After maintaining for days that law should takes its course in the Suryanelli rape case, BJP today took a firm stand that Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P J Kurien, who is facing allegations in the matter, should step down on "moral grounds".
The main opposition had been maintaining that law should take its own course in the case and that it was a matter between the victim and the Congress MP.
However, after a meeting with some BJP leaders of Kerala, who were apparently called here to apprise the central leaders of the case details, the party took a harsher stand.
"New revelations everyday in the Suryanelli rape case has made P J Kurien's position as Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha untenable. BJP, after consulting its state unit, demands that on moral grounds he should quit office till he is absolved of the charges," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
The BJP unit in Kerala has been agitating on the matter seeking Kurien's resignation and a probe into the allegations against him.
Javadekar said Kurien cannot continue till he "gets a clean chit" in the matter. "We demand that Kurien should quit till proved innocent," he said.
Left parties have already demanded that Kurien step down. The pressure on Kurien is likely to mount in the run-up to the budget session of Parliament beginning February 21.
"The state unit has been regularly updating the Central leadership about the developments on this issue. We have been consistently demanding Kurien's resignation," BJP Kerala unit Chief V Muraleedharan told PTI.
Mulayam condemns 'politics' over stampede
The Samajwadi Party today came out in defence of the Uttar Pradesh government under fire after the Allahabad stampede, saying the responsibility of crowd management at stations lies with the Railways and it did not make adequate arrangements ahead of the Maha Kumbh.
"Making arrangements at railway station is responsibility of the Railways. It should have made prior perparations to deal with the rush of devotees," Shivpal said in Etah.
In Lucknow, both Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav condemned the "politics being played" over the incident.
"The incident is unfortunate. I condole the deaths due to stampede in Allahabad. Politics should not be played on the issue," Mulayam said.
He said the state government has provided best possible facilities for the Maha Kumbh and will continue to do so.
Mulayam also asked the state government to provide maximum possible compensation to the victims.
In the aftermath of the tragic incident, a blame-game between the Centre and the state government had erupted over what had triggered the stampede at Allahabad junction.
While the state government had blamed the Railway Ministry at the Centre, Rail Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had held "poor crowd management" by the local administration responsible for the incident.
Hate speech: Owaisi's voice recorded
Forensic experts on Tuesday recorded the voice of MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in another case of hate speech.
The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator was presented before a court in Nizamabad town, where the experts recorded his voice as he has reportedly claimed during the interrogation that the voice in the video footage of his speech was not his.
The court also extended his judicial custody till Feb 26. The hearing on his bail petition was also adjourned to Feb 14.Read more
One cop killed, one injured in Congress-TMC student union clash on campus during University polls in Kolkata.
TV reports said that crude bombs were hurled during the clash.
TMC states goons, not party workers were involved in clash.
Azam Khan blames news channels for creating panic that led to stampede
Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, who resigned as incharge-Kumbh mela, has blamed the news channels for creating panic in the aftermath of the stampede.
"The death of two persons after falling in drain was run as breaking news by channels saying that deaths took place due to stampede in Kumbh. Due to this news, people started moving to the railway station following which pressure increased there," Khan said.
As there was no proper arrangement of announcement system at the station, confusion prevailed there, he said. Khan further said that he was ready to resign as a minister, too, if laxity of any of the departments he is heading comes to the fore.
"I have no interest in continuing as minister if responsibility of departments I am looking comes to the fore", he added. Cabinet Minister Mohammad Azam Khan had yesterday resigned as the in-charge of Kumbh Mela in which 36 people were killed in stampede.
Family likely to be airlifed to Delhi for Guru's last rites
Reports said that the union government is likely to airlift the family of Mohammad Afzal Guru to Delhi to allow them to perform his last rites.
His body has been interred inside Tihar jail after he was hanged on Saturday morning.
Sources said that the possibility was being explored after the issue was discussed at a high level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last evening in Delhi.
Suryanelli case: Cops set up team to trace absconding convict
The Kerala Police has set up a special team to trace and arrest the absconding convict in the Suryanelli gangrape case, who appeared on a Malayalam TV channel alleging that Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien was involved in the case, as claimed by the victim.
The four-member team has left for Karnataka from where Dharmarajan purportedly gave the interview to the channel yesterday and made the startling claim.
Pope will remain most important religious thinkers of our time: Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she has 'very highest respect' for German-born Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down, a move that the Pope's brother said he was considering for months amid ailing health.
Merkel told reporters that she saw the Pope's decision as one that he made for his church and its members.
Merkel added that 'she thanked Benedict XVI for his work and wished him from the bottom of her heart all the best for the coming years.'
Merkel, who is a Protestant, praised Benedict for his efforts to promote dialogue with other Christian denominations and religions. She said that he "reached out his hand to Jews as well as Muslims."
She added that "Benedict XVI is and will remain one of the most important religious thinkers of our time."
Asteroid flyby could disrupt your phone signal
An asteroid due to whizz past the Earth this week could take out vital telecommunications satellites, scientists warn.
They are sure there is no chance of the 45.7 metre wide space rock hitting the planet. However, there is a remote possibility that it could collide with one of more than 100 telecommunication and weather satellites in fixed orbits above the Earth.
The asteroid, 2012 DA14, has been closely tracked since its discovery a year ago, 'The Telegraph' reported. It is predicted to reach its nearest point to the Earth on Friday.
Experts have calculated it will stay at least 27,681 km away - easily far enough to be safe, but a very close shave in astronomical terms.
Scientists have never observed such a narrow miss before.
Female agent who tracked Osama cried when she saw his dead body, reveals Navy SEAL who shot Qaeda leader
The female CIA agent, who had spent her life working on hunting down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden wept when she was shown his body, the Navy SEAL who shot him dead has revealed.
In an interview to Esquire Magazine's March edition, the Team Six member spoke out for the first time about the moment he shot down Laden, three times in the face.
According to Daily Mail, describing the moment he shot him he said, "In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. The second time as Laden went down."
HJS state convener Manoj Solanki told a press conference here that its cadre would distribute pamphlets in colleges, private tuition classes, railway stations, bus-stations and at crowded places "demonstrating the ill-effects of Valentine's Day".
"Since the Bharatiya youth is turning towards indulgence by blindly following westerners, it has been noticed that the sale of contraceptives peaks on this day in cities such as Mumbai and Pune. This leads to a rise in incidents of rapes and other atrocities," Solanki said.