Thu, 06 February 2020
Suffered 'terrible ordeal' in impeachment: Trump

Timeline  Refresh

23:34   I-T Dept launches e-calculator to compare due tax under new, old regime
The Income Tax Department on Thursday launched an e-calculator for individuals to estimate and compare their tax liability under the new tax slabs as compared to the existing regime, officials said on Thursday.
The calculator, launched earlier in the day, was updated by the department in the evening to make it more "user friendly". It largely gives the user three broad results based on the kind of individual financial data fed into it, a senior official said. 
It will either tell the user about the tax benefit as per the new regime (as proposed in the budget), tax benefit as per the existing or old system and lastly if tax outflow for the user is same in both old and new regime. 
This will help an individual take an informed decision of opting either the tax slab while filing their income tax return next year, the official said. 
Taxpayers in three age categories of normal citizen (below 60 years), senior citizen (60-79 years) and super senior citizen (above 79 years) can punch in their estimated annual income, total eligible deductions and exemptions to see what will be their total taxable income if they continue in the old regime or opt for the new one which will not allow any deductions and exemptions.
The calculator, once fed with data, promptly informs the user about the actual amount of money that can be saved by opting either of the two regimes.
A tab for the calculator has been placed on the homepage of the official e-filing website of the department -- -- and upon clicking it takes the user to the next page meant for calculating tax liability for resident individuals (financial year 2020-21).
This web portal is otherwise used for filing of e-ITRs by individuals and various other categories of taxpayers.
"This calculator is only meant to provide basic idea of the estimated impact of the new provisions. Refer to the Income Tax provisions for the actual provisions and eligibility," a disclaimer posted on the link said.
In the new personal income tax regime as proposed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on February 1, five per cent tax is levied on an annual income between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. The tax rate rises to 10 per cent, 15 per cent, 20 per cent and 25 per cent for every Rs 2.5 lakh addition. A 30 per cent tax is charged for income over Rs 15 lakh.
The old or the existing income tax rate regime allows a standard deduction of Rs 50,000 and investment of Rs 1.5 lakh in saving schemes with a rate of 5 per cent, 10 per cent or 30 per cent tax depending on various income levels. -- PTI  
22:56   Suffered 'terrible ordeal' in impeachment: Trump
United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said he and the Republicans had been put through a "terrible ordeal" by some very dishonest and corrupt people during the impeachment.
The US Senate on Wednesday acquitted President Trump on two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction to Congress - giving him a major political victory in an election year.
The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress, thus preventing the Democrats' move to overthrow him, for which they required two-thirds of votes in the 100-member House.
Addressing the religious believers at the 68th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, Trump referred to the impeachment and said that every possible attempt was made to hurt the nation.   
Trump said he and the Republicans had been put through a "terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people".
"I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, 'I pray for you,' when they know that's not so," Trump said.
"They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country, he said. Trump said he disliked people who used their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.

"Weeks ago and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, the fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right. I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong," Trump said.
During his address, Trump said that he has taken historic action to defend religious religious liberty, including the Constitutional right to pray in public schools. 
"At every stage of our nation's long march for civil rights was inspired, sustained and uplifted by faith, prayer and devotion of religious believers," Trump said during his address that was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. -- PTI  
22:46   Pak court to pronounce verdict against Saeed on February 8
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court will pronounce on Saturday its verdict against Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases, a court official said on Thursday amidst intense pressure on Islamabad to rein in terror groups. 
Anti-Terrorism Court Lahore judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta reserved the verdict against Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Saeed in two terror financing cases on Thursday. 

The defence and prosecution completed their arguments in a six hour hearing, the court official told PTI after the hearing. 
The judge will announce the verdict on February 8 in the presence of Saeed.  
The official further said the prosecution produced some 20  witnesses in the ATC who testified against Saeed and his close aides for their alleged involvement in terror financing.  
Saeed was produced before the ATC amid tight security.
"As the defence had already completed its arguments on January 30, the prosecution presented more arguments and evidence before the court on Thursday," the official said.  
The ATC had indicted Saeed and others on December 11. Saeed has already recorded his statement before the court in two terror financing cases against him in which he pleaded "not guilty". 
The cases of terror financing have been registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of the Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab police. Cross examination of prosecution witnesses against Saeed and his three close aides by the defence counsel has already been concluded.   
The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
The US has also welcomed Saeed's indictment, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him. 
22:13   Doctor who 1st warned about coronavirus dies
Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistle-blowers who warned other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by the police, died of the epidemic on Thursday, official media reported.
Li, a 34-year-old doctor who tried to warn other medics of the epidemic, died of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the state-run Global Times reported.
He was the first to report about the virus way back in December last year when it first emerged in Wuhan, the provincial capital of China's central Hubei province.
He dropped a bombshell in his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and quarantined in his hospital.
Li explained that, according to a test he had seen, the illness was a coronavirus -- a large family of viruses that includes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which led to 800 death in China and the world in 2003.
Li told his friends to warn their loved ones privately. But within hours screenshots of his messages had gone viral - without his name being blurred.
"When I saw them circulating online, I realised that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li was quoted as saying CNN recently.
Soon after he posted the message, Li was accused of rumour-mongering by the Wuhan police.
He was one of several medics targeted by the police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak. 
Overall 564 people have died in China due to the virus and 28,018 confirmed cases have been reported from 31 provincial-level regions, the National Health Commission reported on Thursday. -- PTI
21:54   Sharjeel Imam sent to 6-day judicial custody
A Delhi court Thursday sent Sharjeel Imam, arrested on sedition charges, to judicial custody for six days, his lawyer said.
Imam was produced at the residence of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Purushottam Pathak in the evening amidst high security, said the lawyer, appearing for the Jawaharlal Nehru University research scholar.
Imam was arrested from Bihar's Jehanabad on January 28 for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at the Jamia Millia Islamia University here and in Aligarh.
He was brought to Delhi the next day.
The court had earlier sent Imam to 3-day police custody. -- PTI 
21:40   Taliban leader responsible for shooting Malala in 2012 escapes prison in Pak
Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former Pakistan Taliban spokesman who was responsible for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in 2012 and carrying out the deadly Peshawar Army school terror attack in 2014, has escaped from prison, according to a audio clip released by him.
In the audio clip, which surfaced on social media on Thursday, Ehsan said that he escaped the confinement of Pakistani security agencies on January 11, claiming Pakistani forces failed to keep their promises made to him during his surrender in 2017.
"With the help of God, I succeeded to escape on January 11, 2020 from the confinement of the security forces," he is heard saying in the clip.
It would be a big blow to Pakistan and its campaign to eradicate the remnants of Taliban if the clip is proved to be authentic.
Without revealing his current location, Ehsan said that he would make a detail statement about the days of his confinement in the coming days as well as about his future plans.
Malala, 22, the youngest Nobel Peace prize winner, was shot by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012 in Pakistan's Swat Valley.
Ehsan was also involved in the one of the most gruesome attacks on children anywhere in the world when 8-10 suicide attackers wearing paramilitary Frontier Corps uniforms on December 16, 2014 entered the Peshawar's Army Public School and went from classroom-to-classroom shooting indiscriminately, killing 149 people including 132 students.
Ehsan in the audio clip said that he surrendered to the Pakistani security agencies on February 5, 2017 under an agreement but the forces failed to keep their promise made before the surrender.
"I followed the agreement for about three years. But these shrewd security institutions put me in prison along with my children in violation of the agreement," he said, adding that he finally decided to flee from the forces.  
The authenticity of the audio and veracity of the Ehsan's claim was not verified by the security forces or the Pakistan government. -- PTI 
21:04   Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti booked under PSA
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, under house arrest for the last six months, have been charged under the Public Safety Act, a stringent law that allows detention without trial for up to two years

Omar Abdullah's father, Farooq Abdullah was charged under the same law last September and has been under house arrest since August as well. 
21:00   Amitabh Bachchan now has 40 million followers on Twitter
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday clocked 40 million followers on Twitter.
The megastar is one of the most active Bollywood personalities on Twitter.

 He is also present on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, among others and has a personal blog on Tumblr.
At the moment, he has a total of 40,002,202 followers on the micro-blogging site. He is followed closely by superstar Shah Rukh Khan who has 39.8 million followers.
As congratulatory messages poured in, the 77-year-old actor retweeted a number of posts from his fans.
Bachchan currently has 27.9 million followers on Facebook and 14.2 million on Instagram.
On the work front, the veteran actor will be next seen in Chehre, Gulabo Sitabo, Ayan Mukerji's Bhrahmastra and Jhund. -- PTI
20:46   Don't be part of agitating crowd protesting outside campus: Jamia to students
The Jamia Millia Islamia appealed to its students on Thursday to not be part of an "agitating crowd" protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act outside its campus, days after the Delhi police urged the university administration to remove protesters from the road near one of its gates.
In view of the Delhi assembly election and recent firing incidents, the Jamia Nagar SHO wrote a letter to the university registrar, stating that some students, former students and locals were sitting on the Okhla Road outside gate number seven and protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Following the request, the varsity appealed to students to not be a part of an agitating crowd on a public road, and endanger their safety and security.
The university stated that the request of the local police needs to be taken "seriously and its gravity must be understood".
"The university is responsible for the safety and security of its students within the domain of the campus and can protect the students and staff when they, as a group, are independent of the crowd which is not a bonafide part of the university," it said. 
"The parents are also being approached and their support in personal capacity is also solicited to guide their wards in adhering to basic precautions to be confined within the premises of the university campus. The proctorial paraphernalia available to university is limited, hence a collective effort is the need of the hour," it added. 
The varsity had on Saturday prohibited students from holding any protest meeting or agitation inside the university campus, warning them of strict action.
The varsity administration also directed students to report to it any unauthorised entry of outsiders in campus to avoid "disruption of peace". -- PTI 
20:30   Ranjeet Bachchan murder: Suspected shooter held in Mumbai
The Uttar Pradesh police's special task force on Thursday arrested from Mumbai the suspected shooter in the murder case of right wing Hindu outfit leader Ranjeet Bachchan in Lucknow, an official said.
Based on the information provided by the suspect, two others have also been detained, the official said, without specifying the places from where they were taken into custody.
Bachchan, 40, who had founded the Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant when he was out on a morning walk on Sunday, a couple of kilometres away from the high-security Uttar Pradesh legislature complex in Lucknow.
"Based on specific information, the UP Police's STF, with the help of their counterparts in Mumbai, arrested the suspected shooter from Mumbai on Thursday," the official said.
"During their investigation, the STF had got a tip-off about some suspects. While going through the call detail records and mobile phone locations of the suspects, one of them was found to have fled to Mumbai in train," he said.
Accordingly, the UP STF team reached Mumbai on Wednesday night and arrested the suspect with the help of Mumbai Police, the official added.
"During his interrogation, police found that he had allegedly fired at the Hindu outfit leader. Based on the information provided by him, police have also detained two more persons in connection with the case," he said.
Besides the trio, a few more persons are suspected to be involved in case, the official said. -- PTI 
20:07   Shaheen Bagh joint-venture of AAP, Cong: Shah
Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday alleged the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Shaheen Bagh was a "joint venture" of the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress and claimed the "tukde-tukde gang" would get a "shock" when the election results are declared.
Addressing three roadshows, he asserted that the BJP would emerge victorious in the elections as people will vote for country's security, development and good governance.
Amid chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' at his road show in Hari Nagar, a group also raised "goli maro" slogans. However, the policemen asked them to stop.
"Shaheen Bagh is the joint venture of the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress. Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi are worried that Shaheen Bagh should not be discussed. I want to ask them why the security of the country should not be an electoral issue? Why are the people sitting in Shaheen Bagh demanding 'Jinnah Wali Azadi' and why the tukde-tukde gang is supporting them? 
"Shame on these people. I want to tell all of you that tukde-tukde gang is going to get a shock, because you are going to press the button on the lotus symbol on February 8 for the development of Delhi and the country," he said at a road show in Seemapuri constituency in North East Delhi.
Later addressing a road show in west Delhi's Hari Nagar constituency, seeking votes for party candidate Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, Shah said, "Remember that a year ago, there was a terrorist attack in Pulwama and our forces took revenge by conducting an air strike. 
"You all know that the people of Delhi as well as the whole nation was saluting the valor of the army, but do you know who was the most sad. First Rahul Gandhi, second Arvind Kejriwal and third was Imran Khan sitting in Pakistan".
Shah said Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi and Imran Khan had a problem with the surgical strikes.
"All three had a problem with the surgical strikes. I want to ask whether such people should be handed over the power in Delhi? These people are very dangerous for the security of the nation.
"On the other hand, the central government is constantly working for the public interest, providing housing, gas connections and basic facilities to the people," he said. -- PTI
19:38   2 IEDs found, one arrested ahead of PM's Assam visit
One suspected anti-talk United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent cadre was arrested on Thursday for planting two improvised explosive devices in the state capital ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's day-long visit to Assam.
Modi is scheduled to visit Assam on Friday and address a public rally at Kokrajhar after the Bodo peace agreement, which was signed in New Delhi on January 27.
Guwahati Police Commissioner Munna Prasad Gupta told PTI that the two IEDs were found in the busy Paltanbazar and Panbazar areas of the city late on Wednesday night.
"The bomb squad took the IEDs away from the populous location and those were detonated safely later. We suspect it is the handiwork of ULFA-I," he added.
The police team immediately launched an operation and arrested one suspected cadre of ULFA-I, Gupta said.
To queries whether these bombs were planted targeting Modi's visit to the state, Gupta said, "We cannot say immediately that the IEDs were planted targeting to the PM's visit. We are investigating".
Police had recovered another five IEDs from Panikhaiti area, near Guwahati on the same day.
Modi during his visit to Assam has no programme in Guwahati. 

He will reach the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati from Delhi and leave for Kokrajhar by a chopper. 

On the way back he will reach the airport by a chopper and leave for the national capital in the plane, officials said. -- PTI
19:16   EC notice to Yogi for biryani remark
JUST IN: Election Commission has issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for violation of model code of conduct over his speech in Karawal Nagar where he said, "Kejriwal is feeding biryani to Shaheen Bagh protesters."  -- ANI
19:15   All 645 evacuated from Wuhan test negative
All 645 people evacuated from China's Wuhan city, who were kept in isolation at Army Base and Indo-Tibetan Border Police camps, tested negative for coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

It said that as of February 6, 1,38,750 passengers from 1,265 flights had been screened for novel coronavirus illness but no new case was detected.

India has so far reported three confirmed cases of nCoV from Kerala. 

Three medical students studying at the Wuhan University who returned to India recently tested positive for the virus. Besides, 510 samples were tested by ICMR network laboratories, of which all had tested negative except for the three already reported positive cases.

The three cases are clinically stable, the ministry said in a statement.

It said that all 645 people evacuated from Wuhan, who were kept in isolation at Army Base and ITBP camps, tested negative for coronavirus. Community surveillance and contact tracing is going on by IDSP for 6,558 persons across 32 states/UTs.

The Fourth Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) meeting was held on Thursday under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to discuss various technical issues, including review period of follow up required for asymptomatic travellers from China.

The Health Ministry in coordination with central ministries and all states/UTs is taking adequate measures for management of nCoV in India.  -- PTI
18:52   Ram temple work to begin in April this year: Trustee
The construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya will commence either on Ram Navmi or Akshaya Tritiya in April, Swami Govind Devgiri Maharaj, a trustee of Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust said in Pune on Thursday.

The exact date, however, will be finalised in the first meeting of the Trust, he said. Swami Devgiri Maharaj was talking to reporters Pune, a day after the Modi government constituted an independent 15- member Trust, including him, to oversee the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

"I welcome Modi government's decision to form a trust for the establishment of Ram mandir in Ayodhya. The construction of the temple will commence either on Ram Navmi (April 2) or Akshaya Tritiya (April 26) this year as discussed during a meeting at Prayagraj," he said.

"However, the date will be finalised during the first meeting of the trust," the Swami added.

"Many people wanted that a Ram temple be built in Ayodhya...It will not just be a monument dedicated to Lord Ram, but a symbol of the country," he said.

"We will complete its construction in the next two years," he said.

Swami Devgiri thanked 'karsevaks' and late Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal for their contribution in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.  -- PTI
18:43   Talks on Trump's visit to India on: MEA
The discussions on President Donald Trump's visit to India are on with the US side, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

"We are in discussions with the US side," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said when asked about Trump's visit to India.

At a poll rally last week, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said Trump will visit the Sabarmati Riverfront in the state during his India trip in February.  -- PTI
18:22   Modi 'reminds' Cong how Telangana was created
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies in Rajya Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address:

"To be honest, I was a little disappointed with some of the remarks made here. Some members have made stagnation a virtue. They were stuck in the same old ways, talking about the same old things of the past."

"Ghulam Nabi Azad ji said the decisions on Jammu and Kashmir were taken without any discussion. This is not correct."

"The entire nation had witnessed the detailed discussions on the subject. MPs have voted in favour of the decisions.

"People do not forget things easily. I want to remind the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, about the way in which proceedings regarding the creation of Telangana took place here, doors were closed and live telecast was prohibited."

"For first time in decades, people of Jammu and Kashmir got benefits of reservation. There were Blocked Development Council polls, Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act came into being there. An anti-corruption bureau was set up there."

"Vaiko ji said 5 August 2019 was a black day for Jammu and Kashmir. Vaiko ji it was not a black day for J-K, it was a black day for those who promoted terrorism and separatism."

"Plight of the Bru refugees was pitiable. Yet, the party which ruled most parts of the Northeast for decades and the party that ruled Tripura for decades did nothing about this crisis. It was our Government that had the honour of solving this major problem."

"Despair is not good for any nation, so the positive outcome of the $5 trillion economy talk is that those who oppose it also have to talk about $5 trillion economy. We have changed the mindset."  -- ANI
18:14   BJP is 'fooling' people on issue of unauthorised colonies: Kejriwal
Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of 'forgetting' unauthorised colonies just before the February 8 Delhi assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal said the saffron party is 'fooling' people as the Congress did when it was in power.

In an interview to PTI, Chief Minister Kejriwal said BJP leaders these days are talking about Shaheen Bagh where an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest is going on for over a month, but not about Delhi's unauthorised colonies.

The Lok Sabha in November last year had passed the NCT of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, to grant ownership rights to residents living in the city's 1,731 unauthorised colonies.

According to the BJP, the move will benefit 40 lakh residents.

Kejriwal alleged that Union Home Minister Amit Shah in his political rallies had not mentioned the issue of unauthorised colonies.

"They have forgotten the issue of unauthorised colonies just before the assembly elections. After January 15, Shah has not even mentioned the issue of unauthorised colonies.

"In the last four months, they just gave registry to 20 can imagine how much time they will take to give registry to the 40 lakh residents of the unauthorised colonies," he said.

Kejriwal said before January 15, BJP leaders would talk about unauthorised colonies.

"The BJP is fooling the people (on unauthorised colonies) as the Congress did," the AAP leader said.

People living in unauthorised colonies play a vital role in elections in the national capital.

In November last year, Kejriwal had asserted that he would not rest till the registration of houses in the unauthorised colonies is completed.

When the Congress was in power in the national capital, the provisional certificates were given to some residents of these colonies. -- PTI
18:04   SC reserves order on whether it can refer question of law to larger bench
A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court Thursday reserved order on the legal issue of whether the top court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said it will pronounce the order on February 10 and will accord day-to-day hearing from February 12.

The bench was hearing the issues relating to discrimination against women at various places of worship including the Sabarimala temple.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the apex court was right in referring the questions of law to the larger bench.

"As custodian of fundamental rights, it was the duty of the court to lay down an authoritative pronouncement on these questions of law."

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the submission and said that only the President can ask questions of national importance, not the court.

The other members of the bench are Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.  -- PTI
17:14   Maha: US Consul General visits RSS founder's memorial
US Consul General in Mumbai David J Ranz on Thursday visited the memorial of K B Hedgewar, founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in Reshimbagh area.

He was accompanied by RSS's Nagpur unit chief Rajesh Loya as he paid tribute at the 'Smriti Mandir'. The US envoy is also expected to visit Deekshabhoomi in the city where Dr B R Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with lakhs of his followers in 1956, government sources said. -- PTI
17:09   Cong may spring surprise in Delhi: Surjewala
The Congress may spring a surprise in Delhi like it did in the elections in neighbouring Haryana last year, senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed as campaigning for the February 8 polls here closed on Thursday. 

"Some news channels were giving us just two seats in Haryana but we won 31. It is going to happen again," he told a press conference. Terming the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, and the ruling AAP in Delhi as "Jhoothon ki Sarkar aur Jhoothon ke Sardar", Surjewala accused them of failing in areas of health, pollution mitigation, education, clean drinking water supply and public transport in the national capital. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has "panicked" as he feels that this time the BJP may not win more that the three seats it had won in the 2015 Delhi assembly polls, the Congress leader said. -- PTI 
17:00   No evidence to show Peter Mukerjea involved in Sheena Bora murder: Court
Update on Peter Mukerjea's bail: The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to former media baron Peter Mukerjea, arrested in the Sheena Bora killing case, observing that prima facie there was no evidence of his involvement in the crime. 

Justice Nitin Sambre granted bail to Peter Mukrjea on a surety of Rs 2 lakh and directed that he should not contact his children Rahul Mukerjea and Vidhi Mukerjea and other witnesses in the case. 

The court, however, stayed its order for a period of six weeks so as to enable the Central Bureau of Investigation, the agency probing the case, to file an appeal. Peter Mukerjea was arrested on November 19, 2015 in the case, in which his former wife Indrani Mukerjea is the main accused.

The court in its order noted that there is prima facie no evidence to infer that Peter Mukerjea was involved in the commission of the crime. 

"When the incident took place, the applicant (Peter Mukerjea) was not in India. The trial in the case is already underway. The applicant is in jail since over four years and has recently undergone a bypass surgery," Justice Sambre said. 

"Except for statement of the approver in the case, Shyamwar Rai, there is no reference to Peter Mukerjea in any evidence. There is no other evidence to show his involvement in the conspiracy," the court said. 

Justice Sambre said on April 24, 2012, the date of the alleged killing, there was direct involvement of Indrani Mukerjea and her previous husband Sanjeev Khanna in the offence, as alleged by the CBI. 

"There is also no explanation put forth by the CBI as to why Peter Mukerjea was arraigned as accused in the case six months after the arrest of the other accused (Indrani and Khanna)," the court said.

The court also refused to accept the prosecution's argument that Peter Mukerjea conspired to kill Sheena Bora as he was unhappy with the relationship between her and his son Rahul Mukerjea. 

"This court has perused various emails exchanged between the applicant and Rahul Mukerjea. It is difficult to infer there was any criminal intent on part of Peter Mukerjea to indulge in the crime in question," Justice Sambre said. 

"The applicant was only trying to counsel his son, being a responsible father," the judge added. The court further took into consideration the fact that the case trial is already underway.

"The applicant is in jail since more than four years and has recently undergone a bypass surgery. Considering these circumstances, this court is granting bail," the order said.

The court directed Peter Mukerjea to deposit his passport with the CBI. According to the CBI, Peter Mukerjea along with Indrani Mukerjea and her previous husband Sanjeev Khanna entered into a criminal conspiracy to kill Sheena Bora. Sheena Bora, 24, was Indrani Mukerjea's daughter from an earlier relationship.  -- PTI
16:51   Mahua Moitra terms PM's speech in LS 'mix of fairy tale, mediocrity'
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech in the Lower House of the Parliament as 'a mix of fairy tale and mediocrity'.

"It was a mix of fairy tale and mediocrity. There are no numbers in the budget or in his speech, there is only qualitative grandstanding," Moitra told ANI on being asked about Prime Minister's speech.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister slammed his political rivals while replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address and said that there was a problem in opposition mindset which saw some people as 'Muslims of India' while for BJP everyone is an India.

"We are being reminded that the slogan of 'Quit India', 'Jai Hind' was given by Muslims. Problem is that in the eyes of Congress these people are only a Muslim even after so many years. For us, they are Indians. Be it Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Abdul Hamid or Abdul Kalam Azad, these all are Indians for us", Modi said in the lower house of parliament.

Prime Minister Modi also touched upon a number of subjects including Article 370, the economy, political violence in West Bengal among others during his over an hour-long speech in the house. -- ANI
16:46   Street protests road to anarchy: Modi
Accusing the Opposition of inciting protests against the CAA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday warned that street agitations against decisions of Parliament and state assemblies may lead to "anarchy" and that everyone should be worried over it. 

Strongly defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act which has triggered protests, Modi reiterated in Lok Sabha that it does not affect any Indian citizen and poses no harm to minorities, and said that those rejected by people in elections are fuelling protests against it for their "vote bank politics". 

He accused the opposition of using all its might to stoke "imaginary" fears about the law, which grants citizenship to minorities from three Muslim countries in the neighbourhood, and likened its stand to that of Pakistan, saying Islamabad spoke the same language for decades to mislead and incite Indian Muslims. Pakistan could not succeed, and what has surprised him that those thrown out of power by voters here have resorted to doing such things, Modi said in his over 100-minute-long reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, which was later passed by Lok Sabha. 

"So much criticism of the CAA has been made ironically by those who love getting photographed with the group of people who want "tukde tukde" of India," he said.

The prime minister delivered rebuttal to the Opposition over most issues its members raised to criticise his government and took on the charge that he pursued communal politics and wanted Hindu rashtra. He cited comments of Jawaharlal Nehru to back the law and said the Congress stalwart wanted citizenship for minorities from Pakistan. Modi also touched on the issues of Kashmir, economy, unemployment and farmers distress while taking frequent digs at rivals, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi whom he dubbed a "tubelight". 

Hitting back at the Congress over its charge that his government violated the Constitution, Modi said it should be the party's mantra to speak frequently about "saving Constitution" so that it remembers its sanctity. Congress government imposed the Emergency, curbed judiciary's powers, spoke against people's right to life and dismissed Opposition-run state governments frequently, he said. "We believe in the Constitution," he added.

Amid thumping of benches by ruling BJP members and their allies, the prime minister then invoked the Constitution to warn against street protests against decisions taken by Parliament and assemblies. The Congress was expected to be a responsible Opposition, but it had taken a wrong turn, he said. Noting that the CAA was passed by Parliament and duly notified, he told Opposition parties that the road taken by them raises worries, a reference to anti-CAA protests and support to them by many anti-BJP parties. What will happen if people refuse to accept a decision taken by the Rajasthan assembly, stage dharnas and resort to arson, Modi said and gave a similar example of Madhya Pradesh. The Congress is in power in the two states. "What will then happen? Can the country run this way? This is road to anarchy... Such a way can put you (Opposition) in trouble as well. I am giving this warning as we all should be concerned about the country," the prime minister said. "It is due to your work that people have sent you there," he said, referring to the opposition benches. 

"Everybody has a right to put across their point of views but no good will come out of spreading lies and rumours. Respect the Constitution," he added. Modi recited a verse to take swipe at opposition parties for their backing to anti-CAA protests and referred to their leaders making speeches there. People associated with the Congress and the Left have been inciting people, he said. 

Quoting Nehru, Modi said India's first prime minister in a letter to the then Assam chief minister in 1950 asked him to distinguish between Hindu refugees and Muslim migrants from Pakistan and said the law should be amended to grant citizenship to the refugees if required.
16:26   Peter Mukerjea gets bail in Sheena Bora case
Peter Mukerjea, accused number 4 in the Sheena Bora murder case, has been granted bail by the Bombay High Court. The judge observed that prima facie there was no evidence against him. Mukerjea in jail since 2015, was married to Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in the case. However, the prosecution has been given six weeks time to approach the Supreme court, which means despite the bail, Mukerjea cannot walk out of jail. 

Mukerjea has been given bail on a surety of Rs 2 lakh. He cannot travel abroad. 

15:26   Experts hail RBI measures to boost economy, improve money supply
Economists and financial experts have welcomed RBI's widely expected status quo on repo rate, and other announcements to spur economic growth and ensure money supplies effectively. 

The RBI on Thursday kept the key policy rate unchanged at 5.15 per cent. This follows a cumulative 135 basis points (bps) cut in repo rate since February to December 2019. 

The six-member Monetary Policy Committee headed by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das unanimously decided to keep the repo rate unchanged. Bank of India CMD A K Das termed the RBI policy quite progressive and forward looking. 

"Notwithstanding unchanged policy rates, introduction of Term Repo opens up ways to transmit the signal rate changes," he said. "Measures like DCCO extension for realty, MSME window expansion for restructuring and CRR exemption for incremental funding to key segments are growth oriented and promise to provide the much needed impetus to bank lending," Das said.

According to Rajni Thakur, Economist, RBL Bank, MPC's decision was on expected lines. "The changes in development and regulatory policies however were a positive surprise and could potentially turn out to be a big support to the troubled sectors in the economy," Thakur said. 

Specific announcements in terms of CRR relief or long-term durable liquidity for banks push the overall credit availability in the financial system. Whether these steps manage to improve demand conditions is another question all together, she added. -- PTI
14:50   PM didn't say a word on unemployment: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi on PM Modi's speech in Lok Sabha today: "The biggest issue today is unemployment and jobs, we asked PM many times, but he did not say a word on this. 

"Earlier, the Finance Minister gave a long speech but she also did not say a word on it. PM Modi's style is to distract the country from core issues. He talks of Congress, of Jawaharlal Nehru, of Pakistan, etc but not of core issues."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, adding that enhancing the investor confidence is also in view of the government in a bid to further strengthen the country's economy.

"We have kept the fiscal deficit in check. Price rise is also under check and there is macro-economic stability. Investor confidence should increase, the country's economy should be strengthened, for this, we have also taken several steps," the Prime Minister said in a reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha.

"We are working on labour reforms and that too after consulting the labour unions, among the things that will drive India's progress in next-generation infrastructure. In the earlier days, infrastructure creation brought 'economic opportunities' for a select few. Not anymore. We have made this sector transparent and are working to boost connectivity," he stressed.
14:37   Pan-India cheque truncation system to be implemented by Sep: RBI
In a bid to accelerate clearance of cheques, the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday said it has decided to implement a cheque truncation system (CTS) across the country by September this year. RBI introduced this system in 2010. At present, it is operational in some major cities. 

"The CTS, which is currently operational at the major clearing houses of the country, has stabilised well and it has made large efficiency gains. In view of this, a pan-India CTS will be made operational by September 2020," according to the Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies released by RBI. 

Observing that digital payments in India have been growing rapidly, RBI said a digital payments index will be launched soon. The Reserve Bank shall construct and periodically publish a composite DPI to capture the extent of digitisation of payments effectively, it said. 

"The DPI would be based on multiple parameters and shall reflect accurately the penetration and deepening of various digital payment modes. The DPI will be made available from July 2020 onwards," it said. -- PTI

Representational image
14:32   PM says India has kept fiscal deficit, price rise in check
Fiscal deficit and price rise are under check, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, adding that enhancing the investor confidence is also in view of the government in a bid to further strengthen the country's economy.

"We have kept the fiscal deficit in check. Price rise is also under check and there is macro-economic stability. Investor confidence should increase, the country's economy should be strengthened, for this, we have also taken several steps," the Prime Minister said in a reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha.

"We are working on labour reforms and that too after consulting the labour unions, among the things that will drive India's progress in next-generation infrastructure. In the earlier days, infrastructure creation brought 'economic opportunities' for a select few. Not anymore. We have made this sector transparent and are working to boost connectivity," he stressed.India has taken many initiatives in industries, irrigation, social infrastructure, rural infrastructure, ports, and waterways, the Prime Minister said.

"In the coming days, we will move ahead with infrastructure projects worth Rs 100 lakh crore. The development of infrastructure will give impetus to the economy and boost employment," Modi said.
14:25   Will increase suryanamaskars: PM on beatings jibe
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday gave a light-hearted yet sharp reply to Rahul Gandhi's 'youth will beat PM with sticks' remark and said he will increase the frequency of doing Surya Namaskar to deal with the assault.Prime Minister Narendra was replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha.

"A leader of the Congress has yesterday announced that within six month they will beat Modi with sticks. And it is true that this is a difficult thing, hence six month will be required for the preparation. So the six months of time is good."

Outlining his penchant for Yoga and using the reference to take a light-hearted jibe, Modi added, "But I have also decided that in these six months I will increase the number of 'Surya Namaskars' so that, same as I have made myself abuse-proof in last 20 years, I will do as many Surya Namaskars so that my back can be made strong enough to tolerate such beatings by the stick. Hence I am grateful that they have announced in advance so that I can increase my exercise regime in these six months."

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stood up and attempted to interject as soon as Modi ended this part of his speech, however, what he said could not be heard due to uproar in the parliament.

"I was speaking for 30-40 minutes now, but the current has reached there now", PM Modi quipped while gesturing at the Congress leader to sit down. "Some tube lights work like this," he added. 

Thereafter, Prime Minister continued to speak about skill development, digital economy, and other issues.

On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi, at an election rally in Delhi, had said, "Narendra Modi is giving speeches, he will not be able to move out of his house in the next six months. The youth of India will beat him with sticks to make him understand that without employment, the country can never progress."
14:17   Neglected for years, North-East growth engine now: PM
 North-East India, which remained neglected for years, is now becoming a growth engine and the Centre is working towards the development of the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Parliament on Thursday.

The Prime Minister was replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha.

"Let us talk about the North-East. For years, the distance became a reason to ignore this region. Things have changed now. The North-East is becoming a growth engine. Great work has been done in so many sectors. Ministers and officials are regularly visiting the region," said PM Modi.

"India can no longer wait for problems to remain unsolved. And, rightfully so. That is why our target is- speed and scale, determination and decisiveness, sensitivity and solution," he added.

PM Modi said that Delhi, which seemed distant to the people of North-East, in the last five years has stood at their doorstep. Efforts have been taken by the Centre to bring in electricity, rail connectivity, airport and mobile connectivity.

"It is due to the speed of this Government that in the last five years: 37 crore people got bank accounts. 11 crore people got toilets in their homes. 13 crore people got gas connections. Two crore people got their own homes," said PM Modi. -- ANI
13:57   For us, Mahatma is life: PM's barb at Congress
Amid sloganeering by opposition members over BJP lawmaker Anantkumar Hegde's remarks against Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a dig at Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Lok Sabha and said the Father of the Nation is "our life".

As Prime Minister Modi was replying in Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, Opposition started raising 'Mahatma Gandhi amar rahe' (long live Mahatma Gandhi) slogans to which Modi asked, "Bas itna hi? aur kuch hai? (Is that all? Is there more?)"Then, Chowdhury said to the Prime Minister, "Yeh toh abhi trailer hai (This is just a trailer)."

Later, the Prime Minister replied, "Aapke liye Mahatma Gandhi trailer ho sakte hain, humare liye Gandhi ji zindagi hain (Mahatma Gandhi might be a trailer for you, [but] for us, Gandhiji is our life)."Prime Minister Modi further stated, "President has highlighted the vision for a New India.

His address comes at a time when we enter the third decade of the century. President's address instils a spirit of hope and presents a roadmap for taking the country ahead in future.

"Several Opposition parties have over the past few days criticised the BJP after its lawmaker Hegde called the freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi a "staged drama" and also questioned how "such people" come to be called "Mahatma"."I own my statement," said Hegde on Tuesday in his defence amid the raging controversy over his remark and added that he has never said anything against the Father of the Nation. -- ANI
13:13   Death of infant at Shaheen Bagh protest is suicide bomb: Giriraj Singh
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Thursday said that the protest in Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has become a breeding ground for suicide bombers.

The statement from the Union Minister came in reference to the death of a four months old infant named Mohammed Jahaan due to cold recently at the protest site.

"A child dies due to cold in Shaheen Bagh and the mother says that his son has made the sacrifice. If this is not a suicide bomb then what it is? If we have to save the country, we should prevent these suicide bomb and khilafat Andolan type protests. The country must be careful of such protests," he said while speaking to ANI in New Delhi.

Jahaan, who use to accompany her mother to the Shaheen Bagh demonstration, has died last week after developing severe cold and congestion and getting exposed to the winter chill at the protest site. The infant breathed his last on the morning of January, 31.

Nazia has been regularly attending Shaheen Bagh protest since December 18 and has two more children including 5-year-old girl Ayat and two-year-old Noor Nawaj.

Nazia, however, says that she will continue to attend the protest as it was for the country. -- ANI

Image: Mohammed Arif, right, and Nazia with one of their surviving children pose for photographs at their residence in Batla House, New Delhi, on Monday. Arif and Nazia's infant son, whom they used to take to the Shaheen Bagh protests, reportedly died due to the exposure to the cold.
13:05   PM lists govt's achievements in vote of thanks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies in Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address.

"President has highlighted the vision for a New India. His address comes at a time when we enter the third decade of the century. President's address instills a spirit of hope and presents a road map for taking the country ahead in future.

"Citizens of India have not only changed the Sarkar. They want the 'Sarokar' to be changed as well.

"If we had worked according to old ways and thoughts then-Article 370 would never have been abrogated. Muslim women would have kept suffering due to Triple Talaq.

"If we worked as per the old ways then-Ram Janmabhoomi issue would have remained unresolved. Kartarpur Sahib corridor would not be made. There would be no India-Bangladesh land agreement.

"India can no longer wait for problems to remain unsolved. And, rightfully so. That is why our target is: speed and scale, determination and decisiveness, sensitivity and solution."

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Lok Sabha tells the PM, "Yeh to abhi trailer hai" on opposition raising 'Mahatma Gandhi amar rahe' slogans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies, "Aapke liye Mahatma Gandhi trailer ho sakte hain, humare liye Gandhi ji zindagi hain".When I see & hear Adhir Ranjan Chowdhuryji, I congratulate Kiren Rijijuji, Adhir ji promotes the 'Fit India Movement' launched by Rijijuji very well. He also does gymming while delivering his speeches.

"For years, distance became a reason to ignore the Northeast region. Things have changed now. The Northeast is becoming a growth engine. Excellent work has been done in so many sectors. Ministers and officials are regularly visiting the region."
12:43   Ten defectors who helped BJP gain power in K'taka rewarded
The Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Thursday rewarded the 10 defectors, who helped the BJP bring down the Congress-JDS coalition and come to power, with Cabinet berths. The then disqualified Congress-JDS MLAs who had shifted loyalty to the BJP and won the December by-elections, were sworn-in at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan with the Governor Vajubhai Vala admistering oath of office and secrecy.

The ten are S T Somashekar (Yeshwantpur constituency), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), K Sudhakar (Chickballapur), Byrathi Basavaraj (K R Puram), A Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), B C Patil (Hirekerur), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), K C Narayana Gowda (K R Pet) and Shrimant Balasaheb Patil (Kagwad). The much-awaited expansion takes the strength of the Cabinet to 28, with six vacancies now.

Image: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and Governor Vajubhai Vala with the 10 newly-inducted Cabinet Ministers at Raj Bhawan in Bengaluru.
12:28   RBI estimates GDP to expand at 6% in FY21
The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday projected the economy to expand by 6 per cent during the next financial year, pegging it at the lower end of the GDP growth estimate of the Economic Survey. 

The survey, tabled in Parliament last month, estimated the GDP growth during FY21 at 6-6.5 per cent. After three-day deliberations, the Monetary Policy Committee, headed by Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, observed that the economy continues to be weak and the output gap remains negative. 

Real GDP growth for 2019-20 was projected at 5 per cent in the December 2019 policy. The central bank said that for 2020-21, the growth outlook will be influenced by several factors, including level of private consumption, and external factors. 

It said private consumption, particularly in rural areas, is expected to recover on the back of improved Rabi crop prospects. The recent rise in food prices has shifted the terms of trade in favour of agriculture, which will support rural incomes. The easing of global trade uncertainties should encourage exports and spur investment activity, it said.

"The breakout of the coronavirus may, however, impact tourist arrivals and global trade," it added. Also, the rationalisation of personal income tax rates in the Union Budget 2020-21 should support domestic demand along with measures to boost rural and infrastructure spending. 

Taking into consideration different factors, RBI said "GDP growth for 2020-21 is projected at 6.0 per cent '" in the range of 5.5-6.0 per cent in H1 and 6.2 per cent in Q3," The government has said the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has a host of steps to spur economic growth, which is estimated to have slowed to a decade-low of 5 per cent in the current fiscal. -- PTI

Image: The 6-member monetary policy committee headed by RBI governor Saktikanta Das
12:19   Govt donates Re 1 in cash to Ayodhya Trust to begin its work
The government has made the first donation of Re 1 in cash to the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust to begin its work of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya, officials said. D Murmu, an Under Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, contributed the amount to the trust on behalf of the central government on Wednesday. The trust will accept donations, grants, subscriptions, aids or contribution from any person in cash, kind, including immovable properties, without any conditions, the officials said. It will initially function from the residence of senior lawyer K Parasaran but will look for a permanent office later, they said. 

The Centre on Wednesday constituted the independent 15-member Trust to oversee the construction of a "grand and magnificent" Ram temple in Ayodhya, an announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha four days before the expiry of a three-month deadline set by the Supreme Court.

In a notification, the Union Home Ministry said the Trust will have its registered office in Greater Kailash locality, an upscale area in south Delhi, and will have a representative from the Dalit community.

The members of the trust include senior lawyer K Parasaran, Jagatguru Shankracharya, Jyothishpeethadheeshwar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj from Allahabad, Jagatguru Madhavacharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth Ji Maharaj, Pejawar Math in Udupi, Yugpurush Paramanand Ji Maharaj from Haridwar, Swami Govinddev Giri Ji Maharaj from Pune and Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra from Ayodhya. Besides, the following will be the trustees - Anil Mishra, a homoeopathic doctor from Ayodhya, Kameshwar Chaupal from Patna who is a Scheduled Caste member, and Mahant Dinendra Das, Nirmohi Akhara, Ayodhya Baithak. Two prominent people who shall be practising Hindus will be nominated by the board of trustees with a majority resolution. One representative will be nominated by the Centre who shall be a practising Hindu by religion and a serving member of the IAS and who shall not be below the rank of joint secretary to the government of India and shall be an ex officio member. -- PTI
12:08   RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 5.15%
The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) on Thursday decided to keep its short-term lending rate -- repo rate rate -- unchanged at 5.15 per cent in the sixth bimonthly policy review of the ongoing financial year.

The RBI maintained it accommodative stance to support growth and said that there is policy space available for future action.

The central bank raised its CPI inflation forecast for the first half of FY21 to 5-5.4 per cent. It pegged FY21 GDP growth at 6 per cent.

The RBI said the economy continues to be weak and output gap remains negative. All six members of the Monetary Policy Committee vote in favour of maintaining status quo on interest rate.

RBI anticipates inflation to remain elevated in short-run; overall, inflation outlook remains highly uncertain.
11:46   Campaigning for Delhi polls ends at 6 pm today
The high voltage campaigning for Delhi Assembly elections, scheduled for Saturday (February 8), comes to an end at 6 pm today. The campaign was marked by aggressive blitzkrieg between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party, while Congress too left no stone unturned to make the contest triangular.

On the final day of campaigning, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to hold three roadshows in Seemapuri, Hari Nagar and Madipur assembly constituencies respectively, while BJP president JP Nadda will hold roadshows in Mundka and Sultanpur Majra.

Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia is also holding a 'padyatra' in his constituency Patparganj today.While campaigning was headed by none other than Amit Shah for the BJP, the AAP, on the other hand, remained mostly dependent on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. 

The Congress, which didn't win even a single seat in the last Assembly polls, pinned hopes on Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.If Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two rallies saw the campaign ascending to its zenith, what added vigour to the BJP's poll efforts were the roadshows and door-to-door campaigning of Shah.

The BJP, which could only manage three seats in the last Assembly election, remained aggressive throughout the campaigning, which witnessed rallies by party bigwigs like Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar, Vijay Rupani, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Anurag Thakur among others.

For AAP, which marked a historic win in 2015 polls by winning 67 out of 70 seats, Kejriwal remained at the forefront along with other party leaders like Sisodia.Among the most prominent issues, which remained in highlight during the campaigning process, was Shaheen Bagh, where people have been protesting for more than a month over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, among others.

The heated poll campaign in Delhi witnessed AAP outlining the work done, primarily in the field of health and education. BJP focused on the central government's achievements and projected the Prime Minister's image to seek votes.

The Congress, on the other hand, attempted to remind the citizens of Delhi about the welfare and development work done by former chief minister Sheila Dikshit under her 15 years of rule and revolved their campaign around 'Congress waali Dilli'. -- PTI
11:38   Rishi Kapoor admitted to hospital with viral fever
Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, who was discharged from a Delhi hospital last week, has been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai with viral fever, a source close to the family said Thursday. 

The 67-year-old, who was shifted to a Mumbai hospital on Monday, the same day the actor went on Twitter to say he was back home, is doing "fine", the Kapoor family insider said. 

"He has been admitted to Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital in south Mumbai two days ago due to viral fever. He is fine and there is nothing to worry about," the source told PTI. 

The actor returned to India last September after undergoing treatment for cancer in the US for almost a year. As reports of his hospitalisation fuelled speculation about the return of the disease, Kapoor issued a clarification on Twitter on Monday. 

"Dear family, friends, foes and followers. I have been overwhelmed by all your concern about my health. Thank you. I have been filming in Delhi past 18 days and because of the pollution and my low count of neutrophils, I caught an infection whereby I had to be hospitalised," he tweeted.

"I was running a slight fever and on investigation, doctors found a patch which could have led to pneumonia, was detected and is being cured," the actor added. Kapoor had earlier told PTI, "I have had an infection which am getting treated. Nothing dramatic sorry. Pollution got me I guess." 

The actor recently announced his next project, a remake of Hollywood film "The Intern", in which he will feature with Deepika Padukone. PTI
11:35   US concerned over religious freedom in India
The US has expressed concern over the current situation of religious freedom in India and raised the issue with Indian officials, a senior State Department official has said.

The remarks came in the wake of widespread protests held across India against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The senior State Department official, on condition of anonymity, said that he has met with officials in India about what is taking place in the nation and expressed concern. 

"We are concerned about what's taking place in India. I have met with the Indian foreign minister. I've met with the Indian ambassador (to express my concern)," the official, who was recently in India, told reporters on Wednesday. 

The US has also "expressed desire first to try to help and work through some of these issues", the official said as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance. 

"To me, the initial step we try to do in most places is say what can we do to be of help you work through an issue to where there's not religious persecution. That's the first step, is just saying can we work with you on this," the official said. India maintains that the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities. 

It is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect fundamental rights, a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs has said. -- PTI
11:28   UP police files FIR against 135, arrests 20 for anti-CAA protests
The police has registered an FIR against at least 135 people, of which only 35 have been named and the rest are unidentified, for allegedly protesting against the amended citizenship law in Bilariaganj area here. 

Twenty people named in the FIR have been arrested, police said. "FIR has been registered against 35 named and over 100 unidentified persons involved in anti-CAA protests on Tuesday near Jauhar park in Bilariaganj area. Of them 20 have been arrested," Superintendent of Police, Triveni Singh, said.

He said the protest was led by Ulema Council national general secretary Tahir Madni, who was also arrested on Wednesday. The protesters were using foul language against Hindus and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he alleged.

The SP said a reward of Rs 25,000 each has been announced on absconding Ulema Council leaders Nurul Huda, Mirza Shane Alam and Osama. -- PTI
11:21   SC to hear HC verdict on Nirbhaya convicts
The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on Friday the Centre's appeal challenging the Delhi High Court's verdict dismissing its plea against stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, appearing for the Centre, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari. Natraj told the court that jail authorities are unable to execute the convicts in the case despite the fact that their review petitions have been dismissed and curative petitions and mercy pleas of three of them rejected. PTI
10:42   Shadows darker in Valley
"Never has a government, the custodian entity of the nation, turned so menacing and merciless on its people. It has turned into a bully State that will gleefully torment and torture. Its chief actors are dog-whistlers and gas-lighters, they are inspiring marauders -- a lone-wolf here, a choleric mob there -- to medieval ways of settling medieval scores. 

"Let there be little doubt about this: a government recently and resoundingly entrusted with the safekeeping of the national contract is actively tearing it to shreds. It has become a spur to disruption and chaos. It has tossed away sanity as a thing of repugnance. Notice the number of pleas and petitions written out these past weeks piled up discarded in the bin.

"Read through the list of signatories -- teachers, writers, poets, artists, jurists, diplomats, bureaucrats, scientists, historians, economists, some of the finest observers and interpreters of society, the learned and the educated."

Read Sankarshan Thakur's column here. 
10:13   Sensex rises 100 pts ahead RBI monetary policy
Market benchmark Sensex jumped over 100 points in opening session on Thursday ahead of the outcome of Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy review amid strong cues from global markets. 

The 30-share BSE index was trading 125.32 points or 0.30 per cent higher at 41,267.98, and the broader NSE advanced 46.20 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 12,135.35. In the previous session, Sensex ended 0.87 per cent or 353.28 points higher at 41,142.66. 

While, Nifty rose 109.50 points, or 0.91 per cent, to settle at 12,089.15. Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 248.94 crore, while domestic institutional investors purchased shares worth Rs 262.75 crore on Wednesday, data available with stock exchanges showed. 

HCL Tech, ITC, Maruti, Bajaj Finance, Hero MotoCorp and TCS were the top gainers in the Sensex pack. While, Kotak Bank, NTPC, PowerGrid and HDFC were the laggards. According to traders, investors are bullish ahead of outcome of the Reserve Bank of India's sixth bi-monthly monetary policy statement for 2019-20. This will be the central bank's last monetary policy for the current financial year. 

According to experts, the RBI is likely to maintain status quo on rates as well as its monetary policy stance, and to continue an accommodative stance to support growth. PTI
09:59   Eagerly looking forward to PM's visit: Assam CM
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday reviewed preparations in Kokrajhar ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to participate in the celebrations of the signing of the Bodo agreement.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always been taking very positive initiatives for the speedy growth of Assam and North-East. He respects North-East and he wants speedy growth in North-East. That is why to restore peace and tranquility within the state of Assam and entire North-East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are taking exemplary initiatives, this Bodo Peace Accord is one of them," Sonowal said. 

"That is why we are proud of this particular Accord and also we are very eagerly looking forward to receiving Prime Minister Modi on February 7," he added.

Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti said that the state police is "confident and totally prepared" ahead of the Prime Minister's visit.

The visit comes days after the state government signed a tripartite agreement with representatives of all factions of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in New Delhi on January 27.

It will be the first visit of Prime Minister Modi since the state witnessed anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.Over four lakh people from the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) districts and all over Assam are expected to attend the programme, a government release said.

The Bodo groups have been demanding a separate state of Bodoland for the last 50 years. The movement has resulted in extensive violence and loss of hundreds of lives over the years. The Assam government will organise a cultural programme of ethnic groups of the state to showcase the diversity of the region.

The Prime Minister will also address the gathering to hail the historic Bodo Agreement signed in January this year, by including the leading stakeholders under one framework.He had said that the agreement is inspired by the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas' and the spirit of 'Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat'.-- ANI
09:42   JNU student arrested for sexually harassing girl
A Jawaharlal Nehru University student has been arrested for allegedly sexually harassing a female student inside the campus, police said.According to Delhi Police, Raghvendra Mishra was arrested on Wednesday. A case was registered under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). -- ANI

File pic of the anti-CAA protests at JNU
09:11   Mughal Raj not far away if...: Tejasvi Surya
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said the "majority community" has to remain vigilant or "Mughal rule" will return to the country, as he criticised the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh.

Referring to the protest at Shaheen Bagh against the CAA, he said, "Unless majority community remains vigilant, the days of Mughal Raj may not be far away."

The CAA, he said, was aimed at resolving the issues that was left over from the Partition. "The new India cannot be built without healing the wounds of the past."

He said the CAA was about giving citizenship to persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and not for taking away anyone's citizenship.

Under the leadership of PM Modi, Surya said, several issues of the past have seen closure. These include abrogation of Article 370, construction of Ram temple, solving Bodo problems and abolition of "triple talaq".
08:40   Modi to reply today in LS on Motion of Thanks for President's Address
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reply on Thursday in Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks for President's Address.

Addressing the joint sitting of both Houses at the beginning of the Budget session on January 31, President Ram Nath Kovind said that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution "paved the way for equal development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh".

"The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution through two-thirds majority by both the Houses of Parliament is not only historic but it has also paved the way for equal development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh," Kovind said.

"Fast-paced development of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, protecting its culture and traditions, transparent and honest administration and boosting the democracy, is among the priorities of my government," he added.

The President also said that a record two lakh Indian Muslims performed Hajj this time and India is the first country in the world where the entire process of Hajj was done digitally.

The first phase of the Budget session will conclude on February 11, while the second part of the session will begin from March 2 and end on April 3. 

-- ANI
08:24   China novel coronavirus toll rises to 563
The death toll in China's novel coronavirus outbreak went up to 563 as 73 people died on Wednesday, the highest one-day fatalities so far, while total confirmed cases rose sharply to 28,018, Chinese health officials said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 73 people died due to the virus and the new confirmed cases of the epidemic went up by 3,694, the country's National Health Commission announced.

Overall 563 people have died in the country due to the virus so far and 28,018 confirmed cases have been reported from 31 provincial-level regions, the Commission said.

Among the deceased, 70 were from Hubei Province and its provincial Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

Tianjin, Heilongjiang and Guizhou provinces registered one death each, the Commission said.

Another 5,328 new suspected cases were reported on Wednesday of which 2,987 are in Hubei.

-- PTI
07:46   Trump acquitted of all impeachment charges
The United States Senate acquitted US President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment -- abuse of power and obstruction to Congress -- giving him a major political and moral victory in an election year.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit him of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress, thus preventing the Democratic move to overthrow him, for which they required two-thirds of votes in the 100-member House.

The ruling Republican party has 53 seats while the Democrats have 47.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a bitter critic of Trump and who was the party's presidential nominee in 2012, voted against the president on the first charge, but followed the party line on the second article of impeachment. Rest of the members voted on party lines.

"The President is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond," the White House said soon thereafter.

Trump announced on Twitter that he will make a public statement Thursday noon from the White House "to discuss our Country's VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!"

The White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham slammed the Democrats.

"Today, the sham impeachment attempt concocted by Democrats ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump. As we have said all along, he is not guilty," she said.
-- PTI
01:34   HC cancels Nithyananda's bail in 2010 rape case
The Karnataka high court on Wednesday cancelled the bail granted to the self-styled godman Nithyananda in 2010 in a rape case.

Justice John Michael DCunha cancelled the bail allowing a petition filed by Kuruppan Lenin, on whose complaint police had registered the case against Nithyananda for various crimninal offences, including rape.

The Judge also directed the trial court to order the arrest of the accused and initiate process of forfeiting the surety and bonds.

Lenin, who worked as Nithyananda's driver, sought cancellation of the bail saying accused was skipping trial.

The court observed that Nithyananda has misled the trial court into believing that he was working towards propagating Hinduism whereas his whereabouts were not known to anyone.

Lenin had made the charges after Nityananda was embroiled in a controversy after a purported video footage showing him in a compromising position with a Tamil actress surfaced.

Nithyananda, whose main ashram is in Bidadi in Karnataka,and two of his disciples was recently booked on charges of kidnapping and keeping children in wrongful confinement at an ashram in Ahmedabad.

The two disciples have been arrested.

The controversial godman had fled the country last year and the Interpol has issued a Blue Corner Notice to locate him.  -- PTI
00:25   Babri will remain mosque forever: Jamiat
As the Centre constituted a trust to oversee the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Wednesday said the Babri Masjid would remain a mosque forever and no one has the right to accept another alternative site.

The announcement of a 'broad scheme' for developing a Ram temple and formation of the Trust named 'Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teertha Kshetra' was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shortly after a meeting of the Union cabinet presided by him gave its approval.

The prime minister also said that on the directions of the Supreme Court, the Centre has requested the Uttar Pradesh Government to allocate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf board, and it has acceded to the request.

Reacting to the development, Jamiat President Maulana Arshad Madani said the Babri Masjid was a mosque in view of law and justice, and in light of the Shariah.

"It would remain a mosque till the Day of Resurrection, no matter what form and name it is given, because no individual and party has the right to withdraw his claim from any mosque to any alternative," he said in a statement.   -- PTI