L A T E S T      N E W S

AAP to contest Lok Sabha polls

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party announced on Saturday that it will contest most seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said the decision was taken at the start of a two-day National Executive meeting following the popular response across the country after the AAP took power in Delhi.

“AAP will fight the Lok Sabha election, contest in the maximum number of states, and in as many seats as possible,” he told the media in New Delhi.

He said the AAP will field candidates wherever “we have a reasonable (party) structure and we get good candidates”.

Another AAP leader, Sanjay Singh, added that the decision to enter the Lok Sabha battle had nothing to do with other political parties.

“We have made it clear that we have no alliance with the Congress in Delhi.

“We are not fighting elections to harm or benefit anyone,” he said, adding it made no difference whether the AAP decision harmed or benefited BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. — IANS









Kejriwal says no to duplex flats, asks for smaller house

NEW DELHI: Facing criticism, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced his decision not to take up the two five-bedroom duplex flats he has been alloted.

He told the media that he has asked the government to look for smaller accommodation for him.

“Since yesterday my friends, supporters have been calling me and sending messages saying I should not move into the five-bedroom flat. So, I have decided to forego them. I am asking the government to look for smaller accommodation for me,” he said at a party strategy meeting.

He said till then, he would function from his Ghaziabad residence.

Kejriwal has been allotted two five-bedroom duplex flats on Bhagwan Das Road one of which is to be used as his office.

Questioning the Aam Admi party credentials, his opponents including the BJP had attacked him for taking up the flats.

BJP MLAs had on Friday come down hard on Kejriwal in the Delhi Assembly on the issue, saying his decision to accept the two flats was in “total contradiction” of AAP’s claim that it will practice austerity.

Asked about the attack on him for choosing a big apartment, Kejriwal said, “It is actually important. We have come to cleanse dirty politics. Like Caesar’s wife we have to be above suspicion and we have to subject ourselves to scrutiny“.

The Delhi Chief Minister had said on Friday, “I have been given two separate houses, each having five bedrooms. You can take your camera and check the houses. I will be living in one of those with my family while using the other as my office where we can work till late hour“.

“Now, I will live with my family in the five-bedroom house. Earlier, I was living in a four-bedroom apartment, that’s the only difference,” he had said.

He said the party will today discuss the strategy for Lok Sabha elections but ruled out coming out with any names of candidates. — PTIBack









40 feared trapped in Goa building collapse

PANAJI: At least 40 people were feared trapped in the debris of an under-construction building, which collapsed in Goa’s Canacona town on Saturday, the police said.

Superintendent of Police Shekhar Prabhudesai said the incident took place in the afternoon around 3 p.m. and they are still ascertaining the exact number of people who were caught in the crash.

According to eye witnesses, more than 40 people were working on the construction site when the structure came crashing down.

Canacona is 80 kms from Panaji.

Police and fire and emergency services have been rushed to the spot and rescue work has begun.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses claimed that rescue workers have retrieved six bodies from the debris. However, no official confirmation on this has been received so far.  — PTIBack









No hike in number of subsidised LPG cylinders: Moily

KOCHI: Union Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily on Saturday said there was no proposal before the government to increase the number of subsidised LPG cylinders from the present nine a year to 12.

“We don’t have such a proposal before us”, Moily, who arrived in Kochi in connection with the formal commissioning of the Petronet LNG terminal at nearby Puthyvype by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told reporters.

“Nine subsidised cylinders a year covers 90 per cent of the consumers. Only 10 per cent are left without subsidy”, he said. People will appreciate the government stand, he added.

On Thursday, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had said in New Delhi that the government will “take a look” at the demand to raise the quota of subsidised LPG cylinders to 12 per household in a year from the current limit of nine. — PTIBack









Devyani's arrest has caused hiccups in ties with India: US

WASHINGTON: The US has agreed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the arrest of an Indian diplomat has caused hiccups in bilateral ties, but said it is now focused on getting the relationship back on really strong footing.

“When you hear the Secretary (of State) express regret about something, that means that everything hasn’t gone as it should,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference on Friday.

She was responding to questions about the remarks made by Prime Minister Singh on Friday in New Delhi that the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US has resulted in hiccups in the bilateral ties.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested in December on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid. She was released on a $2,50,000 bond.

The 39-year-old diplomat was strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two sides with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps last month.

The United States has been describing this as an isolated incident and has been saying that it wants to move forward.

“What we’re focused on now is getting the relationship back on really strong footing,” Harf told reporters. The US, she said, continues to review the paper work that the State Department received from the UN on the transfer of Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, which would give her the necessary diplomatic immunity.

“There’s a judicial process, a legal process underway, and I don’t have any estimates for how long that will all take to play out. There’s also our diplomatic discussions as well. Just nothing new to announce or guess about here today,” Harf said in response to a question.

Meanwhile, Harf also said that a video currently in circulation on social media, which claims to be allegedly showing the CCTV footage of Khobragade’s strip search after her arrest is a hoax, a “dangerous and provocative fabrication.”

The alleged video shows law enforcement officials strip searching a woman in custody. The woman is seen screaming, while she is being searched by police.

“This hoax video, which I think has appeared on some news websites without obviously confirming its authenticity, because it’s not, we find it deeply troubling, irresponsible and reckless and condemn, again, this dangerous fabrication. I want to make very clear this is not video of her,” Harf said.

She said the State Department spoke with the US Marshals Service on this issue.

“They confirm that the footage in question does not depict US marshal employees, obviously that the search methods depicted in the video are not US marshals’ policy. I haven’t watched the video myself. But I want to be very clear in saying this is not how we do things here,” she said.

Harf also welcomed India’s decision to deploy an additional 150 police personnel outside the US Embassy in New Delhi, weeks after removal of barricades outside the facility as a fallout of the arrest of Khobragade.

“We welcome statements from the Ministry of External Affairs that India is fully committed to ensuring the safety and security of all diplomats in Delhi and elsewhere,” she said.

“Beyond that (deployment of additional personnel), I’m not going to get into a lot of specifics about our security posture, but certainly we appreciate the police’s efforts and we’ll move forward from here,” Harf added. — PTIBack









9 decomposed bodies found in Nagaland

KOHIMA: Highly decomposed bodies of nine unidentified persons, who were blindfolded with hands tied up, have been found buried in a gorge near Chumukedima in Dimapur district of Nagaland.

Police discovered the bodies lying atop each other last night, Dimapur SP V.Z. Angami said on Saturday. The victims were found blindfolded with hands tied behind and shot from close range on the heads, he said, adding that the bodies were covered with a blue polythene sheet over which some boulders were placed.

It was suspected they might have been killed about two weeks ago as their bodies were in a decomposed state beyond recognition.

The SP said that there was no missing report in any of the police stations under his jurisdiction and did not rule out the possibility of the crime being committed in some other place and the bodies were dumped in the area.

The information about the bodies was passed on to the police by some labourers who noticed a foul smell emanating and some human feet visible. Angami said that a case had been registered and investigation was in progress. — PTI







Tejpal’s judicial remand extended by 10 days

PANAJI: Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal’s judicial remand was on Saturday extended further by 10 days by a magistrate in Panaji.

Tejpal, who has spent more than a month cumulatively in police and judicial custody, was presented before a court of a judicial magistrate.

His defence argued that Tejpal should be released on bail because the police had not shown any interest in questioning him during his judicial custody.

The prosecution, however, claimed that Tejpal should be in custody until the entire investigation is completed.

Tejpal, arrested on November 30, 2013, has now spent Christmas as well as the New Year as prisoner number 624 at the Sada sub jail in the port town of Vasco, 35 km from Panaji. — IANS




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