L A T E S T      N E W S


High turnout in 91 seats; Chandigarh tops with 74 per cent

New Delhi: High voter turnout was recorded in the 91 constituencies in 14 states and Union Territories which went to polls in the third and substantial phase of Lok Sabha elections, with Chandigarh witnessing the highest percentage of 74.

Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar witnessed naxal related violence which left 2 CRP jawans and one state police personnel dead.

The voter turnout this time was substantially higher over the last Lok Sabha elections in all the constituencies.

Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, which witnessed comunal riots in August last year, recorded "above average" voter turnout of 67.78 per cent and 70.85 per cent, respectively, Deputy EC Vinod Zutshi told reporters here.

The 10 seats of Uttar Pradesh, which went to polls today, reported a record turnout of 65 per cent as compared to 51.30 per cent recorded in the last LS polls.

The turnout in Delhi was 64 per cent, up by 12 per cent as against 2009 elections.

Chandigarh constituency recorded the highest turnout of 74 per cent, against 64 per cent in 2009 polls.

Kerala, which went to polls in single phase today, recorded 73.4 per cent voter turnout, up from 73.2 per cent last time.

Chhattisgarh's Bastar seat witnessed the lowest voter turnout among the 91 seats of 51.4 per cent. But it was higher as compared to 47.33 per cent recorded in the last LS polls.

EC maintained that the turnout could be "much higher" in all the seats as final reports were yet to come in with voting still on after the stipulated hours in various areas.

In Odisha, maoists snatched EVMs and took away the battery of one voting machine. PTI










Sujanpur bypoll: BJP fields Narendra Thakur

NEW DELHI: BJP today decided to field Narendra Thakur from Sujanpur Assembly constituency of Himachal Pradesh, where bypoll is due.

The seat had fallen vacant after the sitting MLA Rajender Rana resigned from the seat to contest the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket against BJP's Anurag Thakur.

Narender Thakur was the Congress candidate in the last parliamentary elections and had quit the party and joined the BJP last month.

He had contested the last election in 2009 against BJP candidate Anurag Thakur and the last Assembly election against Prem Kumar Dhumal from the Hamirpur Assembly constituency on the Congress ticket but lost both the polls.

Thakur, son of stalwart BJP leader late Jagdev Chand Thakur, was a bete noire of former Chief Minister PK Dhumal and Anurag Thakur and had joined the Congress in 2008 after quitting the BJP. PTI


















New signal detected in hunt for crashed Malaysian plane

PERTH: An Australian aircraft searching for the crashed Malaysian plane today detected a new possible underwater signal in the remote Indian Ocean consistent with a plane's black box, fuelling hopes of a breakthrough in the arduous month-long hunt.

The fifth signal was picked up in the same area where search crews previously detected sounds possibly from the black box of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, that vanished mysteriously on March 8 with 239 people on board.

While conducting an acoustic search this afternoon, an RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft detected a possible signal in the vicinity of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield, said Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) which is leading the search.

"The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a man-made source, Houston said.

Finding the black box is crucial for knowing what happened on March 8 when the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 with 239 people, including five Indians, disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

The batteries powering the black box are certified to be working for 30 days. Stored in a plane's tail, they are designed to begin sending off distinct, high-pitched pings or signals as soon as they come in contact with water.

The Ocean Shield, bearing a special US Navy "towed pinger locator", had picked up two fresh signals on Tuesday that matched a pair of signals detected over the weekend.

Today, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) narrowed down drastically the search area to about 57,923 sq km from yesterday's 75,000 sq km, the smallest yet in the month-long hunt. The centre of the search area lies approximately 2,280 km north west of Perth.

Up to 10 military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 13 ships were assist in today's search for the plane that authorities believe crashed in the Indian Ocean.

The new signal came a day after Houston expressed the searchers are approaching the "final resting place" of the ill-fated MH370.

"I'm now optimistic. We'll find the aircraft or what's left of the aircraft in the not too distant future. Hopefully in a matter of days, we will be able to find something on the bottom that might confirm that this is the last resting place of MH370," he said yesterday.

Aircraft and ships reported spotting a large number of objects during yesterday's search, but only a small number were able to be recovered.

None of the recovered items were believed to be associated with the Boeing 777-200.

Houston had said there will be no confirmation of a link to the plane until wreckage is found. - PTI













Modi's wife: Congress' taunt and brothers' defence

VADODARA: Narendra Modi has for the first time publicly acknowledged his wife is drawing an instant taunt from Congress leader Digvijay Singh and strong defence from his brothers, who described the marriage as a "social formality".

BJP's prime ministerial candidate acknowledged his marriage to Jashodaben for the first time in his affidavit filed along with his nomination papers in Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency yesterday. In the state assembly polls, he had left blank the column about spouse.

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted, "Modi accepts his marital status. Can women of this country trust a man who stalks a woman, deprives his wife of her right? Vote against Modi." In the column in the affidavit about his wife's assets and liabilities, Modi has written that he has no information.

Jashodaben, a 62-year-old retired teacher, and Modi were married very young and had also separated because he moved out of home as a young RSS pracharak.

Singh's reference to stalking of a woman is an apparent reference to the surveillance of a woman by the Gujarat police allegedly at the behest of higher ups in the state government.

Seeking to contain the controversy, Modi's elder brother Somabhai said the marriage should be seen as a "social formality" which happened nearly 50 years ago.

In a statement sent to the media by the BJP, Somabhai said, "Our parents had not studied much and we were a poor family. To them Narendra was like any other child. In such context our parents conducted his marriage in a tender age with Jashodaben, but it turned out to be just a social formality for the sake of it."

"Modi, after leaving the house has not kept any contact with the family," Somabhai said, adding, "Service to the nation was his only religion. So he left home and material pleasures. His marriage was just a formality as he left the house soon after his marriage.

"Even Jashodaben has been living at her father's home and spending her life working in the education sector," Somabhai said.

"The incident (Modi's marriage) which had occurred 45-50 years ago is to be seen in the background of a poor and traditionally orthodox family," he said.

Somabhai said that Narendra Modi's current status should not be evaluated on the basis of "an incident" that had occurred 45 to 50 years ago.

Praising his younger brother, he said, "Narendrabhai was different amongst the six siblings. His interest in the service to the nation was quite apparent to us.

"But nobody could have estimated the intensity of his idea of service to the nation. He was also very influenced with the sacrifice and dedication of Swami Vivekananda and Lord Gautam Buddha." Somabhai said that his younger brother had left the house and the family because he believed in the concept of 'world is a family'.

Modi's family members did not know much about him as he has never maintained active contact with them after he left the house, he said.

In his yesterday's affidavit Modi has stated that he has no information about the assets and liabilities of his wife.

His another brother Prahlad said that Modi has never denied that he is a married man and in the earlier election forms he had kept the column of wife blank.

"He has never denied it (marriage). In the earlier election (affidavits) the column (about spouse) would have been left blank due to some reasons. Whether he did it intentionally or not that is his personal issue," Modi's Prahlad said. - PTI

NEW DELHI: Moderate to brisk polling was today recorded in the first hours of polling for 91 Lok Sabha seats spread across 11 states, including the national capital, which was marred by violence in Naxal-hit states of Jharkhand and Bihar where Maoists killed two CRPF jawans and exploded landmines.

In the national capital, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal were among the early voters in the seven Delhi Lok Sabha seats which recorded an impressive 10 per cent turn out in the first two hours of voting which commenced at 7 AM.

Voting for six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar commenced under the shadow of violence as Maoists killed two CRPF jawans and injured seven others when they were on their way to polling stations of Jamui constituency in Munger district.

The Maoists first detonated an improvised explosive device and then ambushed the CRPF personnel near Sawa Lakh Baba Mandir at the entrance of Bhimbandh jungle at around 5.30 AM. The security personnel returned the ultras' fire.

In another incident, Gaya Police seized six can bombs weighing 30 kg each from Banke Bazar area under Imamganj Assembly segment, which is part of Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat, where too polls are underway.

The bombs were defused, Gaya senior superintendent of police Nishant Tiwari said.Brisk voting is on in the six constituencies where polling is on in the state.

Nearly 11 crore voters are expected to cast their vote in 91 seats spread across 11 states and three Union Territories.

This will be the third round in the nine-phased elections which began on April 7 and will conclude on May 12.

Among the states which went to polls today are Kerala (20 seats), Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana, UP (10 each), MP (9), Delhi (7) and Bihar (6).

In Jharkhand, Maoists exploded a series of landmines in the forests of Latehar district and exchanged gunfire with security personnel early before the polling began for the Chatra Lok Sabha seat.

In an incident of fratricide, three personnel of India Reserve Battalion(IRB) deputed on poll duty were shot dead by a colleague in Gumla district of Jharkhand hours before Lok Sabha polls began in the area. - PTI











Disgruntled Verma writes to ICC on Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: After threatening to file a contempt petition in the Supreme Court, unrecognised Bihar Cricket Association secretary Aditya Verma today wrote to ICC President Alan Isaac, pleading with him to stop sidelined BCCI chief N Srinivasan from attending the governing body's Executive Board meeting in Dubai.

Quoting the Supreme Court order which has forced Srinivasan to step aside as BCCI President due to the ongoing investigations in the IPL betting scandal, Verma said the ICC should also shun the Chennai strong-man.

"I would request you to take cognisance of the Hon'ble Supreme Court's order as well as the ICC Constitution and Code of Ethics and disallow Mr Srinivasan from participating in ICC meeting," Verma said in his letter.

"I invite your attention to Clause 2.1 of ICC's code of ethics which states that 'Directors shall not engage in any conduct that in any way denigrates the ICC or harms its public image and clause 4.11 (F) of the ICC's constitution, by which an ICC director can be removed as a member of the Executive Board on any one of the following grounds: "(1) he is guilty of any dishonesty, gross misconduct or wilful neglect of duty (whether by act or omission); or (2) in the reasonable opinion of the Executive Board, he commits (whether by act or omission) any act which brings or would tend to bring the Council into disrepute; or (3) he conducts himself in a manner materially adverse to the interests of the Council," he added quoting the ICC code of ethics.

The ICC's executive board meeting is currently underway in Dubai and will conclude today. Earlier, an unnamed BCCI official had told a website here that Srinivasan would be attending the meeting.

As per set norms, the BCCI president is inducted onto the ICC board as a Director and the secretary attends the ICC Chief Executives Committee meetings.

At every Annual General Meeting, it is the BCCI president who nominates the Board's representative at ICC meetings, and at the last meeting held in Chennai on September 29, 2013, it was verbally decided that "Srinivasan will continue to be in the (ICC) executive board and Sanjay Patel (secretary) in the CEC."- PTI










Couple commit suicide after killing daughters

HYDERABAD: A couple allegedly committed suicide after killing their two daughters here, police said today.

Praveen Kumar, a private employee residing in Lalapet area here, and his wife Swetha (both in their 30s) initially hanged their daughters aged five and three years and later ended their lives by hanging themselves to the ceiling fan at their home last night, they said.

The four bodies were found hanging this morning.

Though no suicide note was found, it is suspected that some family problems drove Praveen and his family members to resort to the extreme step, a police official said.

Lallaguda police registered a case under relevant section of IPC and were further investigating.- PTI 




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