16:11 Modi government trying to capture RBI: Chidambaram:
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to “capture” the Reserve Bank of India to tide over its fiscal crisis, warning that any such move would be “catastrophic”.
He alleged that the government has packed the central bank’s board with handpicked nominees, and was making every attempt to push through its proposals at the RBI board meeting on November 19.
“The government stares at a fiscal deficit crisis… The government wants to step up the expenditure in an election year. Finding all avenues closed, in desperation, the government has demanded Rs 1 lakh crore from the reserves of RBI,” the former finance minister said at a press conference.
If RBI Governor Urjit Patel stands his ground, the Centre was planning to issue a direction under Section 7 of the RBI Act, 1934, directing the apex bank to transfer Rs 1 lakh crore to the government’s account, he claimed.
“The day of reckoning is November 19 when the RBI board is scheduled to meet. The government has packed the RBI board with its handpicked nominees and is making every attempt to ram through its proposal at the meeting,” Chidambaram said.
“If the RBI either defies the government or RBI governor resigns, in either events, the consequence will be catastrophic,” he added.
15:42 Reason behind demonetisation still a mystery: Kejriwal:
On the second anniversary of demonetisation, Aam Aadmi Party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday questioned the rationale behind the Modi government’s note ban move and termed it as “a self inflicted deep wound” on the Indian economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016, announced a ban on then in use Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denomination bank notes with immediate effect.
“Though the list of financial scams of Modi govt is endless, demonetisation was a self inflicted deep wound on Indian economy which even two years later remains a mystery why the country was pushed into such a disaster ?”
The sudden withdrawal of notes led to a liquidity crunch with serpentine queues seen outside banks and ATMs to exchange old notes.
The effects of demonetisation including its role in culling black money and stemming terrorism and Naxalism as well as its impact on the economy are still being discussed with the opposition slamming the Modi government, terming its decision as “ill-advised” and “disastrous” for the country.
The BJP-led government had defended the move, saying it was necessary to wipe out illegal money stashes.
15:23 Robyn Denholm to succeed Elon Musk as Tesla chairperson:
Electric carmaker Tesla Inc said Robyn Denholm, currently CFO at Australian telecoms operator Telstra Corp Ltd, will replace Elon Musk as its chair.
Denholm will leave her role as CFO and head of strategy of Telstra once her six-month notice period with the company is complete, Tesla said late on Wednesday.
Tesla said Denholm will be serving as Tesla chair on a full-time basis.
She will temporarily step down as Chair of Tesla’s Audit Committee until she leaves Telstra, the company said.
Tesla weathered a rocky few months in the wake of Musk’s tweets that he had “funding secured” for a deal, later scuttled, to take Tesla private. Musk and Tesla settled with the US SEC in September after the agency sued for fraud.
The settlement required Tesla and Musk to pay a fine of $20 million each and for Musk to give up his chairman role for three years.
15:05 Yeddyurappa says Tipu Jayanti celebrations only to satisfy Muslims:
Ahead of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, former chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa called the state government’s celebrations a gimmick to appease the Muslim community.
“We are opposing this (Tipu Jayanti). Nobody will appreciate this celebration. Government’s intention behind the Tipu Jayanti celebration is just to satisfy the people of the Muslim community. Even within the Congress and JD-S, people are opposing this,” said Yeddyurappa, the Karnataka chief of Bharatiya Janata Party.
He further said that the state government should have celebrated former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s birthday instead of Tipu Jayanti.
Congress leader DK Shivakumar, however, said that the BJP always opposes ‘national patriots.’
Referring to the President’s speech in the Parliament last year, he said, “He (Tipu Sultan) was appreciated by his Excellency on the floor of the House for his historic battle.”
14:59 Modi lookalike switches over to Congress, says ‘achche din’ won’t come:
He looks like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dresses and speaks like him and begins his speech with ‘Mitron’, but their similarities end there — He is Abhinandan Pathak, a Congress campaigner in the Naxal-affected Bastar region of Chhattisgarh who says “achche din nahin ayenge”.
A new entrant to the grand old party, Pathak was with the BJP-led NDA constituent Republican Party of India (Athawale) as its state vice-president for Uttar Pradesh till he joined the Congress last month in the presence of actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar.
“Since I look like Modiji, people will always ask me where are the ‘acche din’ (good days), as promised by Modiji ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Hurt by seeing problems of the common man, I left the BJP’s ally to join Congress last month,” Pathak said.
Pathak, who has been campaigning for the Congress in various seats of the region, including Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Kondagaon and Bastar, is drawing attention in a big way from the locals who jostle to click selfies with him.
On his campaign trail, Pathak always targets the prime minister, while mimicking his style, over his promises of ‘good days’ and depositing Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts of every Indian after retrieving black money stashed abroad.
“Mitron (friends), I came here to tell you the truth that ‘achche din’ are not going to come. It was a false promise and please vote for the Congress which can ensure your development,” he said, while addressing a small gathering in a local market.
Pathak claims he is campaigning against the BJP and Modi for the first time since 2014 and till now he used to campaign only for the saffron party and its allies.
14:40 UPDATE: At least 6 shot at in California bar:
At least six people were shot and injured when a gunman opened fire in a crowded country and western bar in southern California, police have said.
Captain Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura county sheriffs office said the extent of their injuries was unknown.
At least 30 shots were fired at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, which is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.
Witnesses say a man fired several shots from a handgun before tossing smoke bombs into the crowded bar.
Authorities are still treating it as active shooter scene and have urged the public to avoid the area.
14:05 Celebration in defeat:
The Opposition was overjoyed by the by-election results in Karnataka. There were also those who pointed the mistake Janata Dal-Secular and Congress alliance committed in the south Karnataka region.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has traditionally been weak in the region, with the electoral contests primarily between the Congress and JD-S. South Karnataka is a region where the Vokkaliga community is strong. The JD-S leadership of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and his clan are Vokkaligas.
As part of the alliance, the Congress didn’t contest the Mandya Lok Sabha by-elections, results of which were announced on Tuesday. The JD-S candidate won by a big margin against his BJP rival, but the latter celebrated the defeat because earlier it would end up as number three. Many Congress leaders said the party should have contested after all.
— Business Standard
13:44 5 killed as Maoists blow up bus in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada:
At least five people, including two security personnel, were killed after Maoists triggered an explosion in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district today.
Two soldiers of the Central Industrial Security Force and three civilians were killed when an improvised explosive device tore through a bus near Bacheli area.
More details are awaited.
13:40 CISF jawan among four killed as Naxals blow up bus using IED in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district
13:07 Modi, Shah greet Advani on his 91st birthday:
Top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, on Thursday greeted party veteran L K Advani on his 91st birthday, recalling his contribution to national politics, and also in building the party and propagating its ideology.
The party veteran’s impact on Indian politics is immense, the prime minister said.
“Advani ji’s contribution towards India’s development is monumental. His ministerial tenures are applauded for futuristic decision making and people-friendly policies. His wisdom is admired across the political spectrum,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
He credited Advani, the longest serving party president and also deputy prime minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, for “selflessly and diligently” building the BJP and “wonderfully” mentoring its workers.
In his tweets, Shah said Advani strengthened the BJP’s organisation and inspired its workers while also infusing discipline into them with his lifelong hard work.
“In taking our ideology to the masses from the Jana Sangh to the BJP and in setting India on the path to progress as a skilled politician in Parliament, Advani ji’s contribution to Indian politics is unparalleled,” he said.
Jana Sangh, founded in 1951, was the precursor to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was launched in 1980.
Home Minister and former BJP president Rajnath Singh described Advani as a stalwart of Indian politics.
“He has nurtured the BJP from its inception. Advani ji is an inspiration to millions of party karyakartas (workers). May he be blessed with a good health and long life,” Singh said.
Credited for crafting the BJP’s rise to a pre-eminent position in late 80s and 90s after it had hit a low of two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 Lok Sabha polls, Advani has been sidelined from the party’s affairs and was made a member of ‘margdarshak mandal’ (group of mentors) in 2014 after it came to power.
The group has, incidentally, never met since its inception.
12:23 DeMo led to formalisation of economy, expanded tax base: Jaitley:
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said demonetisation resulted in formalisation of economy and increased tax base, prompting the government to earmark more resources for the poor and infrastructure development.
In a Facebook post on the second anniversary of demonetisation, Jaitley said in first four years of the National Democratic Alliance government, the number of income tax returns filers has gone up to 6.86 crore from 3.8 crore in May 2014.
By the time the first five years of this government are over, we will be close to doubling the assessee base, he said in the post titled Impact Of Demonetisation”.
The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes in November 2016, the minister said, had resulted in more formalisation (of economy), more revenue, more resources for the poor, better infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our citizens.
He further said with the implementation of the goods and services tax, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to evade the tax system and the indirect tax to gross domestic product ratio has gone up to 5.4 per cent post GST, from 4.4 per cent in 2014-15.
Terming the criticism, that almost the entire cash money got deposited in the banks post demonetisation, as ill-informed, Jaitley said confiscation of currency was not an objective of demonetisation.
Getting it into the formal economy and making the holders pay tax was the broader objective. The system required to be shaken in order to make India move from cash to digital transactions. This would obviously have an impact on higher tax revenue and a higher tax base, Jaitley said.
12:13 Digvijaya miffed over Sanjay Singh Masani joining Congress:
Just when the Congress party appeared to get things under control in Madhya Pradesh, a new set of issues have cropped up. Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh is unhappy he was against Sanjay Singh Masani (brother-in-law of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) joining the Congress, but nobody seemed to bother about his argument.
Singh’s point was that the move would damage the party’s image because Congress leaders have, in the past, accused Masani of corruption. Digvijaya also alleged that Masani had no political stature his only achievement was he was the brother of the CM’s wife (Sadhna Singh). The backstory is that Masani had sought a ticket from the Waraseoni (Balaghat) seat but Chouhan had turned down the request the reason why Masani quit the Bharatiya Janata Party.
— Business Standard
11:51 2 years after DeMo: ‘Scars from 2016 getting more visible’:
On the second anniversary of demonetisation, former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the scars and wounds from 2016 are only getting more visible with time, adding that the consequences of the note ban are still unraveling. The Congress is holding nationwide protests Thursday, and has demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ruining and wrecking the economy.
Singh said, I urge the government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies Today is a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and understand that economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care.
He explained that as small and medium businesses are yet to recover, it has had a direct impact on employment for youth, financial markets and infrastructure lenders and non-bank financial services firms.
The Congress party criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre’s move by calling it a ‘black day’ for Indian democracy and economy.
“The cost and destruction by demonetisation was endured by every citizen of this country other than few crony capitalist friends of Prime Minister Modi. Demonetisation was a black day for our democracy and our economy,” read a post on the official Twitter handle of the Congress party.
Resonating similar sentiments, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took to the micro-blogging site and wrote, “#DarkDay Today is the second anniversary of #DeMonetisation disaster. From the moment it was announced I said so. Renowned economists, common people and all experts now all agree.”
11:16 Air India flights delayed in Mumbai after strike:
Several flights from Mumbai were delayed this morning because of a strike by a group of Air India’s contractual workers. The national airline said it had called staff from home to help with the held-up check-in process.
The contractual ground staff of Air India Air Transport Services Limited are on a strike since last night, reported.
“Due to a sudden industrial situation at Mumbai by AIATSL employees, some flights have got delayed. We are assessing the situation and all efforts are being made to minimise delays or disruption,” an Air India spokesperson said.
10:44 WH suspends press credentials of CNN reporter after spar with Trump:
In an unprecedented move, the White House has suspended the press credentials of a CNN journalist terming his behaviour as “disgusting and outrageous”, hours after he engaged in a heated argument with President Donald Trump during a press conference.
Defending itsjnk09 chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, the CNN said the decision is “a threat to democracy”.
The White House’s move followed a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta who refused the President’s orders to sit down and clung to the microphone and persisted with questions about his views on a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US border.
A visibly angry Trump said “that’s enough!” and a White House intern unsuccessfully tried to take the microphone from the CNN journalist.
Describing Acosta’s behaviour as “disgusting and outrageous”, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, in a statement on Wednesday said, “As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”
Sanders said Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” she said.
“It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question,” she said.
Sanders said Trump has given the press more access than any President in history.
“Contrary to CNN’s assertions, there is no greater demonstration of the President’s support for a free press than the event he held today. Only they would attack the President for not being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half including several from the reporter in question,” she said.
Meanwhile, the CNN said the revocation of Acosta’s pass “was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference…This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better”.
Acosta was stopped by the Secret Service from entering the White House at about 7 pm.
Former president of the White House Correspondents Association, Jeff Mason, refuted the White House accusation that Acosta placed his hand on a female White House intern. — PTI
10:20 Asia Bibi released from jail, to be shifted to the Netherlands: Report:
A Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy and acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last week, has been released from a jail in Multan and taken to Noor Khan Airbase, Rawalpindi, from where she would be shifted to the Netherlands, local media reported.
However, a Punjab government spokesperson refused to comment on the matter.
A Lahore-based TV news channel reported that Asia Bibi was released from New Jail for Women in Multan (around 350km from Lahore) late on Wednesday night and taken to Noor Khan Airbase, Rawalpindi, from where a chartered plane would take her to the Netherlands.
Asia Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of four, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
Earlier, Italy had said that it was working to help Asia Bibi leave Pakistan, amid warning from the woman’s husband that her life was in danger. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, had also urged US President Donald Trump, and the UK and Canada premiers to help her leave Pakistan.
Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan spokesperson Hafiz Shahbaz Attari, in a statement, said, “The Imran Khan government has released Asia Bibi as the Netherlands Ambassador in Islamabad reached Multan jail along with government officials to ensure her release. She is being transported to the Netherlands.”
He said the party workers who are gathering in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been asked to stop the government from allowing Asia Bibi from leaving the country.
The Pakistan Supreme Court’s landmark verdict acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges had sparked countrywide protests and death threats from hardline groups. Protestors led by Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan and other groups had blocked major highways and roads in different parts of the country.
However, the TLP later called off its agitation following an agreement with the government that assured initiation of a legal process to place the woman on the exit control list that will prevent her from flying abroad.
It was also agreed upon that the government would also not oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Asia Bibi blasphemy case. — PTI
09:38 Trump sacks US Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
United States President Donald Trump sacked US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday after berating him publicly for several months for his decision to recuse himself from oversight of an inquiry to probe Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
An acting attorney general and Republican loyalist Matthew G Whitaker was appointed as Sessions’s temporary replacement.
Observers opine that Trump’s move will have potential implication on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as Whitaker has been overtly critical of the Mueller’s team to investigate beyond allegations Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in 2016 and other ties between the President, his family and aides, and Kremlin– an investigation the White House calls a “witch hunt”.
For the past several months, Trump has been expressing his displeasure at Sessions’s functioning in public meetings and social media platform.
In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said, “We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well (sic).”
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date,” he tweeted.
Trump’s tweet came less than an hour after his marathon press conference at the White House where he told reporters that he will making announcements about changes in his Cabinet and senior White House and Administrative positions in a week.
In a one-page resignation to Trump, Sessions made it clear that the resignation came “at your request”.
“Since the day I was honoured to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions wrote. — PTI
09:23 Delhi plunges into thick smog as many skirt SC firecracker guidelines:
A thick haze engulfed the national capital on Thursday morning with the air quality deteriorating to the “dangerous” category as Delhiites ignored firecrackers guidelines set by the Supreme Court, the authorities said.
According to NDTV, the morning after Diwali, Anand Vihar was among the areas in Delhi where the air quality index was recorded at an alarming 999.
The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the United States Embassy in Chanakyapuri scored 459, all under the “hazardous” category.
The overall Air Quality Index was recorded at 302 at 11 pm, which fell in the very poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.
08:54 Diwali a special opportunity to reflect on India-US friendship: Trump:
Greeting people on the occasion of Diwali, United States President Donald Trump said the festival of lights is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between India and the United States.
Trump said First Lady Melania joins him in sending their best wishes for a very happy and memorable Diwali.
He also recognised the “extraordinary” contributions of Indian-Americans in the development of the United States.
“Diwali is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between the United States and India,” Trump said in a special Diwali message issued on Wednesday.
“We recognise the extraordinary contributions of Indian-Americans to the strength and success of our nation. Their achievements in business and industry, public service, education, scientific research, and other fields continue to represent the very best of our American virtues and the spirit of the Diwali season,” he said.
Asserting that Diwali is a joyous and spiritual time marked by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, Trump said lighting of lamps on the occasion symbolises the true meaning of Diwali, which is triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel also greeted people celebrating Diwali.
“We wish you and your family and friends a meaningful celebration of the victory of light over darkness. We at the RNC will continue to honour the traditions of diverse communities that enrich and strengthen our country,” she said. — PTI