Fri, 23 October 2020
Some think of family once in power: Nitish slams RJD
23:47 Some think of family once in power: Nitish slams RJD
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday accused opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and its allies of seeking votes by creating conflicts and disturbance in society, and thinking just about the families of their leaders once in power.
Addressing polls rallies at Dehri on-Sone in Rohtas, and Bhagalpur, where he shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar said that for him Bihar is his family.
He appealed to the people to vote the NDA back to power to take the state to newer heights and continue the development works.
"There are some people who get votes by creating conflict and disturbance in society. And after they win, they think only about their families," he said in an apparent attack on the RJD and its supremo Lalu Prasad.
"For these people, family just means the husband, wife, son and daughter. But for me, the entire Bihar is my family," he added.
Referring to the Bhagalpur riots of 1989-90, he said that the past governments had not done anything for justice.
"But when we got the opportunity to work, we got it probed and took action. We gave the victims Rs 2,500 financial aid raised it Rs 5,000 after 2013."
He also responded to the opposition's attack on his government over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the migrant crisis.
He said everybody knows about the aid handed out by the Centre during the crisis.
He said special trains were run with the help of the Centre to bring back Bihari migrants stranded elsewhere.
Kumar said the pandemic has affected the entire world but India has put up an impressive fight under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
"It is because of the cooperation that we received from the Centre that our people could come back by trains and the state's coronavirus recovery rate has reached 94 per cent," he said.
The chief minister said that 500-bed hospitals were set up with the help of the Centre, ration cardholders were given Rs 1,000 each and the state government also handed over ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to those who died because of coronavirus.
During the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and the RJD's Tejashwi Yadav raised several questions over the government's handling of the pandemic and the migrant crises. -- PTI
Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai
23:40 Writers, activists back Maha's decision not to open places of worship
Writers including Jnanpith recipient Bhalchandra Nemade and several activists on Friday came out in support of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision not to reopen places of worship in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Over 100 persons, including Nemade, fellow writers Rangnath Pathare and Shanta Gokhale, anti-superstition activist Mukta Dabholkar and banking sector activist Vishwas Utagi wrote a letter to Thackeray, expressing their support.
The chief minister is facing criticism from opposition BJP which is pressing for reopening of temples. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had recently written to him, questioning his Hindutva ideology for refusing to reopen temples and other religious places.
"Your government is already facing the challenge of getting the wheels of economy moving, and you faced another pressure from the governor himself for opening religious places," the letter signed by Nemade and Pathare, both eminent Marathi novelists, and others, said.
"Even Article 25 of the Indian Constitution empowers the government to prioritise health over religious issues. We strongly object to reaping political benefits out of people's faith. If religious places are opened, it would pose a major threat to people's lives," the letter stated. -- PTI
22:54 Par panel quizzes FB on its revenue, profit
A parliamentary panel on Friday quizzed social media giant Facebook about the quantum of their revenue, profit and tax payouts in India and asked what portion of their earnings were being used for data security in the country, sources said.
Facebook India's policy head Ankhi Das appeared before the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019 chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
She was questioned for two hours and asked some tough and searching questions by the panel members from across the political spectrum, sources said.
During the meeting, a member suggested that the social media platform should not draw inferences from the data of its users for commercial benefits of its advertisers or for electoral purposes, they said.
The MPs also sought to know the revenue Facebook generates from India and what percentage of the revenue is spent on safeguards for data protection, sources told PTI.
India is the biggest market for Facebook in terms of its users.
The panel also asked how much tax the social media giant pays in India, they said.
During the meeting, concerns were also raised about the allegations that majority of the employees of the social media giant in the United States were inclined towards one specific political party of the country.
Last month, Facebook India head Ajit Mohan had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, on the alleged misuse of social media platforms.
The panel had called Facebook to hear about a report published in the Wall Street Journal claiming that the social media platform ignored applying its hate-speech rules in India. -- PTI
22:36 Maha govt publishes list of medical stores selling Remdesivir
The Maharashtra government on Friday came out with a list of 59 pharmacists in the state where Remdesivir, a drug used for COVID-19 treatment, will be available at Rs 2,360 per unit.
Principal secretary of the public health department Dr Pradeep Vyas informed district collectors and municipal commissioners about the decision in a letter.
"The medicine is administered free of cost at state-run hospitals, however, there was no cap on its price at private hospitals.
"(Now) The pharmaceutical shops in every district and city are designated for its supply, which will ensure smooth supply of the medicine to every patient," Vyas said in the letter.
"The Food and Drug Administration has shortlisted the pharmaceutical outlets in the state. There are five outlets in Mumbai division, 13 in Pune division, nine in Nashik, 11 in Aurangabad, 10 in Konkan, six in Nagpur and five in Amravati," the letter said. -- PTI
21:48 ED summons Punjab CM's son in FEMA case
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh's son for questioning in an alleged foreign exchange violations case, official sources said on Friday.
Raninder Singh has been asked to depose at the central probe agency's office in Jalandhar on October 27, they said.
The summons pertain to a case registered by the ED under the Foreign Exchange Management Act with regard to alleged possession of undisclosed assets abroad.
He was questioned by the agency in this case in 2016 and was asked to explain the alleged movement of funds to Switzerland and creation of a trust and a few subsidiaries in the British Virgin Islands.
The alleged instances of possession of properties in abroad was first investigated by the Income Tax Department.
Raninder Singh had earlier denied any wrongdoing.
The agency will record Raninder Singh's statement again once he deposes, the official sources said. -- PTI
21:39 India to operate 1st Vande Bharat flight to Wuhan on Oct 30
Air India will operate its flight to Wuhan on October 30, the first after the central Chinese city from where the coronavirus initially emerged in December was officially declared safe from the virus in June and all curbs were lifted.
A Vande Bharat Mission flight would be operated from Delhi-Wuhan sector on October 30, the Indian Embassy here announced on Friday.
This will be the sixth VBM flight by Air India to China to help Indians stranded in both the countries to travel back to their destinations.
The Delhi-Wuhan flight was announced after the cancellation of October 23 flight between Delhi-Guangzhou.
Those who are arriving from New Delhi has to undergo 14-day quarantine in the designated hotels.
The Indian embassy press release said the upcoming VBM flight scheduled for October 23 has been postponed to October 30.
The flight will be now operated on Delhi-Wuhan-Delhi sector.
The travellers have been asked to reach out to helpdesk (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any assistance or guidance.
India operated three flights to Wuhan to airlift Indians stranded in the city when the virus was at its peak there in February this year.
Air India has operated five VBM flights so far helping Indians stranded in both the countries to travel back to their destinations. -- PTI
21:05 'Time' magazine replaces cover logo with Vote. Heres why
Time magazine, for the first time in its nearly 100-year history, has replaced its well-recognised logo on the cover of its latest edition with the word 'Vote'.
The United States elects its president on November 3, in what has been the most searing election campaign in the democracy's history.
Explaining why the publication chose to replace its logo, Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief and CEO of Time, writes, 'This has been a year of so much pain, hardship, chaos and loss. And yet as nations around the world begin to rebuild from the pandemic, it is clear that we also have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our tune.
'Few events will shape the world to come more than the result of the upcoming US presidential election. As Americans decide if it's time to reach for a reset button of our own, this issue includes a special report on the closing days of the 2020 campaign.
'To mark this historic moment, arguably as consequential a decision as any of us has ever made at the ballot box, we have for the first time in our nearly 100-year history replaced our logo on the cover of our US edition with the imperative for all of us to exercise the right to vote. To help, we've provided readers with a guide on how to vote safely during this extraordinary year.'
In conclusion Felsenthal writes: 'We stand at a rare moment, one that will separate history into before and after for generations. It is the kind of moment in which readers across the country and around the world have always turned to TIME. We thank you for doing so now.'
20:47 2nd Covid wave could hamper recovery: RBI
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das has said the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 could put sand in the wheels of the nascent recovery while his deputy M D Patra opined that it might take years to regain the output lost on account of the pandemic.
These views were expressed by them during the meeting of the newly constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) held from October 7 to 9.
The newly appointed independent member of the rate-setting panel Shashanka Bhide said uncertainties relating to COVID-19 pandemic will impact growth and inflation scenarios in the next two to three quarters.
Das also said the decision to cut benchmark repo rate would depend upon the evolving situation with regard to inflation which is currently above the tolerance level of the central bank, according to the minutes of the meeting released by RBI on Friday.
"I recognise that there exists space for future rate cuts if the inflation evolves in line with our expectations. This space needs to be used judiciously to support recovery in growth," Das said.
As per the central bank's assessment, headline inflation would moderate in the second half of the current financial year and further in the first quarter of the next fiscal.
Inflation remained above the upper tolerance threshold of 6 per cent since June, with signs of aggravation of price pressures. The government has asked RBI to keep inflation at 4 per cent (+, - 2 per cent).
Speaking about the risks to growth, Das said there are downside uncertainties that could put sand in the wheels of this nascent recovery. "Primary among them is the risk of a second wave of COVID-19. Private investment activity is likely to be subdued, even as domestic financial conditions have eased significantly," he noted.
In the first quarter of this fiscal, India's GDP contracted 23.9 per cent.
Deputy Governor Patra said that India has entered a technical recession in the first half of the year for the first time in its history.
"GDP is an aggregative indicator of economic activity and hides the extent of human misery and the loss of social and human capital caused by the health crisis.
"Nonetheless, if the projections hold, the level of GDP would have fallen approximately 6 per cent below its pre-COVID level by the end of 2020-21 and it may take years to regain this lost output," he said.
While voting for keeping the interest rate unchanged, RBI Executive Director Mridul K Saggar expressed concern that if current real negative interest rates fall further, it may generate significant distortions that could adversely affect aggregate savings, current account and medium-term growth in the economy. -- PTI
20:29 Another person arrested in TRP scam
Mumbai Police has made a ninth arrest in the Television Rating Points rigging case, an official said on Friday.
Harish Kamlakar Patil (45), a resident of suburban Chandivali, was arrested by the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the crime branch which is probing the case.
Patil was apprehended on Thursday evening after his name cropped up during the interrogation of Ramji Sharma and Dinesh Vishwakarma, former employees of Hansa research agency, he said.
It was suspected that Patil took money from some TV channels to fraudulently ramp up TRP, he said.
Investigation revealed that there were some financia transactions between Patil and absconding accused Abhishek Kothawale who runs a company named Max Media.
Patil allegedly helped Kothawale to flee from the city after the probe began, he said.
The alleged fake TRP scam came to light when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint with the police through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain channels were rigging TRP numbers to lure advertisers.
It was alleged that some families at whose houses meters for collecting data of viewership were installed were being bribed to tune into a particular channel. -- PTI
20:17 Pak to stay in 'grey' list of FATF till Feb 2021
Pakistan will stay on the "grey list" of the global terror financing watchdog till February next year, the body ruled on Friday.
Financial Action Task Force president Marcus Pleyer said that Pakistan needs to do more on checking terror funding.
'Pakistan fails to fulfil 6 of the 27 mandates given to check terror funding," Pleyer said.
20:02 HC asks TV Today Network to deposit BARC fine with court
The Bombay high court has directed TV Today Network Ltd, which runs the news channel India Today, to deposit Rs five lakh, the fine imposed on it by the Broadcast Audience Research Council, in the court registry.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav was on Thursday hearing a petition filed by TV Today Network Limited challenging the July 31, 2020 order passed by the disciplinary council of BARC imposing the fine for alleged viewership malpractices.
Petitioner's counsel Veerendra Tulzapurkar sought an interim relief from the court, seeking a direction to the BARC not to take any coercive steps pending hearing of the plea.
BARC's counsel Ashish Kamat opposed the grant of interim relief.
The bench said it would hear the plea on November 5.
"You (petitioner) can deposit the Rs five lakh fine amount in the registry of this court. If you do so then the question of the respondent (BARC) taking any coercive steps does not arise," the court said.
The BARC had on April 27 issued a show-cause notice to the petitioner after the statistical data provided by BARC's Measurement Science Team allegedly showed abnormal and inexplicable increase in viewership.
Finding the media group's response unsatisfactory, the BARC on July 31 asked the network to pay Rs 5lakh as fine. -- PTI
19:24 Covid in India: Govt says next 3 months decisive
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the next three months are going to be decisive in determining the coronavirus situation in the country as he urged people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour in the coming festival season and winter months.
He also highlighted that the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country are less than 7 lakh and the doubling rate has increased to 97.2 days.
Vardhan, who reviewed the COVID-19 preparedness with the health and medical education ministers and other senior officials of Uttar Pradesh, said in the last three months, the country has seen significant improvement in the COVID parameters, the health ministry said in a statement.
'From recording over 95,000 COVID-19 cases in a day, they have been substantially reduced to less than 55,000 per day.
'The recovery rate of India is nearing 90 per cent.
'The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is also declining.
'CFR stands at 1.51 per cent and is moving towards the target of being less than 1 per cent,' he was quoted as saying in the statement.
'The number of active cases are less than 7 lakh and the doubling rate has increased to 97.2 days, as of now,' Vardhan said.
From just one lab, the country now has nearly 2,000 laboratories.
The number of total COVID-19 tests conducted across the country have surpassed 10 crore.
'This is a positive indication that we are moving in the right direction,' the minister said.
He said appropriate measures are being taken to combat the infectious disease.
"But the next three months are going to be decisive in determining the situation of COVID-19 in the country. If we take adequate precaution and follow COVID appropriate behaviour in the coming festival and winter season, we will be in a better position to fight coronavirus," Vardhan said.
For a big state like Uttar Pradesh, it becomes important that maximum thrust is given to simple precautionary measures which are effective in preventing the spread of the disease to a large extent like wearing masks/face cover, especially in public spaces, and following hand and respiratory etiquette, he added.
The health minister also spoke to officials of the districts where fresh COVID-19 cases or deaths are increasing.
He said as on date, Uttar Pradesh has a fatality rate of 1.46 per cent which is less than the national average.
The recovery rate of the state (92.2 per cent) is also more than the national recovery rate.
The positivity rate is 3.44 per cent, the statement said.
Vardhan also stressed that the northern state needs to focus on increasing testing, surveillance, contact tracing and early diagnosis to keep the fatality rate low.
He appreciated the efforts of the state in vaccinating those children who were left out of immunisation due to the pandemic, it added. -- PTI
18:58 Mumbai police books 4 Republic TV journos for 'causing disaffection'
An FIR was registered against four journalists of the news channel Republic TV in Mumbai on Friday for allegedly defaming the Mumbai police and trying to cause "disaffection" among members of the police force.
Republic TV termed it as an "assault on media rights" and said it will fight every "strongarm tactic".
The FIR, registered at N M Joshi Marg police station in the city, pertained to a report run by the channel about a `revolt' against the city police commissioner by senior officers, an official said.
The first information report was filed under section 3(1) of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922,alongwith IPC section 500 (defamation) on a complaint by sub inspector Shashikant Pawar of the Special Branch, he said.
It named anchor and deputy news editor Shivani Gupta, anchor and senior associate editor Sagarika Mitra, deputy editor Shawan Sen and executive editor Niranjan Narayanswami.
The accused aired a report on Thursday between 7 pm and 7.10 pm about a `revolt' against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh by senior police officers, the FIR said, claiming that this amounted to incitement to disaffection among members of the police force and defamation of the force.
In its reaction, the news channel said the FIR was a "shocking assault on media rights".
"This is happening for the first time in the world, the Mumbai police commissioner is not above the Constitution and the law," it tweeted. "In a brazen, blatant and shocking attack on press freedom by Mumbai police, Republic Media Network has been issued notice to submit details of every transaction since inception and list every single journalist and employee. We will fight each and every strongarm tactic," the channel said.
18:50 Want flag restored before fighting polls: Mufti
People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said her party and the recently-floated People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration will take a final decision on whether to contest elections or not in the Union Territory.
Jammu and Kashmir's mainstream political parties, including the National Conference and the PDP, formed the Gupkar alliance on October 15 for restoration of special status of the erstwhile state and also to initiate a dialogue between all the stakeholders on the issue.
In her first media interaction in over 14 months after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 in August last year and her subsequent detention, Mufti said personally she was not interested in contesting polls till the erstwhile state's flag and constitution were restored.
"As far as the PDP is concerned, now we are not alone. If you remember, we, along with the NC, had taken a united stand before the commencement of panchayat polls (in 2018) that we will not participate in them.
"This time also, we will discuss it in the party, with our workers, and then discuss it in the People's Alliance (for Gupkar Declaration). Whatever decision we take there, will be bound on everyone," she told reporters at a press conference at her Gupkar residence.
However, the former chief minister said on the personal front, she had no interest in contesting any elections till the erstwhile state's flag and its constitution was restored.
"As far as I am concerned, I have no interest in elections. Till the time the constitution, under which I used to contest elections, is returned to us, Mehbooba Mufti has got nothing to do with elections, let me tell you that," she said.
Mufti said she was not for power even if the union territory was upgraded to a state.
"I am no more for power be it a union territory or even a state. I was never for power. If I had any greed for power, we would not have left the Congress and created the PDP. We are not only for power. We could have made the government with the Congress (after 2014 polls), but we entered into an alliance with the BJP for a reason," she said, adding that 'I am not ready to take any oath without my flag and my constitution'.
When asked about whether her party and the Peoples' Alliance for Gupkar Declaration will contest the District Development Councils (DDCs), she said a meeting of the alliance was being held on Saturday where these issues will also be discussed apart from the general situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, when inquired further if not contesting those polls will be like conceding the space to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mufti said it was a hypothetical question.
"You are discussing everything hypothetically. The alliance will sit and discuss it. It is not about the BJP, it is about the BJP and its cronies.
"Because, people have to survive and God forbid, it should not happen that they (people) will come into the hands of those where they will be kicked out.
"So, we will take a decision keeping in mind all the pros and cons. Farooq (Abdullah) sahib is our leader, so we will take the right decision after everyone gives their opinion," she said. -- PTI
Migrants walk home in the ruthlessly imposed lockdown
17:43 19L jobs like Rs 15L in accounts promise: Rahul
In a dig at the BJP's election promise of 19 lakh jobs in Bihar, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Friday that it was similar to that of depositing Rs 15 lakh in the bank accounts of the people.
Addressing an election rally in Bhagalpur, Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar broke the backbone of the farmers, and medium and small businesses in the state.
He said that Modi calls himself a nationalist but weakened the country over the last six years. "Economy is suppressed and farmers oppressed," Gandhi added. -- PTI
17:26 Row in Nepal over R&AW chief's meeting with Oli
Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has come under fire, including from the ruling Communist Party leaders, for breaching diplomatic norms over his meeting with Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Samant Kumar Goel.
Goel called on Prime Minister Oli at his official residence at Baluwatar on Wednesday evening.
However, the Indian intelligence chief's visit did not go down well with some political leaders of the country, including members of the ruling party Nepal Communist Party.
The meeting that took place between RAW chief Goel and Prime Minister Oli was against diplomatic norms and it doesn't serve Nepal's national interest, said senior ruling party leader Bhim Rawal.
"As the meeting took place in a non-transparent manner without consulting with the concerned section of the Foreign Ministry, this may also contribute to weakening our state mechanism," he pointed out. Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the foreign affairs department of the NCP, said politicians should not overstep in matters related to diplomacy. "Diplomacy should be handled by diplomats not politicians," he said. "The present confusion over the visit of the R&AW chief is the result of the handling of diplomacy by politicians," he said.
Nepali Congress central leader Gagan Thapa in a tweet said the meeting posed a threat to national security. "The meeting was not only the breach of our diplomatic norms but it also poses threat to our national security, which needs to be investigated into," Thapa tweeted.
Nepal's three former prime ministers, Prachanda Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda', Madhav Kumar Nepal from the ruling NCP and Sher Bahadur Deuba from Nepali Congress, refuted media reports that they also held meetings with the visiting R&AW chief.
17:12 PM didn't help Bihari workers in lockdown: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in Bhagalpur: "PM Narendra Modi had said that India will be free of Corona within 22 days. I had been saying since February that the poor, labourers and farmers of India will suffer massive losses due to Corona but I was ridiculed.
"PM said we'll defeat Corona in 22 days. How? By clanging utensils and shining the light of mobile phones. You too thought if he asking let's do it. It has been 6-7 months, Corona is spreading. PM is not speaking a word.
"Labourers of Bihar were working in different parts of the country for our development - be it Mumbai, Delhi or Punjab. Just like our jawans are standing in Ladakh, the labourers of Bihar were giving their blood and sweat to this nation.
"Narendra Modi did not give you even a single day and announced a nationwide lockdown. He did not think for even a minute that how will the labourers of Bihar get the money? How will they get food and drinking water?
"Labourers of Bihar left for their native state and walked thousands of kilometres without food and water. Did PM help you? Did he say that he didn't think and ended up making a mistake? Did he offer buses, trucks, trains to go back home? No."
16:39 Chinese soldier caught at LAC had sleeping bag
The Chinese Army soldier who was apprehended by Indian troops near the Demchok area was found to be carrying a sleeping bag, storage device and a mobile phone. The soldier named Corporal Wang Ya Long had strayed across the Line of Actual Control into Indian territory in the Demchok area in eastern Ladakh and was apprehended by the Army on Monday.
"The Chinese soldier was found carrying a sleeping bag, an empty data storage device and a mobile phone along with his military identity card by when he was apprehended by our security forces," government sources told ANI.
He was thoroughly checked and questioned by the military authorities concerned as per the established protocols before being handed over to the Chinese at a long Border Personnel Meeting at Chushul meeting hut, they said.
In a statement about the incident, the Army had stated that the Chinese soldier was "provided medical assistance including oxygen, food and warm clothes to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions".
The Army said a request had been received from the PLA on the whereabouts of the missing soldier. It said he would be returned "as per established protocols" after formalities were completed. He was later returned to the Chinese on Tuesday night.
After the Chinese Army transgressed into multiple areas in the April-May timeframe, Indian Army responded heavily by deploying close to 60,000 troops to thwart any further ingress.
The army also made strong moves on August 29-30 to capture heights on the LAC near Southern bank on Pangong lake in Ladakh. -- ANI
16:14 Bihar has decided to re-elect Nitish Kumar: PM
The people of Bihar have decided to reelect Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance in the state, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a rally in Bhagalpur, his third for the day.
"This is my third rally today, the mandate of people is clearly with the NDA government under the leadership of Nitish Kumarji. The mandate of Bihar is clear wherever I have gone I have seen, the people of Bihar have decided to reelect Nitishji and make NDA win again to ensure the speed of Bihar's development increases," PM Modi said.
Targeting the Opposition (Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress) in the state, PM Modi said that they had done nothing else than filling their own coffers and looting the state.
"They (Opposition) never cared for the underprivileged sections of the society. Bihar is that place where the seeds of democracy were sown, can development and democracy thrive in jungle raj? Bihar deserves corruption-free government," he said.
The Prime Minister had earlier addressed two rallies in Sasaram and Gaya today and will in total address 12 in total in the poll-bound state.Bihar assembly elections will be held in three phases -- October 28, November 3, and 7, and the counting of votes will take place on November 10. -- ANI
16:11 Former Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse joins NCP
Former Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Friday joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the presence of the party's chief Sharad Pawar. Sulking since his unceremonious exit from the Devendra Fadnavis-led ministry in 2016 over land grab allegations, Khadse (68) on Wednesday quit the BJP.
The same day, state NCP chief Jayant Patil announced he would be joining the Pawar-led party. NCP is part of the ruling alliance in the state along with Shiv Sena and Congress, whose Maha Vikas Aghadi government assumed office 11 months ago. -- PTI
CM Uddhav Thackeray in Marathwada last week
15:31 Our thoughts, prayers with you, Kapil: Bishan Bedi
Former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi tweets: "Our Thoughts & Prayers are with the Greatest Champion Crktr of Our times...Guru MEHR Karehga..!Love Always Kaps..!!"
India's first World Cup-winning cricket captain Kapil Dev underwent an angioplasty on Friday after complaining of chest pain and is expected to be discharged in the next couple of days, said the hospital where he is admitted. The 61-year-old felt uneasy on Thursday following which he was taken to a hospital here.
"Cricketer Kapil Dev came to Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (Okhla Road) emergency department at 1:00 am on 23rd October with a complaint of chest pain. He was evaluated and an emergency coronary angioplasty was performed in the middle of night," the hospital stated. "Currently, he is admitted in ICU and under close supervision of Dr Atul Mathur and his team. Kapil Dev is stable now and he is expected to get discharged in a couple of days."
15:28 Centre offers states onions at Rs 30/kg
In a bid to cool down retail onion prices that are ruling over Rs 75 per kg in some places, the centre has stepped up efforts and asked states and union territories to take the kitchen staple from the central buffer stock for retail intervention.
As per data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, retail onion prices in Mumbai were ruling at Rs 86/kg, Chennai at Rs 83/kg, Kolkata at Rs 70/kg and Delhi at Rs 55/kg on October 22.
"We have stepped up efforts to check the price rise. We have requested state governments and union territories to take onion from our buffer stock for retail intervention," Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan told PTI. Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Haryana, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have shown interest and taking a total of 8,000 tonnes of onion from the buffer, she said, adding that the ministry is awaiting response from other states.
The centre is offering onion from the buffer stock stored at Nashik, Maharasthra, at the procured rate of Rs 26-28 per kg to states who wish to lift the stock on their own. For others who want it to be delivered, the offered price would be Rs 30 per kg, she added.
Besides this, the secretary said that cooperative Nafed, which is procuring and maintaining the onion buffer stock on behalf of the government, is offloading the stock in wholesale mandis across the country. -- PTI
15:22 No rain during Durga Puja in Bengal
The depression over north Bay of Bengal has begun moving away from the West Bengal coast on Friday afternoon, lessening the possibility of heavy rainfall in the metropolis and its neighbouring districts during the Durga Puja days, the Met office said. Light to moderate rain is likely in isolated pockets, it said.
15:18 Nitish's farewell on Nov 10: Tejashwi
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav Friday asserted his father and party supremo Lalu Prasad will come out of jail on November 9 after securing bail in a fodder scam case, and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will have his farewell the next day. The votes for the state assembly polls will be counted on November 10.
Lalu is in judicial custody in Jharkhand capital Ranchi after his conviction in fodder scam cases. He was recently granted bail by the Jharkhand High Court in the case related to Chaibasa treasury but could not come out of jail as his bail plea in another case of fraudulent withdrawals from Dumka treasury is being heard.
"Lalu ji is getting released on November 9. He has got one bail and will secure another on November 9, which also happens to be my birthday. The next day, Nitishji will have his farewell, Tejashwi told a poll rally in Hisua, exuding confidence about winning the elections.
The state is voting in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7, and the results will be announced on November 10.
In his address, he accused the Nitish Kumar government of failing to root out corruption, bring industries, provide employment and check migration for livelihood. "Nitishji, you have got tired. You won't to able to take care of Bihar," the 30-year-old Tejashwi told Kumar (69). -- PTI
15:03 Will K'taka get free Covid vaccine: Siddaramaiah
Taunting the Bharatiya Janata Party for its free Covid-19 vaccine promise in Bihar Assembly polls, former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Friday asked whether Kannadigas would get vaccines since there is no general election in Karnataka.
Siddaramaiah, in a series of tweets, also questioned whether Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will announce free COVID-19 vaccines for the people of the state.
"Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made it clear that the distribution of free vaccine is dependent on the electoral outcome in Bihar. Should pandemic not be a concern for Central govt? What does PM Narendra Modi have to say about this? Is it 'Vote over Health & Life' for BJP4?" Siddaramaiah tweeted.
The senior Congress leader also said that he hopes the 25 MPs from the state and Yediyurappa have the spine to demand free Covid-19 vaccine for Karnataka.
"There is no general election in Ktaka now. Does this mean Kannadigas will not get free vaccine? I hope 25 MPs, @CMofKarnataka & @BJP4Karnataka President has spine to demand free vaccine for Kannadigas also. Or will BJP President make way for another general election soon?" he said.
"Kannadigas are waiting for the announcement of free vaccine by govt. Will @BJP4Karnataka President assure on behalf of @narendramodi? Or will he conspire against @CMofKarnataka @BSYBJP to eventually promise in the election manifesto? #OpportunistBJP," he added.
The BJP on Thursday released its manifesto for three-phased Bihar elections and promised that after approval of coronavirus vaccine, every person in the state will get vaccinated free of cost. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the party's manifesto. -- PTI
14:49 India's active Covid cases drop below 7 lakh
In a "significant milestone" India's active Covid-19 caseload has fallen below 7 lakh for the first time after two months, while the total recoveries have crossed 69 lakhs, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.
The recovered cases are nearly 10 times more than the active cases, it said. The active caseload of the country has fallen below 7 lakh for the first time after two months (63 days), the ministry said.
The active caseload was below the 7-lakh mark (6,97,330) last on August 22. There are 6,95,509 active cases of coronavirus infections in the country as on date, which comprise merely 8.96 per cent of the total caseload, according to ministry data updated at 8 am.
"With a high number of COVID-19 patients recovering every day along with a steadily falling and sustained low mortality rate, India's trend of registering decreasing active cases continues," it underlined.
The total recovered cases have surged to 69,48,497 and exceed active cases by62,52,988as on date. The data stated that a total of 73,979 patients have recovered and were discharged in a span of24 hours, whereas 54,366 new infections were reported during the same period. The national COVID-19 recovery rate has further progressed to89.53 per cent. -- PTI
14:21 Amazon refuses to appear before JPC
E-commerce giant Amazon has refused to appear before the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill on October 28 and this amounts to breach of privilege, panel chairperson and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi said on Friday.
Lekhi said that 'the panel is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company'.
"Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel it amounts to breach of privilege," she told PTI.
Meanwhile, Facebook's policy head Ankhi Das appeared before the panel on the issue of data security on Friday.
Facebook India representatives were asked some tough and searching questions by the members of the panel, sources said. During the meeting, a member suggested that the social media giant should not draw inferences from the data of its users for commercial benefits of its advertisers.
The panel has summoned officials of micro-blogging site Twitter on October 28, and Google and Paytm on October 29. -- Jatin Takkar/PTI
13:57 Oppn has formed 'Pitara' against NDA called 'Mahagathbandhan': PM
Opposition parties have formed a 'pitara' (box) against NDA called Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gaya on Friday adding that the grand alliance allowed Naxal movement in the past.
"The opposition parties have formed a 'pitara' against NDA, they call it 'Mahagathbandhan'. But each and every citizen of Bihar is aware of every bit of that Mahagathbandhan which allowed Naxal movement in the past," said PM Modi while addressing a public rally in Gaya.
"When action is taken on people who break the country, these people go and stand with them, PM Modi stated, adding that the model of these people has been to make Bihar sick and helpless.
"In the last few years, a lot of effort and strict actions have been taken to limit the activities of Naxals in the country. Naxal presence has now been restricted to limited areas," he added.
PM Modi further stated that Bihar elections are important due to two reasons, this is the first major election taking place amid COVID-19 where such a large number of polling is going to take place.
"So, it's important how Bihar will strengthen the public system while staying safe," he added.
"Secondly, this election is the first election of Bihar in this decade. With the victory of NDA, this election will strengthen Bihar's role in this decade. The people of Bihar were harmed in the 90's. Bihar was pushed into a morass of chaos and people have experienced it," he added.
Even today, at the root of many problems of Bihar, is the chaos and misrule of the 90s' decade. the state has come a long way, he added.
"Today you see a new Bihar being formed. The need for lanterns (RJD's electoral symbol) in today's Bihar is over. Today every poor household in Bihar has electricity, connection. Roads worth about Rs 22,000 crores have been built in villages of Bihar under PM Sadak Yojana," said PM Modi.
"Today institutes like engineering, medical colleges are being opened in Bihar. The state has also seen the time when the children here craved for even small schools. This entire region of Gaya has been the centre of knowledge, faith and spirituality of India," he added.
The Prime Minister is slated to hold a total of 12 election rallies in Bihar starting today. -- ANI
13:51 PM only works for Adani, Ambani: Rahul@Bihar
Rahul Gandhi, Tejashwi Yadav's joint rally at Hisua: Rahul attacks the PM who is now holding a rally in Gaya, in Bihar. "Don't lie to Biharis, Modi Ji. Did you give jobs to Biharis? Last elections, PM promised 2 crore jobs, no one got them. In public, he says I bow my head to Army, farmers, labourers and traders. But once he reaches home, he only works for Ambani & Adani:
"Modi has govt has made three new Farm Laws to attack farmers. They 1st ended Mandis and MSP in Bihar, now they're doing it in entire nation. PM is going to make lakhs jobless. Wherever PM Modi goes, he only lies.
RJD Leader Tejashwi Yadav: "If I become CM, then in my 1st cabinet meet I'll sign on order giving 10 lakhs govt jobs to Bihar youth. PM is most welcomed in Bihar but he should've given answers about special status to Bihar, absence of factories, unemployment and other state issues."
13:33 K'taka to reopen degree, diploma and engineering colleges from Nov 17
The Karnataka government on Friday decided to reopen engineering, diploma and degree colleges that were shut for students due to the COVID-19 pandemic from November 17.
"In a meeting that took place under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister it was decided to reopen degree college from November 17. Engineering, diploma and degree colleges will all start," Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said students will have an option to either attend the classes physically or online or can go in for blended learning by using both options.
"Students can register online, those students wanting to attend classes by coming to colleges should have consent from their parents. Depending on the strength- how the classes have to be held, in how many batches- everything will be decided along with all the necessary safety SOPs," he added.
Narayan, who is also the in charge for Higher Education Department said for students who will stay at SC/ST, social welfare and OBC hostels all necessary safety measures will be taken, also necessary transport arrangements will be made to facilitate smooth conduct of classes. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa chaired the meeting of officials from health, social welfare, backward class, finance, transport and education departments, along with Narayan regarding starting classes in degree colleges. -- PTI
13:18 Modi-Nitish snatched away jobs in Bihar: Tejashwi
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attend the 'Badlav Sankalp' at the Bihar Elections joint rally at Hisua in Nawada district. "PM Modi and CM Nitish Kumar even took away the jobs of those employed and forced all mills to close," says RJD Leader Tejashwi Yadav.
The Congress and the RJD are allies in Bihar.
Meanwhile, PM Modi has reached Gaya from Sasaram.
"In the last few years, a lot of effort and strict actions have been taken to limit the activities of Naxals in the country. Naxal presence has now been restricted to limited areas," Modi said. "Most problems Bihar faces have roots in misgovernance and anarchy of 1990s," the PM added.
Maha CM promised timely aid to distraught farmers
13:05 Maha farmer ends life due to crop loss after heavy rains
A 30-year-old farmer allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Marathwada region of Maharashtra on Friday, after his crop got washed away due to recent heavy rains, a police official said.
The incident occurred at Kader village in Omerga tehsil in the morning, he said.
"According to his relatives, Shivaji Jadhav hanged himself from a tree in the early hours," S K Shaikh of Omerga police station told PTI. "A suicide note was recovered from the spot, which said that he was taking the extreme steps as his soybean crop got washed away due to heavy rains," he added.
The victim was unmarried, Shaikh said. Heavy rains and floods last week claimed several lives in Pune, Aurangabad and Konkan divisions, which also left crops on lakhs of hectares damaged. Osmanabad, Latur, Solpaur, Nanded and Pandharpur (in Solapur) were among the worst-affected places, where crops like soyabean, cotton and sugarcane were damaged on a large scale. -- PTI
12:59 BJP mocked RJD on 10L jobs, but now... Chidambaram
Former finance minister in the UPA government P Chidambaram, who has incessantly raised the red flag on the Modi government's handling of the economy tweets, "After mocking the RJD for promising to create 10 lakh jobs, the NDA has promised to create 19 lakh jobs in Bihar if elected. I did not know that 19 was a smaller number than 10. I think I should go back to primary school."
Pic courtesy: Sheela Bhatt
12:39 Instant antigen tests at Modi's Gaya rally
Senior journalist Sheela Bhatt who is covering PM Modi's rallies in Bihar today reports: "To enter the Gandhi maidan, Gaya, duty officer told me, 'PM ko milna hai to antigen test karana padega. If you want to meet the PM you need to do an antigen test'. Instant test done at the gate. Negative, of course! Most unusual chunav sabha with all protocols of Covid-19 in place. Chairs at decent distance and everyone with masks on."
Crowds at the Modi rally in Sasaram. Pic courtesy: Sheela Bhatt
12:29 Oppn that wants Art 370 back seeks Bihar's votes: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing his first rally in Bihar today for the election starting next week, referred to criticism of his government's move to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and targeted the opposition.
"Everyone was waiting for Article 370 to be repealed but these people are saying that they will overturn the decision once they are voted to power," PM Modi said in Sasaram, addressing a joint rally with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar."
"The NDA government abrogated Article 370. These people say they will bring it back if they come to power. After making such statements they dare to ask for votes from Bihar? Is this not an insult of Bihar? The state which sends its sons and daughters to the borders to protect the country?"
Nitish Kumar had initially opposed to the Article 370 move and his Janata Dal United MPs had even opposed the central government's decision in both houses of parliament last year. Nitish Kumar's move as a BJP ally had surprised many even though it tied in with his stated ideological stand on Article 370.
12:01 Firemen injured in mall fire discharged, fire rages on
Mumbai fire brigade personnel are engaged in controlling the blaze at a mall 14 hours after fire broke out there, even as around 3500 people from an adjoining building were evacuated, civic sources said on Friday. A major fire erupted at the City Center Mall in Mumbai Central area at 8.50 pm on Thursday.
Two fire personnel have been injured while controlling the blaze, the sources said. Around 300 people were rescued from the basement plus three-storey mall after the fire broke out, an official said.
A BMC release said the Mumbai Fire Brigade has given a 'brigade call' in which fire engines are called from all agencies in the city. Around 50 fire fighting vehicles, including 24 fire engines and 16 jumbo tankers are engaged in the fire fighting at the spot, besides over 250 officers and firemen, it said.
A fireman sustained minor injuries on his right hand during the fire fighting operation and was rushed to nearby JJ Hospital, it said, adding his condition is stable. -- PTI
11:52 Aditya Birla Fashion to sell 7.8 pc stake to Flipkart Group
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd on Friday said its board has approved plans to raise Rs 1,500 crore by issuing 7.8 per cent stake on a preferential basis to Walmart-owned Flipkart Group.
"Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail has today approved the raising of Rs 1,500 crore by way of preferential issue to Flipkart Group. The equity capital will be raised at Rs 205 per share.
"With this infusion, Flipkart Group will own 7.8 per cent equity stake in ABFRL on a fully diluted basis. The promoter and promoter group companies of ABFRL will hold about 55.13 per cent upon completion of the issuance," ABFRL said in a regulatory filing.
Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said this partnership is an emphatic endorsement of the growth potential of India. "It also reflects our strong conviction in the future of the apparel industry in India, which is poised to touch USD 100 billion in the next 5 years. Fashion retail in India is set for robust long-term growth due to strong fundamentals of a large and growing middle class, favourable demographics, rising disposable incomes and aspiration for brands.
"Rapid growth of technology infrastructure will further accelerate this process. Over the years, we have shaped ABFRL into a strong platform to capture future growth opportunities in India. This partnership is a critical component of that strategy," he said. -- PTI
11:42 Govt trying to put me in jail, claims Kangana
Actor Kangana Ranaut on Friday said that "the government (is) trying to put me in jail" after a complaint was filed against the actor at a Mumbai court for "spreading hate and breaking the brotherhood, integrity of the country" through "provoking hate speeches" given by her.
The 33-year-old star took to Twitter and said, "I worship people like Savarkar, Neta Bose and Rani of Jhansi. Today the government trying to put me in jail that makes me feel confident of my choices, waiting to be in jail soon n go through same miseries my idols were subjected to, it will give a meaning to my life, Jai Hind."
The complainant, a Mumbai based lawyer, advocate Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh, has accused Ranaut of attacking not just the Maharashtra Police, and government in connection with the death case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, but of also "promoting enmity amongst our country people for her political gain".
The complaint includes several of Ranaut's tweets in which she had targeted politicians, Maharashtra Police and personalities from the Bollywood film industry.
Following the post on the micro-blogging site, the 'Queen' actor posted another tweet in which she tagged Aamir Khan.
"As Rani Laxmibai's fort was broken, my house was demolished, just as Savarkar Ji was put in jail for rebellion, all efforts are being made to send me to jail too, can some one ask from the Intolerance Gang how much they have suffered in this intolerant country?@aamir_khan," Kangana wrote (roughly translated from Hindi). -- ANI
11:21 Stay away from those who make Bihar 'bimaru': PM
PM Narendra Modi addressing a rally at Biada Maidan in Sasaram, Bihar. Chief Minister and JDU chief Nitish Kumar also at the rally welcomes the PM and crowd for turning up in such large numbers.
"Bihar lost its two sons recently. I pay my respects to Ram Vilas Paswan Ji, who was with me till his last breath and gave his entire life for the welfare of the poor and Dalits. Similarly, Babu Raghuvansh Prasad Singh ji also worked for poor. I pay respects to him.
"I want to congratulate the people of Bihar for the way they are fighting the battle against COVID19. The decisions and steps taken by the state govt and people of Bihar against the pandemic are highly commendable.
"Sons of Bihar lost their lives in Galwan Valley for the tricolour and ensured Bharat Mata's head is held high. Jawans of Bihar were also martyred in Pulwama attack. I bow my head at their feet and pay respects.
"Voters of Bihar have taken a resolve that they won't let those who have a history of making the state 'Bimaru' come near them."
11:10 BJP's promise of free Covid vaccine: RS Prasad
The promise of free Covid-19 vaccine for all Bihar residents, after it gets the required approval, by the BJP in its manifesto is completely legal, said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday.
Terming it a 'historical step' Union Law and Justice Minister said that no Opposition party should have any issues if the BJP is thinking progressively and giving priority to healthcare in its manifesto for the state.
"It is shocking that some are terming it a political ploy. Should promises made for improving health care, caring for people's health not be made? This declaration is completely legal, it only is problematic for people who make tall claims before elections but do not implement it on the ground," Prasad said at a press conference.
"The promise of free vaccine for Bihar residents shows our party's commitment to people's health. In the coronavirus phase, healthcare should be a priority that is why I thank Bihar BJP, and manifesto committee. This is a revolutionary step and its purpose is clear," he added.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had attacked BJP over the inclusion of Covid-19 vaccine in the manifesto, stating the party had announced its Covid "access strategy" and that people in every state should refer to their election schedule to know when they will get the vaccine. -- ANI
10:45 'Filthy India' result of Howdy Modi, quips Sibal
Making a jibe at the Centre, Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Friday said that US President Donald Trump said that India's air is 'filthy', which is the result of 'Howdy Modi' event.
"Trump: Fruits of Friendship:
1) Questions India's COVID death toll
2) Says India sends dirt up into the air India "air is filthy"
3) Called India "tariff king" The result of "Howdy Modi"!" Sibal tweeted.
US President Donald Trump described the air in India, China and Russia as "filthy" as he defended his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and lauded his decisions with regard to reducing carbon emissions at Thursday's final debate before the November 3 election.
"Look at China. How filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India, it's filthy. The air is filthy," said Trump while speaking on carbon emissions as he counters Democratic rival Joe Biden at a final debate moderated by NBC's Kristen Welker.
Trump further claimed that under his administration the US has had the lowest emission numbers in the last 35 years.
Earlier during his first presidential debate against his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, the US President said India, China and Russia "did not exactly give a straight count" on deaths due to the novel coronavirus. -- ANI
10:36 Meet Maharashtra's hero doctor
A 87-year old homoeopathic doctor in Chandrapur district braves the Covid-19 pandemic to treat villagers. He travels 10 km barefoot on his bicycle daily to provide door-to-door medical treatment to the poor. He has been visiting patients on his bicycle for the last 60 years.
10:30 Stay home! 690 deaths, 54K+ Covid cases in a day
The Covid tally is here with the regularity of the sun rise, but without the anticipation. With 54,366 new Covid-19 infections, India's total cases surge to 77,61,312. With 690 new deaths, toll mounts to 1,17,306. Total active cases are 6,95,509 after a decrease of 20,303 in last 24 hours. Total cured cases are 69,48,497 with 73,979 new discharges in the last 24 hours.
10:16 Mumbai lawyer sues Kangana for 'spreading hate'
A complaint has been filed against actor Kangana Ranaut at a Mumbai court for "spreading hate and breaking the brotherhood, integrity of the country" through "provoking hate speeches" given by her.
The Metropolitan Magistrate 65th court, Andheri, Mumbai has set November 10 as the next date for hearing in the matter.
The complainant, a Mumbai based lawyer, advocate Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh, has accused Ranaut of attacking not just the Maharashtra Police, and government in connection with the death case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, but of also "promoting enmity amongst our country people for her political gain".
The complaint includes several of Ranaut's tweets in which she had targeted politicians, Maharashtra Police and personalities from the Bollywood film industry.
"She has stooped even low by misusing her fanbase, fame, power, influence through her social media accounts and has been creating hatred, enmity amongst authorised legally constituted government bodies and also prevailing religions in India through her tweets/statements with an aim and intent to garner cheap publicity, personal gains and benefit by taking undue advantage of the grave situations prevailing in India," the complaint read.
The complainant also said that he had filed a police complaint on September 4, 2020, at Andheri police station requesting to register an FIR against the actor for her "several illicit tweets", and had even given his statement to the police but pointed out that "no action has been taken against the accused despite the offences being serious in nature".
Khan has urged the court to take cognizance of the issue and take necessary action against Ranaut for offences which according to him fall under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and any other acts which can be levied. -- ANI
Tata Steel was the top gainer
10:04 Sensex jumps over 200 pts in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points in early trade on Friday, tracking gains in index majors HDFC twins, ICICI Bank and TCS amid positive cues from global markets.
The 30-share BSE index was trading 228.56 points or 0.56 per cent higher at 40,787.05, and the broader NSE Nifty rose 70.70 points or 0.59 per cent to 11,967.15.
Tata Steel was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, shedding around 2 per cent, followed by Maruti, ICICI Bank, Bharti Airtel, Bajaj Finance, HDFC twins and TCS. On the other hand, Infosys, HCL Tech, HUL and Asian Paints were the laggards.
In the previous session, Sensex settled 148.82 points or 0.37 per cent lower at 40,558.49, and the broader NSE Nifty fell 41.20 points or 0.35 per cent to 11,896.45.
Exchange data showed that foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 1,118.46 crore on a net basis on Thursday. According to Arjun Yash Mahajan, Head Institutional Business at Reliance Securities, domestic markets look to be good as of now given positive cues from global markets.
"However, we do not expect any meaningful gain and market may consolidate at 11,900-12,000 levels. Ongoing fiscal stimulus negotiations in the US and 2QFY21 earnings are two crucial factors to decide the market direction in the near term," he said.
On the global front, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul were trading on a positive note in mid-session deals. -- PTI
09:35 Modi, Rahul hit campaign trail in Bihar
The political temperature in Bihar is set to rise dramatically today as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi take the poll stage to address a series of rallies.
Modi will address three rallies at Dehri-on Sone (Rohtas district), Gaya and Bhagalpur, while Gandhi will address two rallies at Hisua in Nawada and Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will likely join Modi at the rallies in Dehri and Bhagalpur.
In Gaya, JD-U leader in the Lok Sabha Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan will share the dais with Modi along with former chief minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial face of the Mahagathbandhan, will join Gandhi at Hisua. In Kahalgaon, the former Congress president will be accompanied by Shaktisinh Gohil and other senior party leaders.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Kapil Sibal hits out at the BJP over its promise of free Covid-19 vaccine to the people of Bihar and questions if residents of other states are not the people of India. Sibal also demands the Election Commission to step in.
09:04 Fire at Mumbai mall, 3,500 evacuated
Mumbai fire brigade personnel are engaged in controlling the blaze at a mall 12 hours after fire broke out there, even as around 3,500 people from an adjoining building were evacuated, civic sources said on Friday.
A major fire erupted at the City Center Mall in Mumbai Central area at 8.50 pm on Thursday. Two fire personnel have been injured while controlling the blaze, the sources said.
Around 300 people were rescued from the basement plus three-storey mall after the fire broke out, an official said.
A Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation release said the Mumbai Fire Brigade has given a 'brigade call' in
which fire engines are called from all agencies in the city.
Around 50 fire fighting vehicles, including 24 fire engines and 16 jumbo tankers are engaged in the fire fighting at the spot, besides over 250 officers and firemen, it said.
The fire erupted in a mobile shop on the second floor of the mall, which mainly houses shops for mobile accessories, besides a few other stores.
The fire was initially categorised as level 1 (minor) but was upgraded to level-3 at 10.45 pmand to level-4 at 2.30 am, after flames spread to other parts of the building.
08:43 Look at India, their air is filthy: Trump
With just 12 days until the presidential election, US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden squared off on in their final debate.
US President Donald Trump described the air in India, China and Russia as "filthy" as he defended his decision to withdrew from the Paris climate accord, which, he said would have made America a non-competitive nation.
"Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India. The air is filthy. I walked out of the Paria Accord as we had to take out trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly," he said during the televised debate with Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.
"I will not sacrifice millions of jobs... thousands of companies because of the Paris Accord. It is very unfair," he said at the televised debate in which the two candidates avoided shaking hands due to safety risks.
Last year, the US formally notified the UN of its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, a global agreement in which President Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had played a key role.
India is the fourth highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, accounting for 7 per cent of global emissions in 2017, according to the projection by the Global Carbon Project published in December, 2018.
The top four emitters in 2017, which covered 58 per cent of global emissions, were China (27 per cent), the US (15 per cent), the European Union (10 per cent) and India (7 per cent), it said.
08:20 Here's who spoke the most during this debate
At the end of the final presidential debate, US President Trump kept a similar lead in speaking time he maintained throughout the debate, speaking for approximately three more minutes than former US Vice President Biden.
It was 41.16 minutes for Trump compared to Biden's 37.53 minutes.
08:13 Biden says he'll be president for all Americans
The last topic was leadership, but it was very truncated.
The moderator's question was what the candidates would say in their inauguration speech to the voters who did not want them to win.
Trump says that before the virus, he would hear from people from all walks of life telling him of how much their lives had improved under his presidency. "Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success," he says.
"I'm gonna give you hope," Biden says when asked the same question. "We're going to choose science over fiction. We're going to choose hope over fear." Were going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities to grow together, Biden says.
The final presidential debate has now concluded.
Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
08:04 US presidential debate: Climate change
With just a few minutes to go in the debate, the discussion shifted to climate change.
Biden emphasized the need to expand sources of renewable energy, attacking Trump for his past comments about wind energy causing cancer.
"I know more about wind than you do,' Trump replied.
"It's very expensive. It kills the birds."
The US president again insisted Biden would ban fracking, even though the Democrat has repeatedly said (and said again tonight) that he would not do so.
07:58 I'm the least racist person in this room: Trump
Debating the issue of race, Trump, who has avoided using the phrase "institutional racism," responds by once again arguing that he has done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
Trump was pressed on why Americans should support him if they are concerned about his comments on racial issues like Black Lives Matter.
I am the least racist person in this room, Trump insisted.
Biden responded by saying Trump was one of the most racist presidents weve had in modern history.
He pours fuel on every single racist fire, Biden said, noting Trump started his 2016 campaign by attacking Mexicans as rapists.
This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn, Biden said.
Image: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
07:46 There is institutional racism in America: Biden
The debate has now moved on to the topic of Race in America -- a subject which, like coronavirus, has reshaped the landscape of the election this year.
Trump says he doesn't believe racism is an intrinsic problem within US police forces -- and positions himself as a firm advocate of law enforcement.
Biden views racism as a systemic problem, and has set out policies to address racial disparities in the justice system, although he rejects calls to defund police.
As we begin the topic of race, Welker asks about "the talk" - a discussion black and brown US parents give children about being targeted by police because of the colour of the skin. She asks Biden to speak directly to those families.
"There is institutional racism in America," Biden says. He says we've been moving closer to inclusion, but that Trump's the first leader to come along and say otherwise.
Biden says there should be better access to things like schooling, financial help and security in addition to being free from violence.
07:36 'He's confused; He's running against Biden'
After Trump accused Biden of supporting socialised medicine, the Democratic nominee said the president was confused about who he was running against.
Hes a very confused guy. He thinks hes running against somebody else, Biden said. Hes running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.
That line could prove effective with American voters, although it may rankle former Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have endorsed Biden and campaigned for him.
Image: Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images
07:23 Obamacare is no good: Trump
The topic has now turned to American families, focusing on American families' access to health care. The subject is key for many important constituencies.
Trump, who is aggressively courting suburban women, argues that his law and order message has saved cities from urban poverty and criminal migrants.
Hes also likely to tout his tax cuts and his successful efforts to appoint conservative judges - who is mentioned in the question, as his latest nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, is up for confirmation for the Supreme Court.
Echoing his comments to 60 Minutes, Trump said he hoped the supreme court would dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Obamacare is no good, Trump said. What wed like to do is terminate it.
The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit currently before the supreme court that could lead to the dismantling of the ACA.
07:15 I pre-paid milion of dollars in taxes: Trump
Biden returns to one of Trump's Achilles' heels -- the US president's taxes.
Reporting from the New York Times found that Trump paid nearly no US taxes at all for two years, due to enormous losses in the preceding years, and the president has been repeatedly criticised for lack of transparency on his finances.
"I have pre-paid by taxes, tens of millions of dollars," Trump insists, despite refusing for years to release his tax returns.
"The IRS treats me horribly. I get treated very badly by the IRS very unfairly," Trump says, referring to the agency that collects taxes.
Democrats charge that Trump's finances would prove that he owes millions to foreign interests.
Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
07:13 Round of applause for moderator -- Kristen Welker
Moderator Kristen Welker is getting glowing reviews for her handling of the debate so far:
"Im beaming watching Kristen Welker. Such an amazing moment for her and for all who know of her hard work and dedication to journalism. Go girl!" -- @Yamiche
"Welker overall doing an excellent job thus far." -- @benshapiro
"Kristen Walker is so far wiping the floor with every other, bigger-named moderator of presidential debates this year." -- @Tball
Image: Jim Bourg/Pool/Reuters
07:09 Who has talked the most so far
After the first section at the debate, which was on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, US President Trump manages an early lead on speaking times ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden by nearly three minutes.
It's been 10.20 minutes vis-a-vis 7.40 minutes in favour of Trump.
07:07 'They're interfering with American sovereignty'
Were now onto the next topic, which is US national security.
The debate is likely to turn fierce, as each of them declare that the other has a conflict of interest preventing them from safely protecting the country.
Trump claims that Bidens son, Hunter, had been selling access to the White House while his dad was vice-president. Theres little evidence for the claim, which Trump has begun touting in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Democrats say that Trumps personal debts, to persons unknown, represent a major conflict of interest.
Russia and Iran are both working to influence the election, moderator Kirsten Welker says, asking what Biden and Trump plan to do about the claim from US intelligence officials that was announced yesterday.
"Any country that interferes in American elections will pay a price," begins Biden, saying it has been his clear position throughout his political career.
"They are interfering with American sovereignty. That's what's going on right now."
Russia, Biden says, would prefer Trump because "They know I know them. And they know me."
Image: Jim Bourg/Pool/Reuters
07:00 US presidential debate: Trump on his criticism of Dr Fauci
Moderator Kristen Welker pressed Trump on his comments earlier this week attacking Dr Anthony Fauci as a disaster and other health experts as idiots.
Trump downplayed his differences with Fauci before criticising him for reversing his guidance on using masks.
Trump added, I think hes a Democrat, but thats okay.
Two fact-checks: Fauci changed his advice on face masks because additional evidence revealed they could help limit the spread of coronavirus from those who are asymptomatic or have not yet developed symptoms.
And Fauci is not a Democrat. The highly respected infectious disease expert is not registered with either party, according to his voter registration.
Image: Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images
06:56 Covid is China's problem, not mine: Trump
Trump said of the coronavirus pandemic, "I take full responsibility. It's not my fault that it came here. It's China's fault."
The US president has consistently tried to blame Beijing for the pandemic, as his administration's response has been widely criticised.
US President Trump has in recent months lambasted China over the coronavirus pandemic, but he praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping's handling of the deadly disease for months at the beginning of the outbreak.
As cases of Covid-19 first began to appear in the United States, Trump spoke highly of Xi's handling of the outbreak in China and repeatedly said the US was in close coordination with Beijing on the matter.
"I think they've handled it professionally and I think they're extremely capable and I think President Xi is extremely capable and I hope that it's going to be resolved," he said on Feb 13.
Hundreds of US deaths later, Trump's attitude toward Beijing began to change.
"I'm a little upset with China, I'll be honest with you, because as much as I like President Xi and as much as I respect the country and admire the country I have great admiration for the country, what they've done in a short period of time. But they should have told us about this," he said on March 22.
Trump said last week that he could not say when he had last spoken to his Chinese counterpart.
"I have not spoken to him in a while because I don't want to speak to him," he said.
06:50 Biden attacks Trump over coronavirus: 'He has no clear plan'
Biden expressed severe skepticism about Trump's timeline for the release of a coronavirus vaccine.
"This is the same fellow who told you it was going to end by Easter," Biden said.
"He has no clear plan."
The Democratic nominee predicted the country was about to enter a "dark winter," as the number of new coronavirus cases rises in dozens of US states.
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
06:45 'It's going away': Trump on Covid-19
Coronavirus is the first topic as there are over 8.4 million US cases and 222,000 deaths.
And US President Trump gets the first question of the evening.
Since the last debate earlier this month, 16,000 Americans have died from Covid, Welker says. How would Trump lead in the next stage of the crisis?
He says spikes across the nation are "now gone", and "spikes and surges in other places they will soon be gone".
"We have a vaccine...it's going to be announced in weeks," Trump says, adding that the military will distribute it. He emphasises that the pandemic is a global problem.
"I can tell you from personal experience...I had it, I got better."
Moderator Kristen Welker followed up on Trumps claim that the coronavirus vaccine was coming in a matter of weeks.
Asked if that was a guarantee, Trump said, No, its not a guarantee, but I think it will be by the end of the year.
Welker noted experts have said it will take months before a vaccine is widely available and masks will continue to be necessary well into 2021.
I think my timeline is going to be more accurate, Trump said.
06:39 Final US presidential debate gets underway
The final US presidential debate before Election Day has just kicked off.
On stage -- without plexiglass barriers, but 12 ft apart -- Donald Trump, Joe Biden and their moderator Kristen Welker.
Remember: There will be mic muting, but only during each candidate's two-minute initial response to the questions. It's open season during the discussion segments.
06:34 Melania Trump has entered the debate hall
Melania Trump has entered the debate hall and is wearing a mask.
Her attendance marks a shift from Tuesday, when, citing an "abundance of caution" and a "lingering cough" after her bout with Covid-19, Trump backed out of a planned appearance with her husband to introduce him at a Pennsylvania rally.
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
06:32 'READY!' Biden's 1 word tweet before debate
Joe Biden has arrived at the debate venue as well, with just minutes to go until the start of the event.
The Democratic nominee sent this one-word tweet before the debate got underway.
One of the challenges for Biden is to not get bogged down in the directions US President Trump might try to take this debate -- including those personal attacks on his family.
06:26 Win or lose, today is Trumps final presidential debate ever
Win or lose, this will be US President Donald Trumps final appearance ever on a presidential debate stage.
His methods havent changed much since his first time out in a primary debate in 2015 -- when he sparred with moderator Megyn Kelly and later made sexist attacks on her. He still enters the sessions relying primarily on his instincts as a brawler and doesnt prepare nearly as much as his adversaries.
He held a brief and informal session earlier on Thursday with some of his team, but did not conduct a full mock debate.
That has been his practice for most of his relatively brief debating career. Trump has preferred more ad-hoc sessions, with advisers peppering him with questions during down moments, than a full dress rehearsal.
Hes had some hits and misses along the way. Some of his general election debates in 2016, and particularly his final one against Hillary Clinton, were viewed by his team as a success.
After that first debate with a large GOP primary field in 2015, many Republicans wondered how much longer they would have to contend with his outbursts and behavior.
Five years later, those traits -- and those concerns -- are as present as ever.
06:20 Trump calls anchor of final presidential debate 'far worse'
US President Donald Trump called Kristen Welker, anchor of the final Presidential debate, "far worse".
This comes after Trump posted his full interview with CBC's "60 minutes" in an apparent attempt to undercut the news program after he walked out on the interview, The Hill reported.
"Tonight's anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!" Trump was quoted as saying.
The final presidential debate will be held at Belmont University in Nashville and will be moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the final presidential debate between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will have their microphones muted for initial responses.
The Commission said microphones of both candidates will be on during open-discussion segments of the debate, reported CNBC News.
The earlier presidential debate held at Cleveland on September 29 was marred by frequent interruptions from Trump, leading to calls for the debate moderator to have the ability to cut off each candidate's microphone while their opponent spoke.
Meanwhile, Trump has posted his interview with "60 minutes" hours ahead of its scheduled air time.
The Hill has reported that the US president posted the nearly 40-minute sit-down to his Facebook page with the caption: "Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS."
On October 20, Trump had abruptly concluded a solo interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Tuesday, and did not return for an appearance he was scheduled to shoot with US Vice President Mike Pence, CNN reported citing sources.
After camera crews set up at the White House on Monday, Trump sat down with host Lesley Stahl for about 45 minutes on Tuesday before leaving abruptly the interview and told the network he believed they had enough material to use, CNN said.
06:02 Trump and Biden to face off in final clash
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are set to face off at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, in some time.
The debate comes just 12 days before the November 3 election, and it likely represents the US presidents last chance to change his dismal polling numbers.
The FiveThirtyEight average of recent national polls shows Biden has a 9.9-point advantage among likely voters, and polls of battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin similarly show the Democratic nominee pulling ahead of the president.
Trump is running out of time to reinvigorate his campaign, particularly because tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots.
According to the US Elections Project, 47,796,990 Americans have already voted by mail or early in person, representing about 35% of the total 2016 turnout.
If Trump cannot turn in a strong performance tonight, his fate could be sealed.
00:25 Fake TRP: Cops probe transactions of 5 channels
The Mumbai police have started scrutinising the financial transactions of five channels,which were allegedly involved in fake Television Ratings Points (TRP) scam, an official said on Thursday.
The financial transactions that took place in the last five years are being examined, he said.
"The Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai crime branch has started the process of scrutinising the financial transactions of these five channels that happened in the last five years," the official said.
It will also examine their revenue sources, he said.
"During the investigation conducted so far, it hasbeen observed that there was a sudden spike in the number oftransactions," he said, without giving any further details.
The police will also slap sections related to forgery in the case, including Indian Penal Code sections 408, 463, 465 and 468, he said.
Meanwhile, the police recorded the statement of CFO of the Republic TV channel S Sundaram on Thursday and he will again be called on Friday, the official said.
Executive editor of the channel Niranjan Narayanswamy will also be called for questioning again, he said.
The probe team has recorded the statement of Republic TV's distribution head Ghanshyam Singh in the case, he said.
The alleged fake TRP scam came to light when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint with the police through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain channels were rigging TRP numbers to lure advertisers.
It was alleged that some families at whose houses meters for collecting data of viewership were installed were being bribed to tune into a particular channel. -- PTI