A T E S T N E W S
Uddhav's final offer: 151 for Sena, 119 for BJP
MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena on Sunday made it clear that it won't make any more concession for
the BJP, offering to cede it only 119 out of the total 288 seats in
the Maharashtra Assembly for the next month's polls, and said this was "the final attempt" to break the logjam over
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi that late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had backed him in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"Today I am making a final attempt to ensure that the Mahayuti (grand alliance of opposition parties) stays intact.
The Sena had initially asked for 160 seats. But now we are ready to part with nine seats.
The Shiv Sena will fight on 151 seats, leaving 119 seats for the BJP. The remaining 18 seats will be given to our allies," he said.
"I cannot go any further," said Thackeray, who addressed his party workers this morning after a meeting of the party's state executive.
"Maharashtra will be the number one state in the country if the Sena comes to power. I want power and I will take it at any cost. But this power is to give Maharashtra something and not to take away, like other parties do," he said.
"Everyone knows how terrible the situation was when the Godhra riots took place. Everyone was saying that Modi should be immediately removed from the Gujarat CM's post. At that time, it was only Balasaheb who told L K Advani that Modi should stay on as he pursues the Hindutva ideology," he said.
Alliance with Shiv Sena should move in forward
direction, says BJP
NEW DELHI: Asserting that alliance with the Shiv Sena should move in a forward direction, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinod Tawde on Sunday said the party headed by Uddhav Thackeray should be open to discussions and not rigid on its stand over distribution of seats for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls.
“Uddhav Thackeray may have given us a formula but the feeling in the BJP is that the alliance should go on. And if that is to happen, there can be no ‘final' formula. Till a final decision is made, discussions can keep on happening,” he said.
Tawde further said that the BJP was only working for the interest of Maharashtra and added that his party did not have the Chief Minister's post in mind.
“We only want the reallocation of the 59 seats that Shiv Sena has been losing for the last few years. We want the relocation of seats not keeping in mind the CM's post but the interest of Maharashtra. We do not want to lose these seats to the
Congress-NCP alliance again,” he said.
Earlier today, the Shiv Sena offered 119 seats to the BJP with Thackeray admitting that there was a tug of war over the distribution of seats.
September 27 is the deadline for filing of nominations for the Maharashtra Assembly polls, which is scheduled to be held on October 15. There are 288 seats in the state. –Agencies
Visa-on-arrival facility on the anvil for US tourists
NEW DELHI: India is working on a proposal for visa- on-arrival (VoA) facility for US tourists, one of the big-ticket announcements expected to be made during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's high-profile visit to the US beginning September 26.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is working overtime to finish the work on the VoA proposal to finalise it in time for the Prime Minister's visit, according to government sources.
MHA in consultation with the Tourism Ministry is working on the tourist VoA under which visa can be granted to US citizens who do not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India would be recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives, etc, the sources said.
Under the new proposal, which is still being worked out, the stay limit is expected to be 30 days.
Initially, in January 2010 TvoA scheme was introduced for citizens of five countries and now, the facility is available for citizens of 11 countries
— Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and South Korea.
However, even despite being strategic partners, there is no TVoA facility for the citizens of India and the US in each other's country. As per some estimates, the annual flow of US tourists stand around 10 lakh, currently.
The Prime Minister will be on a five-day visit to the US during which he will address the UN General Assembly in New York and then travel to Washington where he would hold bilateral talks with US President Barack Obama, who invited Modi for a meeting during a call to wish him on his victory in the Lok Sabha polls nearly four months ago.
Obama will host a dinner for Modi on his arrival in Washington on September 29 from New York. Significantly, the US President's dinner meet is not a usual practice and is normally accorded to foreign visitors on state visits.
The dinner meeting would be the first opportunity for Modi and Obama to interact with each other and will set the stage for the summit meeting on September 30.
Vice-President Joe Biden will host a working lunch for Modi on September 30 after which the Prime Minister is scheduled to attend a business event before leaving for India.
Modi's visit, which is taking place at a time when ties between New Delhi and Washington have cooled somewhat over the arrest and stripsearch of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York late last year in an alleged visa fraud case, will provide an opportunity to the two sides to strengthen ties and focus on strategic areas of economic, defence, civil nuclear cooperation and trade and technology. — PTI
Jitu Rai leads Indian
team to bronze
INCHEON: Jitu Rai on Sunday spearheaded India's 10 metre air pistol team
to clinch the bronze medal in the 17th Asian Games but missed out on an
individual medal finishing fifth at the Ongnyeon International Shooting
A day after winning the gold medal in the 50 metre pistol event, the
Indian Army shooter continued his inspiring form to lead the men's team,
also comprising Samresh Jung and Prakash Nanjappa, to give India its
second bronze from the sport.
Both India and China were tied on 1,743 points but the latter clinched
the silver on account of an extra x. The Chinese team had 65x while
Indian has 64x. Rai, who won the 50m gold Saturday, shot 585, Jung had
580 and Nanjappa 578.
The gold went to the South Korean team comprising Kim Cheongyong (585),
Jin Jongoh (581) and Lee Daemyung (578) with a total score of 1,744. The
Chinese team, consisting of Pang Wei (585), Pu Qifeng (583) and Wang
Zhiwei (575) had a total score of 1,743.
In the final round, Rai, who qualified at the fourth place, finished
fifth with a score of 138.3. South Koreans Kim Cheongyong (201.2) and
three-time Olympic champion Jin Jongoh (179.3) won the gold and the
bronze respectively while the silver went to China's Pang Wei (199.3).
Rai's compatriots Jung narrowly missed out after he finished ninth while
Nanjappa finished 14th in the qualifying round.
The three medals that Indians have won till now are all from shooting.
Shweta Chaudhry has also won the bronze in the women's 10m air pistol
event Saturday to open India's medal count and shortly after Rai gave
the country the first gold medal from the Incheon Games. -IANS
India blank Nepal 3-0 in men's tennis, sail into quarters
INCHEON: India blanked Nepal 3-0 to sail into the quarterfinals of men's
tennis team event in the 17th Asian Games here on Sunday.
Yuki Bhambri did not drop a game en route to a crushing straight sets
6-0, 6-0, win over Jeetendra Pariyar to seal the issue in India's favour,
after Sanam Singh posted a comfortable 6-0 6-1 victory over Abhishek
Bastola at the Yeorumul Tennis Courts.
In the inconsequential doubles tie, the Indian duo of Divij Sharan and
Saketh Myneni registered a comfortable straight sets 6-0 6-0 win over
Santosh Khatri and Sonam Dawa, thrashing their opponents in only 35
The sixth seeded Indians will face top seeds Kazakhstan in their
last-eight match. Kazakhstan defeated Hong Kong in their second round
Yuki needed just 37 minutes to polish off his hapless opponent while
Sanam 40 minutes to see off Bastola, giving India an easy win. — PTI
Exodus of migrant workers to hit Valley reconstruction
SRINAGAR: The work of reconstruction in the flood-ravaged Kashmir could get delayed by at least six months due to the mass exodus of migrant labour force in the wake of the natural calamity that hit the valley causing huge damage to infrastructure -- both public as well as private.
Even the cleaning up of Srinagar city, which was heavily dependent on the migrant labourers for labour intensive works, will take longer than expected.
Although some migrant labourers are staying put in the valley, most of them -- commonly referred to as 'Bihari' labourers irrespective of which state they hail from -- left Kashmir soon after flood waters started rose.
They took advantage of free air tickets announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for those leaving the valley on board the Indian Air Force planes bringing in relief material.
Thousands more left soon after the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was made operational early in the week.
"It is difficult to find a labourer these days. It seems that all of them have vanished into thin air," Bashir Ahmad Dar, who needed a mason to carry out repairs in his house at Rambagh, told PTI.
Before the flood hit Kashmir, the migrant labourers would assemble at designated places like Rambagh, Chanapora, Hyderpora, Hawal and Hari Singh High Street to wait for someone to hire their services.
The scene on Sunday at some of these places is totally different as many prospective employers are finding it hard to get some one to do the labour work for them.
"I have visited Rambagh, Hyderpora and Natipora sites but could not find even one labourer," Tanveer Ahmad Bhat said.
While most of the crops including horticulture produce has been damaged due to the floods already, people involved in infrastructure development fear that exodus of the migrant labourers will affect completion of many ongoing projects.
Floods damage over 50 km border fencing along LoC, IB
UDHAMPUR: Over 50 km of the three-tier border fencing and flood-lighting have been damaged by the recent floods along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir and security forces are racing against time to repair it to prevent cross-border infiltration ahead of winters.
With the Army expressing apprehension that militants might take advantage of the situation and infiltrate, work is going on round-the-clock to plug in the gaps on the fencing.
“As many as 20 to 25 kms of border fencing has been damaged in various patches along the Line of Control in Kashmir and Jammu regions during floods”, a senior Army officer told PTI.
Similarly, a BSF officer put the damage caused to fencing along the IB in Jammu frontier to 14 to 15 km along with flood-lighting.
Jammu and Kashmir has 734 Kms of LoC running through Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions from Kargil to Malu (Akhnoor) in Jammu district, while it has 190 Kms of International Border from Malu to Punjab belt running through Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
Anti-infiltration obstacle system (AIOS) has been deployed along 740 Kms along Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir.
Of these, 550 Kms of LoC has been fenced with flood-lighting along with 190 Kms of fenced IB.
As Security forces battle floods to reach out to people for rescue and relief, the BSF and the Army are also racing against time to repair the damaged AIOS along LoC and IB to prevent cross-border infiltration from Pakistan ahead of winters.
Army Engineers with their men and machines are working round-the-clock to complete the task in the shortest possible time and they have been able to plug the critical gaps in AIOS.
“We are racing against time to repair and reconstruct the damage fencing. The fencing has been damaged in patches. Where ever it was critical we put it up within two to three days”, the officer said.
“The balance work is going on a war-footing”, the officer said. — PTI
Soon, order food of your choice through SMS
on board train
NEW DELHI: Soon you can order meals of your taste through SMS while travelling on a train as
the Railways is launching a mobile phone-based service in a move to offer multiple catering options to passengers.
The SMS-based service, part of the e-catering service, will be launched on September 25 in a few
select trains on a pilot basis, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
IRCTC, which is coordinating the e-catering service, is finalising a new designated number to be used for SMS service for ordering food on a train.
Plagued with complaints, Railways has stepped up efforts to improve catering services on trains.
"Our aim is to provide multiple choices to passengers.While the existing service of getting food from pantry cars will continue, the SMS-based service is also being offered to passengers," the official said.
According to the plan, a passenger will get response from a dedicated team after sending the SMS mentioning his PNR number.
"The passenger will get call after the due online verification of the PNR status and berth position in the particular train seeking details of food order. Payments will be made after the delivery," he said.
While SMS-based service is being launched, Railways is also finalising a plan to start online order system where a passenger can also book his food online.
Arrangements have been made with some reputed food chains and eating joints for providing food through SMS-based orders on trains, the official said, adding "the online order system will also be launched shortly".
Recently, Railways had started providing ready-to-eat packaged food in certain trains on a trial basis offering variety of choices to passengers.
The ready-to-eat food service got a good response and now we are planning to formulate a policy on it by roping in more players, the official said.
AAP's Mayank Gandhi booked
for abetting sexual harassment
NEW DELHI: Aam Aadmi Party leader Mayank Gandhi, along with five others,
has been booked on charges of abetting sexual harassment after a 21-year-old female party volunteer filed a criminal complaint against them in Mumbai, police said on Sunday.
While AAP activist Tarun Singh has been booked under Section 354 (a) (sexual harassment), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code, Gandhi and four others have been booked on charges of abetting the crime, a police officer at the Oshiwara police station said.
"The offence had occurred in April this year in suburban Oshiwara, before the Lok Sabha elections," said Additional Police Commissioner Milind Bharambe.
"Based on the allegations levelled by the victim, an FIR was registered on Friday. The victim alleged that she brought to Mr Gandhi's notice the sexual advancements made by some party workers, but he did not pay heed to them. She approached the local police who then registered the FIR," Bharambe said.
Refuting the charge, Gandhi described the complaint as "politically motivated".
"When the female volunteer had complained to me against Tarun Singh, saying he was harassing her, I pulled him up and immediately suspended him from the party. I asked the volunteer if she wanted to lodge an FIR against Tarun, but she refused," Gandhi told PTI.
An internal committee of the party had been inquiring into the matter, Gandhi said. -PTI
KBC gets its first
Rs7-crore winners from Delhi
NEW DELHI: Two brothers from Delhi have become the first to hit the jackpot by winning the maximum prize money of Rs 7 crore in a special edition of TV reality game show "Kaun Banega Crorepati".
The Narula brothers - Achin, 24, and Sarthak, 23, - won the mega amount on the 'Jodi Special' episode of the eighth season of the show, hosted by megastar Amitabh Bachchan.
"This was unexpected and it is totally unbelievable. We had thought we will win about Rs.25 lakh and then we will leave. But this has turned out to be a life-defining moment for us," Achin, who is into marketing, told IANS.
His brother Sarthak is a student.
According to a source from the set, the duo was extremely positive and calm on the 'Hot Seat' and answered questions with confidence and ease.
"I knew the answers to the last two questions," Achin said, adding that the bigger challenge was sitting in front of a personality like Big B.
"The atmosphere on the set with Bachchan, the audience, the music...it all adds up to the thrill," he said.
Now how will they spend such a big amount?
"One can't plan these things. It's a huge amount and we will definitely spend it wisely," said Achin, whose family went through financial losses and had to sell off their house to pay debts, six years ago.
The makers of KBC are ecstatic about the "momentous occasion".
"Over the years, the show has evolved from being just a knowledge-based game show to something which is greatly appreciated and aspirational to our audience. We hope KBC continues to inspire people the way it has been all these years," Gaurav Seth, senior vice president, marketing, Sony Entertainment Television, said in a statement.
Siddharth Basu, chairman and managing director, Big Synergy Media Ltd., which produced the show, said: "We have been waiting for a moment like this since the inception of this show. It is a pleasure to see bright brains like Achin and Sarthak battle it out for the 'Maha Jackpot'."
"It will be our endeavour to continue to raise the bar on this knowledge-based game show so that we can encourage more and more people to achieve their dreams through this show." The episode in which the duo won was shot in Mumbai Friday evening. –IANS
UPSC shifts NDA, NA exam centre from Srinagar to Jammu
NEW DELHI: All candidates who had opted for Srinagar centre to appear in the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Naval Academy (NA) examination will now have to take the test from Jammu, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has said.
The NDA and NA Examination (II) is scheduled to be held on September 28.
"The candidates of NDA & NA Examination(II), 2014 who have opted for Srinagar as their examination centre are informed that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has intimated that almost all the educational institutions in the city are submerged or marooned," UPSC said.
Based on the considered advice of the state government, the Commission has decided to cancel the Srinagar Centre and accommodate all the candidates at Jammu centre, it said.
Heavy rains has led to floods in Jammu and Kashmir which has so far claimed lives of at least 277 people and rendered thousands homeless.
The candidates who were allotted Government S P Higher Secondary School, Maulana Azad Road, Srinagar, are advised to reach Government M A M College, University Road, Jammu to appear in the NDA and NA (II) examination, it said.
The candidates, who have not been able to download their e-admit cards due to disruption in Internet facilities in Srinagar, may collect it from the venue supervisor preferably on September 27 from 10 AM to 5 PM or on September 28 during 8 AM to 9 AM to get entry into examination premises.
The candidates may also take note of the fact that the examination is scheduled from 10 AM to 12.30 PM (Paper I mathematics) and from 2 PM to 4.30 PM (Paper II General Ability Test) on September 28, UPSC said.
The NDA and NA exam is conducted to select officers for Army and Navy. -PTI
Radio link connects people in flooded Kashmir Valley
SRINAGAR: 'This message is for Mohammad Ashraf from Jawahar Nagar. If he is listening to this broadcast, please contact Radio Kashmir to inform about your well being'.
This message was aired on Radio Kashmir, which was operating from a makeshift transmitting station on Shankaracharya Hill after the local station office was inundated by flood waters.
Thousands of messages like these were read out by anchors of All India Radio's Kashmir station after the century's worst-ever floods snapped almost all communication links like mobiles and landline telephone connections.
Radio Kashmir, as the AIR's local station is known here, on September 4 started a messaging programme by keeping a dedicated e-mail address and telephones for receiving distress messages from the affected people.
An official of the Radio Kashmir said the station received nearly 2,000 emails per day of varied nature.
"We would get messages seeking help, we got messages about missing people, we would even get information about rising water level in the rivers and also villages, which we would air promptly in the hope of being of some help to people," Syed Humayun Qaiser, an official of the AIR Srinagar, said.
Qaiser said while many employees of the Radio Kashmir were themselves affected by the floods, they gave preference to call of duty.
"It was our duty to act as a bridge between the authorities and the people ... and also between the people amongst themselves," he said.
Qaiser said when the Radio Kashmir started the SMS service after floods in Srinagar, it was flooded with messages.
"We received an average of 2500 messages per day and it was not possible to read all of them. We gave preference to informative messages like those seeking help and those seeking information about missing relatives," he added.
While mobiles and telephones were not working in flood-affected areas, these services including Internet facilities were available in some areas not affected by the water.
Flood victims who had taken refuge in these areas were able to trace their loved ones quicker due to Radio Kashmir's special broadcast on floods.
"I was happy to know my brother is safe when his message was read on Radio. Though I have not seen him yet, just the knowledge of him being alive is a great consolation," Shamima, whose brother was stuck in Soura area of the city after floods hit Rajbagh, said.
Qaiser said the special broadcast from Radio Kashmir will continue in the coming days as well.
"We have passed through the worst time, hopefully, but we will continue the special broadcasts to help people deal with the aftermath of the floods," he added.
In reply to a question, he said Radio Kashmir over the years has been trusted medium of information but the floods had only strengthened that image.
"Radio as a medium might have lost listeners over the years but that was not the case in Kashmir.I agree that floods have increased the popularity of this medium," he added. –PTI
Retd IAS officer Jakhu says impressed with PM's vision
CHANDIGARH: Retired IAS officer and former Additional Chief Secretary of Haryana Ramindra Jakhu, who joined BJP party fold, on Sunday said he was impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision.
Jakhu, who joined the party in Delhi on Saturday in the presence of party president Amit Shah, said he was impressed with the policies of the new government and Prime Minister Modi's vision to take the country to new heights, which made him take the decision to join the party.
Jakhu said he had been in touch with the BJP leaders in recent weeks before he finally decided to take the plunge into politics.
"There is a visible change in the air after the new government at the Centre has taken over. The way world leaders are looking to India and the way investments are flowing from Japan, China and other nations, indicates that our country is now being seen as a major global force," he said over phone.
Jakhu, who retired in December last year, said inclusive development which will take place under the new dispensation is bound to impact Haryana, which goes to polls next month.
Asked what role he sees for himself in the BJP, Jakhu said he has over 35 years of administrative experience, a large part of which he served in various capacities in Haryana, and the party can assign him any role for which he is ready.
Jakhu, whose native falls in Punjab, said that Haryana has been his "Karam Bhoomi (where he worked over the years)".
BJP is looking to wrest power from Congress in Haryana on its own after its alliance with the Haryana Janhit Party collapsed due to a disagreement over seat-sharing and the chief minister's post.
Haryana goes to polls on October 15. -PTI