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Abdul Kalam not to contest Presidential poll

NEW DELHI: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam has said that he will not contest the Presidential election 2012 to be held on July 19. The BJP on Monday made several efforts to persuade Kalam to contest for the top post. Sudheendra Kulkarni was sent as a emissary to him. Later, Advani called him up to convince him.

On Friday before UPA announced its Presidential candidate, Kalam had said that he will take reight decision at right time.

"It is a good idea, will take right decision at right time," APJ Abdul Kalam told reporters on his name being suggested for President.

TV news channels report, Kalam is being pressurised by several political parties to contest polls.

After being snubbed by the UPA, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is still keen on Kalam's name for Presidential poll.

After UPA announced its decision to back Pranab, Mamata Banerjee said the game is not over yet.

"I have said. I won't say anything more. In my life, I do what I say and if someone thinks the game is over, it's not that", she told reporters.

Mamata is expected to formally announce party's candidate for Presidential polls. Mamata has issued specific diktat to ensure no cross-voting. A formal announcement will be made on Monday evening.

BJP led NDA on the other hand is still divided on whom to support. On Sunday, BJP sought to bring around their NDA allies to support former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma as a common non-Congress candidate against the UPA’s Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election, but failed to overcome the differences.

While the Shiv Sena skipped the meeting, Janata Dal (United) leader Shivanand Tiwari said a contest against Mukherjee was best avoided. But party chief and NDA convenor Sharad Yadav said Advani should get time to work on a consensus over Sangma.

Whole scenario now depends on Kalam's decision as Sangma emerged as BJP's choice only after APJ Abdul Kalam remained non-committal. — Agencies




Indian taxi driver attacked, abused in Australia

Melbourne: An Indian taxi driver was attacked and racially abused and his car smashed, as a group of baseball bat wielding youth went about attacking and robbing cab drivers in Melbourne suburbs.

The gang ambushed and robbed five taxis in separate incidents in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Attackers wearing balaclavas and armed with baseball bats pulled up in two stolen cars and attacked the drivers at Sunshine, Brooklyn and Laverton North areas last night.

Harpreet Singh was driving his taxi through Sunshine suburb when his car was rammed from behind and a second car pulled up abruptly in front of him.

He said four men with baseball bats got out of the car in front of him and began smashing the driver-side window.

"It was terrifying. They were smashing the car and hitting me with the bats also," he said.

"I leaned to the left side (of the driver's seat) to avoid the baseball bats hitting me (but) one guy punched me in the face. They didn't say anything to me, they just smashed the car and straight away asked for the money," he was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

Singh said he had already handed over $150 cash and his phone, when one of the men punched him and the group sped off in the two cars.

He suffered a bloodied lip in the attack, while another driver was hospitalised with a broken arm.

A report in ABC quoted the owner of the taxi as saying that the driver was taunted as he was beaten with baseball bats.

"They hit very badly you know, abusing him, you know, saying you're Indian, go back to your country," owner Sunny Singh told a radio channel in Melbourne. — PTI



CBI grills BCCI chief Srinivasan in assets case

Hyderabad: BCCI chief and India Cements Managing Director N Srinivasan on Monday appeared before CBI in connection with the disproportionate assets cases against YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy. After being asked by the central probe agency, Srinivasan appeared before CBI at the Dilkusha Guest House here. The agency sleuths are currently questioning him, sources said.

CBI is probing the alleged investments made by Srinivasan's company India Cements in the firms promoted by the Kadapa MP during the tenure of his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy as Andhra Pradesh chief minister, the sources said.

Some other cement companies are also likely to be asked about water and limestone allocations made to them during Rajasekhara Reddy's tenure.

The CBI, in its three charge-sheets filed against Jagan and others, has alleged that he and his father hatched a conspiracy to defraud the government, and the state government granted some favours to certain firms, which made investments in Jagan's businesses as a quid pro quo.

Jagan is currently in judicial custody till June 25 and has been questioned by the CBI. — PTI




RBI keeps rates steady as growth crumbles

Mumbai: The RBI left interest rates and required bank reserves unchanged on Monday, defying widespread expectations for a rate cut and warning that relaxing policy could worsen inflation. Bonds, stocks and the rupee all fell.

The Reserve Bank of India kept its policy repo rate unchanged at 8% and left the cash reserve ratio for banks at 4.75%, putting the onus on the government to take measures to revive flagging economic growth.

"Further reduction in the policy interest rate at this juncture, rather than supporting growth, could exacerbate inflationary pressures," the RBI wrote in its mid-quarter policy review.

The benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 9 basis points to 8.43% from levels before the announcement, while the new 10-year bond yield rose about 5 basis points.

The Sensex erased gains before the decision to fall 1.1%, while the rupee weakened against the dollar to 55.60/62 from around 55.35-55.40 before the decision.

"The Reserve Bank of India's action is clearly disappointing," said Sujan Hajra, chief economist at Anand Rathi Securities in Mumbai.

"Inflation remains a concern, but the slowing growth needed at least a 50-basis-point rate cut. The RBI will have to ease sooner or later, otherwise there will be further challenges to growth," he said.

After cutting its policy rate by 50 basis points in April, the RBI had been widely expected to leave rates unchanged in June.

But global and domestic economic conditions have deteriorated sharply since then, driving expectations that India would cut both interest rates and the cash reserve ratio.

India's March quarter economic growth of 5.3% was far worse than expected and the weakest annual pace in nine years. The data sparked calls from industry for immediate action to lift an economy that Standard & Poor's says could be the first BRIC nation to lose its investment-level credit rating.

Meanwhile, April industrial output figures last week suggested little pickup in economic growth heading into the current quarter.

The government is politically hamstrung, so is unable to drive reform and its deep fiscal deficit leaves it no room to provide stimulus spending at a time when the euro area debt crisis is weighing on the global economy, a factor set to dominate a G20 meeting in Mexico on Monday and Tuesday. — Reuters





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