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Will put corrupt politicians behind bars: Modi

Hardoi (UP): BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Monday said all corrupt leaders in the country would have to face trial if he is voted to power in the general elections.

Speaking at an election meeting, the Gujarat Chief Minister said if the BJP forms the government, he would ensure that politicians involved in graft were sent behind bars.

"I will not spare anyone who is corrupt or has a criminal background," he told the gathering which roared in approval. 

He added he will ask the Supreme Court to fast track cases against corrupt public representatives and urged the voters to go for clean politics. 

Accusing the Congress of many ills plaguing the country, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate took a dig at Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, saying the mother-son duo had destroyed India.

Adding SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and state Chief Minister Akhilesh were out to destroy Uttar Pradesh, he urged the people to sent as many BJP candidates to the Lok Sabha as they can. 

"Delhi mein baithi hai maa-bete ki sarkaar aur rajya mein baap-bete ki sarkar, aur dono hi kar rahe hain satyanaash" (The mother-son and father-son duos have destroyed the nation and the state)," Modi told the public in Hardoi.

He also rued the growing lawlessness in Uttar Pradesh and said it is a sad thing that people in the state have more arms than the police. 

The results of the 10-phased elections will be announced on May 16. — IANSBack














India does not need a govt that makes Hindus
fight Muslims: Rahul

Ramanathapuram: Making a strong pitch for a “pro-poor, secular government” at the Centre, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said India does not need a government that “makes Hindus fight Muslims” in an apparent dig at BJP.

Addressing an election rally here, he said since these were Lok Sabha elections, local Tamil parties, with which the Congress failed to enter into a poll-pact, will not form the government at Delhi. “You must ensure that a pro-poor, secular government comes to power in Delhi. We don’t need a government that promotes hate and anger. We don’t need a government that makes Hindus fight Muslims,” he said. 

The country also did not require a government that “imposes ideas from one state on another,” he added. Seeking to enthuse workers who are putting up with the stiff challenge as the party is facing the polls alone, Gandhi said he was happy that Congress was fighting the elections by itself as there was no need for any compromise.

“I am proud to see our workers all charged up and ready to fight elections and ready to fight under Congress banner. Now we will not have to compromise,” he said.

Congress’ long-time ally DMK had walked out of the UPA coalition in March 2013, citing the emotive Sri lankan Tamils issue even as the Dravidian major had spurned the national party’s offers for a pre-poll alliance this year.

Voicing confidence that his party will put up a good show in the April 24 Lok Sabha poll, Gandhi said Congress would not confine its fight to this LS poll alone but also fight and come to power in the state in the future.

The party was last routed in the 1967 Assembly elections when DMK under its founder C N Annadurai first wrested power from the national party and has been piggybacking on either DMK or AIADMK.

Taking a dig at BJP’s Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, Gandhi said while he talks of the Gujarat model of development, he should witness the Tamil Nadu model, indicating that the southern state fared better, a claim made by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

“Tamil Nadu has not only shown India but the rest of the world what Tamil people are capable of doing. Modi talks about the Gujarat model, may be he should come here and take a look at the Tamil (Nadu) model,” he said. — PTI Back














2G case: A Raja, 16 others to record statements on May 5

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Monday fixed May 5 for commencement of recording of statements of former Telecom Minister A. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini posted the matter for May 5 after the accused sought some more time to answer the 1,718 questions running into 824 pages asked by the court.

“The time has come when the accused will talk to me directly. It is a dialogue between the accused and the judge,” he said.

“I have no problem in giving time but I will not give time in between. After it (recording of statements) will start, it will go on. It must go at an appropriate speed,” the judge said, adding, “You (accused) will have to answer the questions in bullet speed.”

As soon as the hearing began, the defence counsel said that they need time to prepare the answers to the questions provided by the court.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who appeared for Raja, requested the judge that the matter be fixed for May 5 and they will not seek any more time after that.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, also told the court that they need time to answer the questions.

The court, however, said that cross-examining a witness and asking questions from the accused under Section 313 of the CrPC were different and lawyers were not going to be involved in the process.

“This is between the accused and the judge. Accused may say something to the judge. These are very simple questions,” it said.

“In four months, I have read the file and you (accused) must have read the file as well. You can give answers,” the judge said and also asked the accused if anyone of them was ready to give answers today.

The accused told the judge that they would give answers after the recording of statement of Raja.

The stage for the trial in the case involving Raja and 16 others, which had started on November 11, 2011, was set after the court had framed charges against the 17, including three telecom firms, named in the first two charge sheets saying there was sufficient prima facie evidence against them.

The proceedings in the case, conducted by the special CBI court set up exclusively to deal with the 2G spectrum case, is also being monitored by the Supreme Court. — PTIBack












Akalis protest over Capt Amarinder's 'clean chit' to Tytler

NEW DELHI: A large number of SAD workers protested outside the Congress headquarters here on Monday over former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh giving a "clean chit" to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Congress candidate from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, told a television news channel in an interview that Tytler's name in the 1984 riots came up only when he was fighting Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi's poll.

"We will meet the Election Commission and complain about Amarinder Singh's remark. We are protesting here because the Congress was responsible for the 1984 riots. Sonia and Rahul (Gandhi) are responsible for giving Amarinder ticket from Amritsar and now he has given clean chit to Jagdish Tytler," said Manjit Singh G.K., president, Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi.

The police used water cannons when the demonstrators refused to move away despite repeated announcements for them to disperse. About 70 protestors were detained and taken to Tughlaq Road police station.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal described the reported "clean chit" as "shocking".

"Today, Amarinder has chosen to stand by those who tortured and killed innocent Sikhs," Badal said during a TV interview.

Meanwhile, Amarinder in a separate statement issued at Amritsar, criticised the Chief Minister for "misinterpreting" his statement about Tytler vis-ŕ-vis the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

"I have neither given any clean chit to anyone nor do I like to blame someone just because Badal blames him," the Congress leader said.

Amarinder also said that no court has so far held Tytler guilty. "I have only stated what I heard during my visit to the riot hit areas and after meeting people there (in 1984)." 

"Just because people like Badal will get annoyed with my speaking the truth does not make me shy from doing so," the former Punjab Chief Minister said.

Amarinder is contesting against senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency. — AgenciesBack











PMO seeks status report on gas pricing

NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought a status report from the Petroleum Ministry on issues around the implementation of the Cabinet decision to almost double natural gas rates.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had first on June 27, 2013, and then on December 19, 2013, decided to price all domestically produced natural gas, including unconventional fuels such as coal-bed methane and shale gas, at an average of international hub rates and the cost of importing LNG.

The new price of USD 8.3 per million British thermal units was to be effective from April 1 but the Election Commission asked the government to defer the implementation until voting in the Lok Sabha polls ends on May 12.

Official sources said the PMO on April 7 asked Oil Secretary Saurabh Chandra to present the latest status on issues surrounding implementation of the decisions.

The new rate was applicable for domestic producers in both the public and private sectors.

However, the CCEA on December 19 decided that in the case of the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields in block KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6, where output has missed targets, operator Reliance Industries will have to provide a bank guarantee equivalent to the incremental revenue it will get from the new price.

This surety would be encashed, depriving RIL of any incremental revenue, if it was proved that D1&D3 output dropped to one-tenth of the projected 80 million standard cubic meters per day because of RIL’s wilful actions and not due to geological complexities.

Sources said RIL, which holds 60 per cent interest in KG-D6 block, agreed to give the bank guarantees, paving the way for it to get higher prices. But the same could not be said about RIL’s partners BP plc of UK and Canada’s Niko Resources, which were not part of the legal case or arbitration over reasons for output lagging targets.

The ministry felt that though the three companies are part of the consortium operating the KG-D6 block, they had executed contracts with the government and furnished performance guarantees in their individual capacities.

It was felt that as per the CCEA mandate, the bank guarantee was to be taken only from the party in arbitration with the government, which is RIL. Since BP and Niko were not party to the arbitration, neither could a bank guarantee be taken from them nor could the new price be given to them.

BP and Niko filed separate notices of arbitration on March 24, disputing the penalties proposed for KG-D6 output lagging targets. They have now become eligible to provide bank guarantees and get the higher gas price for their 30 per cent and 10 per cent stakes, respectively.

All these will form inputs that Mr. Chandra will give to the PMO, sources added.
— PTIBack



















Two-thirds of underwater search done, no sign of MH370

PERTH, Australia: Two-thirds of the planned underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been completed, with no signs so far of the jet, Australian officials said on Monday.

As many as 10 military aircraft and 11 ships are taking part in the search for the aircraft, which was carrying 239 people when it vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No debris from the plane has been found despite an intense air and sea search and hopes centre on the underwater autonomous vehicle (UAV) Bluefin-21 finding wreckage on the Indian Ocean seabed.

"Bluefin-21 has searched approximately two thirds of the focused underwater search area to date," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre managing the search said in a statement.

"No contacts of interest have been found to date."

The torpedo-shaped sonar scanning device has so far made eight missions to the vast depths of the ocean with no result, despite exceeding it's operating limit of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).

"Bluefin-21 AUV's ninth mission will commence later this morning," JACC said.

MH370 inexplicably diverted from its course towards Beijing and is thought to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean.

Authorities believe acoustic signals picked up from the seabed far off the west coast of Australia by specialist US equipment -- known as a towed pinger locator -- are the best lead so far in solving the mystery.

With the batteries of the black box beacons now thought to have expired, experts are scouring the seabed in the vicinity of the transmissions to try and find their source.

"The focused underwater search area is defined as a circle of 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) radius around the second Towed Pinger Locator detection which occurred on 8 April," JACC said.

The Australian agency said the visual search area Monday would total 49,491 square kilometres (19,108 square miles).

The centre of this search, which will be conducted by all the planes and all but one of the ships in Monday's search, is about 1,741 kilometres north west of Perth.

The weather in the region is forecast to deteriorate later Monday, particularly in the northern sector, as Tropical Cyclone Jack continues its track southwards, JACC said.

Widespread showers were developing with isolated thunderstorms to the north and east south-easterly winds, it added.

Authorities have indicated they may reassess within days how to approach the extremely challenging search for the plane, expected to be the costliest in aviation history, given that nothing has so far been found.

Malaysia's government and the airline have come under harsh criticism from Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers — two-thirds of whom were Chinese — over their handling of the incident.

A Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people aboard was forced to make an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday in another blow to its safety image.

Flight MH192, bound for Bangalore, India, turned back to Kuala Lumpur after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off, the airline said. — AFP




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