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Congress in talks with Trinamool as deadline ends

NEW DELHI: As Trinamool Congress’s 72-hour deadline for rollback diesel price hike, LPG subsidy cap and FDI in multi-brand retail expired on Monday, Congress was holding negotiations with that party and expressed the confidence of continuing a “working relationship.”

Party chief Sonia Gandhi held consultations with senior leaders, including ministers, at her residence to decide the strategy ahead even as there was no sign of worry in the AICC over fresh pressure mounted by Mamata Banerjee.

With Banerjee set to have a meeting with her party leaders in Kolkata on Tuesday, Gandhi had a strategy session with Union Ministers A.K. Antony, P. Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi and her Political Secretary Ahmed Patel.

“Negotiations are going on...we do believe that we will be able to have a working relationship. We remain optimistic,” party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters at the AICC briefing.

Asked whether Congress is confident that all its allies, including Trinamool Congress, will remain in UPA government in future as well, she said “we will always be hopeful of all our allies’ continuance. Our doors are never closed for dialogue.” 

Chowdhary at the same made it clear that this cannot be a one-way understanding saying “while we understand their limitations and compulsions, they should also understand our limitations and compulsions.” 

Sidestepping questions on whether there could be a partial roll back of diesel prices and modifications in the LPG cap, she said there was no compromise on the principles to take the country ahead.

“I am not government. We have not said that there is no compromise. What I have said is that there is no compromise on our principles to serve the nation. On this, we will sacrifice our head but not bend,” she said refusing to go into the specifics of what is being negotiated with TMC.

Her comments came close on the heels of Trinamool Congress listing three options before it including withdrawal of support to UPA, pullout of ministers from government and ministers not attending office. — PTI




BPO staff rape-cum-murder case: HC confirms
death for two convicts

MUMBAI: Observing that the rape and murder of a 22-year-old BPO employee in Pune has had a deep impact on the society and women travelling alone, the Bombay High Court on Monday upheld the death penalty awarded to two for committing the heinous crime.

A division bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode confirmed the death sentence of the two accused — Purushottam Borate and Pradeep Kokade — for kidnapping, raping and murdering the victim, an employee with Wipro BPO in Pune on November 1, 2007.

“We are confirming the death sentence awarded to the duo by the sessions court. The manner is which the offence was committed and the deep impact it has had on the society have been considered by us. Any woman will now think twice before taking a cab alone,” Justice Kanade said.

After the bench pronounced its verdict, the two accused broke down in the court room.

According to the prosecution, the victim had boarded the regular cab contracted to ply employees by the company to report for night shift. Cab driver Borate who was accompanied by his friend Kokade, however, changed the route and took the victim to a remote place where she was raped by them.

The duo then strangled her to death using her dupatta and disfigured her face inflicting injuries with a sharp weapon to hide her identity. The body was recovered the next day following which the two were arrested.

“Considering all the circumstances we feel that constraint regarding their punishment is not an option. The death penalty has been confirmed after giving it a lot of thought,” the court said.

The bench had earlier observed that the duo had committed a series of acts which were very serious in nature and questioned whether those could be considered as an additional circumstance to make it “rarest of rare” case. — PTI



Sunita takes over command at space station

Houston: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams has taken over the command of the International Space Station, becoming the second woman in history to do so, even as a three-member crew of the Expedition 32 returned safely to earth, wrapping up a mission lasting more than four months.

The three-man crew onboard a Russian-made Soyuz capsule touched down successfully in central Kazakhstan steppe this morning after spending 123 days at the Space Station. 





RBI: cut by 0.25 pc, no rate cut

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took the government’s reforms rendition a note higher today by cutting its key cash reserve ratio from 4.75 per cent to 4.5 per cent to increase liquidity flow into the economy.

The CRR stipulates the minimum proportion of deposits that banks must hold with the central bank. When the RBI increases the CRR, banks have fewer funds to lend or invest since they have to park more money with the RBI.

After the government announced a hike in the price of diesel and followed it up with some big-ticket reforms late last week, India Inc. has been clamoring for a rate cut from the central bank. Amid slowing growth and downgrades from global investment banks—some even threatening a downgrade to junk status—the RBI has steadfastly said controlling inflation is its key priority.

"Controlling inflation is the top most priority of the central bank," Chakrabarty told students of a city college in New Delhi on Friday, 14 September 2012, when inflation numbers for August were released by the government.

After falling a bit in the previous month, inflation rose to 7.55 per cent in August, driven by higher prices of potatoes, wheat and pulses which rose due to poor monsoons.

The spike in August's Wholesale Price Index was also driven by a rise in the prices of manufactured items, further whittling down the efforts of the monetary authority to batten down inflation.

Chakrabarty admitted that the nearly two-year-old rate hikes to combat inflation have had an impact on growth, driven by slowing investments. "We agree that investment has slowed down due to higher interest rate."

In its previous policy review end-July, the RBI left interest rates unchanged for the second time since June, in line with expectations, while cutting its growth forecast and lifting its inflation outlook as economic conditions deteriorated.

However, it cut the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR, the amount that commercial banks have to maintain in liquid assets, such as gold or cash) to 23 per cent from 24 per cent, effective August 11.

"In the current circumstances, lowering policy rates will only aggravate inflationary impulses without necessarily stimulating growth," RBI governor D. Subbarao wrote in the previous monetary policy review, adding the central bank's primary focus remains inflation control. Back





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