15:03 Nirav Modi arrested:
Fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi has been arrested and is likely to be produced before the Westminster Court in London. The court issued a warrant to arrest the diamantaire who is accused in a Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.
The order came in response to a request by the Enforcement Directorate for his extradition to India to face charges in the money laundering case, officials said Monday.
They said the investigative agency has been recently informed about the issuance of the warrant by the Westminster Magistrate Court against Modi and he is expected to be put under formal arrest by the London Metropolitan police soon.
14:55 Cong finalises alliance with NC: Congress has finalised alliance with National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir. Ghulam Nabi Azad. NC chief Farooq Abdullah said that Jammu and Udhampur will be contested by the Congress, while he would contest from Srinagar. There will be a friendly contest between NC and Congress in Anantnag and Baramulla. The Ladakh seat is under discussion.
14:35 The best kind of Holi: Ayodhya case litigants Iqbal Ansari and Mahant Dharamdas play Holi in Ayodhya.
14:30 Rahul: Where’s the proof PM went to university?: Rahul Gandhi interacting with students in Imphal attacks PM Modi:
Demonetisation: The PM bypassed the RBI and carried out demonetisation. These are just ad-hoc decisions he takes.
Self promotion: Instead of calling it the Prime Minister’s Office, it should be called the Publicity Minister’s Office. Basically that is all he is interested in.
Educational qualifications: We still have not had access to PM’s university degree. Nobody actually knows whether the Prime Minister went to a university or not. There is an RTI filed in Delhi asking for PM’s university degree but it has not been responded to.
The Congress president also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of destroying 1 crore jobs in 2018 alone despite promising to create 2 crore jobs annually. Addressing a public rally in the Manipur capital, Gandhi said the job losses under the Modi government were to the tune of 30,000 per day through 2018.
“In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi destroyed 1 crore jobs in the country. This is the scale of his incompetence. It is absurd and ridiculous that the PM promises giving 2 crore jobs,” Gandhi alleged. Slamming the Centre’s demonetisation move of 2016, Gandhi said it shattered people’s lives.
“One fine morning, he (Modi) got up and decided to carry out demonetisation. Is this a joke? Destroying people’s lives,” he said. Gandhi claimed that whenever the prime minister visited Manipur, he “insulted your culture, your history”.
“His (party) president (Amit Shah) says Citizenship Amendment Bill will be imposed on the people of Manipur and the Northeast. These people are attacking your culture. We did not allow the bill to pass. The Congress will defend your culture and the bill will not be passed,” he told a huge gathering. Gandhi alleged Modi did not match words with action when he said “don’t look east but act east”.
13:52 Priyanka’s Varanasi outreach ends with aarti at ghat : Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spent some time at Assi Ghat in Varanasi for her ‘Ganga Yatra’ campaign. She started her campaign from Manaiya ghat in Prayagraj. She also performed ‘aarti’ at Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi.
The Congress leader, who is in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, is on a three-day boat journey down the Ganga, meeting people living on the banks of the holy river as part of her outreach ahead of the general election beginning on April 11.
“The prime minister has attacked every institution in this country for the last five years, including the institution of which all of you are a part,” Priyanka Gandhi told reporters.
“So I think the PM should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all this,” she added. The Congress general secretary went on to say that she is not afraid of being “harassed”.
“Even if anything is done, and we are harassed, we will not feel afraid. We will continue our fight against them. The more we are harassed, the stronger will be our fight,” she said.
Speaking at a ‘chaupal’ near a temple in the city late last evening, Gandhi blamed the Modi government for “not doing anything” for the development of the country. “This government has given only lollipops,” she charged. She said politics should be done for the development of the country. “If the Congress is voted to power, it would work for farmers and the poor,” she asserted.
13:31 PMO now ‘Publicity Minister’s Office’: Rahul : Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Wednesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has relegated the PMO to a “Publicity Minister’s Office” by indulging in “mediocrity” in a highly sophisticated country.
Gandhi, who arrived in Imphal on Tuesday evening from Arunachal Pradesh, was interacting with the students of Manipur State Film Development Society in the state capital.
“The Prime Minister’s Office is now Publicity Minister’s Office,” Gandhi told the students. He said the Congress doesn’t believe in “cultural imperialism” and it is of the view that one part of the country should not rule other parts as each state has its own voice which should be respected.
However, this was not the case with the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
“Every part of the country should be allowed to express itself. The BJP-RSS combination wants to impose one idea and crush other ideas. Their heavy-handedness is seen whenever there are protests,” he said. — PTI
13:21 And the numbers are in for the floor test : Update on the Goa assembly floor test: 20 MLAs voted for the motion (11 BJP, 3 Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, 3 Goa Forward Party, and 3 Independents) and 15 MLAs voted against the motion (14 Congress and 1 NCP) in the Goa assembly.
13:05 BJP+ wins floor test in Goa : Goa CM Pradeep Sawant wins the floor test in the state assembly after 20 MLAs voted in his favor. The new BJP-led government in Goa faced the floor test in the state assembly today to prove its majority just a day after Speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as chief minister with an unprecedented two deputies past midnight capping a frenetic day of political wrangling.
12:22 Goa Assembly floor test begins : Goa Assembly session for BJP-led govt’s floor test begins. Pramod Sawant has to prove majority in the House a day after being sworn in Goa CM. Sawant said he was 100 per cent confident he will the floor test.
The new BJP-led government in Goa will face the floor test in the state Assembly today to prove its majority just a day after Speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as chief minister with an unprecedented two deputies past midnight capping a frenetic day of political wrangling.
11:56 Helping hand : Doctors created a new hand from the abdomen of a hockey player after an accident nearly threatened him with amputation.
Archana Masih/Rediff.com spends time at the hospital that draws patients from all over India giving them hope by saving limbs and wants you to know that when you donate skin you save a life.
11:43 Naveen Patnaik files nomination: Odisha CM and Biju Janata Dal President Naveen Patnaik files his nomination for the Hinjili assembly constituency at Sub-Collector office, Chatrapur in Ganjam district.
11:26 100% confident we will win floor test: Goa CM: Goa Chief Minister and BJP leader Pramod Sawant says he is 100 per cent confident they will the floor test. The new BJP-led government in Goa will face the floor test in the state Assembly today to prove its majority just a day after Speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as chief minister with an unprecedented two deputies past midnight capping a frenetic day of political wrangling.
The government claims majority with the support of 21 MLAs — 12 from the BJP, three each of allies Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three Independents.
The strength of the 40-member House has been reduced to 36 following the death of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souza and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte. Sawant, a two-time MLA from Sankhalim in North Goa, was sworn in at the Raj Bhavan at 1.50 am.
11:10 Priyanka to PM: Indians are not fools:
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on PM Narendra Modi’s tweet that the biggest casualty of dynastic politics are institutions: “The BJP has systematically attacked every institution in the last five years including the media. PM should stop thinking people are fools and understand that they see through this.”
Narendra Modi tweeted this morning to say:
“The biggest casualty of dynastic politics are institutions.
From the press to Parliament.
From soldiers to free speech.
From the Constitution to the courts.
Nothing is spared.
Sharing some thoughts.”
Tariq Anwar of the Congress also reacted to PM’s tweet, saying, “Narendra Modiji is saying this as he does not come from a dynasty. How can one who who does not come from a dynasty say this? Tell me one profession where dynasty is not encouraged.”
10:20 LS poll: Tough road ahead for Sujay Vikhe Patil in BJP: Though the Congress faced embarrassment when its senior leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil’s son joined the BJP, it would also not be a cakewalk for Sujay Vikhe Patil in the Lok Sabha poll, feel political observers.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said he will recommend the name of Sujay Vikhe Patil, a neurosurgeon, as the BJP candidate from Ahmednagar seat, but the road ahead would be tough for him, they say.
This is so because, according to them, former Union minister and sitting BJP MP from Ahmednagar, Dilip Gandhi, enjoys the support of Jain community members, numbering around 1.75 lakh, in the constituency.
They say there are also murmurs in Ahmednagar that the BJP would give ticket to Sujay Vikhe Patil from the seat provided his parents, both of whom are Congress leaders, also join the the saffron party.
Sujay Vikhe Patil joined the BJP after the NCP refused to exchange the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat with the Congress. As per the current seat-sharing formula between the two opposition parties, the Congress will contest the Shirdi Lok Sabha seat (previously known as Ahmednagar-North), while the NCP will field its candidate in Ahmednagar (previously Ahmednagar-South).
The NCP is likely to give ticket to its Ahmednagar MLA Sangram Jagtap or his father Arun Jagtap, who is an MLC. Incidentally, Sangram Jagtap is the son-in-law of BJP MLA from Rahuri, Shivajirao Kardile.
09:48 Burn in hell : An effigy of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar ahead of Holi. The effigy will be burnt tonight. Azhar was the mastermind of the Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 44 CRPF personnel on February 14.
09:43 Dharwad building collapse: Death toll mounts to 3: The death toll rose to three on Wednesday in an under-construction building collapse in Dharwad’s Kumareshwar Nagar on Tuesday evening, a senior official said. Dharwad Deputy Commissioner Deepa Cholan told ANI that three persons have been killed in the incident. “At least 43 people have been admitted to the Civil hospital while 13 people have been referred to KIMS and SDM hospitals,” District Surgeon Giridhar Kuknoor said.
Rescue operation is still underway. An NDRF team is also participating in the operation.
Image: NDRF personnel at the site of the building collapse in Dharwad. Pic: ANI
09:13 LS poll: Congress releases 6th list of candidates:
The Congress has released its sixth list of nine candidates, seven from Maharashtra and two from Kerala, for the Lok Sabha election.
With this, it has released names of 146 candidates for the election starting on April 11.
In Kerala, the Congress announced that Shanimol Usman will be the candidate from Alappuzha seat and Adoor Prakash from Attingal seat.
The Alappuzha seat is currently represented by AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, who has decided to opt out of the contest citing organisational work.
In Maharashtra, the party has fielded K C Padavi from Nandurbar, Kunal Rohidas Patil from Dhule, Charulata Khajasingh Tokas from Vardha, Manikrao G Thakarey from Yavatmal-Washim, Eknath Gaikwad from Mumbai-South Central, Bhausahib Kamble from Shirdi and Navinchandra Bandivadekar from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg.
The list was cleared late Tuesday night after a meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. — PTI
08:59 Trump accuses social media companies of discriminating against Republicans:
United States President Donald Trump has accused social media companies of discriminating against Republicans, saying it is a “very dangerous situation” and something should be done about it.
“We have to do something,” Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
“It’s a very, very dangerous situation. I think something has to be looked at very closely,” he said in response to a question.
The US president said the situation on social media was different that it used to be. “It seems to be, if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there’s discrimination and big discrimination. I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook… and others,” he alleged.
Twitter and Facebook combined, Trump has around 100 million followers. “I get to see firsthand what’s going on, and it’s not good,” he said.
“We use the word ‘collusion’ very loosely all the time. I will tell you, there is collusion with respect to that, because something has to be going on,” the US president said.
Trump said that something was happening with the people running Facebook and Google and Twitter. “I do think we have to get to the bottom of it. It’s collusive, and it’s very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it,” he added. — PTI
08:28 Pramod Sawant-led Goa govt to face floor test today :
The new Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Goa will face the floor test today, to prove its majority just a day after speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as chief minister with an unprecedented two deputies past midnight capping a frenetic day of political wrangling.
The government claims majority with the support of 21 MLAs — 12 from the Bharatiya Janata Party, three each of allies Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independents.
Governor Mridula Sinha has convened a special session of the assembly at 11.30 am to enable the chief minister to prove his majority in the House, an official said.
The strength of the 40-member House has been reduced to 36 following the death of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souza and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte.
00:35 US to begin accepting H-1B applications from April 1:
The United States will start accepting applications for H-1B visas for the next fiscal year from April 1, the federal immigration agency said on Tuesday and announced the launch of a new data hub to increase the transparency of the work visa programme popular among Indian IT companies and professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the new H-1B Employer Data Hub. It will be available on uscis.gov on April 1.
The data hub is part of the USCIS’ continued effort to increase the transparency of the H-1B programme by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS (the North American Industry Classification System) industry code, company name, city, state, or zip code.
This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program, it said.
Simultaneously, the USCIS said the premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach during the next 2020 cap season.
The fiscal year 2020 begins October 1.
The first phase will include 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other fiscal 2020 cap-subject petitions, USCIS said.
“The USCIS continually strives to improve the administration of the H-1B program and make it work better for employers, our agency, and US workers,” said USCIS Director L Francis Cissna.
“We are also committed to fulfilling the president’s Buy American and Hire American executive order, one of the principal goals of which is to protect the interests of US workers in the administration of our immigration system, in part by promoting the proper functioning of the H-1B visa programme,’ he said. — PTI