Live: India big part of my plans, Obama tells PM

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 12:24 hrs

6. 00 pm

India big part of my plans, Obama tells PM

"India is a big part of my plans," US President Barack Obama said today as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated him in person on his re-election.

Singh, who came face-to-face with Obama on three occasions here for the first time after he was re-elected President in the November 6 polls in the US, told him: "Congratulations on your re-election."

5. 30 pm

Yashwant Sinha demands Nitin Gadkari's resignation

The campaign for the resignation of beleagured BJP President Nitin Gadkari today got fresh ammunition with senior leader Yashwant Sinha demanding that he step down immediately.

"Whether our party president is guilty or not is not the issue today. The issue is that all of us in public life should be beyond reproach," he said.

Sinha's demand brings alive once again the campaign initiated by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh for the party chief's resignation in the wake of reports of alleged dubious financing of Purti Sugar and Power Group.

4. 55 pm

No-confidence motion: Jayalalithaa keeps Mamata waiting

Adopting a wait and watch approach, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today said her party's stand on Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's proposed no-confidence motion against the UPA Government would be decided based on numbers.

"If the no-confidence motion comes, it has to be successful. So far nobody has approached us for support. If it comes up we can decide only after knowing how many (parties) and who are all supporting," the AIADMK supremo said.

Speaking to reporters after meeting party MPs on her party's strategy for the Winter session of Parliament, she said the AIADMK, which has nine MPs, would oppose FDI in retail if it came up for voting.

4. 10 pm

Mamata's no-trust vote: BJP not inclined to back motion

Realising that the numbers are stacked in favour of the government, BJP on Tuesday appeared not inclined towards supporting the no-confidence motion that TMC has threatened to move against UPA but is gearing up to corner it on the FDI issue by seeking a vote on it.

BJP Parliamentary Party Executive Committee today held a meeting here to discuss the strategy for the forthcoming Winter Session. TMC's no-confidence motion and FDI in multi- brand retail, as well as issues related to coal allocation and other matters, were discussed.

3.09 pm:

Pran Saheb doing fine, says Amitabh Bachchan

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has visited veteran actor Pran, who is in the hospital with some respiratory problem.

Bachchan paid an hour-long visit last night at the Lilavati Hospital in suburban Bandra and said the 92-year-old actor is doing fine.

"Paid a visit to Pran Saheb in hospital... he is fine... spent an hour with him joking and talking of times past and present...," Bachchan, 70, posted on Twitter.

Pran, who is one of the most popular villains of Bollywood and has acted in around 350 films, had come for a check-up and was admitted for a respiratory problem.

Bachchan, who has shared screen space with the Padma Bhushan awardee in 14 films including "Zanjeer", "Amar Akbar Anthony" and "Don", has also urged the media not to fuel any rumours regarding the actor's health.

"All those making speculative remarks on Pran Saheb being critical... Get your facts right before going public... Most irresponsible," he added.

2.32 pm:

The Left has said that it will back any motion against the UPA government's 'anti-people' policies.

2.26 pm:

The AIADMK will not vote in favour of FDI in retail in the upcoming winter session of the parliament. The party's leader and Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa has said that her party is ready for early elections.

Jayalalithaa has also said that no one has approached her for her party's support for a no confidence motion.

2.15 pm:

The #arrestideas has become the top trending topic on Twitter after the arrest of 2 girls who posted a comment Facebook questioning the shut down of  Mumbai City following Bal Thackeray's funeral. There has been a huge public outcry on social networking sites with people coming out strongly in support of the girls. #arrestideas is one such attempt by the tweeple to show their solidarity by mocking the sad state of affairs where posting anything can land one in jail. Here are some of the ridiculous ideas:

Harsh Joshi ‏@harshj_
Arrest people who are planning to sign Tusshar Kapoor or Uday Chopra in their movies. #ArrestIdeas

Barkumi ‏@SrkCenation
#arrestideas Arrest vodafone and airtel for stealing ideas of idea!!

 Sneha Dixit @Ladysaying
Arrest Poonam Pandey who promises of stripping but never complete it #ArrestIdeas

Smirk_Ninja ‏@Smirk_Ninja
Everyone who thinks Black Money is a type of Swiss Chocolate #ArrestIdeas

Tanya Nambiar ‏@TanyaNambiar
#arrestideas all those eating chowmein. Thats what the haryana panchayat wants isnt it?

Smirk_Ninja ‏@Smirk_Ninja
Your breathing disturbs me. ARREST THAT INFIDEL!!! #ArrestIdeas #re

Mogambo Ka Bhateeja ‏@PiyushParashar
#arrestideas Its Mark Zuckerburg whose website was used by those poor girls. Arrest Zuckerburg. Arrest the ISP. Arrest the computer maker!

Tyrantasorus ‏@tyrantasorus
People who tweet good night and keep replying should be arrested for violating bedtime curfew #arrestideas

1. 05 pm:

BJP defends Nitish, says 'Chhat Puja stampede should not be politicised'

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday expressed its condolences to all those who lost their lives in the stampede that took place during the Chhat Puja celebrations in Patna, and said that the incident should not be politicised.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain came out in full defence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has come under criticism following the incident, and said that the whole state should be united on this issue.

"This is an accident. The administration had made all arrangements on its part. Whole Bihar should be united on this issue. But one should not play politics on this untoward happening because this is an accident. The Chief Minister is himself looking into it. Chhat Puja is being celebrated in Bihar with fervor and gaiety and such an accident had never taken place before," said Hussain.

12.30 pm:

Nitish cancels feast for JD(U) leaders

In the wake of the stampede that claimed 17 lives at Adalatghat on the bank of Ganga, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has cancelled a feast for JD(U) leaders at his official residence tomorrow.

The Chief Minister has cancelled the feast that he had proposed to host for the JD(U) leaders comprising MPs, MLA/MLCs, district unit presidents tomorrow at his official residence after being grieved by the human tragedy during the Chhath festival, the state unit JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Kumar Singh said.

Kumar had proposed to host feast for the JD(U) leaders to mark the success of the 'Adhikar rally' at Gandhi Maidan  on November 4.

11.52 am:

The two girls who were arrested for a Facebook post questioning the shut of Mumbai city following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's funeral on Sunday have said that they regret their action. But they say that what they did was not a crime.

'We are scared, won't write on Facebook again,'  said 21 year old Shaheen Dhada, who had posted the comment in question in an interview to NDTV.

"I would like to apologise. He (Bal Thackeray) was a great man," said Shaheen. Her friend who liked the post has also apologised. But the girls say that their arrest was unfair.

The girls were arrested after a local Shiv Sena leader complained to the police. Shaheen's uncle's clinic was ransacked as well. 9 men have now been arrested in connection with the incident.

11.30 am:

Israel puts ground assault on hold

Israel temporarily put on hold a decision on a possible ground invasion of Gaza to give more time to Egypt's truce efforts, but seven days of incessant raids took the Palestinian death toll to 111 amid warnings by Hamas that it won't succumb to Israeli conditions.

Israel's cabinet met late last night to discuss the latest ceasefire initiatives with Hamas, on the bloodiest day yet of the military offensive when over 30 Palestinians were killed in multiple strikes.

Read more

11.18 am:

DMK won't support decision to allow FDI in retail: Karunanidhi

Breaking his silence on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Monday said his party will not support the Centre's decision to allow foreign investment in the sector.

"We are not in favour of the decision to allow FDI  (in multi-brand retail)," he told reporters responding to a query on what was the DMK's stand on the FDI issue.

DMK, a key constituent of the ruling UPA government, had recently refused to clarify its stand on the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

"Small and medium retail traders in Tamil Nadu are apprehensive that Foreign Direct Investment would greatly affect them. We would discuss and take a decision on this (FDI) keeping their interest in mind," Mr Karunanidhi had said last week.

10.46 am:

In more developments in the Ponty Chadha murder case, 4 of Ponty's aides have been arrested by the Delhi police. The arrests have been made based on Ponty's brother, Hardeep's driver's statement. 

10. 10 am

Mamata's no-trust vote: BJP meets to finalise strategy today

Top BJP leaders will meet later today to finalise the party's strategy for the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament that begins on November 22. The party is also expected to discuss Mamata Banerjee's proposal to move a no-trust motion against the UPA government.

9.30 am:

Meanwhile twitter was abuzz with reactions to the arrest of the two girls.

Deepak Chopra ‏@DeepakChopra
Arrest of 2 young women over Facebook comments re Bandh in Mumbai after Thackeray death creates social media outrage. Bravo India !

barkha dutt ‏@BDUTT
One of the Mumbai girls had her uncle's clinic smashed by goons. How much of this school of politics was debated in Media, no holds barred?

Check the twitt and u will find lakhs of comments against Bal Thackrey. Pl arrest them Mumbai police.

YUVA REVOLUTION ‏@YuvaRevolution
"If speaking my heart out is a crime, then MUMBAI POLICE, please arrest me too." #InSupportOfArrestedGirls.

Amrit Rai ‏@amritrai01
Mumbai is safe because all the local people of mumbai unite in one voice when anyone particularly a young girl faced unjust consequences.

Soni Razdan ‏@twsonirazdan
Mumbai must demand the arrest of those thugs who vandalised Shaheens uncles hospital.

9.26 am:

9 people have been arrested in connection with vandalism at a Mumbai clinic. The clinic belonged to the uncle of the 21 year old girl who was arrested after a Facebook post questioning the shutdown of the city following Bal Thackeray's death.

8.50 am:

A Facebook post turned into a nightmare of sorts for 2 girls from Palghar. They could not have guessed that expressing their opinion on the social networking site could land them in jail or lead to their property being vandalized by a mob of angry Shiv Saniks.

Read about their nightmare here

8.17 am:

Three killed as bomb rips through bus in Syria

At least three people were killed and 11 wounded when a roadside bomb ripped through a bus in a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, Xinhua reported.

The blast took place near a church in Mashrou Dummar area. The vehicle was coming from the adjacent district of Masaken al−Haras or "Guards Housing" which is dominated by army and security members.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al−Assad has been locked in a bloody conflict with anti−government forces since March 2011. According to UN estimates, around 35,000 people have been killed since the violence began.

8.00 am:

Israel, Hamas trade fire and tough truce proposals

Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers traded fire and tough cease-fire proposals Monday, and threatened to escalate their border conflict if diplomacy fails. No deal appeared near.

An Israeli airstrike targeting a Gaza media center killed a senior militant and engulfed the building in flames, while Gaza fighters fired 95 rockets at Israel, nearly one-third of them intercepted by an Israeli missile shield.

A total of 38 Palestinians were killed Monday. Two more Palestinians were killed in airstrikes past midnight, bringing the death toll since the start of Israel's offensive to 111, including 56 civilians. Some 840 people have been wounded, including 225 children, Gaza heath officials said. Three Israeli civilians have been killed and dozens have been wounded.

Over the weekend, civilian casualties in Gaza rose sharply after Israel began targeting the homes of what it said were suspected militants. Two such strikes late Monday killed five people — a father and his 4-year-old twin sons in northern Gaza and two people in the south, medics said.

Jamal Daloo, who lost his wife, a son, four grandchildren and five other members of his family in an attack Sunday, sat in quiet mourning Monday next to the ruins of his home, his face streaked with tears.

"The international public opinion witnessed the facts," he said, speaking as his 16-year-old daughter, Yara, was still missing under the rubble being cleared away by bulldozers. "This does not require my words."

Egypt, the traditional mediator between Israel and the Arab world, was at the center of a flurry of diplomatic activity Monday. Egyptian intelligence officials met separately in Cairo with an Israeli envoy and with Khaled Mashaal, the top Hamas leader in exile.

Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

With positions far apart on a comprehensive deal, some close to the negotiations suggested Egypt is first seeking a halt to fighting before other conditions are discussed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are in a sensitive stage.

Mashaal told reporters that Hamas would only agree to a cease-fire if its demands are met. "We don't accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor," he said. "We want a cease-fire along with meeting our demands."

Mashaal also suggested that Israel's threat of invading Gaza was simply a ploy. He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "is waving the threat of a ground offensive and asking the world to pressure Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, so they pressure Hamas."

"He wants to negotiate with us under fire to impose his conditions, pretending he is acting from a position of strength," Mashaal said.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly threatened to widen the offensive, saying an invasion is an option. Israel has amassed troops on the Gaza border and begun calling up thousands of reservists.

Still, an Israeli official emphasized that Israel hopes to find a diplomatic solution.

"We prefer the diplomatic solution if it's possible. If we see it's not going to bear fruit, we can escalate," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic efforts under way. He added that Israel wants international guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt's Sinai region, which abuts Gaza, for militant activity.

As part of global efforts to end the Gaza fighting, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo on Monday and was to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.

The U.N. Security Council held closed-door consultations at the request of Russia, and Ambassador Vitaly Churkin later accused one country of foot-dragging, implying it was the U.S.

Germany's foreign minister was also headed to the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. On Tuesday, Turkey's foreign minister and a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers were to visit Gaza.

Hamas, an offshoot of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, is negotiating from a stronger position than four years ago, when Israel launched a three-week war on the militants in Gaza. At that time, Hamas was internationally isolated; now, the Muslim Brotherhood is in power in Egypt and Tunisia, and Hamas is also getting political support from Qatar and Turkey.

President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have blamed Hamas for the latest outbreak of fighting, saying Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks. However, they have also warned Israel against sending ground troops into Gaza, a move that would likely lead to a sharp increase in the Gaza death toll.

Over the years, Israeli governments have struggled to come up with an effective policy toward Hamas, which is deeply rooted in Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.6 million.

Neither Israel's economic blockade of the territory nor bruising military strikes have cowed the Islamists, weakened their grip on Gaza or their ability to fire rockets at the Jewish state.

Instead, the two sides have observed informal cease-fires over the years, interrupted by flare-ups of violence.

Hamas has fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel since the start of the latest offensive on Wednesday, kicked off by Israel's assassination of the Hamas military chief.

Of the 95 rockets fired Monday, 29 of them intercepted by Israel's U.S.-financed Iron Dome anti-missile battery, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rockets landed in open areas of the southern cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon, and caused damage in a number of areas, including an empty school building in Ashkelon.

In Gaza, an Israeli airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City killed Ramez Harb, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al Quds Brigades, the group said. Israel said the target was a command center for the group. A number of foreign and local news organizations have offices in the building, which was also struck on Sunday. A passer-by, a carpenter from Gaza's tiny Christian community, was also killed, medics said.

And in central Gaza, four militants were killed in two separate strikes. In the air raid past midnight, Israeli aircraft struck the Islamic National Bank used to pay Hamas employees.

In the West Bank, Palestinian stone throwers protesting against Israel's Gaza campaign clashed with Israeli soldiers in several locations Monday. In the city of Hebron, a 22-year-old man was killed by army fire and three other protesters were injured, doctors said. The army said soldiers opened fire after a masked man approached them and failed to stop.

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