L A T E S T      N E W S

Nitish calls alliance with BJP 'difficult', signals split

PATNA/NEW DELHI: Ahead of its weekend review, the JD(U) on Friday gave clear signs yet again of an emerging split with BJP, saying there are problems and the situation is "difficult" even as a senior party leader lashed out at BJP.

Returning from a two-day "Seva Yatra" for consultations with the JD(U) leadership on Saturday over the alliance issue, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said, "The situation is such that there are problems (in continuing the alliance)."

"Dua dete hain jeene ki, dawa karte hain marne ki. Dushwari ka sabab yeh hain (The blessing is for life but the medicine is for death. That is the crux of the problem)," he told reporters in Patna.

He was replying to a question whether it is going to be the end of the 17-year alliance between JD(U) and BJP.

He said the situation is difficult and what is to be done in this difficult situation is being discussed by all.

"On the one hand, some are giving suggestions that it is such an old alliance that it should continue. On the other hand, the conditions are such that there are problems," Kumar said.

While party chief Sharad Yadav appeared hopeful of a rapprochement, sources in the party described the situation as "a point of no return".

In a clear indication of things to come, party general secretary Shivanand Tiwari accused BJP of "forcing" JD(U) to come out of NDA by projecting Narendra Modi.

"BJP wants that the blame for breaking the alliance comes on JD(U) but the fact is otherwise. We had made our stand clear long time back. Our opinion on Modi was well-known. We never invited Modi in Bihar for any election that the NDA fought there," Tiwari said.

"Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had also made his opinion about Modi's projection clear without naming him at the party's national executive in Delhi some time back. Even after this, they made him the campaign committee chief and projected him as their leader. They are forcing us to quit the NDA," Tiwari told PTI.

On BJP asking JD(U) leaders to exercise restrain, Tiwari said, "They (BJP) want to force us out of the alliance. That is why they did this knowing well the stand of their oldest ally."

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had earlier said, "We hope that at least their (JD(U)) senior leaders should ask their other leaders to exercise restrain on the language they use".

The view among a number of JD(U) leaders is, however, that after Modi's projection and the hype surrounding his elevation, "no other options are left" than parting ways.

Asked about possibility of any rapprochement with BJP, Yadav, however, said, "Why not? Options are still not closed." — PTIBack








Import lobbies threaten every Oil Minister: Moily

NEW DELHI: In a stunning comment, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Friday said petroleum ministers are "threatened" by import lobbies not to take decisions that will cut India's $160 billion oil imports.

Moily, who has been under attack from the CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta for proposing to hike natural gas prices by 60 per cent, said he has been striving to attract investments in almost stagnant oil and gas exploration which will lead to higher domestic output and lesser reliance on imports.

"I am telling you with all sense of responsibility (that) we are floating in oil and gas in this country. And we don't explore it. We put every obstruction not to do it. There is bureaucratic obstructions and delays.

"And also there are other lobbies. They don't want us to stop imports. There are some lobbies who are working on that. Every minister is threatened many a times. Every minister who occupies this position is threatened," he told reporters here.

Moily however refused to name anyone or identify anyone who may have directly or indirectly threatened ministers. "History will speak about it. It is for you to judge," he said, adding oil imports will rise dramatically if domestic production is not incentivised through right pricing policy.

"This (increase in oil imports) will work to the detriment of the country. We are challenged by the vagaries of international price," he said. The revision in natural gas prices was aimed at reviving investor confidence and attracting investments, he added.

"For the last 4-5 years, investor sentiments is not that high... We have to give right price, otherwise nobody will come. One well (in the ultra deepsea) may sometime cost in millions of dollars," he said.

Moily said he has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) the raising of domestic gas prices from current $4.2 per million British thermal unit to $6.775. Moily said he will not be cowed down by any lobby and will continue to work for any India energy independent by 2030.

"I am not helpless. Any timid minister will not go forward... I have come here to strive hard for the sake of the country, to work for the country. If anybody thinks that decision making process in the oil sector will be prevented they are totally wrong," he said.

"After having dismantled many of the obstacles, it is in the national interest to go for aggressive exploration. Investors should also come. They should be attracted it is not done now," Moily said.

India spent a record $160 billion on import of oil last fiscal and the geographical progression is that imports are going up, he added.

Raising domestic oil and gas production by increased exploration is the answer but decisions are not taken which is hurting the country. "Decisions are not taken. Trend is not to take decisions here. I don't want to blame anybody. This is the fate of the country," he said.

Asked about Dasgupta's allegations that the gas price hike was to benefit Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), he said he and his ministry are open to any solution that will help unshackle the present grid of non-investment-no-production and increased imports.

"I had called him (Dasgupta) but he is not prepared to come for a discussion. But I can reassure Gurudas Dasgupta or whosoever is there in the market, all the criticism should be there, but it should not get personal," he said.

He said he was open to any suggestion of the CPI leader. "I am open to any suggestion by Gurudas Dasgupta or any other person. If they can come out with best solution, we are open it as after all we are doing this in the interest of the country.

"But in the process of ego, in the process of lobbying and in the process of just criticising for stake of criticism or in the process of politicising, don't commit national crime. Don't prevent exploration in the country. Let us move ahead more aggressively, it is in the best interest of the country," he said.

Moily added: "We had suggested $6.7. It is for CCEA to reduce it or increase. I am not playing for any lobby. I am playing for national lobby. I will ignore lobby. Anybody has useful suggestion, they can give it to me. The history will speak about it. it is for you to judge." — PTIBack









Telangana march: 2 TRS MLAs threaten to jump from building

HYDERABAD: High drama was witnessed when two MLAs belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti climbed the Legislature Party building on the Andhra Pradesh Assembly premises and threatened to jump off if Telangana state was not created immediately.

The other MLAs of the party burnt an effigy of "Seemaandhra government" near the legislators' entrance gate on the Assembly premises.

Holding black flags, the two MLAs — K. Sammaiah and D. Vinay Bhaskar — climbed the terrace of the building and also demanded that all the Telanagna protagonists arrested by police in connection with the 'chalo Assembly' programme today be released immediately.

Assembly marshals brought the two MLAs down after an hour.

The AP Assembly was, meanwhile, adjourned for the day without transacting any real business as TRS, TDP (Telangana Forum), CPI and BJP legislators disrupted the proceedings on the statehood issue.

Two adjournments did not restore order and when the House re-assembled the third time, Speaker Nadendla Manohar asked finance minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy to move two Bills.

After the formality was completed amid the din, the House was adjourned for the day.

Around 20 TRS, BJP and CPI MLAs, who were sitting at the two gates of the Assembly after it was adjourned, were detained.

Earlier, the Telangana issue stalled the Assembly proceedings which resumed its budget session on Monday, even as Hyderabad city remained "sealed" in view of the 'chalo Assembly' call given for by statehood protagonists.

The Assembly proceedings were adjourned twice this morning as TRS and TDP MLAs from the region stormed the Speaker's podium demanding immediate creation of a separate state.

Sporting black T-shirts, TRS MLAs were up on their feet as soon as the day's proceedings began and demanded that Parliament immediately pass a Bill for the creation of Telangana state.

The TDP legislators from the region joined the issue, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for 30 minutes.

The BJP and the CPI joined the TRS and the TDP members in the Well of House when it re-assembled after an hour.

With no sign of order even after he made repeated appeals to the protesting members, the Speaker adjourned the House for another half an hour.

The treasury benches wore a deserted look as most members, including Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Deputy CM Damodar Rajanarasimha and ministers, did not enter the House.

Only three ministers could be found inside the House as the Opposition din continued to paralyse the proceedings.

Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu did not attend the session as he was leaving for the US on family work. — PTIBack









Inflation drops to 4.7 per cent in May

NEW DELHI: The WPI-based inflation fell to 4.7 per cent in May, driven mainly by declining prices of manufactured items, even as prices of food articles inched up.

Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index stood at 4.89 per cent in April. In May 2012, it was 7.55 per cent.

As per official data released on Friday, WPI inflation in the manufactured items category declined to 3.11 per cent in May from 3.41 per cent in April.

The non-food articles category, which includes fibre, oil seeds and minerals, saw sharp decline in inflation to 4.88 per cent, from 7.59 per cent in April.

However, inflation in food articles, which has a 14.34 per cent share in the WPI basket, rose to 8.25 per cent in May. Inflation in this category was at 6.08 per cent in April.

The rise in food inflation was on account of increase in prices of onions, vegetables, cereals and protein-based items.

Inflation in vegetables stood at 4.85 per cent in May, against (—)9.05 per cent in the previous month.

The rate of price rise in onion was high at 97.40 per cent for the month, as against inflation rate of 91.69 per cent in April.

Inflation for March was revised downwards to 5.65 per cent from 5.96 per cent as per provisional estimates.

The data showed inflation in egg, meat and fish stood at 11.21 per cent during the month as compared to 10.44 per cent in April. Inflation in wheat, however, eased to 12.65 per cent in May, as against 13.89 per cent in the previous month. Potatoes too saw decline to (—)3.44 per cent, from (—) 2.42 per cent in April. Pulses prices declined sharply to 5.95 per cent during the month. Inflation rate in rice and cereals went up to 18.48 per cent and 16.01 per cent respectively in May.

Under the fuel and power category, it was lower at 7.32 per cent in May as compared to 8.84 per cent in April.

Data released earlier this week showed retail inflation falling to a 15—month low of 9.31 per cent in May, indicating that inflationary expectation is on declining trend.

However, food articles inflation was higher even in CPI data.

The inflation data would be closely watched by the Reserve Bank while formulating its mid-quarter policy which is scheduled on Monday.

There have been demands for a lower interest rate in the backdrop of declining inflation. Finance Ministry sources, commenting on inflation numbers, said they would want lower interest rates and monetary policy transmission.

While the Reserve Bank has lowered interest rates by 1.30 per cent since January 2012, the banks have cut lending rates by only 0.30 per cent. — PTIBack










Irish hospital wrongly assessed Savita's condition

LONDON: An Irish hospital staff failed to adequately assess the condition of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar and missed an early opportunity to terminate her pregnancy, a key report on her death has said.

A clinical inquiry on Savita's death, which was released on Thursday, found that
the most likely cause of her death was infection - with the risk of infection and sepsis increasing after her waters broke. It warned that such incidents could happen again in the absence of clarity on abortion law.

31-year-old Savita had died of septicaemia in her 17th week of pregnancy at University Hospital Galway in October last year and an inquest into her death held in April heard that she had been denied a potentially life-saving termination on the grounds that Ireland is a "Catholic country".

Her husband Praveen Halappanavar said his wife had repeatedly asked for a termination but was refused because a foetal heartbeat was present.

The review said there had been an over-emphasis on the need to not intervene until the foetal heartbeat stopped and not enough emphasis on the need to focus on monitoring and managing the risk of infection.

Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who headed the review commissioned by the Health Service Executive (HSE), said the plan in her case had been to "await events", which he said was appropriate so long as it is not a risk to the mother or unborn baby.

He said the mother should not have to deteriorate to a point where she was gravely ill and "at death's door".

"In this case, we found numerous causal and contributory factors that we believe contributed to this sad and tragic case, and these are outlined in detail in our report.

"We established that the patient was monitored less frequently than required and that guidelines for the prompt and effective management of infection and sepsis were not adhered to.

"We also believe that legislative factors affected medical considerations in this case and that this resulted in a failure to offer all management options to the patient," Arulkumaran was quoted as saying by the Irish Examiner.

The case had triggered worldwide outrage and re-ignited calls to re-define Ireland's confusing anti-abortion laws, which demands that doctors treat an expectant mother and her unborn baby as equals. — PTIBack




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