Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today sought to dismiss charges that he and his family were involved in illegal land acquisitions in Lavasa, India's first planned hill city project in Maharashtra.
The NCP chief claimed that some 300 acres of land were given to the project in his home district of Pune as part of the hill station policy of Maharashtra.
"The state government has the authority to give the land as per the hill station policy. Eighty per cent of the 300 acres land are submerged in water and there has been no construction.
"It has been done as per the policy and there are no two opinions about it," he told reporters close on the heels of a former IPS officer Y P Singh alleging in Mumbai that Pawar and his family are involved in illegal land acquisitions in Lavasa.
Ex-IPS officer YP Singh also did not spare Anna Hazare. Singh had some acerbic words for the Gandhian, suggesting that he was soft on Pawar because both hailed from Maharashtra.
Singh said that it was Kejriwal's 'damp squib' and 'very frivolous allegation' against BJP chief Nitin Gadkari yesterday that forced him to come out in public and reveal the full story.
Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar has not surprisingly denied that there was any violation of the law in the Lavasa scam. He kept his cards close to his chest by adding that the matter was in court and so he couldn't say much.
Ex-cop YP Singh has not just trained his guns on the Pawar family but also questioned Arvind Kejriwal's credibility. He suggested that there was something fishy about Kejriwal suppressing information that exposed Sharad Pawar.
Singh noted that 348 acres of land were given away for practically nothing without an auction by Ajit Pawar. The main beneficiary was Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule and through her Lavasa.
Ex-IPS officer Y.P Singh has named NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the Lavasa scam. He has also accused Arvind Kejriwal of not revealing all the facts against Pawar. He said that the Lavasa land was given at throwaway prices.
He charged Ajit Pawar of giving the land at cheap rates, without holding an auction to Lake City Corporation. Supriya Sule, the daughter of the NCP chief, and her husband had a stake in the company according to him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger killed off in a death rumour
In another case of a celebrity death rumour spreading like wildfire, Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger was killed off in a snowboarding accident. It was claimed that the star was killed while vacationing in Switzerland, losing control of his snowboard and driving straight into a tree.
The hoax fooled many people who logged into Twitter to post inane RIP messages. The actor, who is alive and well, will be back on the big screen in Terminator 5.
AAI employee commits suicide at Chennai airport
A 34-year-old employee of the Airports Authority of India allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the Chennai airport building here today, airport sources said.
Balaji, employed in the house-keeping section, jumped from second floor of the building, the sources said.
He suffered severe head injuries and was declared dead by the government hospital authorities, the sources said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday met President Pranab Mukherjee amid speculation of a possible cabinet reshuffle.
It was not immediately clear as to what transpired during the half-an-hour meeting.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had recently met the President.
Sources said Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also met Mr Mukherjee and briefed him about security-related issues in the country.
Mr Shinde had recently undertaken a three-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir during which he had met top state government and security functionaries
Former Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar has deposed before the Joint Parliamentary panel on the 2G scam. He has said that he wrote to the PM on the financial implications of the spectrum allocation. He told the PM that the revenue and the entry fee could be increased.
Deccan Chargers' termination remains in effect
The Bombay High Court has refused to stay the Deccan Chargers' termination by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This is an interim order. The termination of the franchise will remain in effect till November 29th when the court will look into the legality and validity of the termination.
BJP will seal borders, if returned to power: Gadkari
Accusing the Congress of playing "vote bank politics", BJP president Nitin Gadkari today said his party would take steps to seal the country's international borders to prevent illegal immigration, if elected to power.
"If BJP comes to power, our top priority would be to seal the borders of the country... If Israel, surrounded by hostile countries, can seal its borders, why can't we," Gadkari said.
Flagging off a rally here to mark the 50th anniversary of India-China war this morning, the BJP leader called upon India's leaders to learn from the experience of Israel in keeping hostile elements at bay.
Ashok Khemka has said that he is satisfied with the Haryana Chief Secretary's reply on his transfer. He has also challenged the Haryana government to move the court if it felt his order to probe the Vadra-DLF deal was wrong.
BJP members boycott JPC meet on 2G scam
BJP members stay away from the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) meeting on 2G scam.
Their main demand is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram to be called in as witnesses.
JPC members, including Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad, want the committee head, P Chacko of the Congress, to decide whether the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister will be added to the list of witnesses.
However, Chacko has virtually rejected demands for calling the Prime Minister before the Committee.
BJP members of the JPC, who had threatened to quit earlier, say the Prime Minister and Chidambaram must explain why they were unable to intervene when former Telecom Minister.
Google doodle celebrates 161st anniversary of Moby Dick
On the 161st anniversary of the famous classic Moby Dick, Google paid tribute to the book with a doodle of a huge white sperm whale. The water from the whale's spout replaces the letter 'L' in the Google logo.
The doodle also depicts Captain Ahab, a key character from the book, in a whaling boat holding a harpoon in his hands ready to attack the whale.
The novel was written by Herman Melville, an American novelist. It was published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851
Roberto Mancini wants James Bond role
Roberto Mancini is said to be obsessed with James Bond and dreams of starring as the iconic spy.
Just like his hero, the Manchester City boss is immaculately turned out and no doubt despairs at the bad tailoring frequently on show in the dressing room.
"Mancini has already defined his style. He is choosing the right clothes, custom-made or from the Giorgio Armani collection," the Sun quoted Italian sports writer Luca Caioli as saying.
"On his wrist are classy watches. His shoes are strictly made in England. He likes Ferraris and Bentleys, fast as James Bond.
"After being beaten by Arsenal last season Roberto said in a press conference, 'It's not mathematically over. Never say never in football.' It sounds like a reference to the Bond film starring Sean Connery," the writer said.
Roberto has admitted he has dreamed of acting in a 007 flick for years.
"I love Zero-Zero-Seven. My favourite actor is Sean Connery. I have seen all the Bond films," he said.
Moderate tremor in Madhya Pradesh
A moderate intensity earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter Scale was felt in eastern Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol early on Thursday.
According to Indian Meteorological Department, the tremor was felt at 8 am in the morning and it is of moderate intensity.
The epicentre of the quake is in the Shahdol district.
No loss of property or life was reported.
Naxals blow anti-landmine vehicle, 2 CRPF men killed
Two CRPF troopers were killed and eight others injured, three of them seriously, when Naxalites triggered an IED blast blowing an anti-landmine vehicle in Bihar's Gaya district today.
The incident occurred at 6:20 AM near Chakarbanda forests in Barha village of the district when the CRPF vehicle was going for an operational duty.
While two personnel inside the vehicle were killed on the spot, eight others were injured, officials said.
Three troopers were seriously injured in the blast. An IAF helicopter from Ranchi has been rushed to evacuate the causalities.
The troopers belong to 159 battalion of the force deployed in the state for anti-Naxal operation tasks.
It is suspected that Maoists used a huge quantity of explosives to detonate the Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Bombay HC's verdict on BCCI appeal in DC case today
The Bombay High Court will pronounce its verdict today on BCCI's appeal against the status quo ordered by the arbitrator in its dispute with debt-laden Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited. The stay on the appeal had led to the Cricket Board going ahead with the termination of IPL franchise Deccan Chargers.
US prosecutors want Rajat Gupta jailed for ten years
US prosecutors want Rajat Gupta, a former Indian-American director of Goldman Sachs Group, jailed for up to 10 years, but his lawyers suggest he could repay for his "shocking" crimes with community work in rural Rwanda.
Prosecutors have urged a sentence of 97 to 121 months for Gupta, 63, who is scheduled to be sentenced Oct 24 for his June conviction for insider trading on three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy.
"Gupta held positions of extraordinary privilege and prestige," said Assistant US Attorney Richard Tarlowe in a court filing Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"He understood as well as anyone the special responsibility that came with being in such an extraordinary position of trust .....Yet, time and time again, over the span of nearly two years, Gupta flouted the law and abused his position of trust."
Bangladeshi held in plot to bomb US Federal Reserve
A Bangladeshi man was arrested here Wednesday in a sting operation by US authorities for allegedly plotting to bomb the Federal Reserve bank.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was arrested while he was trying to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb in front of the Fed building on Liberty Street.
Nafis, 21, arrived in the US in January and was planning to set up an Al Qaeda cell and bomb the Federal Reserve in Lower Manhattan, the USA Today reported.
Nafis proposed several targets, including a high-ranking US official and the New York Stock Exchange, before settling on the Fed, the newspaper said citing court documents.
IAC B-team of BJP faction: Congress
Soon after Arvind Kejriwal led India Against Corruption (IAC) "exposed" the benefits of land and water derived by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari from the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, Congress, which is a coalition partner of NCP, Wednesday said the expose was nothing by a move by IAC as the B-team of a faction of BJP which is opposed to Gadkari.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the allegations were but reflection of internal warfare of BJP.
He said it is clear to which faction of BJP, the team of Kejriwal is affiliated with.
He said the "gentleman [Kejriwal] has validated our charge" that they are a B team of BJP.
Gun-toting Congress MP denied bail
A court refused bail to a Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Porbandar in Gujarat who was caught on camera threatening employees of a toll plaza in Vadodara city with a gun.
Refusing to apologise once again, Vithal Radadiya, repeated the same explanation that he had acted in self-defence.
Rejecting his plea for anticipatory bail, the court upheld the police contention that since the Congress MP had 16 criminal cases pending against him, he should not be given the bail.
Radadiya on Friday said that he pointed the gun to the employees in self-defence even though no other person is seen anywhere near him on camera for most part.
Yesterday saw Arvind Kejriwal drop another bombshell with the victim this time being Nitin Gadkari. The BJP chief did his best to laugh it off, claiming to be amused at being called a businessman, and predictably denying the charges.
But it's clear that Kejriwal has managed to get under the skin of the political class. The normally suave Salman Khurshid even obliquely threatened Kejriwal with bodily harm. Watch this space for more on the unfolding saga.
Meanwhile, the political bonhomie between India and Australia continued with the Indian and Aussie PMs promising to begin negotiations that would culminate in a civil nuclear pact. This would involve the sale of Australian uranium to India. The two countries may have a testy relationship on the cricket field but they clearly seem to be more accommodating on the political pitch.
Speaking of cricket, the Champions League T20 has been an utter disaster for Indian teams. No IPL team has managed to beat a non-IPL team - a trend which continued last night when the Kolkata Knight Riders were knocked out of the competition. Today will see the Mumbai Indians in action. Let us see if they can reverse the jinx.
Keep one or preferably both eyes on our live updates as we bring you the latest on all this and more!