19:26 Budget may hike service tax, make eating out, movies and flying costlier:
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley could raise the service tax rate in the Budget to be presented on February 1, a move that will increase the cost of eating out, going to the movies or flying.
Two senior government sources said that the existing rate of 15%, which includes two cesses, could be raised by another 0.5% to 1%.
A rise in service tax could give the government some elbow room to offer cuts in personal income tax or spend more to revive private consumption that received a shock after Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled out high-value banknotes from the economy in November.
19:15 VAMOS! Nadal claws into Aus Open final:
After a gruelling 5 set match with the 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov, Rafael Nadal, the ninth seed, comes through 6-3, 5-7, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.
Nadal will play one-time rival Roger Federer in the Australian Open finals on Sunday. This will be Nadal’s first final since winning his 14th Grand Slam at the 2014 French Open.
19:07 Cryogenic Upper Stage for GSLV Mk III tested successfully: The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully tested its indigenously developed cryogenic engine in a major step forward for its landmark ‘GSLV Mk III’ rocket, scheduled for launch within the first quarter this year.
Cryogenic engines are used in the upper stage of a rocket launch as they provide the maximum thrust to a launcher vehicle.
The cryogenic upper stage, designated as C25, was tested on January 25 for 50 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu, demonstrating all the stage operations, the space agency said.
The performance of the stage during the test was as predicted, it said, adding that this was the first test in a series of two tests. The next one was planned for a flight duration of 640 seconds.
The 50 second test is a significant milestone in the development of indigenous cryogenic propulsion technology, the ISRO said, adding that the successful hot test of the stage in the first attempt itself demonstrates the agency’s ability to work in new areas like cryogenic technology.
The development of C25 cryogenic stage began with the approval of GSLV MkIII, the next generation launch vehicle of the ISRO, capable of launching 4 tonne class spacecraft in Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
The vehicle consists of two solid strap-on motors, one earth storable liquid core stage and the cryogenic upper stage.
The C25 stage is the most powerful upper stage developed by the ISRO and uses Liquid Oxygen and Liquid Hydrogen propellant combination.
The stage carries 27.8 tonnes of propellants loaded in two independent tanks.
Image for representation only.
18:45 Af-Pak visa applicants to face extreme vetting: Trump: United States President Donald Trump has indicated that both Pakistan and Afghanistan will be among the countries whose citizens will have to go through an ‘extreme vetting’ process before entering the United States, Dawn News reported.
In an interview to ABC News, Trump said he was going to sign an order placing a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US on Wednesday but it was delayed, apparently because of a huge public backlash.
18:41 Varanasi BJP workers protest as 7-time MLA denied ticket: Several Bharatiya Janata Party workers, disgruntled over party ticket being denied to a seven-time MLA from Varanasi South constituency, shouted anti-party slogans and lodged their protest in the city.
They also gheraoed state unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya and party vice president Om Prakash Mathur when they were holding a meeting in Varanasi.
The two senior leaders were meeting the party’s office- bearers from Kashi region under which 14 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh fall.
The protesters were miffed over ticket being denied to Shyam Deo Roy Chaudhary, sitting MLA from Varanasi South seat.
Earlier in the day, some workers also protested in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modis local parliamentary office in Ravindrapuri.
17:56 Bhansali attacked on Padmavati set in Jaipur: Activists of a local organisation today attacked director Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the set of his movie Padmavati in Jaipur. They slapped him and tore his cloths.
Members of Karni Sena stalled the shooting of film at the Jaigarh fort. They’re unhappy with Bhansali for allegedly distorting historical facts in the movie.
“The film is presenting wrong information about (Queen) Padmavati. Our basic protest is about distortion of historic facts which will not be tolerated,” Vikram Singh, a Karni Sena activist said.
Deepika Padukone plays queen Padmavati opposite Shahid Kapoor’s Ratan Singh.
Ranveer Singh is in the role of Alauddin Khilji in the movie, which marks Bhansali’s return to period era after the success of Bajirao Mastani.
17:53 White House misspells Theresa May’s name thrice: In a major gaffe, the White House misspelled British Prime Minister Theresa May’s name three times in an official schedule of her visit to the United States, confusing her name with a porn star.
Staff in US President Donald Trump’s administration missed out the ‘h’ in her name in a document setting out the plan for talks on Friday, including a ‘bilateral meeting’ in the Oval Office and a ‘working luncheon’ following a joint press conference.
The White Houses daily guidance and press schedule from the office of the press secretary reads: ‘In the afternoon, the president will partake in a bilateral meeting with United Kingdom Prime Minister, Teresa May’ — missing out the ‘h’ in her name, despite spelling it correctly elsewhere, the Mirror reported.
It continued: ‘The president participates in a working luncheon with Teresa May, Prime Minister of United Kingdom.’
The error was repeated in a later guidance note from the Office of the Vice President, though it elsewhere also spelt her name correctly, before finally being rectified fully in another notice from the same office.
Teresa May is the name of a former glamour model and porn actress.
Teresa May — the actress — also trended on Twitter during the race to be prime minister last summer.
17:38 ‘UP likes this tie-up’, says PK’s new slogan: JUST IN: ‘UP ko ye saath pasand hai‘, is the slogan by team Prashant Kishor for the Samajwadi party-Congress alliance in the state.
The slogan will be formally declared on January 29 in Lucknow.
GAAR will not apply to foreign portfolio investors if main purpose of jurisdiction finalised is not to obtain tax benefits.
It will not interplay with right of taxpayer to choose method of transaction.
The ministry said that invocation of GAAR will involve a two-stage process: first by income tax principal commissioner and second by panel headed by high court judge.
GAAR will not be invoked if tax treaty benefits are derived within Limitation of Benefits provisions, it said.
16:22 PM fist-thumps Badal: You will rarely see a person like him: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing a public gathering in Jalandhar, Punjab, ahead of the assembly polls, scheduled for February 4. Highlights…
— On the one hand, we have preparations for Basant Panchami, and on the other, preparations are being done for Punjab’s future as the state is about to go to elections.
— This is the land of bravery, courage, one that has given great leaders and visionaries.
— This is the land of sacrifice: warriors’ blood and farmers’ sweat.
— There are many states but there is something special that makes Punjab stand out.
— This is a land of givers.
— There are people who are putting all their efforts into defaming Punjab. For their selfishness and greed for power and they are going to every extent to ruin Punjab’s image.
— For such people, I appeal to you all to punish them all for speaking about this great land in bad light.
— Even in its worst phase a few decades ago, no one ever spoke ill of Punjab.
— But today, it is a shame to see people stoop so low as to speak ill of Punjab only for their personal benefits.
— You all can see how the Congress is collapsing across the country.
— They are desperate for power. Their desperation is like a fish without water.
— Badal sahab has always been true to Punjab. He has always given his best.
— Punjab would love to see him lead Punjab toward development, and a better future.
— Friends, the Congress is in real bad shape. They are being opportunistic. They are going from state to state – be it Bengal or Bihar – and now even in UP, when they saw there was a family dispute. They can go to any extent for the power of the chair.
— When there were tensions between Hindus and Sikhs, when others were playing politics, it was Badal sahab who worked day and night, gave his sweat and blood to unite the Hindus and Sikhs. You will rarely come across a gem like him.
— I see how actively Badal sahab participates for the benefit of Punjab. He frequently discusses Punjab’s development with me.
— The people of India don’t go hungry, thanks to the farmers of Punjab.
16:01 Attack on liberal democratic spirit a growing phenomena: Ashok Vajpeyi: Noted writer and poet Ashok Vajpeyi today claimed that liberal democratic spirit is under assault in India, but said its a global phenomena.
“I think the world over the liberal democratic spirit is under assault…it is not merely a phenomena in India, with what’s happening in Europe, in Africa and in United States, Latin America,” Vajpeyi said addressing the Hyderabad Literary Festival-HLF 2017.
“So, its a growing phenomena where the idea of the liberal itself is now being put into ‘question’,” said the eminent Hindi poet, who had last year returned his Sahitya Akademi award. Stating that there is violence of every kind including murders, rapes, abductions, physical assaults at social, personal, domestic and academic levels, Vajpeyi said “there is violence against writers, intellectuals. There was violence against writers all along but they were not murdered. And three of them were murdered just because they had their view with which the murderers did not agree.”
He further said and there is violence against dissenters, against information seekers, violence against women, against minorities, Christians, Dalits against Adivasis and alleged — sadly more often than not, the state is watching mutely or is complicit in these acts of violence. Vajpeyi was among the writers who had returned their awards last year to the Sahitya Akademi in protest against the literary body’s silence on attack on rationalists such as M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
15:48 Karnataka High Court orders issue of bailable warrant against liquor baron Vijay Mallya for contempt of court.
15:43 President Pranab Mukherjee appoints Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Assam, to discharge the functions of the Governor of Meghalaya. The President accepted the resignation of V Shanmuganathan, as Governor of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh and appointed PB Acharya, Governor of Nagaland to discharge functions of Governor of Arunachal Pradesh.
15:32 Sena-MNS alliance for BMC polls? Answer in 48 hours : With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray precluding all chances of an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming civic polls, including Mumbai, in the state, there is a possibility of the party sewing an alliance with the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
Sources on high ranks of both parties have confirmed to ANI that talks between the two Marathi-dominated parties are on. No one, however, wants to go on record and speak about it as the discussion is still at a very nascent stage.
Sources further say that the seat-sharing alliance can be worked out roughly on the formula of 177:50, while the MNS is desirous of 50 seats in the 227 seats of the BMC house.
It is also speculated that if the alliance is formed at all, it will be for municipal polls outside Mumbai, including Nasik, Pune and Thane among others, and for local body elections for 25 zila panchayats.
The final decision is expected to be announced in a day or two.
This development comes a day after the Shiv Sena raised objection for using their supremo Bal Thackeray’s photo by an MNS corporator on his campaign. The corporator from Dadar used images of the late Bal Thackeray in order to woo the area’s traditional Marathi vote bank.
Both the parties met last year too, to discuss possibilities of a tie-up for the civic polls, but to no avail.
A day ago, Shiv Sena’s Thackeray, after a prolonged cold war with the BJP leadership, announced that they will contest elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and nine other municipal corporations in Maharashtra alone.
Accusing the BJP of ‘back-stabbing’ their party, Shiv Sena chief Sanjay Raut told ANI, “The decision is not only for Mumbai and BMC polls, but for the entire Maharashtra. We will contest the elections using our own strength and power. We want to bring stability to Maharashtra which has been hampered post demonetisation.”
Referring to the 25 years of alliance with the BJP, Uddhav Thackeray also said that his party wasted those years by sticking with the saffron alliance with the BJP.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP reportedly had held discussions over sharing the seats over two weeks ago. The discussions disfigured into a deadlock when Sena offered only 60 seats to the BJP out of 227.
Following the announcement, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “Power is not an achievement but means of a development. Providing transparent administration is the key of our government. Those who want, are with them, those who do not want, are without them. Change would certainly take place.”
The MNS, on the other hand, is struggling to salvage its reputation in the Maharashtra politics. It has secured just one seat in the last Assembly Elections in the state, out of a total of 288 seats.
15:05 Alibaba’s Jack Ma warns of ‘big trade war’ between China, US: E-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has warned of a “big trade war” between China and the US under the new Trump Presidency if conflicts were not dealt properly. He said China’s economic outlook will be “tougher than expected” due to continued slowdown of Chinese economy and warned.
14:57 ITC Q3 profit rises 5.7% to Rs2,647 crore: ITC on Friday reported a 5.71% increase in standalone net profit at Rs2,646.73 crore for the third quarter ended December. The company had posted a net profit of Rs2,503.76 crore during the same period last fiscal.
Total income from operations was up 4.69% at Rs13,569.97 crore for the quarter under review, as against Rs12,961.85 crore in the previous fiscal, ITC said in a BSE filing.The stock was trading at Rs263.10, down 1.79% at 1.48pm, on BSE.
14:55 Aus Open: Nadal wins first set 6-3: Rafael Nadal has won the first set 6-3 in the high-stakes second semi-final match in the Australian Open against Grigor Dimitrov, taking him just a step closer to the dream final clash with old foe Roger Federer on Sunday.
14:20 Rahul Gandhi to meet UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Dimple Yadav on January 29 in Lucknow.
14:18 Daniel Pearl’s killer appeals against death sentence: The man convicted of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Omar Sheikh, has filed an appeal against his death sentence in Sindh High Court, reports Geo News. The Sindh High Court in Pakistan has issued a notice to the prosecutor general for March 3. The court has also given orders to allow Omar Sheikh to meet his lawyers.
Daniel Pearl was the South Asian bureau chief at the Wall Street Journal. He was kidnapped in Karachi in 2002 and his decomposed body found later. After the incident, Omar Sheikh was sentenced to death while three others were given life imprisonment.
Image: Photographs released by the kidnappers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in captivity in 2002.
14:13 Amarinder is Cong CM candidate: Rahul in Punjab : Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is addressing a rally in Majithia, Punjab where the party will be launching a mega offensive against the Badals. Rahul announced that Capt Amarinder Singh will be the next Punjab CM.
Rahul is on a three-day electioneering tour, the highlights of which will be joint public rallies with leaders Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu in Majitha, Jalalabad and Lambi. Rahul will campaign in Rampura Phul, Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda Urban, besides Majthia on Friday. Punjab will vote on February 4 and the counting will take place on March 11. Highlights…
“Whenever a farmer sees clouds (badal), he becomes happy that there will be rain and his crops will be good, but Badals don’t give rain in Punjab.
“I said four years back also that 70% youth are affected by drugs. Badals made fun of me. Now whole Punjab is saying what I said. We have to fight the drug menace in Punjab, only Congress party can do it. We will make a very strong law against drugs once we come to power in Punjab. Drug peddlers will quake.
All industries are leaving Punjab and only one family is behind it.
Modi ji says he is fighting corruption. How can someone who says hes fighting the corrupt stand together with the Badals? Whole nation knows it (Akali Dal) has ruined Punjab.
People of Punjab are being looted everyday in one way or another. Congress will ensure that this money returns to the people.”
14:03 SC rejects PIL seeking complete ban on cow slaughter: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the Public Interest Litigation seeking a complete ban on cow slaughter in every state across the nation.
The top court said that it has already passed orders on measures to stop illegal inter-state transportation of cattle.
In August last year, around 36 beef dealers associations across Maharashtra filed a petition in the top court challenging the ban on the slaughtering of cow.
The dealers asked the court to permit the slaughtering of cattle – bulls and bullocks, and out a ban on cows.The petition challenged the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2015, that bans the slaughtering, possession, consumption and import of beef in the state.
Earlier in the year, the Maharashtra government banned the slaughtering of bulls, bullocks and cows by amending the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976, which was later challenged in the Bombay High Court.The Bombay High Court in May upheld the ban on slaughter.
13:35 I’m Indian, Salman tells court on being asked about his religion: Salman Khan, who appeared in a Jodhpur Court today in the 1998 black buck poaching case, told the court that he has been falsely accused of killing black buck during a film shoot in 1998.
“I am innocent,” he told the Jodhpur court where his co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam were also present as co-accused.
Khan told the court that he never went on the alleged hunt; he said he would return to his hotel room straight after the shoot and never go out at night for security reasons. He was reportedly asked 65 questions by the prosecution, based on statements from 28 witnesses. On being asked about his religion, he told court he was ‘Indian’.
Among the witnesses are members of the Bishnoi tribe who hold deer sacred and reportedly chased the actors after hearing the gunshots.
Salman Khan has faced four cases over the years linked to the killing of two blackbuck and two chinkara in the alleged deer hunt while filming the movie “Hum Saath Saath Hain”. The other actors are accused of instigating him.
13:24 Filling secretary-level vacancies, choosing ambassadors: Jaishankar’s plate is full: With S Jaishankar getting a one-year extension as foreign secretary (as first reported by us), the immediate task facing him is to fill the 28 top-level vacancies, including that of secretary (west), secretary (economic relations).
Then there’s the question of choosing ambassadors to Nepal, Indonesia, Geneva and Italy and getting the names approved by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Jaishankar also plans to have a new division carved out for energy security.
13:19 Anti-social elements infiltrated jallikattu protests: CM: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today said various “anti-social elements” and organisations had “infiltrated” the week-long pro-jallikattu protest at Marina Beach with the intention of “diverting” it.
He promised that the “evil forces” behind the violence here on Monday would be identified and brought to book. Panneerselvam said following the police announcement early on January 23, asking the protesters to leave the Marina beach, about 10,000 of them had dispersed while about 2,000 stayed back.
12:47 Akhilesh writes to PM to defer Budget till polls end:
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to defer presentation of the Union Budget till the completion of poll process in five states.
The letter sent to the prime minister earlier this week cited the Election Commission directive on January 23 asking the Central government not to announce any specific scheme for the five states going to polls in keeping with the model code of conduct.
The chief minister said that this may deprive Uttar Pradesh, having the maximum population in the country, of special schemes in the Union Budget which would have a direct impact on state’s development and interest of 20 crore people.
Yadav recalled that in February-March 2012, the then government had taken a decision to defer the budget on its own till the completion of the poll process at that time.
“In my capacity as the representative of the people of the state I request you think about deferring the Budget till after the elections so that the development of the state and schemes in the interests of the people could be announced,” he added.
The Supreme Court today said that it will hear all Jallikattu matters on January 31 after the Centre filed a plea seeking to withdraw the January 6 notification, allowing the bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra allowed all the applications related to Jallikattu to be filed and said the matter will be heard on Tuesday.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned before the bench that Centre has filed a plea seeking to withdraw the January 2016 notification.
Justice Misra said the appropriate bench which has heard and reserved the verdict will take up the matters.
The apex court has earlier said that it will be hearing the matter on January 30.
12:20 Sasikala to brief AIADMK MPs today on Parliament strategy: AIADMK general secretary Sasikala Natarajan will conduct a tutorial to the 49 AIADMK MPs at 5 pm today, at the Poes Garden residence of former chief minister Jayalalithaa, on the strategy to be adopted by them in Parliament’s Budget session beginning next week.
Insiders say that Deputy Speaker Thambidurai, the party leader in Parliament, wants the AIADMK to adopt an anti-Centre approach but many MPs feel that since the BJP supported Jallikattu, they should be neutral and not be seen as opposing the central government.
So strong is the sentiment in favour of Jallikattu that of the 49 MPs, six who are from the Thevar community — as are Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Sasikala — want to garland Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his initiative to support the sport, sources said.
Most likely all these points will be discussed at the parliamentary party meeting and Sasikala will take a final call on extending issue-based support to the Modi government.
“One state may ban slaughter, the other may not… We will not interfere in state laws,” the Supreme Court said as it rejected the petition seeking a uniform policy on cow slaughter.
The apex court told petitioner Vineet Sahai that it has already passed orders on measures to stop the illegal inter-state transportation of cattle.
12:06 Kashmir remains cut off from rest of the country:
For the fourth consecutive day on Friday, Kashmir remained cut-off as surface and air links between the Valley and rest of the country remained suspended due to snowfall.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is still closed for traffic due to snowfall which has rendered the road slippery. No vehicle has been allowed to ply on Friday as well, an official of the Traffic Control Department said.
He said efforts were on the make the nearly 300-km long highway — the only all weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country — traffic worthy at the earliest and the heavy vehicles, stranded since the road was closed, have been shifted from high risk areas.
The air-traffic at Srinagar International Airport has also not resumed yet because of the bad weather.
Meanwhile, most parts of Kashmir received intermittent snowfall last night. Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, received two cm of snow during the last 24 hours and the mercury settled at the low of minus 0.8 degree Celsius, an official of the Meteorological Department said.
He said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir received 41 cm of fresh snowfall during the last 24 hours, while the resort recorded the minimum temperature of minus 4 degrees Celsius.
World Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva has said the bank they will help both Pakistan and India to find solution to the Indus Water Treaty dispute between them. She was talking to Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday.
Dar while speaking the World Bank delegation led by Georgieva said all macro-economic indicators show that Pakistan is on a rising growth trajectory. He informed the delegation about the economic progress and other achievements of the government.
Georgieva said the World Bank would continue to assist Pakistan with consideration of a bigger package, including the International Development Assistance program and IBRD. The World Bank CEO also assured of their positive consideration for Pakistan’s development needs and higher financial allocations.
11:58 Putin and Trump may speak by telephone on Saturday: Kremlin
11:34 Black buck case: Salman & co hit Jodhpur court to record statements: Just in: Salman Khan reaches the Jodhpur court along with co-accused Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam. The actors will record their statements before the chief judicial magistrate court, Jodhpur District, in the 18-year-old black buck poaching case.
On January 13, the court had ordered the five accused actors to appear before it on January 25 to record their statements, but their counsel filed an application for exemption from appearance. The court then ordered the accused to appear on January 27.
The prosecution has examined only 28 witnesses of the total 51. If required, the defence side would be given a chance after the accused statements are recorded.
The five actors, who arrived in Jodhpur on Thursday, are accused of poaching two black bucks — protected under the Wildlife Protection Act — near Kankani village in Jodhpur while shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998. Actor Salman Khan is also facing trial for possession of illegal firearms that were used to shoot the animals.
Two others, Dushyant Singh and Dinesh Ganware, are accused of helping the actors hunt. Ganware has been on the run since the incident and accusations against him are yet to be framed.
11:23 14 jawans killed in Gurez avalanche, 4 bodies recovered: Just in: Bodies of four missing soldiers recovered from Kashmir avalanche site in Gurez sector; death toll reaches 14, says the police.
Ten soldiers were killed as two avalanches hit Gurez Sector of Kashmir, an army official said on Thursday.
An avalanche hit an army camp in Gurez sector of Bandipora district near the Line of Control on Wednesday evening in which several soldiers were trapped, the army official said.
He said rescue operations were launched and seven soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer were saved.
“Bodies of three soldiers were retrieved his morning,” he said.
The official said another avalanche hit a patrol party which was on its way to a post in Gurez sector.
An officer was killed on Wednesday an avalanche at Sonamarg in central Kashmir Ganderbal district while four members of a family died in another avalanche in Gurez sector.
Authorities have issued a high danger avalanche warning in hilly parts of snow-bound Kashmir valley in view of fresh snowfall which has been going on intermittently for past three days.
11:16 Shiv Sena boycotts pre-budget meeting : Shiv Sena MPs will not attend a pre-budget meeting which is to be chaired by CM Devendra Fadnavis today.
Ending days of suspense over the possibility of a tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party for civic polls in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray yesterday said that his party will contest the upcoming elections to municipal corporations and zilla parishads on its own.
The talks between the ruling alliance partners BJP and Shiv Sena for the tie-up for all-important Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai had reached a dead-end in the last few days.
“I am ready to go solo, the Shiv Sainiks are ready to go solo. I want strong foot-soldiers with me who have the courage to launch a frontal attack and not back-stab. Once I have taken my decision, I do not want anybody to question it,” Thackeray said while addressing a gathering of party workers in Mumbai.
“If you promise to stand by me, I have taken the decision to go solo in Maharashtra. I will not go to anybody’s door with a begging bowl for an alliance and won’t be at anybody’s mercy. I have decided that there will be no alliance for any of the municipal corporation or zilla parishad polls,” Thackeray said.
Elections to the MCGM and other municipal corporations in the state including Nashik, Pune, Kolhapur and Nagpur are to be held on February 21.
11:05 Sania, Dodig enter Australian Open mixed doubles final: Australian Open: Sania Mirza, Ivan Dodig enter the finals — 6-4, 2-6, 10-5.The second seeds beat Samantha Stosur/Sam Groth to enter the mixed doubles final!
On Wednesday, Sania and Dodig won the quarters against Rohan Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski to seal a place in the mixed doubles semi-finals of the Australian Open.
The second seeded Indo-Croatian team of Sania and Dodig felt the heat in the Super Tie-breaker but kept clam and not only saved two match points but also walked away with a 6-4 3-6 12-10 win in the quarterfinals.
10:59 New allies haggle over seats in Amethi-Rae Bareli: Congress and Samajwadi Party are haggling over seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli,the parliamentary turf of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul. Congress, which managed to get 105 of the 403 seats under the seat-sharing deal with the SP after hard negotiations, is in no mood to give up its claim over all the ten seats in Amethi-Rae Bareli.
Sources said the party was perturbed as none of the five candidates declared by its alliance partner earlier has been withdrawn by SP.
“SP had announced five candidates in these parliamentary constituencies before the alliance was sealed but since then no name has been withdrawn and local Congress leaders are especially perturbed over the issue,” a senior Congress leader said.
Though both the sides are more or less agreeable to a broad understanding that Congress will get 6 and SP 4, local leaders and workers are not ready to give up either Amethi or Gauriganj Assembly seats from where SP has already announced its candidates, he said.
Congress, which is looking for a major share, also wants freedom to choose its nominees rather than blindly following the “sitting-getting” formula.
10:44 Just in: A bomb has been hurled at the CPM office, and two bombs thrown at the BJP office in Kannur, Kerala.
Masi Sadaiyan and Vaidivel Gopal, both in their 50s, from the Irula tribe of Tamil Nadu, are successful python hunters in India, and were brought in, along with two translators, to work with detection dogs earlier this month to track down and capture the giant snakes.
In just eight days, they have surprised officals of Florida Fish and Wildlfe Conservation Commission (FWC) by bagging as many as 13 pythons, including a 16-foot-long female.
10:34 Media pronounced me guilty without trial, tweets Mallya: Absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya took on the media with a series of tweets, saying the media has pronounced him guilty without trial.
This morning Mallya tweeted from his personal Twitter account @TheVijayMallya saying, “In our Country I assumed that innocence prevails till proven guilty. Media have convicted me guilty without trial with widespread influence.”
On Thursday, he hit out at SEBI for barring him from securities market with regard to alleged fund diversion from United Spirits and termed the charges “baseless”.
In a series of tweets, he called the allegations of fund diversion concerning now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines a “joke” and said he is getting used to “witch hunts coming from all directions with no legal basis whatsoever”.
“CBI alleges diversion of funds OUT of Kingfisher Air. SEBI alleges diversion of funds from USL INTO Kingfisher Air. What joke is this?,” Mallya tweeted.
He further said: “Allegations of fund diversion out of USL are baseless. USL accounts were approved by top Auditors, an eminent Board of Directors n (sic) shareholders.”
Mallya, who is now staying in London, also scoffed at suggestions that he had fled the country in the wake of the investigations against him saying his departure was “nothing sudden. I have been a non resident since 1988”.
10:20 Trump to speak with Putin on Saturday: US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to speak on the phone Saturday in their first conversation since Trump took office, an administration official told CNN. Trump has vowed to have better relations with Russia than his predecessor. Read more
10:18 The PM and his pagdis: With his pagdis, consistent as a statement yet variant in textures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi retains his role as the best exemplar of “occasion wear’. The segment sandwiched between couture and prt, that’s dressy but not theatrical, it has a majority of Indian fashion designers fussing to give it recognition and signature. Let’s give it to Narendra Modi for showing how to give occasion wear an instant definition with two metres or more of well-chosen, woven cloth. A made in India crown. Worn with a tailored bandhgala or worn with an ordinary kurta.
The post will fall vacant after incumbent foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, who has been designated as ambassador to the US, moves to Washington to take up his new assignment replacing outgoing ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Here’s what the Dawn says.
10:00 How Kissinger wanted to choke India: Barely four months before the start of the 1971 Bangladesh war, documents recently declassified by the Central Intelligence Agency show how US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wanted to choke India.
At a Washington Special Actions Group meeting held at the White House situation room on August 17, 1971, documents show, Kissinger, then US national security adviser, asked if the Indians will attack, and CIA chief Richard Helms tells him, “My personal feeling is that they will not do so.”
The meeting was called to discuss a contingency paper, of which Option C — everyone present agrees — was likely the most suitable strategy for the US.
Later on during the meeting, when Helms remarks that “In that part of the world one still has the problem of passions outrunning good judgement,’ Kissinger’s disdain for India can be seen from his reply: “Passions don’t have to run very far to do that in India.”
The meeting even discussed cutting aid to India if hostilities begin.
Here’s Kissinger again, with his question: “Can someone study what we mean when we say we are going to cut economic aid (to India)? We should look at the consequences… Can we cut off aid through the consortium?”
When assistant secretary of state Joseph Sisco replies that they will produce a paper on it, Kissinger responds: “We will also be getting talking points for the Soviets and Chinese both before and after an attack. You will let us know what you are doing on this, and we in turn will let you know about anything we are doing here that may affect the situation.”
Photograph alongside shows Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and US President Richard Nixon, talking at the White House, Washington, DC, on November 9, 1971, less than three weeks before the 1971 War began. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
09:53 Nabha jailbreak: Harminder Mintoo to be produced before court : Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Harminder Singh Mintoo will be produced before a Delhi court on Friday in the Nabha jailbreak case.
The court earlier on January 3 re-issued production warrant against Mintoo after the Punjab Police failed to produce him before it in connection with the case.
Mintoo was nabbed on November 28 last year from New Delhi railway station, a day after he escaped with five other inmates from Punjab’s Narbha Jail.
He has been in custody since November 29 last year. Mintoo has reportedly told his interrogators about the KLF’s expansion plans with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
The self-styled KLF chief has reportedly told his interrogators about the KLF’s expansion plans with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
09:19 Salman, Saif, Sonali, Tabu to appear in Jodhpur court today: After being acquitted in the Arms Act case last week linked to the killing of a blackbuck 18 years ago, actor Salman Khan along with Hum Saath Saath Hain co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Sonali Bendre and Tabu will appear before a Jodhpur court today, to record their statements in the 1998 case.
Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, and Tabu arrived in the Rajasthan city yesterday.
During the shooting of Sooraj Barjatya’s movie Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman allegedly went on a shooting expedition along with actors Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Sonali Bendre and Tabu, killing two blackbucks in Kankani village.
Following protests by the local Bishnoi community, a case was filed against Salman and other actors, besides a local named Dushyant Singh.
09:09 Declassified CIA report says 6 were hanged for trying to kill General Cariappa:
“An attempt to assassinate General Cariappa, the commander-in-chief of Indian Army, was made during the General’s recent inspection tour of East Punjab,” said the CIA declassified report, titled “Rift in Officers corps of the Indian Army”, filed on June 12, 1950 that was hitherto unknown to the public.
The report is among some 13 million declassified documents, which the CIA have released online. The report was declassified in accordance with the US government’s 1995 executive order that allows automatic declassification of nonexempt historically valuable records 25 years or older.
The “confidential” report states that six people were sentenced to death for making an attempt on the life of Cariappa.
“Six persons have been sentenced to death in connection with the plot; several high army officers are believed to be involved,” the report said without identifying those sent to the gallows.
The report also states, “General Cariappa as South Indian is resented by the Sikh officers of the Indian Army. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) is capitalising on the North-South split among army officers, persuading Sikh officers, whom informant considers treacherous and unreliable, to spread dissension. Officers from Travancore (later Kerala), Madras and Maharashtra are invariable loyal to General Cariappa.”
“His successor, Lieutenant General K M Cariappa, gives the impression of being vain, temperamentally unstable, and lacking sound military judgement; there is a danger that in attempting to give palatable military advice to the Indian government he may fail to give due consideration to all of the military and political factors involved and that he may use his new position to seek the personal glory that a speedy termination of the Kashmir campaign would provide.”
08:34 Symbolic ‘Doomsday Clock’ moves closer to midnight:
Comments by US President Donald Trump on nuclear weapons and climate change have helped make the world less safe, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned today, moving its symbolic “Doomsday Clock” 30 seconds closer to midnight.
The clock — which serves as a metaphor for how close humanity is to destroying the planet — was last changed in 2015, from five to three minutes before midnight.
It is now set at two and a half minutes to midnight, amid concerns about “a rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise,” said a statement by the group of scientists and intellectuals, including 15 Nobel laureates.
The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thursday’s reset was the first since 2015.
The bulletin cited nuclear volatility, especially as the United States and Russia seek to modernise their atomic arsenals and remain at odds in war-torn countries such as Syria and Ukraine.
The chief of the Border Patrol has left the agency that’s in charge of securing America’s borders with Mexico and Canada.
According to a US official and a former official, Border Patrol agents have been told that Mark Morgan is no longer on the job. It’s not immediately clear whether Morgan resigned or was asked to leave.
The US official wasn’t authorised to discuss the move before a public announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. The former official asked not to be identified before a government announcement.
Morgan’s departure comes a day after President Donald Trump announced plans to build a wall at the Mexican border and hire 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
08:20 Visa ban: Trump non-committal on Pakistan:
US President Donald Trump has defended his plan to limit the entry of people from several Muslim countries, saying it was necessary as the world is “a total mess”, even as he was non-committal on whether nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia would be on the list of the proposed visa ban.
When asked about countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia figuring in the list, he said, “You’re going to see. You’re going to see. We’re going to have extreme vetting in all cases. And I mean extreme. And we’re not letting people in if we think there’s even a little chance of some problem.”
“We are excluding certain countries, but for other countries, we’re going to have extreme vetting. It’s going to be very hard to come in,” Trump told ABC News, refusing to be pinned down on which countries he was talking about.
Trump denied that it was a ban on Muslims. “No it’s not the Muslim ban, but it’s countries that have tremendous terror,” he said.
“Right now, it’s very easy to come in. It’s going to be very, very hard. I don’t want terror in this country. You look at what happened in San Bernardino. You look at what happened all over. You look at what happened in the World Trade Center, OK? I mean, take that as an example. People don’t even bring that up,” he said.
Asked if he was concerned this would anger Muslims around the world, he said, “Anger? There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?”.
“The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. All of this has happened. We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. The world is a total mess. The world is a mess,” the President said.
08:19 IndiGo says Twitter account ‘compromised’, probing matter:
Private carrier IndiGo has claimed that its Twitter account was “compromised” and it is investigating the matter.
“Our handle was compromised @8:32pm on 26 Jan 2017. Our team is investigating the matter. We have taken precautionary actions,” IndiGo said in a tweet.
The airline’s team is investigating the matter, it said.
The budget airline, which started in 2006, now has a fleet of 126 aircraft today and currently operates flights on 41 destinations, including 36 domestic and five international.
* BJP leaders Mukhtar Naqvi and Bhupendra Yadav to meet EC officials in Lucknow today. The BJP alleges that state administration is adopting partisan approach.
* Delhi: 20 trains delayed, 9 rescheduled and 1 cancelled due to fog
* People gather for Mauni Amavasya puja in Allahabad
* PM Modi to address a rally in Jalandhar and Rahul Gandhi to address a rally in Amritsar.
* Meghalaya governor V Shanmuganathan has resigned: Raj Bhavan sources.
* Criminal carrying an award of Rs 50,000 on his head arrested in Delhi by Police late last night after exchange of gunfire.
08:18 Good morning…