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LIVE! People's Party of Arunachal suspends CM Khandu

23:15  DD News reports: Mine collapses in Jharkhand’s Lalmatia; 40 workers trapped underground.

23:06  Pak ex-army chief Sharif now advisor for Saudi-led military alliance?:  

Pakistan’s former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif is expected to be appointed defence advisor for a Saudi Arabia-led military alliance of 39 countries, according to a media report. 

Sharif, who arrived in Saudi Arabia as a royal guest in a special plane, will attend a grand reception being hosted in his honour in Riyadh, the capital of the kingdom, The New International reported.

The reception will also be attended by the members of the Royal family. 

Sharif, who retired as the army chief last month, is expected to be appointed defence advisor of Saudi Arabia-led military alliance, the paper said.

The Joint Command Centre, headquarters of the military alliance, is located in Riyadh. 

The Saudi-led coalition, involving several Arab nations, launched a military operation in Yemen in March 2015 after Houthis drove out the government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is believed to be in exile in Saudi Arabia.

According to Saudi Arabia, the alliance is formed to fight ISIS and other militant outfits.


22:32  Iraqi forces launch 2nd phase of Mosul offensive against Islamic State:  

Reuters reports: Iraqi security forces on Thursday began the second phase of their offensive against Islamic State militants in Mosul, pushing from three directions into eastern districts where the battle has been deadlocked for nearly a month.

US-backed forces have retaken a quarter of the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq in the biggest ground operation there since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

More than 5,000 soldiers and federal police troops, redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts, entered half a dozen southeastern districts, while counter-terrorism forces advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts after reinforcements arrived.

Other soldiers pushed simultaneously towards the city’s northern limits. U.S. military advisers were seen watching operations.

“At 0700 this morning the three fronts began advancing towards the city centre. The operation is ongoing today and tomorrow and until we liberate the eastern side of the city completely,” Lieutenant General Ali Freiji, who was overseeing army operations in the north, told Reuters.


22:26  Hardline separatist Masarat released from jail, re-arrested:  

Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who had been in custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015, was released from Kathua district jail but subsequently re-arrested in another case. 

The J&K high court had ordered his release on Tuesday.

“Masarat was released today in the case in which the high court had quashed his detention. But he was rearrested subsequently from jail in another case,” a senior Police officer said.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

Masarat had been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla.

22:21  Mumbai may soon officially become open-defecation-free city:  

Mumbai may soon become the third city in the state to become open-defecation-free after Kolhapur and Navi Mumbai, as the municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has written to the Maharashtra government seeking the city’s inclusion in the list.

Principal secretary of Urban Development Department Manisha Mhaiskar said the government had received a self-declaration by BMC about the city’s ODF status, and was waiting for an official resolution by the civic body. 

“As per the procedure, once the ULB (urban local body, here BMC) resolution is submitted, government will appoint a verification committee to ascertain the claim,” she said. 

“State-level committee will take just a week to evaluate the ODF status and will submit report to the Centre,” she added.

22:03  Pak captures 65 Indian fishermen, seizes 13 boats:  

The number of Indian fishermen apprehended by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency today increased to 65 as a total of 13 boats were seized by them, an official of National Fisherworkers’ Forum said. 

NEF had earlier said that PMSA apprehended 36 fishermen and seized six boats in the Arabian sea off Jakhau coast in Gujarat.

The Porbandar-based NFF official said fishermen who were also sailing in the Arabian Sea today informed that a total of 13 boats, which were carrying 65 fishermen, were seized as against six confirmed yesterday.

“We have learnt from our member fishermen in the sea that a total 13 boats from Porbandar, Okha and Mangrol were apprehended by the PMSA with 65 fishermen on-board yesterday,” NFF secretary Manish Lodhari said. 

Ten of these boats had sailed from Porbandar, two from Okha and one from Mangrol, he said.


21:50  Rs 105 crore in new currency seized since note ban:  

Over Rs 4,172 crore of un-disclosed income has been detected while new notes worth Rs 105 crore have been seized by the Income Tax department as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders post the demonetisation of two high value currencies by the government.

Official sources said the tax man carried out a total of 983 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on November 8, even as the department has issued 5,027 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The department, they said, has seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 549 crore during the same period even as the new currency seized (majority of them Rs 2000 notes) is valued at about Rs 105 crore. 

The total cash seizure, out of the total cash and jewellery, is Rs 458 crore, they added. 

“The total undisclosed income admitted or detected as part of this action, till December 28, is more than Rs 4,172 crore,” they said.

The agency has also referred a total of 477 cases to other agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate. 

21:34  UP IAS officer allegedly commits suicide:  

Senior IAS officer Sanjeev Dubey today committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence in Lucknow, police said.

His body was found by his family members at his 14, Gautampalli residence.

The 1987-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre officer was posted as Principal Secretary in the Home Guard department and had held several important posts.

Dubey has left behind a suicide note highlighting health problems as a reason behind his extreme step, police sources said, adding he was suffering from several painful health conditions like osteoporosis.

Sources close to him said he was under depression for past several months due to illness.

Police said the matter came to light when he did not open the door of his residence till late in the day. 


20:07  Virat-Anushka to get engaged? Bachchans, Ambani add to build-up:  

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bachchan along with the Ambani family flew in Dehradun on Thursday amid speculation of cricketer Virat Kohli and actress Anushka Sharma’s engagement in the New Year.

Accompanied by family friends industrialist Anil Ambani and his wife Tina, the Bachchans arrived at the Jolly Grant airport and headed straight to Hotel Ananda in Narendranagar about 17 kms from Rishikesh where Virat and Anushka have been staying since last Saturday.

Though the arrival of the Bollywood megastar has fuelled reports around Virat-Anushka’s likely engagement at the hotel, there has been no confirmation from the actress or the cricketer.

According to multiple media reports, the engagement ceremony is likely to be also attended by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat.

ecurity around the hotel has been beefed up in view of the stay of the big celebrities there, Narendranagar Police station in-charge, Mohammad Akram said.

Anushka has her roots in Dehradun where her grandmother Urmila Sharma still lives. 


20:01  Anil Baijal to take oath as Delhi LG on Saturday:  

Former Home Secretary Anil Baijal will take over as new Lt Governor of Delhi on Saturday in the backdrop of escalating confrontation between the AAP government and the Centre on a range of contentious issue

including control over bureaucracy.

Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, will be administrated oath of office and secrecy as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini at Raj Niwas in Civil Lanes area of North Delhi.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his Cabinet colleagues, senior bureaucrats of Delhi Government and a host of invitees are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony.

Baijal, who had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in several other ministries, will have to find a way out to work with the AAP government which had an acrimonious relation with Najeeb Jung who quit as Lt Governor last week in a surprise move.

Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shungulu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.

The Shungulu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.


19:49  Separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat released from jail:  

Bhat has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015. 

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Bhat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds. 

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court had said in its order.

According to the order, Bhat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities. The order was passed on the basis of Bhat’s meeting on August 11 this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla.


18:47  SP feud: Akhilesh likely to announce his list of candidates :  

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was snubbed by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the announcement of party candidates, is likely to announce his own list of candidates for the assembly polls.

“Akhilesh Yadav likely to announce his own list of candidates for UP polls,” said SP MLA Indal Singh after CM’s meeting with those denied tickets.

Sources said the candidates declared by Akhilesh are likely to contest on different symbols as independent candidates.

Hectic political activities began in the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd assembled outside Shivpal’s residence also.

Earlier, Mulayam Singh Yadav declared candidates for 325 of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and ruled out projecting Akhilesh as the chief ministerial candidate.

18:16  Manmohan Singh to release Congress manifesto for Punjab polls:  

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will release the assembly election manifesto of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

Though the manifesto release date is yet to be finalised, Manmohan Singh agreed to launch the document, defining the partys blueprint for governance in Punjab, at a meeting with AICC in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and PPCC chief Amarinder Singh in New Delhi.

Singh along with Asha discussed with Singh the key points in the manifesto, which will now be given final shape by the PPCC manifesto committee led by former Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal.

Talking to media persons later, Asha said it had been decided by the party to take Singhs views on the manifesto draft before releasing it in view of his expertise on economic issues.

“Congress does not believe in taking arbitrary decisions, without understanding the nuances of the subject, and felt it was important to involve Singh in the finalisation of the manifesto, given its impact on the people of Punjab, she said. 


17:26  Need debate, not intolerance: President Pranab Mukherjee:  

While inaugurating the 77th Session of Indian History Congress at Thiruvananthapuram today, President Pranab Mukherjee calls for protection of ‘right to doubt, disagree and dispute’. Here are the highlights of the speech. 

– An objective pursuit of history requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate

– We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions 

– Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of our democracy

– Nothing should lie outside the realm of reason, and therefore of discussion and argument 

– India’s pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are our greatest strength 

– Our traditions have always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian not the ‘intolerant’ Indian 

– Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country  

– Indian History Congress has a creditable record of standing up for freedom of expression 

– I hope Indian History Congress will continue to remain alert & vigilant in the cause of an objective study of history 

17:19   No jail term for holding demonetised notes, minimum fine to be Rs 10,000.


16:49  Cameron could become next Nato Secretary General:  David Cameron has emerged as a frontrunner to be the next secretary general of Nato after reports he will be nominated by Theresa May, reports the Independent. The former prime minister is reportedly being lined up by the UK government as a candidate to replace the current secretary general, former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, when he steps down in 2018 or 2019.

16:47  Admiral Sunil Lanba appointed Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, he takes charge from IAF Chief Arup Raha who retires on December 31.


16:17  Now, Chauthala declines IOA prez post :   Abhay Singh Chautala ready to relinquish IOA Life President’s post, if IOC has reservations over it.

Abhay Singh Chautala had remained defiant and on Wednesday declined to step down as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) life president. Earlier, in the day, Suresh Kalamadi decided to refuse the post of life president with the apex sports body after a notice from the Sports Ministry to the IOA.”This is a conspiracy to defame sports, will not step down as IOA life president before I clarify,” Chautala said.

On Tuesday, former IOA presidents Kalmadi and Chautala were appointed life presidents of the apex sports body in the country.
Kalmadi remained the president of IOA for 15 long years before his alleged misdeeds in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games were exposed. He was forced to step down and was arrested for misappropriation of funds before he was released on bail.


16:07  Upset Akhilesh speaks to Mulayam over missing names in candidates’ list:  With Mulayam Singh Yadav’s public snub to his son in announcement of candidates’ list for UP polls leaving bitterness in the ruling camp, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav today spoke to the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo to convey his displeasure over the choice of names.

The factional feud in the SP was again in the open, a day after Mulayam Singh Yadav declared candidates for 325 of the 403 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and ruled out projecting Akhilesh as the chief ministerial candidate.

A clearly upset Akhilesh today met his supporters at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence here and later spoke to his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh to convey his displeasure over the list of candidates from which names of his close confidants were missing, party sources said.

Hectic political activities began right from the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd also assembled outside Shivpals residence.

Party sources said the Chief Minister, before meeting Mulayam, met legislators and office bearers who do not figure in the list of nominees.

The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, announced by Mulayam and Shivpal in the absence of Akhilesh, has left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope, and does not carry names of over 50 sitting MLAs.

Besides, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, sacked by the chief minister over the past few months have got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off.

Within hours after release of the list, which clearly bore the stamp of Mulayam and Shivpal, Akhilesh who was away in Bundelkhand yesterday, had said he would take up the choice of candidates with the party chief.

The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets, an upset Akhilesh had said last night.


15:49  RBI refuses to give reasons behind demonetisation:   Fifty days after the government announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would cease to be legal tender, the Reserve Bank of India feels that the reasons behind the sudden announcement cannot be made public.

The monetary policy regulator also refused to give any details about the time it will take to replenish the currency notes.

“The query is in the nature of seeking future date of an event which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” RBI said in response to an RTI query.

The Bankers’ Bank refused to disclose reasons behind the demonetisation of about Rs 20 lakh crore of currency in the country citing Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.


15:42  FM’s demonetisation report: Economy good :  Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s year-end thanksgiving for supporting demonetisation. PM Modi’s 50-day period for the economy to get back on its feet ends tomorrow. Highlights of the speech.

–Remonetisation has substantially advanced; not a single incident of unrest reported.

— RBI has very large currency available; large part of currency replaced and more notes of Rs 500 being released.

— More currency being re-circulated and ability of banks to lend has increased.

— Till December 19, direct tax mop-up has risen 14.4 per cent, indirect tax grows 26.2 per cent; central excise up 43.3 per cent and Customs rose 6 per cent.

— Life insurance business up, petroleum consumption increased and so are tourism and investments in mutual funds.

— We are extremely grateful to the people of India who supported demonetisation move.

— The net increase seen on direct taxes is 13.6 per cent.

— The Rabi crop sowing is 6.3 per cent higher as compared to last year.

— Large benefits of demonetisation are visible, what is in banks is identifiable impact on tax collection already visible.

— Notwithstanding what critiques predicted, in all segments there has been significant increase in indirect taxes.

— Critical part of remonetisation is now behind us, it will be much better, going forward.

— Critics proved wrong. There could have been adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP for quarter or so, but it is not as bad as predicted.


14:55  7:30 pm, December 31: PM Modi will address the nation:   Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the notes ban on Saturday, December 31, at 7.30 pm, say reports.

In a televised address on November 8, he had suddenly banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, a move aimed at eliminating corruption and black or undeclared money.

A deadline for depositing old notes in bank accounts ends tomorrow, December 30.

Sources say, PM Modi may speak about the steps likely to be taken to ease cash flow that has been a major problem since notes ban was announced. He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the government’s move.

All ministers have been asked to visit at least 10 places and hold rallies/mass contact event on demonetisation. The event will begin after the PM’s speech. A document of around 60 pages has been distributed to all ministers by the finance ministry describing each aspect of demonetisation point by point.

14:44  Assembly elections: Likely to be held in February, UP may witness voting in 6-7 phases. 


14:31  Foreign tourist arrivals up 9% in November:  Demonetisation did not take the sheen away from India’s fast-growing inbound tourism sector. Foreign tourist arrivals in November grew nine per cent (year-on-year) to 0.89 million visitors, the highest for any month in 2016.

The growth is much better than last November’s increase of 6.5 per cent. The number of travellers from the US and the UK has shown strong growth. The biggest source for the month — the US — grew 7.7 per cent to 138,300 visitors. The UK, another major source market, grew 11.4 per cent, to 99,000 visitors last month.

At 890,000 international visitors, November is the best performing month of the year so far. The period between October and March are strong growth months for foreign tourist arrivals in the country, which does not include non-resident Indians while counting the tourist arrivals from overseas.

According to industry experts, since these are high-value travels, foreign tourists prefer to make plans two or three months before the travel date. Therefore, the impact, if any, will not be immediate.

“International guests secure their air and flight bookings well in advance. In the short term, their arrivals will not show any impact. We’ll have to wait for another couple of months to see any change in pattern,’ said Raj Rana, chief executive officer (south Asia) at international hotel company Carlson Rezidor, which operates 82 hotels in India under Radisson and Park Plaza brands.

Ajay Modi/Business Standard


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.

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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