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Nitish Kumar At His Side, Telangana's KCR Says 'Need BJP-Mukt Bharat'

PATNA, Aug 31: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, sharing dais with Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar today, took on the BJP, tweaking its slogan of "Congress-mukt Bharat".

"What we need now is BJP-mukt Bharat (BJP-free India)," said Rao, who has been trying to formulate a non-Congress non-BJP front for several years.

That front is yet to take off and there was expectation that Kumar might bring to it the necessary momentum. The Bihar Chief Minister, however, made it clear that they have the big picture in mind.

"Why Third Front, we are working on the main Front," he said. "All opposition parties should come together and raise the slogan for a BJP-mukt Bharat... We will try to unite all Opposition parties in the country," added Rao, indicating that he was on board with the idea.

"You will see the results that we will bring together with like-minded parties and thrash out all the contentious issues," he added.

Rao, who reached Patna today, held an hour-long discussion with Nitish Kumar, where Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav was also present.

Kumar's move to ditch the BJP has brought cheer to the opposition camp, with many expecting that the eight-time Chief Minister might be the face of the Opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 general elections.

The expectations gathered edge with BJP claims that Kumar broke the alliance because of his ambition for the Prime Minister's post.

But Rao, who was the first key opposition leader to meet Mr Kumar after he broke away from the BJP, indicated that the top slot was not a given.

Nitish Kumar, he said, is a "well-known senior leader of the country". The opposition, he added, will "choose the policy and leader with everyone's consent".

Earlier today, the two leaders launched a joint-attack on the BJP, sharing dais at a function in Patna.

Kumar criticised the "excessive prachaar-prasaar" (publicity) and the BJP-led Centre's alleged lack of sensitivity towards the needs of the states.

The BJP, still smarting from the break-up with Kumar, has dismissed the get-together.

Kumar's former deputy Sushil Modi, who is now a member of the Rajya Sabha, said it is a "meeting of two daydreamers who have no standing in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi" and dubbed the meeting as the "latest comedy show of opposition unity".

Congress President Sonia Gandhi's Mother Dies At Home In Italy

NEW DELHI, Aug 31: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's mother Paola Maino passed away at her home in Italy on Saturday and her funeral took place on Tuesday, the Congress said in New Delhi.

The Congress president had left on August 23 to visit her ailing mother, who was in her 90s.

"Smt. Sonia Gandhi's mother, Mrs. Paola Maino passed away at her home in Italy on Saturday the 27th August 2022. The funeral took place yesterday," AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who are abroad, are said to have attended the funeral. The three leaders had on Sunday attended an online meeting of the Congress Working Committee, where the schedule for election to the party president's post was decided.

President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of various parties conveyed their condolences to Sonia Gandhi and her family.

"Condolences to Sonia Gandhi Ji on the passing away of her mother, Mrs. Paola Maino. May her soul rest in peace. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the entire family," Prime Minister Modi tweeted.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and other Congress leader extended their condolences to the party chief and other family members.

"Congress family expresses its deepest condolences on the sad demise of Mrs Paola Maino, Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi's mother. We pray for the departed soul and stand in solidarity with the bereaved family," the Congress said on its official Twitter handle.

"It's very saddening to know about the demise of Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi ji's mother Mrs. Paola Maino ji. My deepest condolences to Sonia ji, Rahul ji, Priyanka ji and all family members. May God give them the strength to bear this loss. May the departed soul rest in peace," Gehlot said on Twitter.

In his message, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: "I join my father and other family members in conveying our heartfelt condolences to Mrs Sonia Gandhi ji, to Rahul, Priyanka and the entire family on the sad demise of Mrs Gandhi's mother. May the soul of Mrs Maino rest in eternal peace," he said.

Another Congress MP Manish Tewari said, "My profound condolences on the sad demise of Hon'ble Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi ji's revered mother Mrs Paola Maino. May God give the Hon'ble Congress President and her family members the strength and fortitude to bear this unfortunate and tragic loss."

Child Stolen On Camera At UP Railway Station Found At BJP Leader's Home

LUCKNOW, Aug 29: A seven-month-old boy stolen from next to his sleeping parents at the Mathura railway station last week has been found 100 km away, from a BJP corporator's house in Firozabad, cracking a racket that steals and sells such children, police said.

BJP's Vinita Agarwal and her husband had allegedly bought the boy for ₹ 1.8 lakh from two doctors, who were part of a larger gang, as they wanted a son. The couple already has a daughter.

In all eight people have been arrested, including the man who was caught on a security camera when he picked up the child from the platform.

Visuals from a press conference organised by the railway police in Mathura showed cops handing over the child to his mother, and everyone smiling for the camera. Another visual had wads of 500-rupee notes that the police seized from the arrested doctors.

In a detailed statement, senior police officer Mohammed Mushtaq said said the kidnapping was carried out by a gang involved in trafficking for money.

"We found that a man named Deep Kumar took the child. He is part of a gang that includes two doctors who run a hospital in the neighboring Hathras district. Some other health workers are involved too. We interrogated the people in whose home the child was found, and they told us they had only one daughter, so wanted a son. That's why they made the deal," Mushtaq said in a statement to journalists.

No reaction was yet received from the arrested corporator's side or from the BJP.

Footage of the incident, from the night of August 23, shows a man appearing to pass by the child, who is sleeping with his mother. Moments later, he comes back and scoops the child up and makes a dash. The CCTV camera captured him running towards a train stationed on the platform.

Noida Twin Towers Turn To Dust In 9 Seconds

NEW DELHI, Aug 28: The Supertech twin towers in Noida were brought down today in a massive explosion. The blast, lasting about nine seconds, caps a nine-year legal battle between residents of Supertech Emerald Court in Sector 93A and the realtor over the two towers.

The demolition done, the next challenge for Noida authorities is to clean the mountain of debris generated due to the demolition. Officials involved with the operation had earlier said about 55,000 tonnes of debris would be generated. It may take as many as three months to clear the debris. The waste will be dumped at designated areas.

The area had been evacuated hours ahead of the blast and measures put into place to ensure that adjoining structures are not affected by the explosion. Traffic diversions were planned and guidelines laid down to tackle any emergency.

The two towers were rigged with over 3,700 kg of explosives. Explosives were inserted into nearly 7,000 holes in the pillars of the buildings and 20,000 circuits were set. The blast was planned to ensure that the towers fall straight down in what is called the "waterfall technique".

About 7,000 residents of the area were moved out this morning. Gas and power supply in the adjoining buildings has been suspended. They will be restored by 4 pm, and residents will be allowed back in by 5.30 pm. Police have asked residents to wear masks indoors when they are allowed back into their homes to guard against the dust.

Traffic on the Greater Noida Expressway, within the 450-metre no-go zone, has been stopped. Officials this morning said traffic movement will be suspended for 30 minutes -- 15 minutes on either side of the blast, from 2.15 pm to 2.45 pm.

Some of the adjoining buildings are as close as 8 metres to the twin towers. There are others within a 12-metre radius. They have been covered by a special cloth to minimise dust penetration. The area has been declared a no-fly zone of one-nautical mile.

The demolition exercise took place under a ₹ 100 crore insurance policy. This should cover damage to adjacent buildings, if any. The premium and other costs have to be borne by Supertech. While the demolition project may cost upwards of ₹ 20 crore, the loss of the towers - skeletal as they were - is estimated at more than ₹ 50 crore.
Mumbai-based company Edifice Engineering was tasked with demolishing the two towers.
The firm, which has carried out such demolitions elsewhere, worked with the Central Building Research Institute and the Noida authorities to bring the towers down.

The builder had planned to construct 40 floors in each tower. While some floors couldn't be built due to court orders, some were broken down manually ahead of the explosion. One of the towers, Apex, now has 32 floors. The other has 29. While Apex is 103 metres tall, Ceyane stands at 97. The plan was to 900+ flats, two-thirds of which had been booked or sold. The Supreme Court has ordered the developer to provide a refund with interest to those who had bought flats in the structure.

The twin towers were demolished after a legal battle that lasted 9 years. Residents of Supertech Emerald Court society moved the court in 2012 after these towers were approved as part of a revised building plan. They said the towers were built at a site where was garden was initially planned. Illegalities were found in approvals and some officials faced action. The Allahabad High Court ordered the demolition in 2014. The case then went to the Supreme Court. Last August, the court gave three months to demolish the towers, but it's taken a year due to technical difficulties.

Congress To Elect New Chief On October 17

NEW DELHI, Aug 28: Congress's highest decision-making body the Congress Working Committee today said the much-awaited election of its new President will be held on October 17 and counting votes will be done two days later, on October 19. The filing of nominations will begin on September 24, and the last date is September 30.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has joined virtually as she is travelling abroad for health checkups, presided over the CWC meeting.

The meeting comes days after an explosive resignation letter by the party's G-23 dissident and former veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad blasting Rahul Gandhi for "childish behaviour", "glaring immaturity" and for letting a "coterie of inexperienced sycophants" run the party. In his letter, addressed to party president Sonia Gandhi, he also lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for "demolishing the party's entire consultative mechanism".

The election will be notified on September 22 and candidates can withdraw their nominations by October 8.

The CWC also reiterated that it has resolved to make the "Mehangai Par Halla Bol" rally in Delhi on September 4 and the launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari on September 7 "a resounding success".

The Congress, dealing with the fallout of a series of high-profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, has attempted to deflect the latest blow by alleging that Azad's DNA had been "Modi-fied" and linking his resignation to the end of his Rajya Sabha tenure.

The Congress had announced in October last year that the election of the new party president will be held between August 21 and September 20 this year.

Ghulam Nabi Azad Quits Congress

NEW DELHI, Aug 27: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quit the party today calling out Rahul Gandhi for "immaturity" and for "demolishing the consultative mechanism" in the party.

Ghulam Nabi Azad had been a leading member of the G-23 or the group of 23 "dissenters" who had written to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 calling for a complete overhaul of the organization and a full-time and visible leadership.

Azad is likely to launch a new party.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister has been quoted as saying he would like to launch his party on his home turf.

"I will go to Jammu and Kashmir. I will form my own party in the state, will check on the national possibility later," he saidy.

Elections are due in Jammu and Kashmir later this year.

Sources close to Azad say he is keen on marking his presence in the region ahead of the Jammu and Kashmir election.

Azad, 73, quit the party days after he rejected a key post in the Jammu and Kashmir Congress, saying his recommendations for the organization had been ignored.

The veteran leader today slammed the Gandhis with a five-page resignation letter accusing Rahul Gandhi of "childish behaviour" and immaturity and of letting a "coterie of inexperienced sycophants" run the party.

The resignation comes ahead of the 2024 national election and amid signs that the election of a new Congress chief will be delayed yet again. Congress top leadership has announced a 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.

Azad wrote he joined the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir in the mid-1970s, "when it was still a taboo to be associated with the party, given it's chequered history in the state from 8th August 1953 onwards - the arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah being the nadir of it's political myopia."

The former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member was one of the Congress's senior most leaders and the party's face in Jammu and Kashmir. He is among the few leaders to enjoy goodwill across the spectrum; Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year choked up during Mr Azad's Rajya Sabha farewell.

Azad later praised Modi during a speech in Jammu and said he hadn't forgotten his humble roots even after achieving the top post.

Azad was a leading member of the "G-23" or the group of 23 leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi alleging a leadership drift and urging major reforms.

Polls For Congress Chief Delayed Again

NEW DELHI, Aug 25: The election of a new Congress president has been delayed once again with the party desperately hoping Rahul Gandhi will change his mind and agree to leading the party again. A new Congress chief will take over before Diwali (October 24), sources say.

The Congress was to have a new president by September 21, but sources say the deadline has been extended by a month. The party has citied an "inauspicious period" before the festivals besides Rahul Gandhi's resistance to the top role.

The Congress's most powerful body will meet on Sunday to finalise a schedule. The Congress Working Committee will meet virtually as all three Gandhis- Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka- are flying abroad for her medical check-up. They are likely to go to Italy to visit Sonia Gandhi's mother, who is unwell.

Rahul Gandhi has refused to return as Congress president after he quit I 2019 owning responsibility for the party's clobbering in the national election.

Sonia Gandhi, who took over as interim chief on the party's request after her son's resignation, has already said no citing her health.

That leaves Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whose first major political assignment- the Uttar Pradesh election-proved to be a disaster.

Sources say Rahul Gandhi wants the party to choose a non-Gandhi president.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, 71, is seen as the leading candidate if all three Gandhis are out of the race.

Gehlot has denied that Sonia Gandhi had offered him the post of Congress president and insists that that there was no question of anyone other than Rahul Gandhi leading the party.

"We will try till the very last to ensure that Rahul Gandhi becomes Congress president," he said.

Before flying abroad, Sonia Gandhi spoke with Gehlot on Tuesday in a closed-door meeting and asked him to take over.

Gehlot said he had paid a courtesy call before going to Gujarat. "She has given me two tasks - the Gujarat election and Chief Minister of Rajasthan. My job is to continue as Chief Minister at present - that is my responsibility and that there is no anti-incumbency at present - and to look after the elections of Gujarat," he said.

On whether he considered himself a candidate for Congress president, he said: "I never become the candidate. I do whatever the high command tells me. I have been a disciplined soldier all my life. I will remain so."

He had earlier said Rahul Gandhi must respect the sentiments of Congress workers and accept the top post.

"If Rahul Gandhi does not become the party president, it will be a disappointment for the Congressmen in the country. Many people will sit at home and we will suffer. He (Rahul Gandhi) should accept this post by himself, understanding the sentiments of the common Congress people in the country," Gehlot had said.

The Congress has been led by a member of the Gandhi family for much of its 136-year-old history.

Nitish Kumar Wins Majority Test In Bihar Assembly, BJP Walks Out

PATNA, Aug 24: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's new Grand Alliance government won the trust vote in the assembly today. The BJP walked out in protest during his address ahead of the voting.

In the voting that followed after the BJP walkout, Mr Kumar got all 160 votes. With Nitish Kumar having the support of 164 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly, the test of majority was mostly a formality.

In his speech during the debate on the motion of confidence, Tejashwi Yadav -- chief of Rashtriya Janata Dal and Kumar's new deputy, said the new partnership will be "historic". "This is a never-ending innings, it will be historic. Our partnership will be long. No one is going to be run out," Tejashwi Yadav said.

During the debate, the BJP's Tarakishore Prasad ripped into Nitish Kumar, his former boss, saying he has lost "political credibility".

The former Deputy Chief Minister mocked Kumar's "personal ambition to become the prime minister despite not having the ability to become the chief minister on his own steam".

The assembly session started with Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, a BJP member, stepping down in response to a no-confidence motion against him by the Grand Alliance. The floor test was chaired by Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari, who is from Kumar's Janata Dal (United).

Hours before the trust vote, the homes of several RJD leaders -- Sunil Singh, Subodh Rai, Dr Faiyaz Ahmad and Ashfaque Karim -- were raided by the CBI in connection with a "land-for-jobs" scam dating back to party chief Lalu Yadav's tenure as Union Railway minister in the UPA government.

In Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav ripped into the BJP, saying, "Are you trying to say that all the property in the country belongs to Tejaswi Yadav? The person who brought the railways into profit is facing cases and those who are selling the railways and the country, nothing will happen to them".

Tejashwi Yadav also made several other strong remarks, accusing the BJP of using the Central investigating agencies whenever it is "scared". "A narrative is being created. If you join hands with the BJP, then you are Harishchandra (a king from mythology known for his honesty and truthfulness). Else you are a criminal, a rapist, and the ED and the CBI will be set after you," he said.

The majority test comes days after Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet, where the biggest chunk of seats went to Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal. Of the 31 ministers in the cabinet, the RJD has 16, Nitish Kumar's JD(U) kept 11. Two Congress leaders, a leader of Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent MLA have also become ministers.

Kumar took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time on August 10, a day after breaking away from the BJP. Sources said he had concerns that the BJP was plotting a repeat of the Maharashtra model -- where the Uddhav Thackeray government was dismantled by the rebellion by senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde who is now the Chief Minister.

Modi Opens 'India's Largest' Hospital In Haryana's Faridabad

FARIDABAD, Aug 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated a 2,600-bed private hospital here that is equipped with cutting-edge technology, including a centralised fully-automated laboratory.

Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar were also present at the event.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Modi said India is a country where healthcare and spirituality are closely linked. He added that COVID-19 was a perfect example of a successful spiritual-private partnership that helped create awareness and implement the world's largest vaccination drive.

"A combination of technology and modernisation will lead to the country's progress in the healthcare sector," the Prime Minister said, adding that India is endeavouring to ensure that governments and others come forward to transform the health and education sectors on a mission mode.

The state-of-the-art Amrita Hospital, built on a sprawling 130-acre campus with sustainability in mind, has a dedicated seven-storey research block and has been constructed over a period of six years with the support of Mata Amritanandmayi Math.

The new super-speciality hospital has opened with 500 beds and is expected to be fully operational in a phased manner over the next five years. Once fully operational, the hospital with 81 specialities is billed to be the largest private hospital in Delhi-NCR and the country, its officials had earlier said.

The hospital buildings will span 36 lakh sq. ft in built-up area, with a 14-floor tower housing key medical facilities. There is also a helipad on the rooftop.

The new mega hospital in Faridabad's Sector 88, near the Delhi-Mathura road, has a built-up area of one crore sq. ft and the campus will also have a medical college. A dedicated seven-storey research block and eight centres of excellence, including on gastro-sciences, renal sciences, bone diseases and trauma, transplants, and mother and child care, are located on the campus.

The hospital has patient-centric wards and OPDs and a hi-tech, fully-automated centralised laboratory.

Suspended BJP MLA, Arrested Over Prophet Remarks, Gets Bail

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: Telangana's BJP MLA T Raja Singh, arrested for his alleged derogatory comments on Prophet Muhammad, has got bail as the court rejected a police request for custody. Though the BJP suspended him, he got a hero's welcome at his office in Goshamal.

A case was registered against T Raja Singh under various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs, and criminal intimidation, among others, cops said. The BJP suspended Singh soon after his arrest.

Singh was arrested after widespread violence. According to reports, protests broke out in front of city Police Commissioner CV Anand's office and other parts of Hyderabad on Monday night. Many All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) legislators and corporators of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation reached the police stations and sought stringent action against T Raja Singh.

"Has it become their official policy that they aren't satisfied with Nupur Sharma and they are making other MLAs say things? People are angry. People have tears in their eyes. Why are they saying things like this about Prophet Muhammad? Our demand is that the BJP should stop doing all this. People can see how much you hate the Prophet," AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said.

Singh had released a 10-minute video allegedly making derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad. Taking a swipe at comedian Munawar Faruqui, whose show he unsuccessfully tried to disrupt recently, he said it was a "comedy" video just like Faruqui's alleged videos on Hindu gods. He asked why the insult of Ram and Sita could pass off as comedy but not of other figures revered by other communities.

During the arrest, Singh told reporters that his video was pulled down by the social media platform on which it was uploaded and that he will upload "part 2" of the clip after his release. "They removed my video from YouTube. I don't know what the police are going to do. Once I am released second part (of the video) will certainly be uploaded. I am doing it for Dharma. I am ready to die for Dharma," he said.

The protesters in Hyderabad said Singh hurt the sentiments of the community and demanded his immediate arrest.

A huge crowd had gathered outside the Commissioner's office and several other places in the city. Protesters were taken into custody and later shifted to various police stations.

T Raja Singh, the MLA from Goshamahal in the city, had last week tried to disrupt a comedy show.

On Friday, he was taken into preventive custody by the police when he tried to reach the venue of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui's show along with around 50 supporters to get it cancelled. The show then passed off peacefully.

Singh's controversial comments come barely months after former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma triggered a massive diplomatic backlash with her remarks on the Prophet. Nupur Sharma was suspended by the BJP and as many as 10 cases were filed against her across the country.

Government Not Taking Decisions In Time: Nitin Gadkari

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, whose chronic plain-speaking appears to have cost him his spot in the BJP's top decision-making body, has fired a new zinger. The government is "not taking decisions in time" and that's a problem, Gadkari said at an event on Sunday.

"You can make miracles...and the potential is there...My suggestion is the future of Indian infrastructure is very bright. We need to accept good technology, good innovation, good research and successful practices in the world and in the country. We should have alternative materials by which we can reduce costs without compromising on the quality. And time is the most important thing in the construction. Time is the biggest capital. The biggest problem is the government is not taking decisions on time," said the Union Minister.

Time is "more important than technology or resources", he said, addressing NATCON 2022, organized by the Association of Consulting Civil Engineers, Mumbai.

There is a mismatch between Gadkari's words and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments just days ago, highlighting his government's success in crossing big milestones in what he calls the "Amrit Kaal" - or golden era.

BJP leaders, however, say Gadkari's words were not for any specific government but governments in general.

Last week, Gadkari was dropped from the powerful BJP parliamentary board in a shake-up focused on upcoming polls, including the 2024 national election.

Gadkari is a former BJP president, so his exit was even more surprising as former chiefs have always been on the panel. Moreover, Gadkari is close to the party's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and frequently got away with digs at his own in the past.

At a recent event in Nagpur, Gadkari was quoted as saying that today's politics was more about powerplay and that at times he thought of quitting politics.

Hours after his comments on decisions taking time, Gadkari said in Nagpur that the BJP's rise to power could be credited to Vajpayee, LK Advani and Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Gadkari referred to Vajpayee's speech at the BJP's 1980 conclave in Mumbai. "Atal ji had said - andhera chhatega, sooraj niklega, kamal khilega (The darkness will disappear, the Sun will come out and the lotus (BJP's poll symbol) will bloom) one day," Gadkari said.

"I was there. Everybody who heard that speech believed that such a day will come. Atal ji, Advani ji, Deendayal Upadhyaya and many workers did such work that today we are in power under PM Modi's leadership in the country and in many states."

29% Of NDTV Acquired Without Discussion, Consent Or Notice

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: Without any discussion with New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) or its founder-promoters, Radhika and Prannoy Roy, a notice was served upon them by Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL) stating that it (VCPL) has acquired control of RRPR Holding Private Limited (RRPRH). This entity owns 29.18% of NDTV. It has been given two days to transfer all its equity shares to VCPL.

VCPL has exercised its rights based on a loan agreement it entered with NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy in 2009-10.

The NDTV founders and the Company would like to make it clear that this exercise of rights by VCPL was executed without any input from, conversation with, or consent of the NDTV founders, who, like NDTV, have been made aware of this exercise of rights only today. As recently as yesterday, NDTV had informed the stock exchanges that there was no change in the shareholding of its founders.

NDTV has never compromised on the heart of its operations - its journalism. We continue to proudly stand by that journalism.

Manish Sisodia Says 'Computer, Phone Seized' After 14-Hour CBI Raid

NEW DELHI, Aug 19: Manish Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, has underscored that the good works of the Aam Aadmi Party government will not stop come what may. Speaking to reporters after the 14-hour raid at his home, he denied any wrongdoing and said the BJP is misusing the Central agencies for political purposes.

"But the work of providing good education and health will continue, the Delhi government will not stop," he said.

The CBI carried out day-long searches at Sisodia's Delhi home and 31 other locations across seven states over allegations that the liquor policy of the Delhi government is steeped in corruption. Sisodia handles the excise department.

The policy, which was put in place in November, was scrapped in July after investigations started. Sisodia said his computer and phone have been seized.

Delhi's Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had recommended the CBI probe last month after a report from the Chief Secretary alleging irregularities in the new liquor policy. It has been said that liquor shop licenses were handed over to private players for benefits to political leaders.

In its First Information Report filed on Wednesday, the CBI claimed that a liquor trader has paid ₹ 1 crore to a company managed by an associate of Sisodia. He is Number One in a list of 15 people named in the FIR.

"We are extremely honest people," Sisodia told reporters at a press conference late this evening. "We have not done anything wrong and will continue to work honestly. We have built schools for millions of children by working honestly. We have built hospitals working honestly, where millions of people have got treatment".

AAP has claimed that the Centre's blowback came after the Delhi government's work in the education sector received high praise and a front page article was published in the largest US daily, New York Times.

"The CBI raids come on a day when the Delhi education model was praised and Manish Sisodia's picture printed on the front page of America's largest newspaper NYT (New York Times)" said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

When the BJP tried to disparage the article, calling it "paid news", the NYT issued a strong, swift response, saying, "The New York Times is always independent, free from political or advertiser influence.

"Our report about efforts to improve Delhi's education system is based on impartial, on-the-ground reporting, and education is an issue that The New York Times has covered over many years. Journalism from," said Nicole Tylor, a spokesperson for the newspaper.

'Give Me Back My Right To Live Without Fear And In Peace': Bilkis Bano

NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Bilkis Bano, the survivor of one of the most horrific rape cases during the 2002 Gujarat riots, has said the release of the 11 rapists has "shaken" her faith in justice. Her first statement since the release two days ago, hinted at a sense of deep hurt and betrayal. It has left her "numb" and "bereft of words", she said.

"How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma... My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts," said the woman, whose fight for justice went on for 18 long years.

The short statement also hinted at shock at the Gujarat government's move to release the convicts without any consultation with her. "No one enquired about my safety and well-being, before taking such a big and unjust decision," she said.

There was also a request for the Gujarat government. "Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace. Please ensure that my family and I are kept safe," the statement read.

Safety has been a big concern for the woman since the rapists were released, said her lawyer Shobha Gupta. Till the men were jailed, she had spent years in hiding, constantly shifting home. After the release, she has been too shell-shocked to consider the next steps, to take thought of safety or any legal step.

Bilkis Bano was 21 when she saw seven members of her family murdered. Among them was her daughter, who was just three years old. Seven other relatives, who she says were also killed, were declared "missing". The woman, five months' pregnant, was then gang-raped.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, had sentenced the 11 to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The rapists walked free as the nation celebrated 75 years of Independence on Monday and were greeted with sweets, hugs and garlands by groups linked to the ruling BJP.

Opposition parties have strongly hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the move, which came within hours of his praise for "Nari Shakti" in his Independence Day speech and said this is the "real face" of New India under the BJP.

The Gujarat government has defended its decision to release the 11 men, saying it considered the release plea as per a 1992 policy, as directed by the Supreme Court, because that was in effect at the time of the conviction in 2008.

A later policy (2014) of the state, and another recent one by the centre - both governments run by the BJP - say convicts in such heinous crimes should not be released. "But the 1992 policy, which applied here, did not have such an exception," Gujarat Home Secretary Raj Kumar has said, citing a technicality.

Panch pran vs panch kaam: Kejriwal takes off gloves, pitches himself directly as Modi challenger

NEW DELHI, Aug 17: If the idea was to leave no room for any ambiguity about his overarching political ambition for the 2024 general elections, the Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, pulled off that feat through his speech at the AAP event in the national capital on Wednesday.

Launching the “Make India Number 1” campaign, Kejriwal appealed to the country’s 130 crore people to join the “national mission” on five projects – education, health, employment, women rights and sustainable farming.

“I will travel across the country to make people join the mission. It will be an alliance of 130 crore people,” Kejriwal said while addressing a large number of AAP workers waving tricolours in Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium.

“Ye kisi party ka mission nahi hai, humara kisi party se lena dena nahi hai (this is not a party campaign, it has nothing to do with any party),” the AAP supremo claimed, seeking to cast an apolitical halo around an ambitious political move.

And then came Kejriwal’s “pran (resolution)” of “not resting in peace until India becomes the number 1 country” in what appeared to be carefully chosen terminologies with striking parallels to a speech made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the Independence Day.

But the differences between the two speeches are equally stark. While PM Modi’s articulation of “panch prans” stand on the lofty ideals of culture and civilisation, Kejriwal’s “panch sabse zaroori kaam” are rooted in the realities of everyday life on the ground.

Every child should receive free quality education; every citizen is entitled to free quality healthcare; no young person should be unemployed; women should get equal rights, security and respect; farmers should get the right price for their produce – these are the five areas Kejriwal listed as part of his proposed mission.

“These are areas where Kejriwal has demonstrated administrative competence. People have endorsed this brand of politics of work. Modi’s political project goes well with his larger-than-life personality perfected over the years. Kejriwal has to frame his vision differently,” an AAP leader said.

Kejriwal’s emphasis on “free” education and healthcare was his way of countering PM Modi’s disapproval of “free ka revdi” or freebies.

On his “work-centric” agenda, however, the fraught issues of religion and caste registered a token presence, defined in his words like “pyaar and mohabbat”.

“Hindus fight Muslims, Muslims fights Christians, we cannot afford to fight. We have to conduct and behave like a family. Nafrat khatam (let’s end hate)…every religion, every community will have to unite,” Kejriwal said in what was termed as the AAP’s “pragmatic vision statement”.

“By now it is clear that the AAP will not play to the strengths of the BJP. The idea is to pull them back to seemingly mundane issues of practical value in a person’s life,” said an AAP functionary.

While the political returns of that strategy will become clearer in the days to come, even as the party gears up to contest the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls due by the end of this year, it also means that the AAP will remain non-committal or even silent on hot-button issues like civil liberties and majoritarianism. The party’s silence on the release of the Bilkis Bano gangrape case convicts by the Gujarat government is a case in point – which was in sharp contrast to the strong condemnation of the BJP government’s move by many Opposition parties, from the Congress to the TRS.

“A party cannot effectively counter the RSS-BJP agenda unless it has power. It is futile to make grand statements without making any difference electorally. And we stand to get nothing out of allying with Congress or other parties,” said AAP sources, seeking to justify the party’s approach.

In his speech, Kejriwal also made it clear that the possibility of the AAP joining any Opposition alliance in the run-up to the 2024 elections was slim. “The country cannot be left to them (old parties). Some of them work to advance the interests of their families, some for their friends. Over the last 75 years, they have only done that,” he said while taking a swipe at the parties like the BJP and the Congress.

BJP Top Body: BS Yediyurappa In, Nitin Gadkari Out, No Yogi Adityanath

NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan were dropped from the BJP's top decision-making body today in a shake-up in which BS Yediyurappa and Devendra Fadnavis landed coveted spots.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who led the BJP to an unprecedented second term in the state, is a glaring exclusion after buzz that he would be rewarded with a place among the party's decision-makers.

The BJP's rejigged parliamentary board, with six new faces including the first Sikh representative, signals a generational and political shift in the highest tiers of the BJP in the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era.

The omission of former BJP chief and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari is the biggest shocker in this revamp. Till now, the party had always kept its former presidents in the decision-making process. Mr Gadkari, considered close to the party's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), frequently got away with potshots aimed at his own government.

At a recent event in Nagpur, Mr Gadkari was quoted as saying that present-day politics was more about powerplay, and that at times he thought of quitting politics.

The other big Maharashtra BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis, has made it to the election committee. For Mr Fadnavis, it is a morale-booster after he was forced to accept a downgrade to Deputy Chief Minister when the BJP came to power in Maharashtra along with Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister for 20 years, has also been dropped from the parliamentary board. With him gone, there is no chief minister on the board.

Yediyurappa's inclusion reflects the party's efforts to win over the powerful Lingayat leader after he was forced to resign as Chief Minister last year. At 77, he is way past the party's unwritten age bar of 75. The BJP, however, needs Mr Yediyurappa's cooperation in the Karnataka election next year; the Lingayats account for 18 per cent of the votes in Karnataka.

Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who agreed to make way for Himanta Biswa Sarma after the BJP was re-elected in the state earlier this year, is on the parliamentary board as well.

The only constants in this shuffle are Modi, Amit Shah, JP Nadda and the party's BL Santhosh. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also a former BJP chief, has made a reentry into the parliamentary board.

Members of the parliamentary board automatically become part of the election committee.

The only Muslim face in the election committee, Shahnawaz Hussain, has been dropped. With this, the BJP does not have any Muslim as Minister, MP or in any important party post - not even token representation. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had earlier quit as Union Minister after the end of his Rajya Sabha term.

2 Brothers, Kashmiri Pandits, Shot By Terrorists In Orchard, 1 Dies

SRINAGAR, Aug 16: A Kashmiri Pandit was shot dead by terrorists at an apple orchard in Shopian district today. His brother was injured in the firing, police said.

This comes about three months after the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit at a government office in Budgam sparked widespread protests by the community. Since then, over 5000 Kashmiri Pandit employees are not attending their duties, fearing targeted attacks. They are demanding relocation to Jammu till the time situation in the Valley improves.

"Terrorists fired upon civilians in an apple orchard in Chotipora area of #Shopian. One person died and one injured. Both belong to minority community. Injured person has been shifted to hospital. Area cordoned off. Further details shall follow," Kashmir police tweeted from its official handle.

The victim of the terrorist attack has been identified as Sunil Kumar. His brother Pintu Kumar was injured in the incident.

Kashmir has been witnessing a series of targeted killings since October last year. Many of the victims were migrant workers or Kashmiri Pandits.

In October, seven civilians were killed in five days -- among them a Kashmiri Pandit, a Sikh and two migrant Hindus.

Shortly after, many Kashmiri Pandit families fled their homes in the Valley.

In May, terrorists barged into the tehsildar's office in Budgam and shot dead 36-year-old Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit who received a government job under a package for the community that was forced to flee the Valley during the wave of militancy in the 1990s.

The killing triggered a wave of protests by the minority community. Kashmiri Pandits held demonstrations during which they raised slogans under the central government and questioned if they brought them back to the Valley to get killed.

Nitish Kumar sworn in Bihar chief minister, Tejashwi his deputy

PATNA, Aug 10: JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Wednesday took oath as Bihar chief minister for the eight time in a ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Patna. RJD's Tejashwi Yadav was administered the oath of office as deputy chief minister.

The no-frills ceremony comes a day after Nitish snapped ties with the BJP-led NDA and joined hands with the RJD to form a Mahagathbandhan' government.

Moments earlier, Nitish spoke to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad before taking oath. "Laluji welcomed Nitish's decision and conveyed his wishes to him," the RJD chief's daughter and MP Misa Bharti said. Lalu is recovering from an illness and stays with his daughter in Delhi.

Stripped of power in Bihar, the BJP on Wednesday staged a massive demonstration condemning the betrayal of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose similar volte- face five years ago had helped it join the government through the proverbial back door.

The `Maha Dharna' (massive demonstration) staged in front of the party office at Birchand Patel Marg was attended by all BJP MPs and MLAs from Bihar who vowed to expose the 71 years old JD(U) leader through agitations scheduled at district and block levels later this week.

Nitish Kumar, who was once the bete noire of Yadav, had allied with him before the 2015 assembly polls in Bihar and the alliance swept the elections. Now again seven years later, he has joined hands with the RJD after breaking his alliance with the BJP.

Nitish had on Tuesday quit the BJP, stripping the party of power, before resigning and staking a claim to form a new government, armed with the support of the Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance).

The 71-year-old JD(U) leader first took oath as chief minister in 2000, when he headed an NDA government that lasted only a week. He was back in 2005, this time with his coalition having won an absolute majority in the assembly polls.

The NDA won a landslide victory under his leadership in the assembly polls five years later. Kumar stepped down in 2014, owning moral responsibility for the drubbing of JD(U) in the Lok Sabha polls, but returned less than a year later when he was sworn in for the fourth time.

In 2015, Nitish was back as CM, with the Grand Alliance then comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress winning a comfortable majority. He resigned in July 2017, citing irreconcilable differences with the RJD, and got sworn in again less than 24 hours later, when he formed a new government with the BJP.

Nitish was sworn in for the seventh time in November 2020, when the NDA retained power, though his own party saw a major fall in its tally for which it blamed a conspiracy by the BJP.

Nitish Kumar's Dumps BJP; Joins Hands With Tejashwi; Oath On Wednesday

PATNA, Aug 9: Nitish Kumar will take oath as Chief Minister of Bihar tomorrow at 2 pm, after he ditched the BJP on Tuesday and announced a new "Grand Alliance" which includes Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition parties.

"Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) of seven parties, one Independent will work closely," Nitish Kumar said after his second meeting with the Governor today. In the first one, he resigned as Chief Minister of the government which consisted of his party, the Janata Dal United or JDU, and the BJP; less than an hour later, he returned to the Governor, accompanied by Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition leaders, to state that they should be invited to form the next government based on their combined strength.

"I have resigned, I have informed all my MLAs," said Nitish Kumar after his first session with the Governor. He said the decision to split from the BJP - for the second time in nine years - was based on the feedback he received this morning at an interaction with his party's legislators.

Even as his party was meeting, Tejashwi Yadav, age 32, held a parallel session with his MLAs, where it was agreed that they would support Nitish Kumar in a new government. Tejashwi Yadav will serve as Deputy Chief Minister and take oath along with Kumar. "The BJP betrays all its allies and intimidates others," he said at the news briefing with Nitish Kumar.

The BJP has accused Nitish Kumar of "betraying the mandate of the people" by switching partners mid-term. This is an established trait of Nitish Kumar's however, and one that has triggered vast criticism of his ideological flexibility and willingness to trade principles for power.

Till 2013, Nitish Kumar was in partnership with the BJP, though it was a fractious collaboration once it became clear that Narendra Modi would emerge as the BJP's main leader. He cut the chord with the BJP and in 2015 formed the government with Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Lalu Yadav, a Bihar veteran politician, is Tejashwi Yadav's father. In 2017, Nitish Kumar stomped out of the three-party alliance, claiming that the insatiable corruption of Tejashwi Yadav as a minister could not be tolerated by him.

After he reunited with the BJP, the parties have exchanged public criticism on issues large and small. In June, Nitish Kumar contradicted the Prime Minister by stating that while the centre had refused to conduct a caste census, in Bihar, the counting of castes would in fact take place. Tejashwi Yadav backed him fully on this move.

Nitish Kumar's anger with the BJP breached the danger mark over reports that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was foraging within the JDU for defectors. The Chief Minister felt that RCP Singh, a senior leader from his party, who had joined the union cabinet, was being used to turn the JDU against him. He therefore refused to extend RCP Singh's term in the Rajya Sabha, which meant that the latter had to resign from PM Modi's cabinet. On the weekend, Nitish Kumar's aides publicly accused RCP Singh of corruption; in protest, he quit the JDU.

Nitish Kumar felt that RCP Singh was part of a second conspiracy by the BJP to attenuate his standing, the first being the BJP's tacit support of another regional leader, Chirag Paswan, to serve as a vote-cutter for Nitish Kumar in the last general election. Chirag Paswan put up his party's candidates against the JDU; it was the BJP who gained. As Nitish Kumar thundered against Chirag Paswan, the BJP refused to criticise him.

The BJP's senior leaders from Bihar are flying to Patna to discuss the fallout. They include Sushil Kumar Modi and former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Nitish Kumar felt that Amit Shah was attempting a repeat of the Maharashtra model in Bihar and ended the BJP alliance to pre-empt that. Uddhav Thackeray was forced to quit as Chief Minister after Eknath Shinde, a senior leader from his party, the Shiv Sena, instigated a huge revolt in partnership with the BJP. Eknath Shinde was rewarded by the BJP with the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

'One Leader Alone Cannot Tackle Problems Of India': RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

NAGPUR, Aug 9: One leader can not face all the challenges before this country and a single organization or party can not bring about change, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Tuesday.

This thought was at the base of the Sangh's ideology, he said, adding that the country got independence only when the common people took to the street.

Mohan Bhagwat was speaking at a centenary programme of the Vidarbha Sahitya Sangh, a Marathi literary body, in Nagpur.

"One thing at the base of the Sangh's ideology is that a single leader is not supposed to tackle all the challenges before this country. He can not even do that. Howsoever big the leader may be," the RSS chief said.

"One organization, one party, one leader can not bring about change. They help bring it. Change takes place when the common man stands up for it," he added.

India's freedom struggle began way back in 1857, but it succeeded only when there was a massive awareness and "the common man took to the street," Bhagwat said.

The revolutionaries too contributed to the freedom struggle and Subhas Chandra Bose created a huge challenge before the British, but the main thing was that people acquired courage, he said.

"Not everyone went to jail, some people stayed away, but there was a widespread feeling that the country must become independent," the RSS chief said.

The RSS wants the Hindu society to become capable of fulfilling its responsibility, he said, adding that "leaders do not make society" but society creates leaders.

"All things take place through a change in society and the RSS is organizing society," Bhagwat said.

People should not give the "contract" to improve the country's condition to others but should take up the responsibility themselves, he said.

"Don't give this contract to even the Sangh. Do your job yourself....people will have to learn this," Bhagwat said.

Derek O’Brien to Naidu: ‘You would’ve tried hard to get PM to answer one question in your tenure…didn’t happen’

NEW DELHI, Aug 8: With M Venkaiah Naidu presiding over Rajya Sabha session for the last time on Monday, TMC MP Derek O’Brien narrated a tragedy from Naidu’s childhood and said one day, the outgoing Vice President would reveal in his autobiography why he, coming from an agricultural family, was not on the Chair the day the farm bills were passed in 2020. O’Brien in his speech also said one day, Naidu would reveal why he “couldn’t get PM Modi to answer even one question in five years”.

Speaking of the agricultural families in undivided Andhra Pradesh just after India’s independence, O’Brien said the number of bullocks owned by a family used to determine their financial status.

“One such family owned eight pairs of bullocks. So far so good. But one day, one of these animals… they went totally nutty and the bullock gorged a lady in the stomach. The lady was carrying a baby — a one-year-old boy. The lady was taken to the hospital and she passed away… And the child lost his mother at the age of one. This is your story, sir, of an early loss.”

This account from Naidu’s childhood made the V-P tear up.

The TMC MP continued: “And from that early loss, you have done whatever you have done which we can find not only in Wikipedia entries but in a glorious career you had.”

He went on saying that on September 20, 2020, the day on which the controversial farm bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Vice President, who hailed from an agricultural family, was not on the chair.

“So, this child who lost his mother in these tragic circumstances of this agricultural family. Cut to September 20, 2020. To me that was a very important day in my outlook about you, and may be you’ll answer that question someday in your autobiography… On September the 20th, 2020, the day this house passed the farm bills, you were not on the chair… you were not,” he said.

O’Brien said Naidu had always urged the Opposition and the government to talk to each other and resolve issues. He, however, added, “No one is perfect. You would have tried hard to get our honourable Prime Minister to perhaps answer one question in your full tenure. That didn’t happen.”

The TMC MP ended his speech for Naidu by appreciating the “great food you served us and the great host you are”.

Jagdeep Dhankhar Is New Vice President, Defeats Margaret Alva

NEW DELHI, Aug 6: Jagdeep Dhankhar, former Bengal Governor, was elected as the Vice President on Saturday. He bested Opposition's Margaret Alva to emerge winner.

The BJP-led NDA candidate won the election comfortably with 528 votes against Ms Alva's 182, the voting for which took place earlier today. The Vice President is also the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Dhankhar secured 74.36 per cent. He has the highest winning margin in the last six vice presidential elections held since 1997.

The returning officer of the vice presidential election said of the total 780 electors, 725 cast their ballots but 15 votes were found to be invalid. The turnout was 92.94 per cent, he said, adding that a candidate needed 356 votes to get elected.
The Trinamool Congress, which has a total of 36 MPs, including 23 in Lok Sabha, had abstained from the election. However, two of its MPs had cast their ballots. As many as 55 MPs did not vote in the vice presidential election held from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday.

Margaret Alva congratulated Dhankhar on the win. She also thanked leaders of the Opposition, and MPs from across parties who voted for her in this election. "This election is over. The battle for protecting our Constitution, strengthening our democracy & restoring the dignity of Parliament, will continue," she posted on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with BJP chief JP Nadda, went to congratulate Dhankhar on on his election as the Vice President.

Dhankhar had the support of several other non-NDA parties - Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal, Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Akali Dal and the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Aam Aadmi Party and the nine MPs of Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray faction supported Ms Alva.

Dhankhar will be the second vice president from Rajasthan after Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who held the office between 2002 and 2007.

Joyous scenes were also reported from Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu, the hometown of Dhankhar. Celebrations also took place at the state BJP headquarters in Jaipur where people danced to the beats of dhols and distributed sweets.

'Congress Under Siege': Party On Police Build-up Outside Party Office

NEW DELHI, Aug 3: Heightened police activity outside the Congress party's headquarters and chief Sonia Gandhi's residence following the sealing of the offices of a company linked to the party's leadership was an attempt to intimidate the opposition, Congress leaders said on Wednesday.

"@INCIndia is under siege. Delhi police has surrounded our HQs, and homes of INC President & ex-President.This is the worst form of vendetta politics. We will not submit! We will not be silenced! We will continue to raise our voice against injustices and failures of Modi Sarkar!" senior leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

At a news conference, he called the moves "politics of revenge and threats" and took a shot at Union Home Minister Amit Shah. "Who controls the Delhi Police that is trying to stop our protest day after?" he said.

Congress leaders said they would go ahead with a planned protest on Friday outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence over rising prices.

"It is an attempt to intimidate. If you continue intimidating people like this, there will be a revolt," Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge said.

The road to the Congress party's headquarters was briefly blocked on Wednesday, with the Congress alleging this has become a norm rather than an exception, while the police said barricades were put up and its personnel deputed to avoid any untoward situation.

This came soon after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) temporarily sealed the offices of Young Indian (YI) in the Congress-owned National Herald office in Delhi as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation.

According to police sources, the temporary seal in the Young Indian office was put in order to "preserve the evidence" which could not be collected as authorised representatives were not present during the raids on Tuesday.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh shared a video showing heavy police presence outside the Congress headquarters and the road sealed for traffic.

"Delhi Police blocking the road to AICC Headquarters has become a norm rather than an exception! Why have they just done so is mysterious...," Mr Ramesh tweeted.

A senior Delhi police officer told a news agency, "We have received inputs from our special branch that some protesters might gather at the Congress Office situated on Akbar Road. So, as a preventive measure, we have put barricades and deputed our personnel to avoid any untoward situation."

On Tuesday, the ED raided the head office of the National Herald newspaper here and 11 other locations as part of its probe.

The ED had earlier questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the case.

Accused Of ₹ 1 Crore Kickback, Rape Threat, Sanjay Raut Denies Claims

MUMBAI, Aug 1: The case in which Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut has been arrested is a ₹ 1,000 crore scam in Patra chawl redevelopment project, the Enforcement Directorate has said. The agency has claimed that Raut and his family have benefited from money to the tune of ₹ 1.06 crore -- up from the 83 lakh it earlier claimed. The ED has also accused him of threatening a key witness in the Alibaug land deal with rape and murder.

The woman, Swapna Patkar, has apparently filed a complaint on July 22. She claimed that the rape and murder threat was typed on a sheet of paper, which was inserted in a newspaper delivered to her on July 15, according to a news agency.

Raut was arrested late last night by the ED on charges of money laundering and was placed in the agency's custody for four days by a court in Mumbai. The Sena MP has claimed that he is being framed as part of a political vendetta.

"This is nothing more than political vendetta. Since Sunday morning, freedom was taken away," Raut told reporters. Pointing out that he is a heart patient, Raut said he is not even allowed to go out.

In court today, the agency claimed that Raut was summoned thrice for questioning but he appeared before it only once. During this time, he tried tampering with key witnesses, the agency claimed.

In its charges against Raut, the agency said the money collected for the redevelopment project from 2010-2014 "were siphoned off by Rakesh Wadhwan and Sarang Wadhwan and thereby the project remained incomplete".

"Out of the siphoned amount, Pravin Raut received around ₹ 112 crore in his account and proceeds of the crime amounting to about 1.06 crore was directly received by Sanjay Raut," the ED told the court. A property was purchased in Alibaug using the tainted money.

Pravin Raut, a former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, was the "front man" of Sanjay Raut, the agency claimed.

During 2010-2011, "Rs 2 lakh was transferred every month from accused Praveen Raut to Sanjay Raut," the agency claimed. Praveen Raut has even funded Sanjay Raut's trip abroad, the ED told the court.

In April, the ED attached assets worth over ₹ 11.15 crore belonging to Mr Raut's his wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates. The attached properties are land held by Pravin Raut at Palghar, Saphale (town in Palghar) and Padgha (in Thane district). The assets also include a flat in Mumbai's suburb Dadar held by Varsha Raut and eight plots at Kihim beach in Alibaug jointly held by Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar, a "close associate" of Sanjay Raut, the ED has said.

Sena chief and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has solidly backed Raut, calling him a "hardcore Shiv Sainik of Sena founder Bal Thackeray".

"I am proud of Sanjay Raut. What crime has he committed? He is a journalist, a Shiv Sainik, is fearless and speaks what he does not approve of," Thackeray said.

Leaders of the Congress have also spoken in Raut's support.

"The only crime Sanjay Raut has committed is that he has not been cowered down by the politics of intimidation of the BJP party. He is a man of conviction and courage. We are with Sanjay Raut," tweeted Congress's Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.



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