17:36 ‘TMC workers’ set BJP office in Hooghly on fire: JUST IN: Alleged Trinamool Congress workers set Bharatiya Janata Party office in Hooghly, west Bengal, on fire on Wednesday, ANI reports.
The photograph shows the BJP office on fire.
Trinamool workers are staging protests against the arrest of party MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a chit fund scam, calling it ‘vendetta politics’ by the BJP government at the Centre.
Earlier, BJP MP Babul Supriyo alleged that TMC workers attacked his house.
17:12 Istanbul attack: Bodies of Mumbai victims reach home : The bodies of film producer-realtor Abis Rizvi and fashion designer Khushi Shah, who were among the 39 people killed in the terror attack at an Istanbul nightclub, arrived in Mumbai early Wednesday.
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying the bodies landed at Mumbai airport shortly after 5 am,” BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who received the bodies at the airport, said.
While Rizvis body was taken to his home in suburban Bandra, Khushis body was flown to Vadodara for cremation later today, he said. Rizvis burial will also take place today. The flight carrying the bodies left Istanbul last night.
Khushi and Rizvi were among the 15 foreigners who were killed when a gunman went on a rampage at the waterside Reina nightclub in Istanbul where revellers were celebrating the New Year.
Pic: Pall bearers in Mumbai hold aloft the coffin containing the body of Abis Rizvi, one of the victims of Istanbul’s New Year nightclub attack. D Siddiqui/ Reuters.
17:04 No opposition in Punjab, will win 3/4th seats: Badal : Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday said his party along with its ally the BJP will win three-fourth seats in Punjab assembly polls. Punjab goes to the polls on February 4.
“There is no opposition in Punjab. We will win three-fourth seats in the Punjab polls,” Badal told newspersons after the Election Commission announced the date of assembly polls in five states including Punjab.
Badal arrived in Patna along with his family in a special plane, to take part in the ongoing Prakash Utsav to commemorate the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh at Patna Sahib, his birthplace.
Badal was received by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at Patna airport. Badal will visit Takht Harmandir Sahib at Patna Sahib to offer prayers late this evening.
Badal will stay in Patna for two days and will attend the main function at the makeshift gurudwara in Gandhi Maidan in the heart of Patna on January 5, which will be attended by PM Narendra Modi and a few union ministers.
More than four lakh devotees including nearly 2 lakh Sikhs from different parts of India and abroad have arrived for the festival.
MI Khan in Patna/Rediff.com
Apart from the obvious — both have been lawyers — they have a father and father-in-law who served as Jammu and Kashmir’s finance minister.
Devi Dass ‘D D’ Thakur — Justice Thakur’s late father — was Sheikh Abdullah’s finance minister.
His predecessor was Girdhari Lal Dogra, J&K’s finance minister for 27 years (he presented the state budget 26 times, a national record).
Sangeeta Dogra — the much beloved ‘Dolly Aunty — Mr Dogra’s daughter, is married to Arun Jaitley.
16:12 Modi’s war on cash pushes Indian eco into contraction: US economist : Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise higher value currency notes, noted American economist Steve H Hanke today said India’s “war on cash” has pushed its economy into contraction as anticipated.
“#Modi has officially steered #India’s economy into contraction as a result of his war on cash. Just what I anticipated would happen,” Hanke, an American applied economist at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland said in a series of tweets. “Manufacturing takes the hit as the war on cash in #India adversely impacts the economy. #Modi,” he added.
16:00 Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens opens to public: The gardens at Rashtrapati Nilayam, or the President’s southern residence, in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, will open for public viewing from January 3 to 10, said an official statement. People can visit the gardens from 10 am to 5 pm, it said.
“The gardens of Rashtrapati Nilayam include landscaped gardens, herbal gardens, NakshatraVatika, seasonal flowering plants, display of potted plants around the main building and fruit gardens of mango, sapota, pomegranate, guava, amla, coconut and cheeku,” it added.
15:58 Pamela Anderson requests Obama to consider pardoning Assange: “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson has requested President Barack Obama to consider “pardoning” Julian Assange after his website WikiLeaks leaked hacked Democratic emails in the run up to US Presidential election last year. The 49-year-old actress has penned a letter to Obama, who will step down as the American leader later this week, in a bid to stop the investigation into the hacking scandal.
“…I request that you consider Pardoning Julian Assange in your last days in office. It would be a bold and exciting move for the time we live in- the information age generation. Please stop the grand jury investigation, and the bullying that is turning the world off America. “We must stop making Julian (or Russia) the scapegoat – Kids are smarter than this, and it is very divisive and tearing generations apart. It simply must end – and is doable by the stroke of your pen. (sic)” Anderson wrote.
15:41 AgustaWestland Case: Bail granted to SP Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.
15:36 After UP, Punjab, Cong ropes in Prashant Kishor for Uttarakhand polls as well : The Congress Party has roped in poll strategist Prashant Kishor to work his magic for the Uttarakhand polls. Congress insiders have told India Today that Kishor has agreed to chalk out campaign plans for the party in Uttarakhand where CM Harish Rawat is likely to face a stiff fight from the BJP.
Elections for the five state polls were announced today with the 71-seat Uttarakhand Assembly taking place on February 15. Counting for all five states will take place on March 11.
Kishor has been feted by all political parties after he scored massive victories for the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the 2014 general elections and Nitish Kumar in the Bihar elections of 2015. He has been hired by the Congress for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab Assembly elections as well.
The master strategist, who was handpicked by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and has caused much grief to the senior leaders and rank and file alike, has been reportedly asked to keep away from UP.
15:16 TMC MPs marching to PM’s house: West Bengal: TMC supporters stage a rail-roko protest in Coochbehar over the arrest of TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay. TMC MPs are now marching to the PM’s residence.
Trinamool Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay was on Tuesday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Rose Valley chit fund scam, provoking a violent attack by his supporters on Bharatiya Janata Party’s state headquarters in Kolkata which left several people injured and set off a fresh bout of recrimination between the two parties.
Bandyopadhyay, the second TMC MP to be arrested in the scam within a week after actor-turned-politician Tapas Pal, was earlier subjected to questioning for more than four hours, CBI sources said.
“Bandyopadhyay could not give proper answer regarding Rose Valley-sponsored foreign trips and he did not cooperate in the investigation,” they said.
Agitated over the arrest of Bandyopadhyay, a confidante of TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, hordes of party workers descended on the BJP office in central Kolkata, chanting anti-Narendra Modi slogans and hurling stones, leaving several workers of the saffron party injured and half-a-dozen cars parked outside damaged.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha claimed 15 party workers were injured in the attack. As the protest continued, a CRPF contingent was rushed to secure BJP office and ensure safety of its workers.
15:12 Just in: Sheena Bora murder case: Court to frame charges against all the accused on January 17.
“Christmas has just concluded, so right now I have to clean up the house. I will spruce up the house a bit. We will prepare meal for him. But it would be a private affair. During his India visit, he needs private time with his family where he can talk to us and rest a bit,” said Anna Kaarina Costa, the first cousin of the Prime Minister, who currently lives at the Costa house located on Abade Faria Road of Margao.
For 55-year-old Costa from Portugal, which ruled the state till 1961, this would be his second visit to the house, the first being when he was a teen and had come with his parents.
Anna, who is a hospitality industry professional, would be cooking for her cousin, whom she describes as a very low profile person. “I really don’t know what his favourite food is but he is quite a foodie himself,” she says remembering the time when she met him in April last year in Lisbon, soon after he was elected as the Prime Minister of Portugal. “He is just coming here for a quick visit. He will come here for quick meal. There is no much time to take him around,” she said. “He is the only cousin I have. For me to meet him, I still have to think that he is the Prime Minister, for me first he is my cousin. I could have thought of having a big bash here but I feel he should get some private time, some rest and spend some time with us,” she said. At Costa House, Anna lives with her mother, husband and a daughter.
Fatima Arya @XMuslimFatima @ShirishKunder Your Kids Hindus or Muslims?
@ShirishKunder Shirish Kunder Retweeted Fatima Arya Depends on which festival is next. Last month, they were Christians
Announcing the poll schedule for five states, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the seven-phased UP Assembly polls for 403 constituencies will be held on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
14:03 FDI up 27%: Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country grew by over 27 per cent to USD 27.82 billion during April-October this fiscal. The FDI stood at USD 21.87 billion in April-October 2015-2016, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
The main sectors which have attracted the foreign inflows include services, telecom, trading, computer hardware and software and automobile. India receives maximum FDI from Singapore, Mauritius, the Netherlands and Japan. The inflows increased by 23 per cent to USD 55.6 billion in the last financial year.
13:36 Swaraj Abhiyan’s Yogendra Yadav makes an important observation on Twitter: Will Union Budget be presented just 3 days before Punjab, Goa polls? Fair? Has EC revised the position it has taken for last two decades?
13:20 Punjab Polls: Navjot Singh Sidhu to contest on Congress ticket from Amritsar East assembly constituency.
13:06 Identity of Istanbul nightclub attacker established: foreign minister: In other news: The identity of the gunman who killed 39 people in an attack on an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Day has been established, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a televised interview with the state-run Anadolu news agency on Wednesday.
The gunman, who fled after the attack, remains at large. Anadolu has said some 20 people have been detained as part of the investigation into the shooting. Cavusoglu did not identify the attacker.
13:05 7-phase polls in UP from Feb 11-March 8, counting on March 11 for all 5 states: And finally the dates for the five state elections. All five states will go to elections in one go.
Uttar Pradesh votes in seven phases for the 403 seats:
Phase I votes on: 11 February, Phase II votes on: 15 February, Phase III votes on 19 February, Phase IV votes on 23 February, Phase V votes on 27 February, Phase VI votes on March 4 and Phase VII votes on March 8.
Elections in Manipur in 2 phases; Phase 1 polling on March 4th, Phase 2 polling on March 8th.
Elections in Uttarakhand to be held on Feb 15th in single phase.
Elections in Goa will be held on Feb 4 in a single phase
Punjab will vote on Feb 4 in single phase polls.
Counting will take place on March 11, Saturday for all the five states.
12:26 5-state polls: All expenses by candidates above Rs 20,000 to be cashless: The Election Commission announcing the poll dates for Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi addressing the media.
— Nearly 16 crore voters will be participating in the polls.
— Electoral roll of Goa will be published on Jan 5, Manipur on Jan 12, Punjab Jan 5, Uttarakhand on Jan 10 and UP on Jan 12.
— There will be complete accountablility of photo voter slips, colourful voter guides will be distributed to each family.
— Height of voting compartment raised to ensure complete privacy.
— Separate polling stations for women in certain areas, all-women polling stations will also be set up.
— 1,85,000 polling stations in all the five states for 690 assembly seats.
— Ballot paper will have photo of candidates.
— Voter assistant booth for physically challenged in each polling station.
— Coloured voter slips for the first time.
— ECI to distribute Voters’ Guide to facilitate voters; there will be voters Assistance booth manned by officials.
— 1.85 lakh polling stations to be in operation for Assembly Elections to the five states.
— Every polling station will have 4 posters for voting procedure and dos and don’ts
— Model code of conduct comes into effect immediately.
— Limit of expense is Rs 28 lakh per candidate in Punjab, Uttarakhand, UP and Rs 20 lakh in Manipur and Goa is Rs 20 lakh.
— Candidates will be required to open bank accounts and expenses over Rs 20,000 will be by way of cheque from this bank account.
— Candidates will be required to affix photo on nomination papers, he will be required to mention that he is citizen of India.
— Kiosks/bastas set up by candidates will be deemed to be set up by candidates, to be included in election expenses by candidates
— Sound pollution is a concern, no use of loudspeakers after 10pm. Police and electoral officers will ensure clampdown on it.
— EC to clampdown on paid news.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission held a meeting with Chief Electoral Officers of the five poll-bound states Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa to fine tune the arrangements.
It is expected that the UP Assembly elections will happen in seven phases and rest four states will have a single-phased election. The blockade in Manipur may lead to multiple-phased polls in the state because of security issues. Goa has 40 assembly seats, Manipur has 60, Punjab has 117, Uttarakhand has 70 while Uttar Pradesh has 403.
Image: CEC Nasim Zaidi.
11:46 Neha Dhupia was at the NBA Knicks Game at Madison Square in New York.
11:32 An early Budget is a bad idea, writes Sitaram Yechury: From CPI-M president Sitaram Yechury’s Facebook post:
Advancing the Annual Budget has the following implications immediately apparent:
1. The advance GDP estimates for the ongoing FY were released in February, and meant actual data for three quarters was considered. Now, with the advance estimates being released in January, actual data for only first two quarters (so only till September 2016) will be considered. This is bound to present a wrong and misleading picture of India’s GDP growth rate which is bound to be revised downwards heavily later on. Not only will it hurt the credibility of the govt, and India, consequently, but it will also make the people who are experiencing economic hardships, lose faith in such numbers being shown that appear hyped and evidently rosier than the truth.
2. The Economic Survey presented before the budget was meant to cover the preceding year and form the basis for policy interpretations, decisions and discussions on the budget. Now the Survey will cover only half of the preceding year, while the full year will be covered by the mid-year review in July, well after the budget.
Will there be a mid-course budgetary correction if the July review shows something different?
3. Budget-making is a serious exercise which should be done based on maximum possible available data. This will not be possible by advancing it to January, and is bound to lead to “looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”.
4. As we see it, this is a short-term political move done with an eye on UP and Punjab elections so that the BJP government can announce enough sops while bypassing the model code of conduct.
We expect the Election Commission and the Hon’ble President to take note and reverse this decision.
11:13 Just in: TMC workers block NH-2 near Asansol in protest against the arrest of TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay; Vehicles stranded.
11:07 Anna Hazare files PIL, alleges Rs 25,000-cr scam, wants Pawars probed: Activist Anna Hazare has moved the Bombay high court seeking a CBI inquiry into what he termed a “Rs 25,000 crore sugar cooperative factories scam”.
Hazare filed two civil PILs and a criminal PIL seeking a CBI probe. The criminal PIL is listed for hearing on January 6 before a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka.The petitions alleged that fraud had been committed in governance by first burdening sugar cooperative factories with debts and thereafter selling these sick units at a throwaway price, causing loss of Rs 25,000 crore to the government, cooperative sector and members of public.
The petitions also demanded an inquiry by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) into alleged role of “politicians into the sugar cooperative scam, including NCP president and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and his nephew and former irrigation minister Ajit Pawar”.
The petitions name both members of the Pawar family as respondents.The petitions further demanded an CBI inquiry into the allegations of corruption and misuse of government and cooperative funds involving lease and sale of cooperative sugar factories which caused Rs 25,000 crore loss. The petitioner stated that the statistics mentioned in the petition have been collected through RTI.
10:55 India must limit Chinese imports and bolster manufacturing : Shashi Tharoor’s An Era of Darkness tells you that India was in the forefront of globalization before the British conquered and looted the country. Angus Maddison in his classic, The World Economy, estimated the primary economic parameters of many countries over the millennium.
When the British came, India was one of the two richest countries on almost every parameter. (The other country was China.) A variety of finely woven textiles in many fabrics, metallurgical products, including the finest of swords, and well-designed, sturdy, long-lasting ships were among India’s principal products. Globalization was about genuine competitive advantage in many products and in fair exchange. Read more
10:47 Justice JS Khehar sworn in as new CJI : Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar was sworn in as the 44th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India today at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The tenure of Justice TS Thakur ended yesterday.
10:40 Trump doesnt plan to ease off Twitter once he is sworn in as President: Remember how President-elect Donald Trump told 60 Minutes shortly after winning the election that he was planning to be “restrained’ on how he uses Twitter? It seems he is now reconsidering and is “absolutely’ planning to continue to use Twitter as a communication tool and to make major policy announcements, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on ABC’s This Week. Read more
10:15 RBI governor, ministry officials to brief PAC on note ban impact: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa and economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das will brief the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on January 20 on the impact of demonetisation on Indian economy and the amount of black money unearthed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the move on November 8.
“RBI governor and senior finance ministry officials will appear before the committee to brief on demonetisation on January 20,” PAC chairman KV Thomas told Business Standard.
The meeting was earlier slated for first week of January but had to be deferred due to preoccupation of the officials.
According to sources, PAC has sent a detailed questionnaire to these officials based on the issues flagged by the members. While the impact of demonetisation is foremost among the issues raised by the members, the lawmakers also want to know how much black money has been unearthed as a result of the note ban. Other issues include, the currency available with the banks now and what percentage of it is fake.
Amit Agnihotri/Business Standard
Further, the panel members want to know when the supply of new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 would become normal given long queues were witnessed outside banks and ATMs since November 8.
10:07 Stalin elected DMK party president : Just in: Stalin elected as DMK working president. The general council of the DMK met on Wednesday to crown party treasurer and heir apparent M K Stalin. The meeting at the party headquarters ‘Anna Arivalayam’, ends the DMK scion’s agonising wait for an elevation. DMK president M Karunanidhi has been unwell and has remained confined to his Gopalapuram residence since October last.
09:35 ‘The Rohingya Alan Kurdi’: Will the world take notice now?:
Face down in the mud, a baby boy lies still after washing up on a river bank.
His name is Mohammed Shohayet, a 16-month-old Rohingya refugee whose family fled their home for Bangladesh to escape the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, only to drown during the journey along with his mother, uncle and three-year-old brother.
The image has parallels with that of the young Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who was found dead on a Turkish beach in September 2015, after trying to flee the civil war at home.
The conflicts the two boys left behind are different, but the desperation of their families to escape is all too familiar.
09:18 Bengaluru shamed again! Woman molested on road, caught on camera:
In horrifying video footage, two men on a scooter are seen blocking a young woman’s path, getting off and then groping her just hours into the New Year in Bengaluru.
The incident is said to have taken place around 2:30 am on Sunday and was recorded by a camera installed at a house off Kammanahalli 5th Main Road in east Bengaluru.
The visual shows that the accosted woman had just got off an auto-rickshaw and was just metres from her house.
The incident comes to light when the safety of women is being questioned after a mob molested, groped and passed lewd remarks against women during New Year’s Eve revelry.
09:06 Justice Khehar sworn in as CJI today:
Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar will today assume the office of Chief Justice of India as the tenure of Justice TS Thakur ended yesterday.
On December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the name of Justice Khehar.
Justice Khehar, who will be sworn in by President Mukherjee, will be the 44th Chief Justice of India and will hold the post of seven months.
The Supreme Court yesterday once again dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of Justice Khehar as the next CJI, saying, it is in the public interest that the ‘curtain should be brought down’.
The apex court had dismissed two similar pleas filed in the past fortnight, challenging the appointment of Justice Khehar.
08:31 JUST IN: Election Commission to announce assembly polls in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and other states at 12 noon today.
08:29 Sundar Pichai likely to unveil Google’s plans for small businesses today:
After the India visit of Travis Kalanick, founder and chief executive officer of US-based taxi aggregator Uber, Google CEO Sundar Pichai would be in New Delhi for an event on small and medium businesses one of the new focus areas of the global technology major.
According to sources, Pichai could possibly meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant as well. Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is likely to meet Pichai at the event where he has been invited to speak.
Sources say Pichai is already in India. He would end his trip with an event in Delhi and then go to Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur his alma mater where he would be felicitated and then have a fireside chat at the venue. This is Pichais third official visit to India since he took over as Google CEO.
According to sources, Google is planning to launch a series of products for the SMB segment. The company is looking at small businesses as a major source of revenue in the near future. With products such as Google for Business and a new Cloud region, the company wants to tap into the multi-million dollar opportunity in India. Its products compete with those from the stables of global giants like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.
— Karan Choudhury/Business Standard
08:10 BJP leader Krishna Bhattacharya’s house in West Bengal’s Uttarpara allegedly attacked by TMC workers, last night. Case registered.
07:57 Bengaluru molestation: Police finds evidence, registers FIR:
Three days after New Year eve revelry turned into a nightmare for several women who were allegedly molested at a large gathering in Bengaluru’s downtown area, police today claimed to have found “credible” evidence of molestation and have registered an FIR.
As the incidents drew widespread outrage with no action from the police, Bengaluru’s new Commissioner of Police, Praveen Sood through a series of tweets said his team was working on the case silently.
“As promised we have found credible evidence repeat credible evidence in a case of wrongful confinement, molestation and attempt to rob,” Sood had said in a tweet.
“We have taken action by registering an FIR. Investigation is in progress. Police is working…. though silently,” he had said in another tweet.
Stating that enquiry is underway by an officer of DCP rank, he has said that they have gone through the feeds from 45 cameras on MG road, and unedited video is available with police.
Eyewitness accounts had suggested that women were molested and groped and lewd remarks were also passed by miscreants late night on December 31 in the posh area even as it was claimed that 1,500 police personnel had been deployed to control the crowds.
Police had earlier said that no one had come forward to file a complaint about the incident.
00:28 US to become world’s greatest magnet for job creation: Trump:
The US is set to become the world’s greatest magnet for innovation and job creation, President-elect Donald Trump said.
“Instead of driving jobs and wealth away, America will become the world’s great magnet for innovation and job creation,” Trump said in a tweet.
Trump’s tweet came as Ford announced that it has decided to scrap its USD 1.6 billion manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead invest USD 700 million in Michigan.
Making the announcement, Ford CEO Mark Fields said that the new policies of the incoming administration drove the decision.
After winning the November general elections, the President-elect has been instrumental in several domestic and foreign companies making investments in the US and creating thousands of jobs.