Thu, 04 April 2024
NCW moves EC over Surjewala's Hema Malini jibe

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BJP MP Hema Malini
BJP MP Hema Malini
23:42   NCW moves EC over Surjewala's Hema Malini jibe
The National Commission for Women has moved the Election Commission against Congress leader Randeep Surjewala for allegedly making derogatory remarks against actor and the BJP's Mathura candidate Hema Malini. 

BJP IT department head Amit Malviya had shared an undated video on X in which the Congress MP is purportedly making some objectionable remarks about the actor-politician while attacking the ruling party. 

The NCW said it strongly denounces the "deeply offensive" remarks.

"The remarks are extremely misogynistic and outrageous to the modesty of a woman. Chairperson Rekha Sharma has formally written to the Chief Election Commissioner, urging immediate action against Soorjewala and requesting an Action Taken Report within three days," the NCW said in a tweet. 

The BJP had on Wednesday accused Surjewala of making "vile, sexist" remarks against Hema Malini, alleging it shows that the main opposition party is misogynistic and abhors women. 

Sources said Surjewala made the alleged remarks on March 31 during an election rally in support of the INDIA bloc at Pharal village in the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha constituency. -- PTI
23:30   MEA steers clear of Katchatheevu row
The ministry of external affairs on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. 

To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's recent comments on the matter. 

"I would like to tell you that on the issues that have been raised, the external affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat clarifying all the issues," he said. 

"I would refer that you please look at his press engagements. You will get your answers there," Jaiswal said. 

The Narendra Modi government has targeted the Congress and its ally DMK accusing it of overlooking national interests in the ceding of Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in the mid-1970s. 

The BJP has also been targeting the two parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around Katchatheevu. 

Jaishankar on Monday claimed that prime ministers from the Congress displayed indifference about Katchatheevu island as if they did not care and gave away Indian fishermen's rights despite legal views to the contrary. -- PTI
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File image
22:52   BJP's Lok Sabha polls manifesto committee holds second meeting
The Bharatiya Janata Party manifesto committee for the Lok Sabha polls held its second meeting on Thursday, with its members, including panel head and Union Minister Rajnath Singh, deliberating on a host of suggestions that the party has received from various quarters. 

BJP leaders and Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ashwani Vaishnaw, Kiren Rijiju and Arjun Ram Meghwal were among those who attended the meeting at the party's headquarters in New Delhi. 

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel, Uttar Pradesh deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were also present. 

The manifesto is expected to focus on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Viksit Bharat" agenda. 

With Modi constantly highlighting his government's priority for the poor, the youth, women and farmers, the ruling BJP is likely to give prominence to the issues related to them. 

The committee held its first meeting for preparation of the party's manifesto for the polls here on Monday. 

Eight Union ministers and three chief ministers were among the BJP leaders who attended the meeting presided over by Singh. 

The BJP had on March 30 announced the constitution of a 27-member committee under defence minister and former BJP president Singh for preparation of its manifesto. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the committee's convener. -- PTI
22:32   Delhi excise scam case: Kavitha urges court for interim bail
Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha, arrested in the Delhi excise policy scam case, urged a court here on Thursday for interim bail, claiming that her 16-year-old son has exams and needs his mother's "moral and emotional support".

The court of Special Judge Kaveri Baweja heard the submissions made by the counsel appearing for Kavitha and the Enforcement Directorate, and reserved its order for Monday.

During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for the BRS leader, claimed that the perspective of a mother is not substitutable by father, sister or brother.

Singhvi said, "The woman accused in this case has a child whose exams are admittedly in these months, going onto April. It's not that the child is in arms or is toddler. He is 16 years old. The issue is different. It's the moral and emotional support of the mother."

"There is trauma and shock about what has happened and two, there is silence. We have documented databases dealing with the phenomenon. The perspective of a mother is not substitutable by the father or sister or brother. The emotional support of a mother can't be substituted by a 'maasi' also," he told the court.

Singhvi said that no immediate interrogation is there that cannot wait these few weeks. -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
22:23   5.3-magnitude earthquake hits Himachal near Chamba
Tremors were felt in parts of north India as a 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday. 

The earthquake struck at 9.34 pm, the National Center for Seismology said. 

Mild tremors were also felt in Chandigarh and parts of Punjab and Haryana. The quake lasted for a few seconds. 

"I felt a strong jolt lasting a couple of seconds. Just when I was thinking of rushing downstairs, the tremors stopped," said Sanjay Kumar, a Chandigarh resident.
Representational image
Representational image
22:12   9 districts in Bihar sizzle in over 40 degrees C heat
Bihar sizzled in intense heat as the temperature soared above the 40 degrees Celsius mark in nine districts of the state on Thursday, the India meteorological department (IMD) said. 

Buxar district recorded the highest temperature of 42.2 degrees Celsius, followed by Sheikhpura (42.1), Aurangabad (41.5), Banka (41), Khagaria (40.8), Gopalganj (40.6), Bhojpur and Siwan (40.4) and Nawada (40.3). 

The maximum temperature was above 38 degrees Celsius in several places, including Dehri (40) Jamui (39.8) Gaya (39.6), Motihari (39.5), Madhubani (39.3), Valmiki Nagar (39), Bhagalpur (38.8), Begusarai (38.6), Sitamarhi (38.2) and Supaul (38.1). 

The IMD stated that heat-wave conditions will continue in several parts of the state for the next two to three days.
21:40   Congress to release manifesto for Lok Sabha polls tomorrow
Top Congress leaders will release the party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections on Friday with its focus on the five 'pillars of justice'. 

The manifesto would be released by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and former party presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. 

A day after the launch of the manifesto, Kharge and the Gandhis will address public rallies in Jaipur and Hyderabad where they will also highlight the key elements of the manifesto. 

In its manifesto, the Congress will lay emphasis on 'Paanch Nyay' or five pillars of justice, including 'Yuva Nyay', 'Naari Nyay', 'Kisaan Nyay', 'Shramik Nyay' and 'Hissedari Nyay' as well as the guarantees made by it to the people as part of its poll promises for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 

For the first time, the Congress will also promise the youths the 'right to employment' as part of its poll manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and is mulling to propose stringent punishment for those responsible for paper leaks in examinations. 

The focus on youths comes as part of Congress' bid to woo them ahead of the elections. -- PTI
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File image
21:22   Mining resumes in Goa after 6 years with Vedanta
Mining in Goa resumed after a gap of six years, with mining major Vedanta on Thursday announcing that it has commenced operations at Bicholim Mineral Block in the state. 

Bicholim Mineral Block is the first auctioned mine to become operational since 2018 when the Supreme Court imposed a blanket ban on mining in the coastal state, the company said. 

The mining in Goa came to a grinding halt in March 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed 88 mining leases. 

"Heralding a new era of inclusive development, Vedanta Sesa Goa commenced mining operations at Bicholim Mineral Block- Block 1 in the state of Goa," the company said in a statement. 

Vedanta Limited had in 2022 emerged as a successful bidder for the mining block which was auctioned. Vedanta was the highest bidder with 63.55 per cent revenue for Bicholim Mining Block, spread over 485 hectares. 

"Vedanta Sesa Goa's commencement of its operations in Goa's Bicholim Mineral Block signifies a new chapter of collaboration between Vedanta and the state of Goa, reinforcing a shared vision for progress and prosperity for the state of Goa. 

"Bicholim Mineral Block is the first auctioned mine in the state to become operational and heralds a new era of larger revenue share with the government for development of the state and welfare of local communities," the company said. -- PTI
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File image
20:59   Have established contact with two nationals in Taiwan, says MEA
India has established contact with two of its nationals reported to be missing following an earthquake in Taiwan and they are safe, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday. 

Randhir Jaiswal, the minister spokesperson, said this in his weekly briefing in response to a question. 

"As per our information, two persons, we were not able to establish contact in the wake of the earthquake there (in Taiwan). But now, we have established contact and they are safe," he said. 

The strongest earthquake in a quarter century rocked Taiwan during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, killing 10 people, trapping dozens of miners and sending some residents scrambling out the windows of damaged buildings. 

On Thursday, rescuers searched for dozens of people still missing a day after the powerful quake. 

The quake, which also injured hundreds, was centred off the coast of the rural, mountainous Hualien County where some buildings leaned at severe angles, their ground floors crushed. -- PTI
20:54   Mumbai Coastal Road witnesses first accident; none hurt
The newly-inaugurated coastal road in Mumbai recorded its first-ever accident on Thursday afternoon when a speeding car hit the wall of a tunnel. 

The accident took place around 2.30 pm in the south-bound tunnel near its Marine Drive exit, the police said. 

A car hit the wall and spun around, and a moment later another car dashed it, said an official. Nobody was hurt, but the accident affected traffic on the Coastal Road for some time, he said. 

Traffic police as well as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials rushed to the spot and the first car, which had suffered considerable damage, was towed away. 

The first phase of the coastal road which links Worli in central Mumbai with Marine Lines in south Mumbai was inaugurated on March 11. -- PTI
Robert Vadra/File image
Robert Vadra/File image
20:35   Will Congress field Robert Vadra from Amethi?
Indicating his keenness to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Amethi, Robert Vadra, businessman and husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has said that the people of Amethi expect him to represent their constituency if he thinks of becoming a member of Parliament. 

In an interview with ANI, Vadra also targeted Union Minister Smriti Irani, who represents Amethi, saying that people feel they made a mistake by electing her. 

Smriti Irani defeated Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Amethi, a Nehru-Gandhi family stronghold, in one of the biggest upsets of the polls. 

Almost pitching his candidature from Amethi, Robert Vadra, who has indicated his electoral ambitions earlier too, said the Gandhi family has worked hard in Amethi and surrounding areas. 

"They want a member of the Gandhi family returns, they will ensure the person's victory with a huge margin, they also expect that if I take my first step in politics, and think of becoming an MP, then I should represent Amethi," he said. 

However, Vadra also said he wants that party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi should become MP first and he can follow her. 

"I want Priyanka (Gandhi) to become an MP first and then I feel I can also come...I interact with people and there are MPs from different parties. They (MPs) ask me to come along with their party and ask me the reasons for the delay. They also assure me of their different parties across the country are asking me to come along...I have friendships with a lot of people above the party lines," he said. -- ANI
20:17   Jaishankar dismisses UN official's remark on elections in India
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday dismissed a senior UN official's recent remark on elections in India, saying that he does not need the global body to tell that the elections in the country should be free & fair. 

His comments came in response to a query regarding a spokesperson for UN Secretary General statement that they hope that in India, people's political and civil rights were protected and everyone is able to vote in a free & fair atmosphere. 

Jaishankar, who was here to campaign for his ministerial colleague and BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the Lok Sabha polls, also said that the UN official made the comment on the Indian elections last week in response to a "very loaded question" during a press briefing at the UN. 

"I don't need the United Nations to tell me our elections should be free & fair. I have the people of India. The people of India will ensure that elections are free & fair. So, don't worry about it," the minister told reporters during an interaction in Thiruvananthapuram. 

Last week, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric was asked about the "political unrest" in India ahead of the upcoming national elections in the wake of the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of the opposition Congress Party's bank accounts. -- PTI
19:51   Websites of Delhi police, traffic police hacked
The Delhi police started a probe into a suspected data breach after a hackers' group claimed to have gained access to the traffic police website, it said on Thursday. 

According to information, a hackers' group called KillSec posted messages on its Telegram channel, claiming to have gained access to the Delhi traffic police website and the ability to change to "paid" the status of challans issued to individuals, the police said. 

According to the message, the group offered violators the chance to change the status of their challans to "paid" if they shared relevant information, including the reference number of the traffic violation, they added. 

In a second message, the group claimed that it had breached the Delhi police website and exported all the data that they could except the pictures, the police said. 

The traffic police website is hosted and managed by the National Informatics Centre and it has been made aware of the issue, they said. 

The National Informatics Centre is examining the records. 

At this point, it is not possible to determine with certainty whether or not the site has been compromised because the matter is still in the early stages of investigation, the police added. -- PTI
19:38   Kejriwal urges court to allow more time with lawyer
Jailed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday moved a city court urging it to allow him to spend more time with his lawyer in order to prepare for cases pending against him in several parts of the country. 

Kejriwal moved the application claiming that two meetings every week with his lawyer, as permitted by the court, was not sufficient since he was facing multiple cases in various states and needed more time for consultation. 

The AAP leader urged the court to increase the number of meetings to five per week. 

The application is likely to come up for hearing before special judge for ED cases Kaveri Baweja on Friday. 

The court had on April 1 sent Kejriwal to judicial custody till April 15 in the money laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam. -- PTI
19:26   BSE Sensex top gainers today
Equity benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty rebounded sharply to hit record fresh highs on Thursday, propped up by buying in IT, consumer durables and financial stocks amid expectations of a robust corporate performance. 

Besides, investors lapped up select banking stocks expecting a status quo in the interest rate decision of the RBI's monetary policy committee, analysts said. 

The 30-share BSE Sensex surged 350.81 points or 0.47 percent to settle at its lifetime high of 74,227.63. 

During the day, the index oscillated between the high of 74,501.73 and the low of 73,485.12. 

The broader NSE Nifty also hit its fresh peak of 22,514.65, gaining 80 points or 0.36 percent. 

As many as 31 components of the 50-share benchmark ended with gains. 

Both indices had ended lower in the previous two sessions. 

On March 7, Sensex recorded its previous peak of 74,119.39. Nifty scaled its previous high of 22,493.55. 

Among the Sensex constituents, 20 stocks ended the session in green with HDFC Bank, Titan, Tech Mahindra, and Asian Paints being the major gainers. 

TCS, Maruti, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Bajaj Finserve were the other gainers. 

In contrast, SBI, Bharti Airtel, JSW Steel, PowerGrid, ITC and Reliance closed the trading with losses.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge/File image
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge/File image
19:18   China entered Indian territory when....: Kharge
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him a "sardar of liars" and accusing him of "sleeping" after taking opium while China "entered" Indian territory. 

Addressing an election rally in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh, he said Modi does not think for the country but is busy only abusing the Gandhi family whose members sacrificed their lives for the nation. 

"Modi says 'I have a 56-inch chest, I will not be scared'. If you are not afraid then why have you left a large part of our land for China. They are coming inside and you are sleeping. Have you taken sleeping pills? Have they taken opium from the fields of Rajasthan... and fed you?" he said in Hindi. 

"Modi kehate hain 56 inch ki chhati hai, main nahi darunga. Agar nahi darte to fir China ko hamare bahut saa bhag kyo chhode? Wo andar ghus kar aa rahe, aap kya neend kar rahe ho? Kya neend ki goli khaaye ho? Kya Rajasthan ke kheton me se afeem le jaake'... ya wo khilaye hai kya?" 

Kharge alleged the prime minister is not concerned about the country but he is busy abusing the Gandhi family. 

"He wants to take the people of the country with him by torturing them. He always keeps lying," Kharge said. "Modi is 'sardar of liars'." -- PTI
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu/File image
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu/File image
19:02   TDP has no representation in RS after lone member retires
For the first time in its over four decades of existence, Telugu Desam Party finds itself without any representation in the Rajya Sabha as its lone member, K Ravindra Kumar retired on Wednesday. 

The vacuum may continue until 2026, when three of the incumbent members in the upper house retire and new members are elected from the state. 

YSR Congress party nominees YV Subba Reddy, Golla Babu Rao and Meda Raghunath Reddy were elected to the upper house unopposed in February this year, making the ruling party the fourth largest party with 11 members. 

Vice-President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar administered the oath to the new members on Thursday in the national capital. 

Four of the TDP membersS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh, and G Mohan Raooined the BJP soon after the 2019 assembly polls, which shifted the power balance towards the YSRCP in the state and the NDA at the Centre. -- PTI
Pappu Yadav (left)
Pappu Yadav (left)
18:51   Cong's Pappu Yadav files nomination from Purnea LS seat as independent
After being denied a ticket by the Congress, former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav on Thursday filed his nomination papers from the Purnea Lok Sabha seat in Bihar as an independent candidate. 

As per the seat-sharing arrangement for Bihar, the RJD, the Congress' senior ally in the state, will contest Purnea. 

No Congress leader accompanied him when Yadav reached the office of the returning officer to file his nomination papers, riding on a motorcycle. 

Moments before filing his nomination, the disgruntled Congress leader said, "I will be with the party till my last breath." 

Talking to reporters after filing his nomination papers, Yadav said, "I have the support of Congress. I am contesting as an independent candidate' many people conspired to end my political career. The people of Purnea have always supported Pappu Yadav above caste and creed. I will strengthen the INDIA alliance ...and I resolve to make Rahul Gandhi stronger." 

Yadav said he filed his nomination because "people in Purnea wanted me to contest". 

"I will keep fighting for the welfare of the people of Purnea, Seemanchal and Bihar," Yadav said. Pappu Yadav had won the Purnea seat thrice in the 1990s. -- PTI
18:14   Man shoots couple, kills self in love affair gone wrong
A pistol-wielding man shot dead a woman and her male friend after having a tiff with them and then took his own life with the same firearm on Thursday in Madha Pradesh's Indore city, in what police suspect to be a fallout of a triangular love affair, an official said. 

The man, Abhishek Yadav (26), used a country-made pistol to fatally shoot the woman, Snehlata Jat (22) and her friend Deepak Jat (25) at the Swaminarayan Temple complex on Khandwa Road, deputy commissioner of police Hrishikesh Meena said. 

He then shot himself with the same pistol, which has been recovered by the police, he said. 

Prime facie, the tragic incident looks like a fallout of a triangular love affair, but investigations are on to ascertain the exact cause of the killings, the police officer said. 

Meena said the accused hailed from Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh. 

According to eyewitnesses, the trio was engaged in a conversation for about 30 minutes before things went out of control and the murder-suicide occurred. -- PTI
18:03   WhatsApp, Instagram suffer midnight outage; services back on afterwards
Popular Meta-owned platforms WhatsApp and Instagram suffered outage close to midnight but the services were back after an hour. 

User reports on Downdetector spiked as thousands across the globe faced problems in sending and receiving messages on WhatsApp. 

Downdetector tracks and monitors online outages and problems. 

"We know some people are experiencing issues right now, we're working on getting things back to 100 percent for everyone as quickly as possible," WhatsApp wrote on X and followed it up with another post after a few hours saying "And we're back. Happy chatting!". 

Several Instagram users too faced difficulties as they could not refresh their feed. 

It is pertinent to mention here that in March, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Threads had faced a major outage, as users reported inability to access the apps for nearly two hours that time. -- PTI
A view of CBI headquarters in New Delhi/File image
A view of CBI headquarters in New Delhi/File image
17:49   Senior official of Brazilian Federal Police visits CBI HQ
A high-level meeting between the Brazilian Federal Police's director of international cooperation Valdecy Urquiza and CBI director Praveen Sood took place in Delhi, with both sides agreeing to enhance collaborative initiatives to deepen cooperation, officials said on Thursday. 

Urquiza, one of the four candidates for the post of Interpol's secretary-general, met Sood at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters where both sides exchanged insights on addressing a wide range of criminal activities. 

The new Interpol secretary-general will be announced during the 92nd General Assembly in November. 

Stephen Kavanagh from the UK, Mubita Nawa from Zambia and Faisal Shahkar from Pakistan are the other contenders, according to the Interpol website. 

"Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation in combating crime, sharing criminal intelligence, sharing best practices, providing mutual legal assistance and improving cooperation via Interpol channels. The Brazilian delegation also visited the Global Operations Centre of the CBI," a CBI spokesperson said in a statement. 

Interacting with senior CBI officers, Urquiza thanked the central agency for its collaborative spirit. -- PTI
17:12   'Modi ka guarantee' to give citizenship: PM in WB
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday slammed opposition bloc INDIA for spreading canards about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and said it is "Modi ki guarantee to provide citizenship to those who have faith in Maa Bharati (Mother India)". 

 Addressing a mega rally at Rash Mela grounds in West Bengal's Cooch Behar, Modi criticised the opposition parties for trying to save the corrupt and asserted that he will ensure that they are punished. "They (INDIA bloc) never cared for the marginalised communities. Now that we have brought CAA, they are spreading rumours and lies. It is Modi ki guarantee to provide citizenship to those who have faith in Maa Bharati," he said.

 Hitting out at the opposition alliance INDIA, Modi said the "opposition alliance is busy indulging in politics of lies and deceit."

 "I am saying remove corruption; the opposition is saying 'save the corrupt.' I will ensure the corrupt are punished, and the poor get justice. In the next five years, more stringent action will be taken against the corrupt," he said.
KBK Infographics
KBK Infographics
17:02   Sensex, Nifty hit record highs as HDFC, TCS rise
Equity benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty rebounded sharply to hit record fresh highs on Thursday, propped up by buying in IT, consumer durables and financial stocks amid expectations of a robust corporate performance. Besides, investors lapped up select banking stocks expecting a status quo in the interest rate decision of the RBI's monetary policy committee, analysts said. 

 The six-member rate-setting panel, which began its deliberation on Wednesday, will announce the decision on Friday. The 30-share BSE Sensex surged 350.81 points or 0.47 per cent to settle at its lifetime high of 74,227.63. During the day, the index oscillated between the high of 74,501.73 and the low of 73,485.12. 

 The broader NSE Nifty also hit its fresh peak of 22,514.65, gaining 80 points or 0.36 per cent. As many as 31 components of the 50-share benchmark ended with gains.
16:49   If you vote for me it will go to PM Modi: Kangana
Bharatiya Janata Party nominee from Himachal Pradesh's Mandi seat Kangana Ranaut on Thursday said that this is the election of PM Narendra Modi and if people vote for her, it will go to the Prime Minister.

Addressing a public meeting in the Sundernagar area of Mandi district today, Kangana said that the BJP is not run by the leaders but by its workers.

"This is the election of PM Modi. If you vote for Kangana, it will go to PM Modi. There should not be any shortage in our area. I have done some work in the film industry due to which I have got the name in the country and all over the world. I feel that till now I have not done anything that the people should elect me as their representative," she said.

"Our party is run not by leaders but by workers," she added.

Further, Kangana Ranaut mentioned that before 2014, it was a shame to talk about our culture and religion.

"After Independence, the average life expectancy in the country was 28 years. The country was suffering from hunger and poverty. When a government as the extension of a 'foreign mindset' formed in India with most of their officials being foreigners, they shattered our self-respect. It was made like this that being Indian, talking about our country and about our very own culture and religion has become worse than a shame. But, PM Modi has said from the Red Fort that we have to get over this mindset," Kangana said.

Himachal Pradesh has four Lok Sabha seats: Hamirpur, Mandi, Shimla, and Kangra. The BJP had won all four seats in 2019. -- ANI
16:35   Think, understand, decide, Rahul tells India
Amid the Lok Sabha polls, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said India is currently standing at a "crucial juncture" and urged people to recognise the difference between those who "build the country" and those who "destroy" it. 

 In a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi conveyed to the people ahead of the Lok Sabha polls that their future is in their hands, and that they must think, understand and then take the right decision. The former Congress chief said the country is currently standing at a "crucial juncture".

 Every section of the society will have to recognize the difference between those who "build the country" and those who "destroy" it. 

 The Congress and the INDIA bloc mean that youth's first job confirmed, guarantee of MSP to farmers, every poor woman a millionaire, minimum Rs 400 per day for workers, caste census and economic survey and secure Constitution and rights of citizen, he said. 

 "And, the BJP means: unemployment confirmed, debt burden on farmers, unsafe and without rights women, forced and helpless labourers, discrimination and exploitation of the underprivileged and dictatorship and sham democracy," Gandhi said. 

 "Your future is in your hands, think, understand and take the right decision," he said. 

 The Lok Sabha polls will be held in seven phases beginning April 19. The counting of votes will take place on June 4. -- PTI
16:22   The Congressi who gave Fadnavis a booster dose...
The induction of former chief minister Ashok Chavan has given a "booster dose" to the BJP in Nanded, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Thursday. 

 Fadnavis was addressing a BJP rally in Nanded, some 270 kilometres from here, after party colleague and sitting MP Pratap Patil Chikhlikar filed his nomination papers. 

Chikhlikar had defeated Chavan, who was with the Congress at the time, by more than 40,000 votes in the 2019 polls. 

"Chikhlikar had got 43 percent votes when Chavan was contesting against him. Now, Chavan is with us and Chikhlikar's vote percentage will go above 50. Chavan joining BJP has given a booster dose to the BJP in Nanded," Fadnavis said. 

Fadnavis said Chavan, when he was in the Congress, supported the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Expressway plan while his party colleagues at the time as well as leaders of the NCP and Uddhav Thackeray had opposed it.

 "When the idea to connect Nanded with the Samruddhi Expressway came up, we decided to do it. We have an agenda to develop Marathwada and Vidarbha. Now, the development of Nanded and all of Marathwada will gather pace," the deputy CM said. Chavan said he and Ajit Gopchade (in Rajya Sabha) and MPs from Nanded, Hingoli and Latur will work jointly to develop Marathwada. A chance has come after a long time that Nanded will have five MPs, Chavan claimed.

 "The opposition parties held rallies and had only one agenda and that was Ashok Chavan. They should speak about development and other issues as well. We don't want to experiment by giving the country in the hands of others. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the country on the path of development with speed," Chavan said.

 Hailing Chikhlikar, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said people must vote for him as he worked for every segment of Nanded. "Chavan has accepted the leadership of PM Modi. He is senior to me and I will work under his leadership," Chikhlikar said on the occasion. PTI
15:51   Helping Modi return for 3rd term your national responsibility: Nadda to voters in Uttarakhand
BJP president J P Nadda Thursday asked the people of Uttarakhand to give all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state to the BJP again to help Narendra Modi return as prime minister for a third term and make India the third biggest economy in the world.

 "It is your national responsibility," Nadda told his first election meeting in Uttarakhand here in support of Ajay Tamta, the BJP candidate from the Almora Lok Sabha seat. Modi made the country the fifth biggest economy in the world despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, he said. 

 "If you help him get a third term as PM by ensuring the BJP's victory in all five seats he will make India the third biggest economy," he said. 

 He said that in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, people have to choose between scamsters and those who understood their pain and took major steps towards development, empowering the poor and women. 

 He said that for four decades, the Congress only cheated veteran over the issue of 'one rank, one pension', a demand fulfilled only after Modi became the prime minister. He said only scams were committed under the Congress-led UPA. -- PTI 
15:50   Rahul Gandhi declares assets worth Rs 20 crore
The affidavit filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as part of his nomination papers for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat showed that he has assets of over Rs 20 crore.

Gandhi filed the papers before the returning office on Wednesday. He has declared movable assets to the tune of Rs 9,24,59,264 and showed the purchasing price of his self-acquired immovable assets as being worth Rs 7,93,03,977 in the affidavit.

The affidavit also showed that the current market value of the self-acquired immovable assets as Rs 9,04,89,000 and the value of the inherited assets as Rs 2,10,13,598. Gandhi has claimed that he has a liability of Rs 49,79,184. In the affidavit, Gandhi has declared that he has Rs 55,000 as cash in hand. In the last election, he had declared total assets worth Rs 15,88,77,083 whereas in 2014, it was Rs 9.4 crore. -- PTI
15:32   President Murmu launches India's 1st home-grown gene therapy for cancer
President Droupadi Murmu speaks at IIT Bombay at the launch ceremony of India's first gene therapy for cancer.

The president said, "As this line of treatment, named "CAR-T cell therapy', is accessible and affordable, it provides a new hope for the whole of humankind. I am sure it will be successful in giving new lives to countless patients."

CAR-T cell therapy or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy and gene therapy. It requires complex genetic engineering to modify the patient immune cells, especially T cells, and make them fight cancer. India's first CAR-T cell therapy is developed through collaboration between the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Tata Memorial Hospital in association with industry partner ImmunoACT.

 "I am told that ImmunoACT is a start-up of two students, Alka Dwivedi and Atharva Karulkar, and Professor Rahul Purwar of IIT Bombay. Their vision and the hard work they put in to actualise that vision are commendable," the president said lauding the achievement. 
15:23   TN: 8, T'gana: 8, AP: 4, Kerala: few: BJP forecast
The Lok Sabha elections are a contest between "brand Modi" and "brand virodhi", making it virtually a presidential contest that leaves no doubt about who will win given the emotional connect people have with Narendra Modi, BJP national spokesperson Ajay Alok has said. 

 The prime minister's declared target of 370 seats will be helped by a record tally in southern states and West Bengal, Alok told PTI, giving an explicit breakdown of seats the BJP will win in states that have traditionally not been its strongholds. 

 He said the party will win seven-eight seats in Tamil Nadu, is "1,000 per cent sure" to bag over eight in Telangana, four in Andhra Pradesh and a few in Kerala, an astounding claim as the BJP has never won a Lok Sabha seat in the Left and Congress dominated state. 

It currently has no seat in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and has four in Telangana. Asked if his projection was too optimistic about a state like Tamil Nadu, an Achilles heel for the BJP, he said, "Absolutely not. The inert Hindutva feeling has risen among people. Dravidian politics has its limit."

 He said a big impact of the decade-long tenure of Modi has been a resurgent pride among Hindus in their faith. "People no longer feel embarrassed in flaunting their Hindu identity," he said. However, being Hindu and being Indian is the same, he added, while also underlining the impetus to the country's growth and development during Modi's tenure. 

 Alok, a visible face of the BJP on the broadcast news, said of his home state Bihar that even there it is the brand equity of Modi which will ensure a sweep by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. 

 With JD(U) president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back into the NDA fold, he answered in the negative when asked if "brand Nitish" will remain strong in the state during the polls. 

 "This election is going the way of either you are with Modi or you are against Modi. In this Nitish and others will act as an add-on but cannot become a brand," Alok, who began his political innings from the BJP and then joined the JD(U) before returning to the party. India may not have the presidential form of government but people often vote on these lines as they have historically rallied around a leader during elections. "

"Today it is either 'brand Modi' or 'brand virodhi'. There are different rivals (virodhi) in different states. But 'brand Modi' is present everywhere," Alok, who quit a government job to join politics and is a medical doctor, said.
14:57   What we did in last 10 years is just a trailer: PM
Hailing the governance of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre over the last 10 years under his leadership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said all that happened over the decade gone by was just a 'trailer' as a lot more would follow if he is elected for a third, straight term in office.

Addressing a campaign rally in Jamui on Thursday, PM Modi said, "Echoes in favour of the BJP and the NDA are not only renting the air across Bihar but also sounding in the far corners of the country. What happened in the last 10 years is just a trailer, as there's plenty more still to be done. We all have to come together to take the country forward."

Ripping into the Opposition bloc--INDIA, he said back in the day when the partners in the 'Ghamandia' alliance were in power at the Centre, "the trains that plied on our tracks were rickety at best. Now, the people of Bihar are travelling in the Vande Bharat".

"Those who gobbled up land in the name of giving jobs to the poor in the Railways can never do any good for the people of Bihar," PM Modi said, in a scathing takedown of the Opposition bloc.

He said India was considered 'weak' in the eyes of the world during the Opposition rule at the Centre but now, the country is a global leader.

"Congress and RJD tarnished the country's image before the world during their rule. The BJP and NDA are working towards one goal, which is to build a 'Viksit Bharat' (a developed India) and a prosperous Bihar. You all are, perhaps, aware of what the world used to think of us in the previous years. During the rule of Congress, India was considered a weak and poor country. Today, we are showing the way to the world...the whole world is watching us. How did our global profile and prestige rise by leaps and bounds? Today, we are the fifth-largest global economy," he said.

"On one side is the NDA government, which talks about setting up new industries. On the other, there are these people whose only claim to fame is the kidnapping industry. On one side is the NDA government, which talks about solar power and LED lights. On the other are these arrogant leaders in the Opposition coalition, who want to take Bihar back to the age of the lantern," Prime Minister Modi added.
14:51   COVID-19 second-leading cause of death globally in 2021: Lancet
COVID-19 replaced stroke to become the second-leading cause of death globally in 2021, causing 94 deaths per one lakh population and slashing life expectancy by 1.6 years, an international research published in The Lancet journal has found. 

 Disrupting more than three decades of consistent improvements in life expectancy and deaths, COVID-19 reversed this long-standing progress to emerge as "one of the most defining global health events of recent history," researchers said.

 In 2020, deaths around the world rose by 10.8 per cent compared to 2019, and in 2021, they rose by 7.5 per cent relative to 2020. Death rates too followed a similar trend, rising by 8.1 per cent in 2020 and an additional 5.2 per cent in 2021, the study estimated. 

 Globally, COVID-19 and related deaths were responsible for slashing life expectancy by 1.6 years between 2019 and 2021, even as reduced deaths from infections, stroke, and of newborns, among others, had helped steadily enhance life expectancy between 1990 and 2019, the researchers found. India lost 1.9 years of life expectancy due to COVID-19, resulting in a net gain of 7.9 years of life expectancy between 1990 and 2021, the study showed. 

 "COVID-19 had a pronounced influence on the reduction in global life expectancy that occurred," the authors wrote. 

 The researchers forming the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Causes of Death Collaborators estimated mortality and years of life lost from 288 causes of death across 204 countries and territories for every year from 1990 until 2021. Region-wise, death rates from COVID-19 were the highest in the sub-Saharan Africa.

 In Latin America and the Caribbean, it was at 271 per one lakh population and almost 200 deaths per one lakh population, respectively. The rate was the lowest in southeast Asia, east Asia, and Oceania at around 23 deaths per one lakh population, the researchers estimated.

 The impact of COVID-19 on life expectancy was found to be wide-ranging in severity, with Andean Latin America seeing a loss of 4.9 years and the southern sub-Saharan Africa seeing a reduction of 3.4 years, to the east Asia, which witnessed almost no change, they said in the study. 

 The leading cause of death worldwide in 2021 continues to be ischaemic heart disease, as was the case in 2019 and 1990, the researchers found. The disease is caused by a reduced blood flow to a certain body part due to clotting or constricting blood vessels.

 Stroke, at the third position amongst the top five causes of death, was found to be followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at fourth, and other pandemic-related mortality at fifth. COPD is a lung condition usually seen to affect heavy smokers.
14:33   Mamata's advice to India: Trust a snake, not BJP
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the BJP of not following the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the Lok Sabha polls and asserted that a poisonous snake can be trusted but not the saffron camp. 

Addressing a rally in Cooch Behar, Banerjee alleged that the central investigating agencies, Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are working at the behest of the BJP and urged the Election Commission to look into it and ensure a level playing field for all political parties. 

 "The BJP is asking you to enrol names for Awas Yojna again. Why will the names be enrolled again? They want further enrolment so that they can chuck it off. You can trust a poisonous snake; you can even pet it, but you can never trust the BJP... The BJP is destroying the country," she said. Asserting that her party TMC will not bow before the "threat of central agencies," Banerjee urged women in Cooch Behar to file police complaints if "there are instances of BSF torturing locals" ahead of the polls, scheduled for April 19. 

 "The central investigating agencies, the NIA, Income Tax, BSF and CISF are working for the BJP. We will humbly plead to the Election Commission to ensure a level playing field as central agencies are working for the saffron camp. The BJP is violating the MCC," she said.

 The BJP only "follows the principle of one nation, one party," Banerjee claimed. "It is a matter of national shame that a person against whom there are several cases has been appointed as the minister of state for home affairs. He was sacked from our party. Now, he is the asset of the BJP," she said in an apparent reference to Nisith Pramanik. Pramanik, a former leader of the TMC Youth Congress, was expelled from the party in 2018.

He later joined the BJP. Hitting out at the saffron camp for nominating former Cooch Behar SP Debashis Dhar, as its candidate from Birbhum, Banerjee said, "The truth of the BJP is reflected in the fact that the person responsible for the killing of five people at Sitalkuchi during the 2021 assembly polls has been nominated as its candidate."
14:05   Boy trapped in borewell rescued after 20-hour operation
After a nearly 20-hour-long rescue operation, the two-year-old boy who fell into a borewell in Lachyana village of Indi Taluk in this district was safely rescued on Thursday afternoon, police said.

 The boy was heard crying inconsolably as the rescue operation was underway. Celebrations broke out as the infant Satvik Satish Mujagond, who was trapped at a depth of 16 feet inside the borewell, was brought out safely. He was immediately shifted to the ambulance which was stationed at the spot with a medical team. PTI
PM in Jamui
PM in Jamui
13:59   Cong brought disrepute to India during its rule: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday lambasted the Congress for having brought disrepute to the country, while lauding Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for maintaining an unblemished record. 

 Addressing an election rally at Jamui, Modi refrained from mentioning Pakistan by name, but said that under the BJP-led NDA government, India has started hitting back, reviving the ancient glory of the Magadha empire. 

 The PM also took an indirect jibe at the Aam Aadmi Party, which has struck an alliance with the Congress in Delhi. All these people who used to accuse each other of corruption have now come together to hurl abuses at Modi, he said. 

 Modi claimed that when the Congress was in power, terrorists from small countries struggling for wheat supplies could strike at will. He made a mention of the land for jobs scam in which RJD president Lalu Prasad is named as an accused. "Our ally Nitish babu (Bihar CM) was also the railway minister. What an unblemished record he had," the prime minister said.

 Modi, addressing his first public meeting in Bihar since the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls, also charged the RJD-Congress combine of heaping scorn on Ram temple at Ayodhya and opposing the election of a tribal woman (Droupadi Murmu) as the President of the country. Visibly pleased at the huge turnout, he said, "It seems the people of Bihar have decided to help the NDA win all 40 seats in the state, and achieve the 400-plus target in the country." PTI
13:35   Tremendous arrogance in Cong leadership: Nirupam
A day after being expelled from the Congress, former MP Sanjay Nirupam hit out at the grand old party on Thursday and claimed there is 'tremendous arrogance' in the party leadership.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Nirupam further claimed the Congress is history and has no future and that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is a merger of three 'sick units'.

The opposition MVA comprises the Congress, Shiv Sena-UBT and the NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar.

"There is tremendous arrogance in the Congress leadership," Nirupam alleged.

The former Mumbai Congress chief also claimed that those wanting to write his political obituary will feel ground beneath them sinking after June 4, the day of counting of votes for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Taking note of complaints of indiscipline and anti-party statements, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge late Wednesday evening approved Nirupam's expulsion from the party for six years with immediate effect.

Nirupam, who was eyeing the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, was miffed with the party for allowing the Shiv Sena-UBT to take the seat for the upcoming parliamentary polls.

The demand for action against Nirupam grew after he castigated the Maharashtra Congress leadership for 'ceding' constituencies in Mumbai to the Uddhav Thackeray-led party during seat-sharing talks of the MVA for the Lok Sabha elections.

Nirupam on Thursday said what he spoke in the public was not against the Congress, but he was asking the party not to surrender to the Shiv Sena-UBT.

"Secularism doesn't mean disregarding one's own religion," he said.

"The Nehruvian secularism, which opposed religion and is under the Leftist influence, has expired," Nirupam claimed.  -- PTI
13:13   Vallabh joins BJP soon after quitting Congress
Gourav Vallabh joined the BJP on Thursday hours after he quit the Congress, saying he can neither raise anti-Sanatan slogans, nor abuse "wealth creators" day in and day out. 

Former Bihar Congress president Anil Sharma also joined the BJP in the presence of its national general secretary Vinod Tawde. 

Vallabh, a Congress spokesperson often seen on news channels, shared his resignation letter written to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on social media platform X. 

He said he was not feeling comfortable with the directionless way the party was moving. 

Vallabh said, "I can neither raise anti-Sanatan slogans nor abuse wealth creators day in and day out. Therefore, I resign from all posts and primary membership of the party."
Rahul Gandhi filing his nomination from the Wayanad seat yesterday
Rahul Gandhi filing his nomination from the Wayanad seat yesterday
13:04   No faith in Rahul making Cong leaders defect: BJP
Congress leaders are getting "disillusioned" due to Rahul Gandhi's failure in convincing them with his political thoughts, the BJP said on Thursday, after Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh quit the party, saying he was not willing to either raise anti-Sanatan slogans or abuse "wealth creators" day in and day out. 

 In his resignation letter addressed to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, which he shared on social media platform X, Vallabh said he did not feel comfortable with the directionless way the party was operating.

 Addressing a press conference at BJP headquarters, party national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said Vallabh's concerns were an echo of what was originally said by a Congress leader AK Antony, who, heading a committee formed in the party's 2014 debacle, had warned against leaning too much in favour of one religion. 

 "AK Antony, a senior most leader of the Congress who headed the committee, had given the conclusion that the major cause of the disastrous defeat of the Congress was that the party seemed to be inclined too much towards one religion," he said. 

 "Precisely in a way, what he was trying to say was that Congress was perceived to be a party inclined to Muslims. AK Antony was himself from the minority community," Trivedi added. "This is "very much obvious" that one after another Congress leaders are getting disillusioned with the party because Rahul Gandhi could not make his own understand what he has been trying to make the country understand,"  the BJP spokesperson charged. 

 Trivedi said that the reason Vallabh cited while quitting the Congress also shows that Rahul Gandhi's political and economic thoughts are getting "punctured." PTI
The Delhi CM sent the message via his wife to AAP MLAs
The Delhi CM sent the message via his wife to AAP MLAs
12:44   Visit constituencies daily: Kejriwal sends message
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent a message from Tihar jail asking all AAP MLAs to visit their constituencies daily and ensure that people do not face any problems, his wife Sunita Kejriwal said on Thursday. 

 In a digital briefing, she said Arvind Kejriwal, in his message, said even though he was in jail, the two crore people of Delhi, who are his family, should not face any problems. 

 "We need to solve their problems apart from official work," Sunita Kejriwal said delivering the Delhi chief minister's message. 

 The chief minister, arrested in a money laundering case linked to now scrapped excise policy of his government, is in judicial custody till April 15. PTI
12:25   Delhi HC throws out PIL on sacking Kejriwal as CM
The Delhi High Court on Thursday refuses to entertain a PIL seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the excise policy-linked money laundering case. The high court said at times, personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest. 

"At times, personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest but that is his personal call. We are a court of law and have to go by the law. Your remedy does not lie here, it lies elsewhere. You go before the competent forum," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said. 

 The bench said it has recently dismissed a similar PIL seeking removal of Kejriwal from the post of chief minister and thus, it cannot take a different view. 

 As the court refused to interfere in the issue, petitioner Vishnu Gupta's lawyer said he has instructions to withdraw the petition and that he will approach the Lieutenant Governor with his plea. The court disposed of the plea while allowing the petitioner to withdraw the petition. PTI
Sanjay Singh walked out of jail yesterday
Sanjay Singh walked out of jail yesterday
12:09   After release from jail, Sanjay Singh visits temple
A day after being released from Tihar Jail where he was lodged for six months, AAP MP Sanjay Singh along with his wife offered prayers at the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place here. Singh was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the now-scrapped liquor policy-linked money laundering case on Tuesday. 

 The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP is scheduled to visit Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi and will later meet the families of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior AAP leader Satyendar Jain, who are in jail. 

 After being released from Tihar on Wednesday, Singh and his wife Anita met Kejriwal's wife Sunita at her residence. 

 "By the grace of Lord Hanuman, I got bail. I came with my wife here to pay obeisance to Hanuman ji. I have prayed for other AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal ji, Manish Sisodia, and Satyendar Jain ji to come out of jail soon," he said, after offering prayers.

 Singh was lodged in the high-security Tihar jail here since October 13, 2023. As he came out of the jail on Wednesday, he was garlanded by AAP workers. 

He then climbed atop his vehicle to greet his supporters. "The enthusiasm among AAP workers last night showed that in the current situation, when all limits of injustice and atrocity have been crossed and a dictatorial government has put behind bars a chief minister who was elected by the two crore residents of Delhi -- all AAP ministers, legislators, and leaders are standing with their leader Arvind Kejriwal ji," he told reporters while leaving his residence. PTI
11:52   Sonia Gandhi, Ashwini Vaishnaw, among 14 sworn in as RS members
Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw were among the 14 who took oath as members of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. 

Vice-president and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar administered the oath to them in the new Parliament house building. 

 While Sonia Gandhi took oath as a member of the Upper House from Rajasthan, Vaishnaw was sworn in as a member of the same house from Odisha. Congress leader Ajay Maken from Karnataka, BJP leader R P N Singh from Uttar Pradesh, and BJP member Samik Bhattacharya from West Bengal were among the 14 who took the Rajya Sabha oath. 

 YSRCP leaders Gola Babu Rao, Medha Raghunath Reddy, and Yerum Venkat Subba Reddy also took oath as members representing the state of Andhra Pradesh.

 They all later took a group photograph with the RS Chairman. Sonia Gandhi has become a Rajya Sabha member for the first time. She took oath in the presence of Leader of the House Piyush Goyal and Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also present during her oath-taking. Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh and secretary general P C Mody were also present. PTI
PM Modi with Gautam Adani
PM Modi with Gautam Adani
11:44   BJP's 'chanda do, dhando lo' cost India: Congress
The Congress on Thursday alleged that the BJP's compulsion to get donations at all costs saw it go ahead with the electoral bonds scheme without heeding RBI's astute advice, as it claimed that over Rs 430 crore was donated to the ruling party by 33 companies that had negative or near zero profit. 

 Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh shared a media report on X which claimed that 33 loss-making firms donated electoral bonds worth Rs 582 crore with 75 per cent going to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

 "There are four primary channels of corruption in the Electoral Bond Scam, and with each passing day, more examples emerge to confirm the shocking reality of the corruption which has engulfed this country through Narendra Modi's encouragement," Ramesh alleged. 

 "An update on the latest revelations on the 'Farzi Companies' who have been donating chanda to the BJP Chanda Do, Dhandha Lo; Theka Lo, Rishvat Do; Hafta Vasuli; Farzi Companies," he said in a post on X. Ramesh claimed that Rs 434.2 crore was donated to the BJP by 33 companies that had negative or near zero profit after tax in aggregate over seven years (2016-17 to 2022-23).

 "The aggregate net losses of these 33 companies were over Rs 1 lakh crore. 16 out of these 33 companies paid zero or negative direct taxes in aggregate," he said. Most of these 33 companies are likely shell companies built for the purpose of money laundering, Ramesh said. 

 He also claimed that Rs 601 crore was donated to the BJP by six companies that had positive net profits in aggregate from 2016-17 to 2022-23, but whose electoral bond donations exceeded their aggregate net profit significantly. These companies were likely acting as fronts for other companies, he alleged. 

 "When the Electoral Bonds Scheme was first floated by the Modi Sarkar, the RBI raised concerns regarding the high possibility of it being used for money laundering. The BJP's compulsion to get chanda at all costs saw it go ahead with this scheme without heeding this astute advice. The nation has paid the price!" Ramesh said. -- PTI
Arvind Kejriwal doing yoga at an institute in Bengaluru in 2015
Arvind Kejriwal doing yoga at an institute in Bengaluru in 2015
11:20   How Kejriwal keeps calm in Tihar: Yoga for 3 hours!
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was sent to Tihar Jail after a court remanded him in judicial custody in the excise policy case, is spending most of his time meditating, reading books and doing yoga in his cell, sources said on Thursday. 

Kejriwal, the first sitting chief minister to be lodged at Asia's largest jail, is placed in a 14x8 feet room located in general ward number 3 of jail number 2 of Tihar. According to jail sources, for the most part of the day, Kejriwal reads books and does yoga and meditation twice every day. 

 "He does yoga and meditates for about for about one-and-a-half hours each every morning and evening," an official source said. 

 Among the books provided to him are the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, and How Prime Ministers Decide'. 

 "He is often seen reading these books and writing something while sitting on the chair in his cell," the source said. 

 A jail official said Kejriwal can also read the books available in the library for the inmates. But as of now, he hasn't asked for any other books, he said. While the chief minister has been provided a TV with 20 channels in his cell, the sources said, he is not very fond of watching it. 

 A table and a chair along with an electric kettle have been provided to him as directed by the court, the sources said. He has also been given a broom, a bucket and a piece of cloth -- provided to all inmates as per the jail manual -- for cleaning his cell, they said.

 The Tihar officials can keep a watch on him 24 hours with two CCTV cameras installed in the cell. A small space outside his cell, which is called a lobby, is where he can stretch and walk, officials said. Due to security reasons, Kejriwal is not allowed to meet other inmates. 

A quick reaction team comprising Central Reserve Police Force and Tamil Nadu Special Police personnel is deployed round the clock outside his ward.

 "Whenever he goes to meet his lawyer, which is daily, he is escorted by the QRT personnel," a source said. Tea and home-cooked food are being provided to him daily, on time, an officer said, adding that "Kejriwal hasn't demanded anything else as of now." PTI
11:02   Surjewala: Listen to full video on Hema Malini
After facing a backlash from the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party over his alleged objectionable statement against BJP MP Hema Malini, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Thursday clarified that he never intended to insult or hurt the actor-politician. 

Surjewala's clarification comes after BJP's IT department head Amit Malviya shared an undated video on X and accused the Congress MP of making some objectionable remarks about Hema Malini. 

 "Congress MP Randeep Surjewala makes a vile sexist comment, that is demeaning and derogatory, not just for Hema Malini, who is an accomplished individual, but women in general. He asks, 'Why do we make MLA? So that they can raise their voice, and get our views accepted. Is there any Hema Malini who is made to lick?' Who thinks of women as something to lick? That is the most disgusting description someone can come up with. Just the other day, Surjewala's colleague was asking the 'rate' of another BJP woman leader, and now this... This is Rahul Gandhi's Congress. It is misogynistic and abhors women," Malviya posted on X.

 Referring to this, Surjewala said that the video posted by the BJP leader has been edited, distorted and shared to distract the country from the Modi government's anti-youth, anti-farmer, anti-poor policies and its conspiracy to destroy the Constitution of India. 

 "BJP's IT Cell has developed a habit of editing, distorting and spreading fake news so that it can distract the country from the Modi government's anti-youth, anti-farmer, anti-poor policies and failures and its conspiracy to destroy the Constitution of India," he said. "Listen to the full video - I said, "We also respect Hema Malini a lot because she is married to Dharmendra ji and is our daughter-in-law," the Congress leader added.
11:01   Former Bihar Congress president likely to join BJP today
Former Bihar Congress president Anil Sharma who resigned from the party last month, is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, sources said. 

In a setback to the Congress in Bihar ahead of Lok Sabha polls, former state president Anil Sharma on March 31 quit the party, claiming that it was stuck in a "disastrous" partnership with the RJD. 

 Sharma became the fourth former Bihar Congress president to have quit the party in nearly a decade. The latest instance was that of Ashok Chaudhary, who quit the party and joined JD(U) in 2018, a few months after a factional feud caused him to give up the state president's post.

 Earlier, in 2015, Ram Jatan Sinha had quit the Congress and after a brief stint in JD(U), he has been in political wilderness. The year before saw Mehboob Ali Kaiser joining late Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP which helped him enjoy two consecutive terms in Lok Sabha from Khagaria. 

 The Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), the opposition coalition in Bihar, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Left parties, recently announced that the RJD, its largest constituent, will contest 26 out of the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats, including Purnia, in the upcoming elections. The Congress will contest nine seats, followed by CPI (ML) on 3 seats, and CPI and CPI (M) with one seat each. 

 Bihar will see polling in seven phases. The first phase of polling will be held on April 19, the second phase on April 26, the third phase on May 7, the fourth phase on May 13, the fifth phase on May 20, the sixth phase on May 25, and the seventh phase on June 1.
10:41   Couldn't raise anti-Sanatan slogans: Cong leader
Update: Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh resigned from all posts and membership of the party on Thursday, saying that neither can he raise anti-Sanatan slogans nor abuse 'wealth creators' day in and day out. 

 Vallabh shared his resignation letter written to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on social media platform X. He said he was not feeling comfortable with the directionless way in which the party was moving forward. 

 Vallabh said, "I can neither raise anti-Sanatan slogans nor abuse wealth creators day in and day out. Therefore, I resign from all posts and primary membership of the party." He had not been attending television programs on behalf of the party for several months and had not held any press conference for a long time. 

 In his resignation letter, Vallabh said, "When I joined Congress, I believed that Congress is the oldest party in the country which respects youth and intellectual people and their ideas. But for some time, I felt that the party was not able to adjust with the youth having new ideas." 

 Vallabh claimed the Congress is completely cut off from the ground and is unable to understand the aspirations of a new India, due to which the party is neither coming to power nor is able to play the role of a strong opposition. 

 He also said that he was upset with the stance taken by the party of staying away from the Ram Mandir 'Pran Pratishtha' programme in Ayodhya. PTI
The 'Modi guarantee' is the BJP's poll card
The 'Modi guarantee' is the BJP's poll card
10:06   Modi to kick off NDA's poll campaign in Bihar today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick off the NDA's Lok Sabha poll campaign in Bihar on Thursday with a rally, his first in the state since the announcement of the elections. Modi, who is running for a third consecutive term in office, is scheduled to address the rally at Jamui around noon. 

The Bihar Police have put in place a multi-tier security cover at the venue and its surroundings ahead of the PM's rally. BJP ally Chirag Paswan, who has handed over the mantle to brother-in-law Arun Bharti after having represented Jamui, a reserved seat, two times on the trot, has been effusive in his praise for the prime minister for the gesture. 

 "It is a matter of pride for Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) and the people of Jamui that the prime minister has agreed to launch his campaign in Bihar from the constituency. We are committed to helping him achieve the target of 400-plus seats for the NDA, including all the 40 in Bihar," said Paswan. Jamui is among the four Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the other three being Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada, which will go to polls in the first phase on April 19. 

 The BJP is contesting Aurangabad, where Modi had addressed a rally a week before the Election Commission announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha polls, and Nawada, where he is slated to address a public meeting on Sunday. 

 The NDA in Bihar also includes Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which is contesting 16 seats, one less than the BJP, and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Morcha, which will fight Katakat. Chirag Paswan's party is fielding candidates in five seats, including Hajipur, his late father Ram Vilas Paswan's pocket borough, where he is trying his luck this time. PTI
There is widespread famine in Gaza now. Pic: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
There is widespread famine in Gaza now. Pic: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
10:01   Muslim community decline White House Iftar dinner invite
Members of the Muslim community in the US have declined the White House's iftar dinner invitation this week, protesting the Biden administration's continued support for Israel amid humanitarian concerns in Palestine, according to multiple media reports. 

 Many of the invitees, distressed over President (Joe) Biden's support for Israel's war in Gaza, said they would not attend an iftar meal with the president on Tuesday evening while so many Palestinians were under siege, The New York Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

 The White House held a pared-down meal just for staffers. "How can we talk to you about famine and starvation over bread and steak? Dr Thaer Ahmad, a Palestinian American doctor who was in Gaza in January was quoted as saying by The New York Times report.

 Dr Ahmed attended a separate hour-long meeting of the community leaders and President Biden. The meeting on Tuesday was attended by Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Some people who were invited to attend the White House events on Tuesday flatly declined, according to the sources familiar with the planning, who said the invitees did not feel comfortable celebrating with the president while many Palestinians are currently facing starvation and malnutrition, NBC News reported. 

 Muslim advocacy group Emgage, which declined the invitation from the White House, said a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions has been unfolding with millions now facing famine and disease. In this moment of tremendous pain and suffering, we have asked the White House to postpone this gathering and to convene a proper policy meeting with representatives of the community's choosing, rather than those selected by the White House, it said in a statement. Emgage said in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Biden administration can and should leverage its enormous support for Israel and begin to take demonstrable actions on an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

 The US should also ensure an unfettered access for humanitarian aid convoys and the resumption of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) funding; an end to any Israeli plans to invade Rafah where 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering; and the initiation of a legitimate political track that leads to Palestinian statehood, it said.
09:51   YouTube approved ads promoting disinformation on Indias election
YouTube approved dozens of ads promoting voter suppression and incitement to violence ahead of the upcoming election in India, according to a new investigation by the rights groups Global Witness and Access Now, shared exclusively with TIME. Read the report here. 
09:47   Centre hands over 62% of new Sainik Schools to Sangh Parivar, BJP politicians, allies
Sainik Schools, run under the Defence Ministry's guidance, send cadets to India's armed forces. The new initiative however relies on ideologically slanted organisations to train future cadets. Read the report here. 
09:41   'My opponents are like braying asses'
"Neither did I approach the BJP nor did they ask me to join them. It was a natural choice for both of us to make. It was never for me to ask or for them to give," says Navneet Kaur Rana, the BJP's candidate from Amravati, in conversation with Prasanna D Zore. Read the interview here. 
09:39   I resigned first, expelled later, clarifies Nirupam
Former MP Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday took a swipe at the Congress leadership over his expulsion, claiming it was done after he sent his resignation letter to the party. 

 Taking note of complaints of indiscipline and anti-party statements, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge late Wednesday evening approved Nirupam's expulsion from the party for six years with immediate effect. 

 On Thursday morning, former Mumbai Congress chief Nirupam in a post on X said, "Looks like, immediately after the party received my resignation letter last night, they decided to issue my expulsion. Good to see such promptness."

 In the letter to Kharge, Nirupam said, "I have finally decided to fulfil your much awaited desire and hereby announce that I chose to resign from the primary membership of the All India Congress Committee." 

 Nirupam, who was eyeing the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, was miffed with the party for allowing the Shiv Sena (UBT) to take the seat for the upcoming parliamentary polls. 

 The demand for action against Nirupam grew after he castigated the Maharashtra Congress leadership for "ceding" constituencies in Mumbai to the Uddhav Thackeray-led party during seat-sharing talks of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance for Lok Sabha elections. 

 Earlier on Wednesday, the Congress dropped Nirupam's name as a star campaigner, indicating the crisis was escalating. Nirupam then launched a sharp attack, saying as the party was experiencing a "serious financial crisis", it should utilise the stationery and energy to save itself, apparently alluding to the Income Tax Department's action for tax demand. 

 The former MP from Mumbai North had also said the Congress leadership should not allow itself to be arm-twisted by the Shiv Sena (UBT). Accepting the Shiv Sena (UBT's) decision to unilaterally field candidates in Mumbai amounted to allowing the destruction of Congress, he had claimed. A former Shiv Sainik, Nirupam quit Shiv Sena in 2005. -- PTI
09:23   Mamata, Modi to hold rallies in Bengal 3 hrs apart
West Bengal's Cooch Behar is set to witness Lok Sabha poll campaigning by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are set to hold their rallies in the constituency.

This is the first rally of PM Modi in both Bengal and Bihar after the Election Commission of India announced the poll schedule of the general elections on March 16.

The Trinamool Congress supremo is scheduled to hold a rally at Cooch Behar at around noon, while the Prime Minister's rally is scheduled at 3 pm.

On Wednesday, in his interaction with BJP Karyakartas from West Bengal via the NaMo App, the Prime Minister came down heavily on the the TMC-led government in the state.

PM Modi said that the biggest issue in Bengal is violence and the BJP will monitor the events that unfold in the state.

"During elections, in West Bengal, the biggest issue is of violence. The Election Commission has made special arrangements for the security and safety of the people. We all also monitor the events that unfold in West Bengal. You have to encourage people to vote fearlessly," PM Modi said yesterday.

Sitting MP and BJP leader Nisith Pramanik has been renominated from the party, while the TMC has fielded the Rajbanshi community and the sitting MLA of Sitai Jagadish Barma Basunia from Cooch Behar.

Coochbehar located in north Bengal along with Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri in the state are the three constituencies which will vote on April 19, in the first of the seven phases of the Lok Sabha polls.

There are 42 Parliamentary Constituencies in West Bengal.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) secured 22 seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 18 and the Congress had to settle for just two parliamentary seats.
Image only for representation
Image only for representation
08:59   30 flyers held for questioning at Lucknow airport manage to flee
Thirty people who were detained at Lucknow's Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport for allegedly smuggling gold managed to escape after one of them pretended to be sick and created chaos, officials said on Wednesday.

Custom and police officials have started searching for the accused, they said.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Shashank Singh said that officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs Department had on Monday stopped at the airport 36 passengers who had come from Sharjah.

When the officials frisked the passengers, cigarettes worth over Rs 3 crore and cash worth Rs 23.90 lakh were seized from some of them, Singh said.     Six of these passengers told officials that they were carrying gold, he said.     

On Tuesday, when the 30 remaining passengers were being questioned, one of them pretended to be ill and created chaos. Taking advantage of this, all of them fled, the officer said.

A case has been registered under relevant sections on the complaint in the matter and efforts are being made to arrest the accused, he added.   -- PTI
08:49   Cong leader Gourav Vallabh quits party
Congress leader Gourav Vallabh has tendered his resignation from all posts of the party.

He tweeted a copy of his resignation, saying, "I do not feel comfortable with the way in which the Congress party is moving forward today. I can neither raise anti-Sanatan slogans nor abuse the wealth creators of the country. I am resigning from all posts and primary membership of the Congress party."

More details awaited.  -- ANI
01:33   Modi an 'ansh' of lords Ram and Vishnu: Kangana
Actor Kangana Ranaut, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an 'ansh' (part) of Lord Ram and Lord Vishnu. 

Addressing a gathering in Karsog assembly constituency falling under the Mandi Parliament seat, she called Modi as a symbol of Lord Ram. 

It is for the first time the women feel that someone is concerned for them, she said. 

Modi has chosen Mandi's daughter (Kangana) to contest from this seat, she said, and appealed to the people to vote for her to ensure a third term for Modi as prime minister. 

"It can be said that Narendra Modi is an 'ansh' of Lord Ram and Vishnu who takes care of us," she said. 

Kangana alleged that the Congress has become synonymous with scams. 

The 2G and coal scams took place during the Congress rule, she added. 

The actor also interacted with the public at Pangna, Churag, Mahunag and Seri in Karsog. 

She also visited the historical Mahunag temple to seek blessings. She reiterated that the Congress leaders used indecent and abusive language against the women, which reflect their mean mentality. 

Congress leaders Supriya Shrinate and H S Ahir have kicked up a huge political row with derogatory comments against Ranaut and Mandi by their posts on their social media handles. 

Later, Shrinate said her account was hacked. -- PTI
File image
File image
01:09   Two-year-old boy falls into borewell in Karnataka, rescue ops on in full swing
A two-year-old boy fell into a borewell in Lachayan village of Indi taluk in this district of Karnataka on Wednesday evening, the police said. 

Rescue operations are underway to rescue the boy who is estimated to have fallen, head first, into a depth of around 16 feet, they said. 

According to the police, the child fell into the borewell when he went out to play near his house. 

The matter came to light when someone heard the child cry and immediately informed the family. 

"Rescue operations began around 6.30 pm. Police teams, revenue officials, members of taluk panchayat and officials from the fire and emergency services department are here at the spot. All efforts are underway to rescue the child," a senior police officer said. 

The boy is estimated to be stuck at a depth of around 16 feet, he said. 

"No voice can be heard as of now but some movement has been noticed inside the borewell," he said. -- PTI 
People's Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone
People's Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone
00:52   Sajad Lone demands FIR against Farooq Abdullah, Cong for 'rigging' 1987 J-K polls
People's Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone on Wednesday said a case against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and others for their role in the alleged rigging of the 1987 Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls will be the biggest confidence-building measure towards Kashmiris. 

"As far as 1987 is concerned, I strongly believe that even today, the biggest CBM (confidence-building measure) towards Kashmiris will be an FIR in which Farooq sahib, Congress leaders and bureaucrats are named for rigging the election," Lone told reporters in north Kashmir's Kupwara district. 

The separatist-turned-mainstream politician is contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from the Baramulla constituency. 

Lone said there has been no accountability for the election rigging in 1987, which he claimed was the trigger for the outbreak of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. 

"One lakh people have died, thousands have been jailed. An army of orphans, an army of widows and there is no accountability? Were they not humans? Don't their lives matter?" he asked. -- PTI
Madhya Pradesh ex-chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan/File image
Madhya Pradesh ex-chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan/File image
00:28   NBW issued against Chouhan in defamation case
A court in Jabalpur on Tuesday issued a bailable warrant against former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state Bharatiya Janata Party chief VD Sharma, and former state minister Bhupendra Singh for not furnishing undertakings in a criminal defamation case. 

The case is based on a complaint filed by Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha. Magistrate Vishveshwari Mishra of the special court for cases against MPs and MLAs issued bailable warrants on Tuesday, and asked the three BJP leaders to appear on May 7, said their lawyer Shyam Vishwakarma. 

On March 22, 2024, the court had granted Chouhan and the other two exemption till June 7 from appearing before it. 

It also asked them to furnish certain undertakings. But it was not clear what kind of undertakings were to be furnished, advocate Vishvakarma said, adding that the BJP leaders then moved the court on Tuesday seeking a clarification. The court order of Tuesday was not available yet. 

Tankha, a senior Supreme Court lawyer and former state advocate general, alleged in his complaint that the BJP leaders tarnished his image by wrongly claiming that he was involved in a Supreme Court case related to OBC quota in 2021 Panchayat elections in the state. -- PTI