Rahul
Terming demonetisation as a "terror attack", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said those behind the "vicious" assault have yet to be brought to justice. His attack on the government came on the third anniversary of demonetisation. 


On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to the nation that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would cease to be a legal tender. 


"It's 3 yrs since the Demonetisation terror attack that devastated the Indian economy, taking many lives, wiping out lakhs of small businesses & leaving millions of Indians unemployed," Gandhi said in a tweet. 


Those behind this "vicious attack" have yet to be brought to justice, the former Congress president said, using the hashtag  'DeMonetisation Disaster'. Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also hit out at Prime Minister Modi for the demonetisation move, describing him as "today's Tughlaq". "


Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq rendered the country's currency useless in the year 1330. Today's Tughlaq did the same on November 8, 2016," he said in a tweet. "3 years have passed and the country is suffering because- economy collapsed, employment lost. Neither terrorism stopped, nor the business of fake notes," he said, and asked who is responsible. 


Surjewala also cited global rating agency Moody's lowering the outlook on the government of India's ratings to negative, to claim that demonetization was a "man-made catastrophe". He questioned the "silence" of those in power on the third anniversary of demonetisation. PTI
11:48   Adavani made BJP dominant pole of Indian politics: PM
As BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani turned 92 on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his contribution in shaping the party and making it a "dominant pole" of Indian politics. 


The prime minister, who visited the veteran leader at his home, said Advani never compromised on the core ideology. "Scholar, statesman and one of the most respected leaders, India will always cherish the exceptional contribution of Shri Lal Krishna Advani Ji towards empowering our citizens," the prime minister wrote on Twitter. Advani toiled for decades to give shape and strength to the BJP, he said, wishing him on his birthday.


"If over the years, our party has emerged as a dominant pole of Indian politics, it is because of leaders like AdvaniJi and the selfless karyakartas (workers) he groomed for decades," Modi said. "Not once has he compromised on the core ideology. When it came to safeguarding our democracy, he was at the forefront. As a minister, his administrative skills are universally lauded," he said. Home Minister Amit Shah also hailed Advani's dedication to the nation and said that his leadership, his tireless hard work and organization skills has made BJP into a national party. "The entire life of Advani is dedicated to the development and welfare of the nation. With his amazing leadership ability, he not only laid a strong foundation of the party but also inspired millions of workers. While in government, Advani ji worked to give a new momentum to India, the paramount value of the nation," he tweeted.


Others who met him along with the prime minister, include Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and BJP working president JP Nadda. Advani was born in 1927 in Karachi, now in Pakistan. PTI
11:40   BJP politicising eggs in mid-day meals in MP: Minister
Madhya Pradesh Minister Imarti Devi on Friday said that BJP opposes eggs being provided in mid-day meals in Madhya Pradesh, while it has no such objections in Maharashtra.


"We went to Maharashtra and consulted officers there. They told us they have been giving eggs in mid-day meals since 2016-17. RSS has its main branch in Maharashtra. There they have no objections, while they are doing politics in Madhya Pradesh by opposing it," said Imarti Devi.


"I don't know what enmity they have with children in Madhya Pradesh," she asked. "We have discussed it and taken the advice of doctors who have told us that it is good to give eggs to children as they are nutritious," said the Women and Child Development Minister.


In a bid to end malnutrition in the state, the Congress government announced that eggs would be provided in mid-day meals offered to children in Anganwadis from November.The BJP has opposed this Madhya Pradesh government initiative. -- PTI
11:36   SBI steeply slashes deposit rates; lowers lending rates marginally
Country's largest lender State Bank of India on Friday reduced its marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) by 5 basis points across all tenors, effective November 10, and sharply slashed the deposits pricing between 15 and 75 basis points. This is the seventh consecutive cut in lending rates by the bank this fiscal. 


With this reduction, the one year MCLR, to which most of its loan prices are linked, will come down to 8 per cent, the bank said in a statement. The bank also revised its interest rates on term deposits on account of adequate liquidity in the system. 


The new deposit rates will also be effective from November 10. It has reduced interest rate on retail term deposit by 15 basis points for one year to less than two years' tenor. Bulk term deposit interest rates have been reduced by 30 to 75 bps across tenors, the bank said. -- PTI
11:27   Mamata prays for Advani's health on his 92nd birthday
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday extended "heartiest greetings" to BJP stalwart LK Advani on his 92nd birthday. Taking to Twitter, she prayed for the former deputy prime minister's good health and happiness.


"Heartiest birthday greetings to LK Advaniji. Wish you good health and happiness," Banerjee tweeted. Advani, one of the co-founders and a senior leader of the BJP, had served as deputy prime minister from 2002 to 2004 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 2015, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian honour. -- PTI


Image: PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and JP Nadda meet LK Advani at his residence.  
11:21   Sensex gets Moody, drops 100 points
Market benchmark BSE Sensex dropped over 143 points and the NSE Nifty slipped below the 12,000 mark on Friday after Moody's Investors Service lowered India's credit rating outlook citing concerns over the country's economic growth. The rupee also depreciated 30 paise against the US dollar to trade at 71.27 in early session. 


The broader NSE Nifty slipped 28.25 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 11,966. Top losers in the Sensex pack included Sun Pharma, HUL, Bharti Airtel, NTPC, PowerGrid and RIL, shedding up to 1.69 per cent. On the other hand, Yes Bank, ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, HCL Tech, M&M, Tata Motors and ONGC rose up to 2.26 per cent. 

Despite positive cues from global markets and sustained foreign fund inflow, domestic equities turned negative after Moody's Investors Service lowered the outlook on India's credit ratings, traders said. The agency has changed the outlook on India's ratings to 'negative' from 'stable', saying there was increasing risks that economic growth will remain materially lower than the past.
10:58   Will not let BJP form govt in Maharashtra: Congress
Congress leader Husain Dalwai on Friday said that his party will not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government in Maharashtra.The leader also exuded confidence that the party MLAs will follow the party high command's direction.


"All Congress MLAs are together. No MLA will break away from the party. MLAs will follow what party high command. We'll not allow BJP to form the government in the state. National Congress Party is our ally, they are with us. People have voted for us to save Maharashtra," he said while speaking to ANI in Mumbai.


Hussain Dalwai said, "I am fully sure that BJP will not be able to poach our MLAs.


Some Congress leaders who defected before elections are planning to return."Yesterday, he also hinted at forming an alliance with Shiv Sena saying that the two parties can have a discussion over having the next chief minister from Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.The Congress leader also added that whatever decision the party will take, it will be taken along with NCP.


"We can have a discussion over this. We have said that we don't want the Chief Minister to be from the BJP. Congress and NCP do not want BJP chief minister. We don't think that it is a good thing," the Congress leader had stated.A


As the deadline -- November 9 -- for government formation in Maharashtra is fast approaching, the Shiv Sena is not ready to settle for anything less than equal share in Cabinet portfolios and the chief minster's post for 2.5 years.


The BJP has emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats in the recently held Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena got 56 seats in 288-member Vidhan Sabha. -- ANI
10:51   Rupee slips 30 paise to 71.27 against USD
The Indian rupee opened on a cautious note and fell 30 paise to 71.27 against the US dollar in early trade on Friday after Moody's changed its India rating outlook to negative citing lower economic growth. Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook on India's ratings to 'negative' from 'stable', saying there was increasing risks that economic growth will remain materially lower than the past. Weak opening in domestic equities also weighed on the domestic currency, however, sustained foreign fund inflows and easing crude oil prices capped the losses, forex traders said. 


At the interbank foreign exchange, the rupee opened at 71.26 then fell to 71.27 against the US dollar, showing a decline of 30 paise over its previous closing. The Indian rupee on Thursday had closed at 70.97 against the US dollar. -- PTI
10:36   It's LK Advani's 92nd birthday
In Delhi, PM Narendra Modi meets senior BJP leader LK Advani at the latter's residence on his 92nd birthday. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, BJP President Amit Shah and BJP working President JP Nadda also present.
10:34   Nirmala: Fundamentals of Indian economy robust
The government on Friday reacted strongly to Moody's Investor Service changing its outlook on India's ratings to negative, saying the fundamentals of the economy remain quite robust and series of reforms undertaken recently would stimulate investments. 


In a statement soon after Moody's lowered the outlook to negative from stable, the Finance Ministry said India continues to be among the fastest-growing major economies in the world.


"India's relative standing remains unaffected," it said citing International Monetary Fund's (IMF) recent World Economic Outlook putting Indian economic growth at 6.1 per cent in 2019 and rising to 7 per cent in the year after. 


"As India's potential growth rate remains unchanged, assessment by IMF and other multilateral organisations continue to underline a positive outlook on India," it said. 


The ministry said the government has undertaken series of financial sector and other reforms to strengthen the economy as a whole. "Government of India has also proactively taken policy decisions in response to the global slowdown. These measures would lead to a positive outlook on India and would attract capital flows and stimulate investments," it said. 


"The fundamentals of the economy remain quite robust with inflation under check and bond yields low. India continues to offer strong prospects of growth in the near and medium term." -- PTI
10:10   Pakistan invites Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Kartapur inauguration
Pakistan has invited spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

"The opening of the Kartarpur corridor and promotion of religious tourism also coincides with your objective of violence-free world," the invitation letter sent to Ravi Shankar read.

The Kartarpur corridor is set to open on Saturday and both countries are set to hold ceremonies to mark the occasion.

The three-km corridor will allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev passed away in 1539.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
10:00   Ayodhya case: CJI to meet UP chief secy, DGP
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is likely to have a meeting with Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and director general of police on Friday to assess the law and order arrangement in the state ahead of the verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case to be pronounced next week, sources said.
   
The CJI has called UP Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and DGP Om Prakash Singh and will have the meeting in his chamber, they said.
 
The judgement on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute was reserved on October 16 after a marathon hearing of 40 days. 

The judgement is likely to be pronounced before November 17 as Justice Gogoi's tenure as the CJI comes to end on that day. -- PTI  
09:48   Gadkari to meet Uddhav at Matoshree: Sources
As the impase between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party continued for the 15th day, sources told Rediff.com that Union minister Nitin Gadkari would meet Sena President Uddhav Thackeray at Matoshree in Mumbai on Friday.

Gadkari, who met Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday in Nagpur, said that Devendra Fadnavis would head the new government in the state.

The Lok Sabha member from Nagpur also ruled out his return to his home state to assume the top job.

The BJP and Shiv Sena are locked in a tussle over the chief minister's post, resulting in a stalemate in government formation despite results of the October 24 assembly polls giving the alliance a combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House.
09:30   I had expected a reprisal, but not a severing: Aatish Taseer
In May 2019, at the height of Indias general election, I had written an article for TIME that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The piece, one of two on the cover of TIMEs International Edition, examined his record in India and the atmosphere of Hindu nationalism.

 Something about the timing, the headline ("India's Divider in Chief") and the image of Modi sent his supporters into a fury. 

In the days and weeks that followed, people put false content on my Wikipedia page, accusing me of working as a "PR Manager" for the opposition Congress Party; they began on-line petitions denouncing me; they ran amok on social media, making multiple death threats and circulating multiple memes of me with a Pakistani eyepatch. 

Suddenly, I was portrayed as an agent of shadowy Western interests determined to exert undue influence over the Indian election.

British-born writer Aatish Ali Taseer writes after the Indian government revoked his citizenship status.
08:51   Amid Maha deadlock, Sambhaji Bhide visits Matoshree
Right wing Hindu leader Sambhaji Bhide visited 'Matoshree', the residence of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in suburban Bandra, on late Thursday evening, a Sena source said.
However, Thackeray was not home and therefore Bhide, whose arrival was unexpected, could not meet him, said a close aide of the Sena chief.
Bhide's surprise visit to Matoshree came amid the ongoing stand-off between the Sena and BJP, the two saffron allies, over chief minister's post after the Maharashtra assembly polls.
08:47   Moody's changes India's outlook to negative
Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook on India's ratings to 'negative' from 'stable', saying there was increasing risks that economic growth will remain materially lower than the past.
 
It affirmed the Baa2 foreign-currency and local-currency long-term issuer ratings for India.
"Moody's decision to change the outlook to negative reflects increasing risks that economic growth will remain materially lower than in the past, partly reflecting lower government and policy effectiveness at addressing long-standing economic and institutional weaknesses than Moody's had previously estimated, leading to a gradual rise in the debt burden from already high levels," the rating agency said in a statement.
While government measures to support the economy should help to reduce the depth and duration of India's growth slowdown, prolonged financial stress among rural households, weak job creation, and, more recently, a credit crunch among non-bank financial institutions, have increased the probability of a more entrenched slowdown, it said.
 
"Moreover, the prospects of further reforms that would support business investment and growth at high levels, and significantly broaden the narrow tax base, have diminished," it said. -- PTI 

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com.
08:30   US increases H1B application fee by $10
The United States has announced the increase of H-1B work visa application fee by $10 as part of its revised selection process.
 
This non-refundable fee will support the new electronic registration system to make the H-1B cap selection process more efficient for both petitioners and the federal agency, said the US Citizenship and Immigration Services  on Thursday.
 
"This effort will help implement a more efficient and effective H-1B cap selection process," said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.
 
"The electronic registration system is part of an agency-wide initiative to modernise our immigration system while deterring fraud, improving vetting procedures and strengthening program integrity," he said.
 
The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.
 
Upon implementation of the electronic registration system, petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will first have to electronically register with the USCIS during a designated registration period, unless the requirement is suspended, the USCIS said.
 
The federal agency is slated to implement the registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap selection process, pending completed testing of the system.
01:00   Lankan Tamils extend support to Premadasa
Sri Lanka's Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on Thursday extended its support to presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa, terming him as 'a candidate with clean hands'.

Explaining their stand to support Premadasa against the opposition candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the presidential poll scheduled for November 16, TNA, in a statement, said the Sri Lankan voter expects the new president to be genuinely committed to democracy, independence of institutions and to honour fundamental and human rights.

Premadasa is the ruling United National Party (UNP) candidate, while former defence chief Gotabhaya is contesting from Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) ticket.

'Mr Premadasa is a leader with clean hands. In whatever capacity he has functioned, it is accepted that he has done his best, he has reiterated his firm commitment to uniting all the people and taking forward the country towards progress and prosperity,' a TNA statement said.

Earlier on Sunday, TNA spokesman and legislator M A Sumanthiran said that Premadasa's manifesto will be more acceptable to Tamils as compared to other candidates.    -- PTI

IMAGE: Sajith Premadasa, Sri Lanka's presidential candidate of the ruling United National Party (UNP) led New Democratic Front alliance waves to his supporters during an election campaign rally, in Colombo, on Thursday. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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