A T E S T N E W S
Lodge police complaint against Modi, orders EC
NEW DELHI: Acting tough, the Election Commission today directed the Gujarat administration to file a complaint or FIR against Narendra Modi for violating electoral laws by displaying BJP's election symbol and making a speech after casting his vote in Gandhinagar.
"The Commission is of the view that by holding that meeting and also by addressing the same today when the polling is going on in the entire state of Gujarat and in different parts of the country, Narendra Modi has violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1)(a) and 126 (l)(b) of R P Act 1951.
"Therefore, the Commission directs...that complaint/ FIR as the case may be, should be filed against Narendra Modi and all others who were involved in the convening and holding of the said meeting...," the EC order said.
It has asked the Gujarat Chief Secretary and DGP to send a compliance report by 6 PM today.
It also said that all the TV channels and other electronic media which carried the proceedings of the meeting and displayed the election matter should also be proceeded against under Section 126 (l) (b) "by filing separate complaints/FlRs against those channels." According to the section 126 (1) (a) and (b), there is a prohibition of public meetings during period of 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll. It states that "no person shall: (a) convene, hold or attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election and (b) display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus."
The EC took the decision after going through the video recording of the address of the BJP's Prime Ministerial pick at a meeting in Gandhinagar after he cast his vote today.
It said from the substance, tone and tenor of the address made by Modi and the statements made by him and the manner in which the symbol 'Lotus' was displayed by him, "the said address was in the nature of political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections in the constituencies going to polls today, not only in Ahmadabad but also in all other constituencies in the state of Gujarat and elsewhere in the country."
Congress had approached the EC today saying on his way out after casting his vote, Modi was campaigning for BJP and delivering speech in a fashion to canvas for his party, himself and also displayed the election symbol to the public.
Meanwhile, EC official also referred to an April 9 order issued by the poll panel which said that people cannot enter a polling station with caps, shawls and clothes bearing symbol of any political party.
It said section 130 of the Representation of the People Act prohibits any person from canvassing for votes or exhibit any notice or signs relating to the election within the polling station on the day of poll.
"In view of the above, it is further clarified that wearables like caps, shawl etc with political party's name, symbol or slogan are not allowed inside the polling stations on the poll day. This may be adhered to in the counting centres on the counting day also," the EC directive had said.- PTI
'Indian election getting more attention in the US than ever'
WASHINGTON: India's general election is getting more attention in the US than ever before, a former top American diplomat who played a key role in revival of Indo-US ties after India's 1998 nuclear tests, has said.
"My impression is that this election in India is getting more attention in the United States than any other in a very long time," Strobe Talbott, president of the leading American think-tank Brookings Institute told a Washington audience at a panel discussion on Indian elections.
"This is basically a good thing. We Americans over the decades have not paid attention to India that we should.
More Americans are paying attention to it," said Talbott, who was Deputy Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and held crucial talks with the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh.
Talbott's comment on much greater attention towards the Indian election in the US, comes at a time when there has been criticism of lack of adequate coverage of Indian elections in the US media. - PTI
Pak minister criticises Modi's 'provocative' remarks on Dawood
ISLAMABAD: Criticising Narendra Modi's recent comments on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as "provocative", Pakistan has claimed that if the BJP leader becomes India's Prime Minister he would "destabilise" regional peace.
In a statement, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that first Modi should "decide where Dawood is living".
The statement came against the backdrop of assertions by Modi that he will bring back Dawood from Pakistan if he comes to power.
Khan said "this provocative and condemnable statement of expected Prime Minister of India and leader of major political party is touching last limit of enmity towards Pakistan," state-run APP news agency reported last night.
The Interior Minister said those who are giving statements that Pakistan is sheltering Dawood and launching operation on Pakistan soil "should realise that neither Pakistan is a weak country to be afraid of such threats, nor Pakistani nation can be impressed with such irresponsible statements." He said Pakistan's efforts for peace in the region should not be considered its weakness.
Modi had recently accused Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde of giving media statements instead of acting against Dawood Ibrahim.
Reacting to questions about Shinde's statement that India would bring back Dawood from Pakistan, Modi said, "Can such things be achieved through media. Are these things to be revealed through newspapers. Did Americans talk with bin Laden? Did America hold a press conference on its plans about tracking down bin Laden? "What has the government done? They don't have
minimum maturity. I am ashamed that the Home Minister made such statements," Modi said.
Dawood, accused of masterminding the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and a number of other terrorist acts in the country, is India's most wanted fugitive. He is believed to be staying in Pakistan. India has sought his extradition but attempts to bring him back to India did not fructify due to Pakistan's non-cooperation. - PTI
Around 29 per cent polling in Punjab till 11 AM
CHANDIGARH: Brisk polling was today underway in Punjab where 29 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 11 AM to seal the fate of 253 contestants in 13 Lok Sabha seats.
Despite scorching heat and wheat procurement process in the agrarian state of Punjab, voters were coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
While Sangrur recorded 33 per cent polling, the poll percentage in Gurdaspur was 27.
Amritsar registered 23 per cent polling, Khadoor Sahib 24 per cent, Jalandhar 22 per cent, Hoshiarpur 22 per cent, Anandpur Sahib 23 per cent, Ludhiana 28 per cent, Fatehgarh Sahib 25 per cent, Fardikot 24 per cent, Ferozepur 28 per cent, Bathinda 25 per cent and Patiala 30 per cent, the election office said.
Reports of skirmishes between Congress and Akali Dal workers were received from Salabatpura in Moga, Amritsar and Khadoor Sahib, officials said, adding, police intervened and defused the situation.
In Amritsar, BJP MLA Navjot Kaur, wife of cricketer- turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, a three-time MP from Amritsar, cast her vote.
About Sidhu's absence, she said, "He is very busy today otherwise he does not miss exercising his franchise." BJP had replaced Sidhu by leader of opposition Arun Jaitley from Amritsar. In the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu did not even once visit Amritsar to canvass for Jaitley.
Prominent candidates among a total of 253, include Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and his Congress rival Amarinder Singh from Amritsar seat and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's daughter-in-law and SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur and nephew Manpreet Singh Badal of Congress from Bathinda.
Others key contestants are actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna (BJP) and his rival Punjab Congress Chief Partap Singh Bajwa from Gurdaspur, Leader of Opposition in Punjab assembly Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Cong) against SAD's sitting MP Sher Singh Ghubaya from Ferozepur, Congress veteran Ambika Soni against Akali stalwart Prem Singh Chandumajra. - PTI
Young voter asks
Chiranjeevi to get in line
HYDERABAD: Cong leader Chiranjeevi, who came with his family, was escorted towards the polling booth, allegedly sidestepping a long queue of voters.
Kartik, a youngster, stopped the actor-turned-politician and his family members when they tried to walk into the polling centre even as others were standing in the queue.
The superstar was taken aback when the young voter told him that he can't have a special treatment on a polling day.
"I respect him… but he should follow queue. He is not over 65 or disabled," said Kartik.
An elderly person also complained, saying the Union minister's action amounted to "grave injustice".
Chiranjeevi, who is the Andhra Pradesh Congress Campaign Committee chairperson, then reportedly went to the end of the queue at the polling centre in the posh Jubliee Hills neighbourhood.
Kartik was lustily cheered by the people.
The minister later claimed that he had gone directly to the booth to check whether his name was on the list.
"I am not such a person (who will violate the law). I am a person who respects democracy… media is overreacting," he said. - Agencies
Airtel to cut discounts; may raise tariffs to meet costs: CEO
NEW DELHI: Country's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel today said it will continue to cut discounted minutes and may raise tariffs to meet rising costs.
"I think we will continue to see an opportunity to raise voice realisation through continued cut back of discounted minutes... We will deter to touch headline tariff but at some point there may be some opportunity to raise headline tariffs," Bharti Airtel Managing Director and CEO (India & South Asia) Gopal Vittal told reporters here.
The current levels of voice pricing are absolutely unsustainable with input costs going up, he added.
"With the rising cost of diesel, network cost, the cost of spectrum, the cost of fibre, the cost of actually rolling out networks, I think there is no question but to reduce discounted minutes," Vittal said.
Airtel has recently increased mobile services rates of both Internet and voice calls under certain schemes. It has been consistently cutting down freebies for the last few quarters in order to increase voice realisation and improve profitability.
"It has been happening over the last four quarters. If I look at secular basis over the next couple of years, there is no other option but for voice realisation to go up," Vittal said.
He added that due to the efforts of the company, the voice realisation per minute has improved to 37.07 paisa as compared to 35 paisa four quarters ago.
The company yesterday reported a 89 per cent rise in the fourth quarter net profit at Rs 962 crore on account of higher revenue from data business and rise in mobile services rates.
The total revenue for Q4, 2013-14 was up 13.5 per cent to Rs 22,219 crore as compared to Rs 19,582 crore a year ago.
For the full 2013-14 fiscal, the net profit rose 21.8 per cent to Rs 2,773 crore as against Rs 2,276 crore in previous year. Revenue was up 11.5 per cent to Rs 85,746 crore.
Vittal said there is immense competition in the market and going forward, consolidation will take place in the sector that will leave 5-6 mobile operators in the country.
Asked about the senior level exits from the company, Vittal said 80 per cent of the vacancies created by these people have been filled internally.
"Most of the people have got leadership roles in other companies, so its not an attrition story but a growth story," he added.
Bharti Airtel will make capital expenditure in the range of USD 2-2.2 billion for the financial year 2014-15.
Bharti Enterprises Group CFO Sarvjit S Dhillon said there is more clarity on the regulatory front now, which is a good sign for the industry.
He said there will be consolidation in the industry in the next few years.
"The marketplace in India is not just competitive, it is hyper competitive, you know there is no market in the world where you see anything like 10-12 operators. In the next few years, this has to consolidate, maybe 5-6 operators in the country," Dhillon said.
The company's African operations, however, saw muted growth in the fourth quarter of FY'14.
"The Q4 was not very exceptional quarter but the good thing is that data is picking up in Africa," Bharti Airtel MD and CEO (Africa) Christian de Faria said.
He said the company is growing faster than competition in the region and is number one in 11 markets and number 2 in 4.
Faria said Airtel has got 3G in 16 countries except Nigeria, where it is likely to get the licence in the next few months.
He added that the company is addressing the issues in Africa in a systematic way. - PTI