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LIVE! Sasikala breaks down as she accepts general secretary post

14:20  Sasikala breaks down as she accepts general secretary post :  It was a morning of high decibel emotion in the wake of the AIADMK meet where a resolution was passed to appoint Sasikala Natarajan as the party’s next general secretary. At the Poes Garden residence, which was the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s official residence, Sasikala Natarajan accepted the resolution of the AIADMK to be the party’s next general secretary.

Sasikala, who was a long-time aide to the late CM, broke down as chief minister O Panneerselvam handed her a resolution passed by the general council of the party nominating her to the party’s most powerful post.

Sasikala first offered tributes in front of a garlanded portrait of Jayalalithaa as party members stood with their hands bowed. Some of them were also heard raising slogans for ‘Chinnamma’ (little mother) as Sasikala is popularly known among the party cadres.

Later, Panneerselvam handed her the party’s adopted resolution paving way for Sasikala to be elected as the party chief, a post held by Jayalalithaa for three decades.

M Thambidurai, the Lok Sabha deputy speaker and senior leader of the party, was seen exhorting Sasikala to lead the party just like Jayalalithaa.

After acknowledging the leaders, Sasikala walked into the residence. Posters also sprung up all over Chennai hailing the party decision and congratulating Sasikala on being nominated the general secretary of AIADMK.


13:38  LIVE! Mitron! Lakshwadeep will go cashless soon:  The Lakshadweep islands will soon become a 100 per cent cashless society as part of the Centre’s Digital India initiative, the Union Territory Administrator Farooq Khan said.

He also said, steps are underway to achieve this goal and they are hopeful of reaching it soon.

“Because of communication problems, we have certain issues. But the government of India is attending to those issues,’ he told reporters here on the sidelines of the valedictory of two-day national Minicoy festival last evening.

“Very soon all the shops in the islands would have digital money transaction facilities.Other mechanisms like USST are also being ensured now,’ he said. Our UT will soon become a 100 per cent cashless society, he added.

On the impact of demonetisation, he said the move had caused no difficulties to the islands and had not triggered any panic among the locals.

“Our officers were up to the task of taking the challenge head on.They were able to manage the situation in a manner that there were no long queues seen before ATMs’ banks functioned absolutely normally.. and no point of any shortage of money was reported from any side,’ the administrator said. Senior central government observers were also here to monitor the situation.

13:18  Lucknow: CM Akhilesh Yadav arrives to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav

12:50  HC rejects furlough plea of 1993 blasts convict Rubina Memon:  

The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast terror convict Rubina Suleman Memon, seeking her release on furlough.

“We are not inclined to release the petitioner (Rubina) on furlough as she had been convicted by a TADA court for her involvement in terrorist activities,” said a bench of Justice V K Tahilramani and A M Badar in a recent judgement.

Rubina is also sister-in-law of Tiger Memon, believed to be living in Pakistan and one of the prime conspirators of the serial blasts that had rocked the city in March, 1993, claiming 257 lives and injuring more than 700 others.

Rubina was sentenced to life imprisonment along with three other family members by a Mumbai TADA Court in 2006, while her husband Sulieman was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her brother-in-law Yakub was sent to the gallows on terror charges.


12:38  Why can’t Jaya’s body exhumed? Madras HC raises doubts on death:   The Madras High Court raises questions on former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s death and asks why her body could not be exhumed.

“What was the cause of Jaya’s death? Was Jaya in her senses when thumb the impression was made? asks Justice Vaidyalingam hearing a petition demanding an enquiry into former TN CM Jayalalithaa’s death in the Madras High Court.

“Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts in Jayalalithaa’s death. When she was admitted to hospital, it was said that she was on proper diet. At least after her death now, truth should be revealed,” he observed.

Expelled AIADMK Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa has also moved the Supreme Court seeking an investigation into the “mysterious death” of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa by an independent agency like the CBI or a judicial committee.

In her writ petition, Pushpa claimed that “more than 280 people lost their lives due to shock following the death of Jayalalithaa and the said lives have been lost only due to the arbitrary manner in which her deteriorating health was hidden from the public at large”.

Among the several questions posed in the writ petition, Pushpa asked, “Why are there embalming marks on her (Jayalalithaa’s) cheeks as is clear from the funeral photographs? Does it mean she died long back? If yes, what was the reason that the news was kept as a secret?”

12:21  PM likely to address nation before New Year:  With the 50-day period for depositing of demonetised notes expiring tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address the nation before the dawn of the New Year.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources said.

However, it was not clear as to whether he would address the nation on Friday or Saturday. In his address, the PM may speak about the roadmap post the demonetisation period especially on the steps likely to be taken to ease cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetisation took place.

He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetisation was announced on November 8. 

11:45  Just in: The Madras High Court raises questions on Jayalalithaa’s death and asks why her body could not be exhumed.


11:38  Akhilesh calls meeting with party leaders after Mulayam snub:  Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has convened a meeting of his party leaders today following the announcement of list of 325 candidates by his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

Akhilesh had yesterday expressed his ire over the list released by his father and told the media in Bundelkhand that he would take it up with the party chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and should be given tickets.

In the list announced by him, Mulayam clearly ignored the objections of Akhilesh to certain names like Gayatri Prajapati, Rampal Yadav, Sigbatullah Ansari – the brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed, who faces over 40 criminal cases.

The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, does not mention the names of several pro-Akhilesh ministers and MLAs including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope.


11:17  Sasikala takes over AIADMK from January 2:   Out with the old, in with the new. Moments after the AIADMK passed a resolution appointing Sasikala Natarajan as the party’s interim general secretary, large posters of her replaced the ones of Jayalalithaa on the road outside the venue. Clearly, the party is trying to move on.  Photo credit: A Ganesh Nadar/

11:07  TN CM reaches Poes Garden to hand over resolutions:  Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam reaches Poes Garden to hand over the resolutions made at the party general meeting to Sasikala Natarajan. Sasikala takes over as AIADMK’s interim general secretary after the party adopted a resolution to work under her leadership. She will take over on January 2.
10:46  Wages Ordinance passed:  Just in: President Mukherjee clears the wages ordinance. Ordinance will help pay wages to workers through direct transfer or cheque. 

10:45  AIADMK meeting ends :   The AIADMK general body meeting ends. A resolution affirming allegiance to Sasikala was among the 14 resolutions passed at the meet. The resolution calls on party workers to “remember the guidance of Amma and take a pledge to work loyally under the stewardship of Chinnamma (Sasikala).” Another resolution, to be adopted enjoins party workers to take a pledge every year on her death anniversary to strive for the growth of the party by “working unitedly.”

Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai, veteran leader Panruti S Ramachandran, State Ministers, party MLAs and MPs are among those attending the meeting.

Pic: One of the gates to the venue with pictures of the party founders MGR, Anna Durai and Periyar EV Ramasamy.

10:31  AIADMK wants Nobel, Magsaysay for Jaya :  AIADMK passes a resolution to confer former TN CM Jayalalithaa with the Magsaysay Award and the Nobel Peace prize. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam left the venue after the general body meeting paid homage to Jaya. 

10:12  Sasikala is new AIADMK chief :   14 resolutions passed in AIADMK gen body meet; resolution demanding Jayalalithaa’s birthday be celebrated as ‘National Farmers Day’ also adopted. AIADMK also adopts a resolution to work under the leadership of Sasikala Natarajan in the party general body meeting. The AIADMK general body meeting began after paying homage paid to Jayalalithaa. An empty chair with Amma’s portrait bedecked with flowers on the dais.


09:59  Key AIADMK general council meeting begins :   The general body meeting of the AIADMK, which is being held at a marriage hall in Vaanagaram on the outskirts of Chennai (and not at the party office) has begun. On the way to the venue it’s Amma all the way, reports A Ganesh Nadar/  All eyes are on this meeting, as it is expected that V K. Sasikala, the close friend and confidante of former chief minister Jayalalithaa, will be elected as the next general secretary.

Senior leaders, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, have backed Sasikala for the post.

All district and lower level party units and various mass organisations affiliated to the AIADMK have urged her to become the general secretary.

However, she has still not given her consent. A party cadre, this reporter spotted, replaced a photo of Amma in his pocket with one of Amma and Chinnamma (as Sasikala is referred to) thus setting the tone for today’s general body meeting. Heavy deployment of police at the party headquarters.

Pic: Hoardings of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa line up the route to the venue of the AIADMK general council meeting.  Photo Credit: A Ganesh Nadar

09:40  Central railway suburban services derail:  And this is why we don’t need a Bullet Train.

Five coaches of the Kurla-Ambernath local train derailed this morning between Kalyan and Vitthalwadi stations in Thane district, officials said. No one was injured in the mishap that took place at 5:53 am. Services were disrupted on the Central Line of Mumbai suburban railway, while they were suspended on the Kalyan-Karjat line, they said. The incident comes a day after the Ajmer-Sealdah express derailed while it was crossing a bridge near Rura Railway Station in Kanpur Rural district of Uttar Pradesh, leaving 62 passengers injured.

09:18  Note printing to dip as Salboni press staff refuse to work overtime:  Employees of Salboni currency printing press have stopped working overtime, citing health reasons, which is likely to reduce the number of notes printed daily by 6 million. 

After working for 12-hour shifts for the past fortnight to put more cash into circulation, some of the employees began complaining of lower back pain, disturbed sleep and overall physical and mental stress.

As a result of the 12-hour shifts, instead of the usual nine-hour ones, the press was printing 46 million currency notes per day. But with three shifts from Wednesday, the number of notes they are printing are set to go down to 40 million.

Read full story HERE
08:59  All eyes on Sasikala as AIADMK leaders gather for meeting:  As AIADMK cadre make their way to the party headquarter where it is likely that VK Sasikala will be elected to lead the party, it was seen that one of the members had a photo of Amma and ‘Chinamma’ — as Sasikala is fondly called — thus setting the tone for the general body meeting. 

08:40  AIADMK rebel leader Sasikala Pushpa’s husband arrested:  AIADMK’s Sasikala Pushpa’s husband has been arrested, reports CNNNews18. 

On Wednesday, the rebel MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked by party cadres at a meeting called to decide the successor for late former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. The ruckus turned violent after which the police had to use force to disperse the mob. 

CR Saraswati, AIADMK Member, said that Sasikala Pushpa is no more in the party, she has no right to come the AIADMK headquarters.  “She has made vulgar comments about Amma when she was alive. She has no right to be at the AIADMK HQ. She is no longer with the party. Who is Sasikala Pushpa? 99 per cent of the party want Chinamma (Sasikala Natarajan) to lead the party.”

The expelled Rajya Sabha MP had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court asking for judicial inquiry into Jayalalithaa’s death. She has also hit out at Sasikala Natarajan, Jayalalithaa’s closest aide.

08:02  JUST IN: Five coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local derailed; No injuries reported; Services on Kalyan-Karjat suspended; Restoration work underway.


07:55  Gunbattle underway in Bandipore in Kashmir:  

A gunbattle is underway between security forces and terrorists in Hajin village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipore district. The area was earlier cordoned off by the police and the army after they suspected the presence of terrorists.

On November 28, a gunbattle had ensued between security forces and militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Langate area in Kupwara district.

There has been an increase in militant activity along the Indo-Pak border since India’s surgical strikes in October.


00:29  Trump accuses ‘inflammatory’ Obama of complicating transfer of power:  

US President-elect Donald Trump poured kerosene on a simmering dispute with Barack Obama today, accusing him of derailing a smooth transition with “inflammatory” statements and “roadblocks.” 

Ever since the November 8 election, Trump and Obama have tried to bury political differences in favour of a united public front that would smooth the transfer of power on January 20.

But the Republican president-in-waiting unceremoniously cast any bonhomie aside in a morning twitter tirade from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

In a declaration that is unprecedented in its personal condemnation of a soon-to-be predecessor, the 70-year-old tweeted: “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.”

“Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!” 

Tensions between Trump and the current White House have been growing for weeks as Obama has become more outspoken about a vitriol-filled election, which saw Democrat Hillary Clinton suffer a shock defeat.

Obama — who is still the most popular politician in the country — recently suggested that he may have won a third term were he not constitutionally barred.

That seems to have irked the notoriously thin-skinned president-elect.


00:18  No temporary permit for Dec 31 liquor parties in Maharashtra:  

The Maharashtra government has asked Excise department not to issue mandatory one-day temporary permit to people who want to organise liquor parties on New Year eve.

The orders have been issued to all superintendents of Excise department not to issue temporary permit to people wanting to organise New Year eve parties where liquor is served, said an official.

The move could unsettle the plans of those who want to organise such parties at housing societies, banquet halls and open lawns.

In Maharashtra, purchasing, possessing, transporting, and consuming liquor without a valid permit is an offence under the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949.

As per the law, those applying for liquor permits must be aged 25 and above. One can apply only one permit in a day. Meanwhile, a source said Excise department anticipates a loss of 4.88 per cent in its revenue till December 20 due to demonetisation of high value currencies.

00:16  10 steps to help find out if you are a Lucky Grahak Yojana winner:  To encourage consumers to make digital payments, the government rolled out its incentive schemes, the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana, on Christmas day. 

Through these schemes, which will go on for a 100 days in 100 cities, those who make digital payments through pre-specified formats will be eligible to be lucky draw winners. 

The scheme will run daily as well as weekly. And on the last day, April 14, will be the mega draw with rewards ranging from Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 lakh.

Here is a 10-step primer on ensuring you’re eligible for the draw and finding out if you’ve won. Read on…

00:15  AN-32 courier service for Kargil from Jan 10 :  

The Air Courier service from Srinagar to Kargil would become operational from January 10 to facilitate movement of people during the winter months. 

Reviewing measures taken by the government for smooth transport facilities, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council Chairman, Haji Anayat Ali, made an announcement in  his regard, an official spokesman said in Jammu. 

The chairman said Srinagar-KargilLeh road remains closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall and the government has taken several steps to facilitate free movement of the people of the region from Srinagar and Jammu which also include the air sorties.

He said Indian Air Force will commence AN-32 courier service to Kargil from January 10 and it will remain operational during the whole winter season after closure of the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway. 

The chairman asked the departments concerned to maintain close coordination for smooth operation of the much-needed service to the border district during the harsh winter season. 


00:12  Former world number one Ivanovic retires at age 29:  

Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic has retired from tennis at the age of 29, the Serbian said on Facebook on Wednesday.

“There is no other way to say this. I have decided to retire from professional tennis. It was a difficult decision but there is so much to celebrate,” Ivanovic said.

“Don’t be sad, be optimistic alongside me. My love and my greatest thank you to all of you,” said the former world number one who has dropped to 63rd in the rankings.

The Serb has been out with injury since August and dropped to 63 in the world rankings, having won just 15 matches in 2016 — the most recent in June.

Ivanovic spent 12 weeks as world number one in 2008 and won 15 career singles titles.

She reached the French Open semi-final in 2015 and was runner-up at Roland Garros in 2007 and at the 2008 Australian Open.

Image: The full statement released by Ivanovic on her Twitter profile

Source: Rediff