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Sharad Yadav slams ex-President Kalam for Sonia comments

NEW DELHI: JD(U) president Sharad Yadav on Sunday hit out at former President APJ Abdul Kalam for his comments that he was ready to appoint Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister in 2004 despite intense lobbying against her.

Yadav, who is also the NDA convenor, said "his (Kalam's) conscience has woken up late. It is for self-aggrandisement. We used to respect him a lot but now are very saddened after such comments".

The JD(U) chief's comments against Kalam, who was made President during the NDA regime, came after the former President revealed in a book that he was ready to swear in Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister in 2004 without any hesitation even as there was intense political opposition from some quarters on the issue of her foreign origin.

In his book Turning Points, Kalam also suggested that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not keen about his visit to Gujarat after the riots in 2002.

Kalam's remark gave the Congress an occasion on Saturday to question Vajpayee's commitment to rajdharma which the former Prime Minister is learnt to have advised Narendra Modi to follow in Gujarat.

Yadav questioned as to why Kalam remained silent for eight years even as "wild rumours and gossips" went on in the political space.

Yadav said, "Constitutional head should speak out the truth when it is required. Talking of conscience when it suits you does not matter. Gandhiji used to speak according to his conscience immediately. Why did he (Kalam) kill his conscience then".

The JD(U) chief also sought to know the reason for speaking out truth eight years after the event unfolded.

"Truth should be spoken when it is needed. If it is spoken out when it is not required then it is affectation. One who is cheating in the President's House has a duty to speak out the truth in such situations and not wait for an opportune time to speak out the truth," he said. PTI



Al-Qaida plotting to bomb US airliner during Olympics: report

LONDON: Al-Qaida is plotting to blow up an American airliner in the run-up to this month's London Olympics and has trained a Norwegian Muslim convert in an attempt to evade airport security, a media report said on Sunday.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has trained the Norwegian convert and is understood to have also selected a target, believed to be a US passenger jet, The Sunday Times quoted intelligence sources as saying.

"The Norwegian recruit goes under the name of Muslim Abu Abdurrahman. He is understood to be in his thirties and a 'clean skin', with no previous criminal record," it said.

"He converted in 2008 and quickly became radicalised. He later travelled to Yemen, where he has spent several months, to complete his training," the paper said.

The plot confirms fears among US and British intelligence agencies that al-Qaida is seeking to recruit radicalised westerners in an attempt to evade airport security, it said.

The Norwegian was believed to have been in the southeastern town of Azzan, the longtime home of AQAP, until last month. He then moved to Dammaj, a town in the north.

The new plot is the terror group's fourth to be detected since 2009, when AQAP sent a Nigerian-born British student on a plane with an underpants bomb. The bomb failed to detonate over Detroit and the man was arrested and jailed.

In 2010, it sent two bombs hidden in printer cartridges on cargo planes destined for Chicago. They were intercepted and defused in Dubai and Britain, the paper said.

Two months ago, a third plot was averted when a British undercover agent, who had infiltrated AQAP, volunteered to be a suicide bomber. He smuggled out the latest version of the sophisticated underpants bomb to US authorities.

"There is terrorist plotting going on irrespective of the Olympics (from July 27 to August 12). The only thing that connects this to the Olympics is the fact that they are about to happen," said a Whitehall official. PTI




Stop maligning India, Steel Minister tells LN Mittal

NEW DELHI: Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma on Sunday said NRI billionaire L.N. Mittal should stop "maligning" India and its government, asking why the steel baron was not setting up his plants in the country. 

"He should stop maligning India and the Indian government. Why is he not beginning work on his projects," Verma said. 

Mittal, chairman and CEO of world's largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, had said in New York on June 19 that "industrialisation is an important part of every major economy's development and by risking progress... India is potentially condemning hundreds of millions to remain in poverty longer than previously anticipated". 

When asked about the problems being faced by ArcelorMittal with regard to land acquisition in Jharkhand and Orissa, the Steel Minister said, it is a state issue. "In any case, Mittal never contacted me," he remarked. 

He said the central government would extend cooperation if ArcelorMittal wants to go ahead with its India plans. 

Verma said South Korean steel major Posco is now making progress in its $12 billion projects to set up 12 million tonne steel plant in Orissa. 

"Those who want to go ahead, they like Posco are making progress," the minister said. 

ArcelorMittal is waiting for six years to implement its $30 billion projects mostly in Orissa and Jharkhand states. 

Mittal had recently also stated that it may take his company another five to 10 years to start India projects. 

"We continue to experience difficulties in India. My belief is that the Indian projects may not see the light for five to 10 years," he had said in May. PTI




Spot-fixing: I-T dept gives clean chit to banned IPL players

NEW DELHI: The Income Tax department has given a clean chit to the five banned domestic cricketers, who were involved in the IPL spot-fixing fiasco, from any financial misconduct or receiving kickbacks in order to fix matches.

The department, which conducted an investigation into the financial transactions of the five players for charges of spot-fixing, found that the cricketers have not received any pecuniary benefit in cash or by the way of fund deposits in their accounts.

The five players TP Sudhindra, Shalabh Srivastava, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali were also questioned by the I-T sleuths at their special unit office in the national capital after a TV channel aired the sting operation.

According to sources privy to the development, the department is expected to submit a report in this regard soon and would also inform the Sports Ministry.
The Sports Ministry had asked the Department of Revenue under the Finance Ministry and the I-T to probe alleged financial irregularities in the cash-rich IPL, including in the latest edition of the tournament.

The I-T sleuths also conducted a scan on the bank accounts, investments and other financial avenues of these five cricketers and their close relatives, in order to probe if any kickbacks were illegally received by them to fix IPL matches.

"They are clean, at least, on the illegal gratification and money front," sources said.

The department, however, is continuing with its probe against various IPL franchises.

The BCCI had on Saturday slapped a life ban on Sudhindra and handed lighter punishments to the other four other players who were also exposed in the TV sting operation.

While Srivastava was banned for five years, Mishra, Yadav and Bali were debarred for a year each.

While the BCCI had cracked the whip against the five players for a variety of reasons like "receiving a consideration to spot-fix" an IPL match and indulging in "loose talk and unsubstantiated bragging to bring the game into disrepute", sources said the I-T probe was specifically gauged to find evidence of transfer of any illegal cash or any other monetary benefits.

The statements of the players, according to sources, and the inputs gathered about them corroborated that their finances were not illegal.

The I-T department officials also went through the footage of the sting operation conducted before questioned the cricketers. PTIBack





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