A T E S T N E W S
BJP holds parleys ahead of vote counting
NEW DELHI: The BJP top brass on Wednesday went into a huddle to discuss the possibility of the party forming the government at the Centre and changes in the organisation ahead of counting of votes on May 16, 2014.
BJP leaders also discussed the possibility of seeking the support of some allies, including the
BJD, AIADMK and NCP.
The party has already made it clear that it is not averse to receiving the support from any party which even has a single MP and will welcome it if it supports the BJP agenda.
Senior BJP leaders held a series of meetings in the Capital since morning, with party
president Rajnath Singh meeting Sushma Swaraj at her residence in New
Delhi before she flew to Bhopal.
Former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari also met her on Wednesday. The meeting lasted around half an hour. Gadkari is playing an active role in negotiating with groups within the party. He had on Tuesday met BJP senior leader L.K. Advani amid speculation about his role in the next government.
Senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah also held a meeting at the former’s residence to discuss the situation arising out of exit poll results that favour an NDA government from coming to power.
Singh, Jaitley and Gadkari are also slated to meet Narendra Modi in the afternoon to discuss the possibility of a possible government formation in case the NDA received a majority.
Speculation is also rife about some changes in the party if NDA comes to power. Sources in the party feel that there is unlikely to be any change in the party leadership and Singh may have to continue as party chief, though Gadkari’s name is also being floated to replace him.
Gadkari, on his part, has ruled out his taking over the party and said Singh will continue to steer the party as he had ahead of the Lok Sabha
Sources point out that RSS has also advised the BJP not to weaken the party in case it forms the government and that the party should remain strong and vibrant even after a BJP-led government comes to power. — PTI
Patnaik non-committal on supporting NDA
NEW DELHI: Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday remained non-committal on supporting
the NDA in government formation at the Centre.
“No talks at all. We have not discussed anything. We have not thought of it yet. Let us wait till the results,” he said.
Patnaik’s comment comes after speculation about talks between the BJP and the
BJD for their possible support to the NDA if it forms the government at the Centre.
BJD was a partner of NDA but parted ways just before the 2004 Lok Sabha
poll. A senior BJD leader had on Tuesday indicated conditional support to NDA in government formation at the Centre.
“Keeping in view the opinion of the whole country and the state’s interest, there should be no problem in providing conditional support to NDA to form government at the Centre,” BJD’s chief whip Pravat Tripathy had said.
Senior BJD leader Jay Panda, however, said the matter needs to be discussed within the party and a call on this will be taken by the party supremo.
“On this issue, Pravat Tripathi has suggested that conditional support can be given but this is an issue which needs discussion inside the party and ultimately the party leaders and president Naveen Patnaik will take the final call,” Panda said.
Meanwhile, senior BJD leader Pinaki Mishra expressed confidence that his party will get more than ten seats in Parliament and also get a comfortable majority in the Assembly elections to form the government for the fourth term.
“We will get 16-17 seats in the Parliament out of 21. The BJP in Odisha will get maximum one or two. The Congress will be wiped out. We will get more than 100-105 out of 147 in the Assembly and comfortably form a government for the fourth time under Naveen Patnaik’s leadership,” he said.
He, however, hoped that whichever government comes to power at the Centre, it will be “less hostile and discriminatory” towards Odisha.
“We are hopeful that whichever the new government is will be less hostile and discriminatory towards Odisha,” he said.
Training his guns at the Congress, Mishra said the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had been very “hostile” towards the state.
“The Congress has been very hostile for the last ten years because they do not get votes in Odisha, so they have decided to discriminate against its people. This is a vicious cycle because now they are reaping a bitter harvest because of this step motherly treatment and they are being kept out of power for the fourth consecutive term,” he added.
Giriraj Singh courts controversy again
PATNA: BJP leader Giriraj Singh courted controversy yet again saying that all terrorists belong to a “particular community”.
“Since terrorism is a matter relating to the country and not to a community, why secular leaders remain silent when all persons arrested in terrorism cases belong to a particular community,” he told reporters in Patna on Wednesday.
“Are there only a few to define religious non-discrimination? Is it not true that all the terrorists caught belong to one community? I am not saying that all the people in that community are terrorists, but whoever is caught belongs to same community,” he said.
The BJP leader, who was recently booked for his hate speeches, said this mindset was “posing a danger” to the country.
“This is a naked example of pseudo secularism and patronisation of a community for vote bank politics. This mindset is posing danger to the country,” said the Nawada Lok Sabha candidate of the saffron party.
During the poll campaign, Jharkhand and Bihar police had lodged three FIRs against Singh for saying that those opposed to Narendra Modi had no place in India and they should go to Pakistan. — PTI
blast kills 205; hundreds more trapped
SOMA (Turkey): Rescuers battled on Wednesday to reach hundreds of workers feared trapped after an explosion at a mine in western Turkey that has killed at least 205 people in one of the worst industrial disasters ever to hit the country.
As Turkey declared three days of national mourning for the victims, energy minister Taner Yildiz said the toll could rise to exceed the 263 workers killed in the country's worst ever mining disaster.
"We are worried that human loss could increase," he told reporters.
"The problem is more serious than we thought. It is developing into an accident with the highest worker death toll Turkey has seen so far."
Yildiz said 205 miners had been confirmed dead after Tuesday's blast at the mine at Soma, in Manisa province.
He declined to say how many people remained trapped in the mine, although earlier reports said 787 workers were underground when the blast occurred.
Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said 93 people had been rescued, 85 of them injured.
Explosions and cave-ins are common in Turkey, particularly in private mines where safety regulations are often flouted.
Turkey's worst mining accident happened in 1992 when 263 workers were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in Zonguldak.
Tuesday's explosion was believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 1230 GMT on Tuesday.
A security source told AFP that there were pockets in the mine, one of which was open so rescuers were able to reach the workers, but the second was blocked with workers trapped inside.
Hundreds of people gathered around the explosion site as rescuers brought out injured workers, who were coughing and struggling to breathe due to the dust.
Sena Isbiler, mother of one of the miners, stood on top of piles of wood, craning her neck to see who was being led out of the mine.
"I have been waiting for my son since early afternoon," she told AFP.
"I haven't heard anything about him yet."
Arum Unzar, a colleague of the missing miners said he had lost a friend previously "but this is enormous."
"All the victims are our friends," he said as he wept.
"We are a family and today that family is devastated. We have had very little news and when it does come it's very bad," he added.
Fire officials were trying to pump clean air into the mine shaft for those who remained trapped some two kilometres (one mile) below the surface and four kilometres from the entrance.
Injured people emerged from the collapsed mine, some walking, others being carried by rescue workers while being given oxygen, as security officers tried to keep ambulance routes clear.
Energy Minister Yildiz promised the government would "not turn a blind eye" to negligence. "We will do whatever necessary, including all administrative and legal steps," he said.
The mining company Soma Komur issued a statement saying it had taken maximum measures to ensure safety.
"The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action."
Turkey's Ministry of Labour and Social Security said the mine was last inspected on March 17 and was found to comply with safety regulations.
But Oktay Berrin, a miner, said workers were not protected underground.
"There is no security in this mine," he told AFP.
"The unions are just puppets and our management only cares about money."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due to arrive in Soma on Wednesday after cancelling a trip to Albania.
Speaking in Ankara, the leader expressed his "heartfelt condolences" to the families of those who died.
"Some of the workers have been rescued and I hope we will be able to rescue the others," Erdogan said.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul has cancelled a trip to China and will also travel to the scene of the disaster.
Yildiz told journalists in Soma that a team of 400 people were involved in the rescue effort and that the main cause of the deaths was carbon monoxide and dioxide poisoning.
He said fires and the risk of toxic carbon monoxide were hampering rescue efforts.
"I must say that our hopes about rescue efforts inside (the mine) are fading," he added.
The miners are all thought to have gas masks, but it was not clear how long they would last.
Vedat Didari, a Professor of Mining, told AFP that the biggest risk was the lack of oxygen.
"If the ceiling fans are not working, the workers could die within an hour," said Didari, from the Bulent Ecevit University in the city of Zonguldak.
Soma is one of the key centres for lignite coal mining in Turkey, a district with a population of around 100,000 where the mines and a lignite-fired thermal power plant are the main economic activity.
Two killed in police firing in
Hyderabad; curfew imposed
HYDERABAD: Two persons were killed and nine injured on Wednesday when
the police opened fire to disperse two clashing groups in Hyderabad, the
Curfew was imposed to bring the situation under control in Sikh Chowni in Kishan Bagh under the limits of Rajendernagar police station, a part of Cyberabad
Trouble broke out after miscreants attacked houses and shops of a particular community following rumours that a religious flag was burnt.
The police opened fire to disperse the clashing groups killing two people and injuring nine, a police spokesman of Cyberabad told IANS.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner C.V. Anand said the situation was brought under control. He appealed to people to maintain calm and cooperate with the police in restoring peace.
As tension spread to the adjoining areas of the old city of Hyderabad,
the police imposed prohibitory orders. Additional police and paramilitary forces were rushed to the troubled area.
Shopkeepers in the markets around the historic Charminar downed shutters while police stepped up patrolling.
Personnel of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed in the communally-sensitive old city. Several RAF vehicles were seen moving into the interior areas as a precautionary measure.
One person was killed and several were injured in the violence in the same area over a similar incident few years ago.
two Indian journalists to leave the country within week
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told both Indian journalists stationed in Islamabad that they must leave within a week, the journalists told Reuters on Wednesday, saying they had been informed that their visas would not be renewed.
The move came amid simmering tensions between Pakistan's powerful military and a civilian government that appears dovish towards archrival India, where Bharatiya Janata Party's
(BJP) Narendra Modi appears set to win the
Late on Tuesday night, Snehesh Alex Philip of The Press Trust of India (PTI)
and Meena Menon of The Hindu received letters telling them that their visas would not be renewed. No reason was given. Both had been in Pakistan for less than a year.
Pakistan has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists to operate, but restrictions put on Indian reporters' movements are stricter than for other foreign journalists.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly said publicly that he wants to improve relations with India and has pledged to improve press freedoms. But Pakistan's military remains deeply suspicious of both journalists and India.
The two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars since they became separate countries in 1947.
Both the governments have a reciprocal arrangement allowing two correspondents from each country to be stationed in the other's capital.
Pakistani journalists face much greater threats than foreigners. At least 34 Pakistani journalists have been killed for their work since Pakistan returned to democracy in 2008, but in only one case has the killer been convicted.
Pakistan's feared military spy agency was implicated in numerous cases of abductions, torture, and killings, an Amnesty International report said last month.
The Defence Ministry demanded in April that Geo TV, the country's most popular channel, be shut down after it aired accusations that the spy agency was responsible for the shooting of one of its top news anchors.
Last year, the government expelled a reporter from The New York Times. — Reuters