17 January 2014

1400 HRS
17 January, 2014
  • Sonia Gandhi accuses main opposition of dividing society and spreading violence in the country; Says Congress Working Committee's decision on Rahul Gandhi is final; Rahul to lead party's campaign for coming Lok Sabha polls.
  • A three-day meeting of BJP National Executive and Council begins in New Delhi.
  • Veteran actor Suchitra Sen passes away in Kolkata.
  • Dense fog affects air and train services in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Sensex drops over 140 points in afternoon trade; Rupee strengthens by 17 paise against the dollar.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has accused the main opposition of dividing society and spreading violence in the country. Addressing the All India Congress Committee, AICC, meeting in New Delhi this morning, Mrs Gandhi said, the party would fight for the upkeep of its secular tradition. Mrs Gandhi added that secularism is not a political compulsion but a matter of faith for the Congress. The Congress President said, the party is ready and prepared to take on the battle ahead.
"These elections will see a sharpening concept between conflicting ideologies, between competing interpretation of the past and between clashing visions of the future."
Amid chorus for declaring Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial candidate, Mrs Gandhi categorically said, the Congress Working Committee, CWC, decision on Rahul Gandhi is final. CWC had yesterday decided not to name Mr Gandhi as party's Prime Ministerial candidate, saying that announcing Prime Ministerial candidate before polls is not a party tradition. It had decided that Rahul Gandhi will lead the party's poll campaign for Lok Sabha elections. Mrs. Gandhi also appealed to all parties to rise above political considerations to help pass anti-graft Bills pending in Parliament.

"Crucial bills which are powerful instrument in our fight against corruption are pending in parliament we will do our utmost to get them through when parliament reconvenes next month and I appeal to all parties to rise about political consideration and pass these bills."
Finance Minister P Chidambaram who also addressed the gathering, said the UPA is pursuing the idea of inclusive growth which leads to development of every citizen, particularly deprived and poor.
"Our idea of India is, an any government, the state and every organ of government must lien in favour of the poor the weak and deprived. They require government , they require governance they require the hand of the state."
In his address, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh asked partymen not to lose heart and learn lessons from the debacle in recently held Assembly polls. Dr Singh said, if the party prepares itself well and presents UPA government's achievements in proper perspective before people, the party would be able to win the upcoming elections. He also asked the people to compare facts related to development claimed by the opposition ruled states with that of Congress ruled states before arriving at any conclusion. Giving details of the Congress-led UPA rule, the Prime Minister said, the country witnessed a record GDP growth of 8.6 per cent in the first seven years. He said, even during the last two years, the growth rate has been above five per cent despite global economic slowdown.
 "In 2011 there was second phase of economic slow down in the World, due to which our economic growth slowed down. Economic growth during last 2 years remained 6.3 percent and 5 percent and this year also it is expected to remain 5 percent."
The party is now discussing a resolution which will be passed by the AICC at the end of the session. The meeting is being held to finalise the party's strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls.
BJP has claimed that it would emerge as the single largest party in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi this afternoon, party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, only BJP can provide a corruption free government to the country. Quoting BJP President Rajnath Singh's deliberation in the ongoing National Executive meeting of the party, he said that common people lost their faith in the Congress-led UPA government for their bad governance, indecision and indulgence in corruption. Mr Javadekar described Congress President Sonia Gandhi inaugural address to the AICC meet, as an example of hypocrisy. Our Correspondent reports, the National Executive meeting of the BJP began this morning in Delhi. The three-day meeting is convened to sharpen its strategy for the Lok Sabha Polls.
President Pranab Mukherjee has sought more investment by South Korea in India's infrastructure sector. Speaking at a banquet hosted in honour of the visiting South Korean President at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi yesterday, Mr Mukherjee said, India looks forward to working with South Korea to enhance trade and investment between the two countries. He said, New Delhi and Seoul are determined to work for peace, stability and growth in Asia. The President said, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye visiting India in her first year in office, signals her commitment to take the mutual relationship to a new high.
Legendary actress Suchitra Sen is no more. She breathed her last at a private nursing home in Kolkata this morning after suffering a massive heart attack last night. The 82 year old actress was admitted there on December 23 following a respiratory tract infection. We bring you an obituary on the Bengali screen goddess who also starred in memorable Hindi films like 'Devdas', 'Musafir' 'Bambai Ka Babu' and 'Aandhi'.

"Suchitra Sen, also known as the Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema, has 60 films to her credit. She made her entry in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but the film never got released. Her second movie, opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor, became a super hit. Her pair with Uttam Kumar became so successful that the two went on to become the icons for Bengali classics for more than two decades. She received the Best Actress Award in 1955 for the film Devdas, which was also her first Hindi movie. Suchitra Sen also received critical acclaim for her role in Hindi film Aandhi opposite Sanjeev Kumar. (SONG- AANDHI) Padmashree recipient, Suchitra Sen, was the first Bengali actress to receive the Best Actress award at an International Film Festival. She received the honor for her Bengali film Saat Paake Bandha in the 1963 Moscow film festival. She retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years. In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award to stay out of public eye, and devoted her retirement years by working for the Ramakrishna Mission. Her death marks a great loss for Indian cinema."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condoled the demise of noted actress Suchitra Sen. In a message, he hailed Sen as a graceful actor who carved a special niche in the hearts of millions of Indians through her cinematic presence. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has condoled the death of the legendary actress. The cremation will take place at Kaoratala crematorium in Kolkata later today.
In Jammu and Kashmir, dense fog has affected air and train services while fresh snowfall has started in upper reaches of mountainous belts. Six flights were cancelled while several others were delayed due to poor visibility at Jammu yesterday. Several trains were late by hours due to poor visibility and dense fog in the area. Road transport was also affected badly by dense fog. However, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is still open for vehicular movement. As per one-way traffic schedule, vehicles are allowed to ply from Jammu to Srinagar.
Delhi witnessed fog in the morning today, affecting rail and air services. About two dozen long route Delhi-bound trains were reported running late. At Delhi's IGI airport, five flights were diverted, eight cancelled due to poor visibility. Besides, over 100 flights arriving and departing were delayed by over 15 minutes.
The Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, has demanded suspension of police officers who refused to act against alleged criminals at the instance of Ministers Somnath Bharati and Rakhi Birla on two different occasions. In this connection, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Lt. governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi. The Chief Minister called the Delhi Police a highly compromised force for not acting on the complaints of two of his Ministers. Briefing reporters in New Delhi, AAP leader and Minister Manish Sisodia said that the party will meet the Home Minister this evening to demand suspension of these cops.
At the stock markets, selling pressure intensified in afternoon trade, and the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange had lost 147 points, or 0.7 percent, to stand at 21,118 a short while ago. Earlier in the morning, the Sensex had fallen 38 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 21,228, on continued selling by funds and retail investors, amid weak regional Bourses. Stock markets in China, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan had lost between 0.1 percent and 0.7 percent, today. Over on Wall Street, the US Dow Jones Industrial Average had ended 0.4 per cent lower in yesterday's trade, after some disappointing corporate results.
The rupee firmed up by 17 paise to 61 rupees, 36 paise against the dollar in late morning deals today due to selling of the US currency by banks and exporters on the back of its weakness overseas. The rupee resumed slightly higher at 61.50 per dollar as against the last closing level of 61.53 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange Market.
The 7th Jaipur Literature Festival has started in Jaipur from today. 240 writers of 20 different languages from various countries are participating in this 5 days literary event. Our correspondent reports that Rajasthan Governor Margret Alva inaugurated the festival.
 "Two Nobel laureates, Amartya Sen and Harold Varmus, are present in the festival.In his inaugural keynote address Amartya Sen said that emphasis of any development scheme should be on poor and commonman .In the 5 days literary event various issues related to society, language, history, cinema, music, contemporary writing and art will be discussed in different sessions. Writers of 14 Indian languages will also interact with readers. Jonathan Franzen, Javed Akhtar, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gloria Steinem, Shashi Tharoor, Ashok Vajpeyi, SR Faruqi, Ved Mehta, Reza Aslan, Samantha Shannon, Ganesh Devy, MT Vasudevan Nair Mahesh Dattani and Narendra Kohli are the prominent thinkers and writers participating in festival. Anurag Vajpeyi AIR News Jaipur."
The Syrian National Opposition coalition meets in Istanbul today to take a call on whether to attend the upcoming Geneva-II peace conference on Syria. The conference is scheduled to take place on the 22nd of this month in Swiss city of Montreaux and then in Geneva on the 24th. It is aimed at finding a political solution to nearly three year long conflict in Syria that has claimed more than 130,000 lives and displaced millions of people.
A foreign soldier belonging to the NATO-led International Force, died in Afghanistan early this morning. A brief statement issued by the International Force Headquarters in Kabul today, without mentioning the nationality and the exact location of the casualty, said its service member died as a result of a non-battle related injury in southern Afghanistan today. The International Force according to its policy, does not provide the details of its casualties before the completion of identification procedure.
In China, two new cases of human H7N9 were reported yesterday in Guangdong Province, and another avian flu patient died on Wednesday. According to provincial health authorities, the new cases are a 59-year-old man in the provincial capital of Guangzhou and a 76-year-old woman in Foshan city.

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