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Tamil Nadu

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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OPS gets boost as more AIADMK bigwigs back him in power tussle with Sasikala

Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp on Saturday.

 
TN Education Minister Pandiarajan backs OPS
Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp today.
 
As Ms. Sasikala moved quickly to keep her flock together amidst reports of growing desertions, three Lok Sabha members, V. Sathyabama of Tiruppur, Ashok Kumar of Krishnagiri and P R Sundaram of Namakkal also threw in their lot with Mr. Panneerselvam today.
 
Ms. Sasikala, on the other hand, voicing concern over the delay by Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in responding to her claim to form the next Government in the state, wrote to him again today, seeking an opportunity to parade before him the MLAs supporting her.
 
Mr. Pandiarajan, the state Minister for School Education and Sports and Youth Welfare, arrived at Mr. Panneerselvam's residence, bringing cheer to the large crowd camping there and which has seen its support base growing slowly in the past few days.
 
The decision of Mr. Pandiarajan, one of the founders of well-known recruitment and consultancy firm Ma Foi, to switch loyalties is significant, given the fact that he was one of Ms. Sasikala's most ardent supporters during the past several days of political crisis in the state.
 
An indication of his impending shift was available from a "tweet" he posted on micro-blogging site Twitter this morning.
 
"Will surely listen to the collective voice of my voters & decide in a way to uphold the dignity of Amma's memory & unity of AIADMK!" he said.
 
Mr. Ponnaiyan said Mr. Panneerselvam was capable of leading the party with discipline and of running a corruption-free government.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam's Twitter handle said that state Rural Industries Minister P. Benjamin would shortly visit him to extend his support to him.
 
In her letter to the Governor, Ms. Sasikala noted that she had written to him on February 5 and February 7, seeking an appointment with him.
 
The Governor met her and nine Tamil Nadu Ministers in the evening of February 9 when she formally informed him of her election as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party last Sunday.
 
O. Panneerselvam
O. Panneerselvam
"... I submitted my elaborate presentation to invite me to form the Government as I have absolute majority. Original letter and true copy of the resolution were also handed over to Your Excellency," she said.
 
"Thus, as it has been seven long days since the Chief Minister Thiru. O. P. Panneerselvam submitted and Your Excellency accepted his resignation, taking the urgency of the situation at hand, I would like to seek an appointment with Your Excellency by today along with all MLAs who extended their support to me regarding further course of action to form the Government," she said.
 
"I believe Your Excellency will act immediately to save the sovereignty of the Constitution, democracy and the interest of the state," she added.
 
Ms. Sasikala addressed her supporters outside Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of the late Ms. Jayalalithaa, and said, "Amma has given me 1.5 crore party brothers and sisters.When they are with me,the sinister intentions of many will not  harm me."
 
"Amma is confident that I will look after AIADMK with all care," she said.
 
She said the relentless work done by Ms. Jayalalithaa had made AIADMK the third largest party. "Amma is with us now. Our Amma is now showing us the betrayers of our party," she said.
 
"People who think they can separate our party which has 1.5 crore people will only face defeat. Amma won over the hurdles, we are facing the same situation,we will also win over it. I believe in justice and democracy," she added.
Later, Ms. Sasikala drove in a motorcade to the resort where about 120 AIADMK MLAs have been staying for the past few days and met them for discussions on their future course of action.
 
"After meeting the party MLAs, I feel happy," she said. "All the party MLAs are fine and happy."
 
She said the "created time lag", in inviting her to form the government, appeared to be intended to create a split in the party.
 
Ms. Sasikala said she and her supporters were "waiting patiently" till now for a response to their claim, adding that "necessary measures will be taken".
 
Mr. K. A. Sengottayan, who has been appointed as the new chairman of the AIADMK Presidium, told journalists at the resort that all the MLAs there would remain with Ms. Sasikala till the end. "Our only aim is to make her the Chief Minister," he said.
 
However, there has been no indication whatsoever from Raj Bhavan in the past few days on when and how the political stalemate would be ended.
 
Even as the two rival groups continued to swipe and snipe at each other, Raj Bhavan clarified yesterday that the Governor had not sent any report to the President or the Ministry of Home Affairs on the political situation in the state.
 
The clarification came after media reports which said that Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra and is holding additional charge as the Governor of Tamil Nadu, had sent a report to the Centre after his meetings with Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala.
 
"Thiru Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Tamil Nadu has not sent any report either to the Ministry of Home Affairs or to the President of India, as reported in some of the media," a statement from Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had submitted his resignation last Sunday after Ms. Sasikala, 60, a long-time aide of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, was chosen by AIADMK MLAs as the new leader of their legislative party and, therefore, his successor. The Governor accepted his resignation on Monday and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangments were made. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6, 2016 shortly after the death of Ms. Jayalalithaa, who was both the head of the government and the party supremo.
 
The usually reticent and self-effacing Mr. Panneerselvam made a surprise visit to the memorial of Ms. Jayalalithaa late in the night last Tuesday and then told waiting newspersons that he had been forced to resign and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the people and the party so wished.
 
Ms. Sasikala was widely expected to be sworn in on Tuesday, but the Governor has not yet taken a final view on the situation confronting the state. Mr. Rao, who reached here from Mumbai on Thursday afternoon, met ten-member delegations led by the rivals, Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala, later that day.
 
While Mr. Panneerselvam told the Governor that he was forced to quit as Chief Minister and that he should be allowed to continue and take a floor test in the Assembly, Ms. Sasikala submitted to Mr. Rao a list of about 130 of the AIADMK's 135 MLAs and staked claim to forming the next Government.
 
The Governor is understood to be consulting legal and Constitutional experts and weighing his options.
 
Yesterday, Mr. Rao met State Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and Director General of Police T. K. Rajendran as well as Chennai Police Commissioner S. George amidst complaints by the Panneerselvam camp that the Sasikala group was holding about 120 MLAs at a nearby resort, many of them against their will.
 
V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
DMK working president and leader of the Opposition M. K. Stalin met Mr Rao yesterday and submitted a representation in which he said the state administration could not be allowed to drift any further. He urged the Governor to take steps to ensure that a democratically and Constitutionally valid government was in place at the earliest through a free and fair floor test.
 
Meanwhile, Ms. Sasikala yesterday expelled AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusudanan from the primary membership of the party, a day after he threw in his lot with Mr. Panneerselvam. Mr. K. A. Sengottayan has been appointed as the new chairman of the presidium.
 
Mr. Madhusudanan, on his part, wrote to the Election Commission stating that Ms. Sasikala's election as General Secretary of the party was in violation of its rules and urging it to reject her claims in this regard.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had said on Thursday that he would issue orders to convert Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, into a memorial for her. The announcement assumes significance in view of the fact that Ms. Sasikala is functioning from that house.
 
To take this a step further, his camp has launched a signature campaign outside his residence on the proposal.
 
Two days after Ms. Sasikala removed him from the post of AIADMK treasurer, Mr. Panneerselvam on Thursday also wrote to banks asking them to not allow any one to access the party funds without his written permission. He said his removal from the post of treasurer was illegal.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam has been always regarded as a trusted lieutenant of Ms. Jayalalithaa and had stood in for her as Chief Minister twice when she faced crises.
 
Among those who have openly come out to support Mr. Panneerselvam is AIADMK Rajya Sabha member V. Maitreyan and former Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker P. H. Pandian.
 
There has been opposition to Ms. Sasikala's elevation from a section of the public, in social media and from the Opposition in the state. They point to the fact that she has never contested any election and has no administrative experience. They also point to the fact that an appeal against her acquittal in a two-decade-old corruption case is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict could be delivered as early as next week.
 
Ms. Sasikala and two others were co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in the case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. The two others are her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and died on December 5 after a sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors who treated her had told a press conference here on Monday that the AIADMK leader had been treated for septicemia and a host of other medical problems.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was hospitalised on September 22.
 
He had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
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Panneerselvam's resignation accepted, Sasikala likely to be sworn in on Tuesday

Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Monday accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.

V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao today accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in tomorrow.
 
The Governor requested Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers to continue to function until alternate arrangements are made, a press release from the Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had resigned from office yesterday after the ruling All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislature party met here and chose Ms. Sasikala as its new leader.
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is expected to be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the State tomorrow morning at a function at the Madras University auditorium. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK had said on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday. Ms. Sasikala is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called "Amma".
 
It said Mr. Panneerselvam himself, known to be a long-time Jayalalithaa loyalist, had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala had then made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
She later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has she ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
  
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Sasikala Natarajan set to be new CM of Tamil Nadu

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met in Chennai and chose her as the leader of its legislature party.

 
Sasikala Natarajan appointed legislative party leader of AIADMK
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met here today and chose her as the leader of its legislative party.
 
She will succeed Mr. O. Panneerselvam, senior leader of the ruling AIADMK, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK said on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called as "Amma". It said Mr. Panneerselvam had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
Ms. Sasikala later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
 
She is expected to meet Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in the next day or two and stake claim to form the next government in the state.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest in hospital

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, the hospital said.

 
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital here for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening, the hospital said.
 
"The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nau who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening," the hospital said in a statement late tonight.
 
"She is being treated and monitored by a team of experts, including Cardiologists, Pulmonologists and the Critical Care Specialists," the statement added.
 
The hospital said Ms. Jayalalithaa was on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and was being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists.
 
The hospital said Dr Richard Beale from London had also been consulted and he had concurred with the line of treatment by its cardiologists and pulmonologists.
 
"Our prayers are with her and we hope she will recover soon. We request all of you to pray for her good health and well being. The Hon'ble CM is the beloved leader of the masses. Please join us in praying for her speedy recovery," the hospital said in a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, to inquire about Ms. Jayalalithaa's heath.
 
Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra, is holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu, since August 31 following the end of the tenure of Mr. K. Rosaiah. He told Mr. Rajnath Singh that he would leave for Chennai tonight.
 
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Hundreds of workers of Ms. Jayalalithaa's party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), her supporters and leaders of the party began converging outside the hospital after hearing of the news of her cardiac arrest. Police stepped up security arrangements outside the hospital as a precautionary measure.
 
Earlier in the day, the AIADMK had said that Ms. Jayalalithaa would soon decide when she would leave hospital and return home after doctors had declared that she had fully recovered.
 
The hospital has said several times in the past few weeks that the Chief Minister, called "Amma" by her supporters, was well enough to return home whenever she wanted. Her party said she was involved in taking government decisions and also speaking on occasion to those who were allowed to meet her.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 27 for treatment of dehydration and fever. Later, there were reports that she was also being treated for a chronic lung infection and that he had been put on respiratory support. Specialist doctors from London and Delhi had been flown in to monitor her condition.
 
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Jayalalithaa returns as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in Chennai on Saturday, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.

 
Jayalalithaa sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM
 
 
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu here today, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah administered the oaths of offie and secrecy to Ms Jayalalithaa at a ceremony at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, as many as 28 other Ministers were also sworn in, including Mr O. Panneerselvam, who had functioned as Chief Minister since September 29 after she had been forced to resign following her conviction by a special court in Bangalore in the case.
 
Mr Panneerselvam will be Finance Minister, a portfolio he had held in her previous Cabinet.
 
The Governor had accepted the resignation of Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers with effect from the forenoon of yesterday and requested him and his Council of Ministers to function until alternative arrangements were made.
 
Later yesterday, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was elected as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, had called on Mr Rosaiah and staked her claim to form the new government.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa will have to get elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly within six months in keeping with Constitutional requirements.
 
Mr Panneerselvam had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Like this tim, she was then, too, cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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On May 11, the Karnataka High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of the special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state. The acquittal by the High Court meant that Ms Jayalalithaa could return as Chief Minister.
 
The three co-accused who were acquitted along with her are her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each by the special court.
 
Sasikala was among the more than 3000 people present at the ceremony. Others present included film stars Rajnikanth, Sarath Kumar and Prabhu and industrialists N Srinivasan and A C Muthaiah.
 
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Jayalalithaa acquitted in corruption case, paving way for her return as TN CM

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Monday acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today acquitted by the Karnataka High Court here in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
 
The High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Reading out the operative part of the judgement at 11 am in the court, Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Today's acquittal means that Ms Jayalithaa, supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), can return as Chief Minister.
 
After she had stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29 last year.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, a film star-turned-politician, and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The special court had sentenced the co-accused -- her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew Sudharakan, who is Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi -- also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
 
Jayalalithaa acquitted by Karnataka HC in corruption case
Celebrations broke out among Ms Jayalalithaa's supporters all across Tamil Nadu as well as outside the high court here, where they had gathered in large numbers.
 
Hundreds of people who had congregated outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai since early morning burst firecrackers, danced and distributed sweets as soon as news of the verdict by Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy ame in.
 
Mr Panneerselvam and many of his Cabinet colleagues also turned up to congratulate her.
 
On October 17 last year, Ms Jayalalithaa had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case after the Karnataka High Court had turned down her application.
 
Along with her, the apex court also granted bail to Ms Natarajan, Mr Sudhakaran and Mr Ilavarasi.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Ms Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In 2011, Jayalalithaa had appeared in the Bangalore court for four days to answer more than 1390 questions posed by the judge.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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10 dead, 50 hurt as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails near Hosur

At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed on Friday morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.

 
10 dead, 50 injured as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails
At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed this morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 7.45 am between Anekal Road and Hosur stations on the Bangalore-Salem section of South-Western Railway, they said.
 
Prima facie, the derailment occurred after the train hit a boulder that had rolled down onto the tracks in the ghat section, the sources said.
 
The train had left Bangalore at 6.15 am for Ernakulam in Kerala. Nine coaches and the engine of the train went off the rails, and one coach in particular, D8, a second class chair car, was badly affected, they said.
 
The derailed coaches included two air-conditioned chair cars and six second class chair cars, but they did not suffer much damage.
 
A pantry car and four second class chair cars were not affected by the derailment, the sources said.
 
South-Western Railway spokesperson Chandrasekhar Gupta told NetIndian over the telephone that ten bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches.
 
He said 18 of the injured passengers had suffered severe injuries and were undergoing treatment in the Narayan Hridalaya, Sparsh and Anekal General hospitals nearby.
 
Police and emergency personnel, including railway officials and staff, from nearby areas in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka rushed to the spot with ambulances and medical equipment. The Railways rushed medical vans and accident relief vans to the spot.
 
Efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section at the earliest, the sources said.
 
In Delhi, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the scene of the accident and that he had directed the Chairman of the Railway Board, the General Manager of South-Western Railway and other senior officials to reach the spot.
 
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He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
  
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
 
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
 
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
 
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
 
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143
 
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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who were convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 66, the apex court also granted bail to her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each.
 
The Karnataka High Court had, on October 7, rejected Ms Jayalalithaa's bail application. While doing so, Judge A V Chandrashekhara recalled that the Supreme Court had made it clear in the past that corruption cases should be put on the fast track. He pointed out that the apex court had taken a tough stand in such cases and had described corruption as a "violation of human rights".
 
Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9.
 

 
Jayalalithaa granted interim bail by SC in DA case
The apex court today suspended her sentence and granted her bail after imposing some conditions, including that she would have to submit her paprs for the appeal against her conviction within two months, that is by December 18, and that she would not seek any adjournment of the hearings. 
 
As soon as news of the court's decision to grant her bail came, hundreds of supporters of Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai and elsewhere broke out into rapturous celebrations.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, who has been held in prison in Bangalore since September 27, is expected to be released on bail later today or tomorrow. She will remain confined to home in Chennai while she is on bail.
 
The court fixed December 18 as the date to satisfy itself if she had complied with its order.
 
Her counsel Fali Nariman assured the court on her behalf that there would be no act of lawlessness by her party's workers in Tamil Nadu. She had sought bail on the grounds that she was suffering from various ailments and that she was a senior citizen and a woman.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa stood disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after her conviction and sentence and had to resign as Chief Minister. She is also barred from contesting elections for six years after she completes her four-year sentence.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Ms Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
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The court held that the prosecution had been able to prove that she possessed disproportionate assets of about Rs 53 crore. 
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state and emerging as the third largest party in the House.
 
Elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly are due in 2016 and unless her conviction is overturned by a higher court, Ms Jayalalithaa cannot contest them.
 
After Ms Jayalalithaa stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas arrested in Chennai

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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas was arrested here on Sunday for his alleged derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and a city police official.
 
Karunas, the leader of the Mukkulathor Puli Padai party, made the alleged remarks on September 16 at a public meeting here. 
 
Pointing out the city police official, Karunas had said that the young official should be counseled by his seniors and also challenged him for a duel.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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TN government decides to recommend release of Gandhi killers

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The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday decided to recommend to Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of seven convicts serving life term for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said.
 
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami.
 
Jayakumar told reporters that the decision was taken after the Supreme Court asked Purohit to consider the mercy petition of A. G. Perarivalan, serving life term for the 1991 assassination of Gandhi, for release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
Jayakumar said though the apex court had given its order in the petition filed by Perarivalan, the state government had decided to recommend to the Governor his release as well as six other convicts as they had also sent their mercy petitions.
 
The other six are V. Sriharan alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan, wife of Sriharan alias Murugan. They include both Indians and Sri Lankans.
 
All seven have been in prison since 1991, the year a woman Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai.
 
Jayakumar said the Supreme Court was the highest court and the cabinet decision was taken based on the basis of its decision.
 
He said the Governor had to agree with the cabinet decision.
 
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was blamed for the assassination of Gandhi. The Sri Lankan military crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
 
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Gutka scam: Chennai ex-police commissioner S. George pleads innocence

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Former Chennai Police Commissioner S. George on Friday said he has not received any money from any gutka manufacturer.
 
The former city police chief told reporters here that at the time when the scam surfaced, it was blown up to prevent him and T. K. Rajendran from becoming the Director General of Police (DGP).
 
However, Rajendran was appointed as the Tamil Nadu DGP.
 
George said he has not received any money from any gutka (a tobacco product banned in Tamil Nadu) manufacturer.
 
Queried about an entry in the diary of the gutka manufacturer A. V.  Madhava Rao listing out the payment of "Rs 15 lakh for Christmas to a former Commissioner of Police", George said someone might have collected the money from the gutka manufacturer falsely saying that it is for him (George).
 
"Entries might have been made in the diary based on someone's statement. Why should an ex-commissioner be paid any money," he asked.
 
He also said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is carrying out a probe based on entries made by a gutka manufacturer.
 
On September 5, the CBI raided the houses of George, DGP Rajendran, Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar, gutka manufacturer Rao and several state and central government officials in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
 
George said his name is not mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the CBI.
 
According to him, there are several layers of hierarchy between the Commissioner of Police and down below. There are about 300 police stations in Chennai. 
 
"Is it possible for a scam to go on just with the blessing of the Commissioner of Police," he asked. There are different levels in the police hierarchy and different periods, he added.
 
He said Deputy Commissioner Jayakumar did not report the illegal gutka operations to his superiors despite knowing and it happening under his jurisdiction.
 
According to George, he held a preliminary inquiry about the gutka scam and had written a letter to the state government to conduct a probe citing the rumours of police officials being involved in the scam.
 
George said as the allegations were against the Commissioner of Police, it was not possible for him to order a probe but there were several agencies that could have been entrusted with the task.
 
He said he did not know why the government did not act on that report.
 
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As to the seizures by CBI after raiding his home, the former commissioner said, the CBI took only the sale deed of his plot bought from the state housing board, certain lease documents and insurance policies.
 
On Thursday, the CBI arrested five persons, including three promoters of gutka manufacturing company Jayam Industries -- Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao; Food Safety Department official Senthil Murugan and Central Excise Superintendent N. K.Pandyan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials to the tune of about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The IT Department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various officials.
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT Department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT Department was seized from the room occupied by V. K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
George avoided some media questions and ended the press meet abruptly with his assistants asking him to conclude the meet.
 
IANS

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Consider mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi's killer, SC tells TN Governor

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The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of A.G. Perarivalan, who is serving a life term in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
 
Perarivalan's counsel told a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Naveen Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph that a decision was yet to be taken on his mercy petition pending for over two years. 
 
He submitted the plea to the Governor on December 30, 2015, saying he had undergone more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement.
 
Perarivalan, among the seven convicts in the case, had sought remission/pardon from the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
After the court asked the Centre to take a call on Tamil Nadu's proposal to release the convicts, the central government said on August 10 in its report submitted in the court that it did not agree, holding that setting them free will set a "dangerous precedent".
 
"Releasing the killers of a former Prime Minister will set a very dangerous precedent. The case has been decided by various forums of judiciary and executive and the prisoners do not deserve to be set free," the Centre contended.
 
Releasing them will lead to "international ramifications" by other such criminals in future, it added.
 
The now-vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka was blamed for the Congress leader's assassination by a suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991.
 
IANS
 

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CBI raids TN Minister, DGP in connection with gutka scam

CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI officials from New Delhi on Wednesday searched the residences of several persons including Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabasker and Director General of Police (DGP) T. K. Rajendran in connection with a multi-crore gutka scam.
 
"Separate CBI teams conducted simultaneous raids at 40 locations in Tamil Nadu early in the morning," Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS in New Delhi.
 
This is the first time a serving DGP's residence in Tamil Nadu has been raided by the CBI.
 
Included in the search list are former Tamil Nadu Minister B. V. Ramanaa and retired Chennai Police Commissioner S. George.
 
The CBI action prompted calls from M. K. Stalin, leader of the main opposition DMK, to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to sack Vijayabaskar and Rajendran if they do not resign on their own.
 
PMK founder S. Ramadoss also demanded the removal of Vijayabaskar and all other raided officials from their posts.
 
Ramadoss said Vijayabaskar's residence and the other places were also raided by the Income Tax department.
 
The CBI in May-end had registered a case in the scam against unknown officials of Central Excise, Tamil Nadu government, Food Safety Department, public servants and private persons on charges of criminal conspiracy and for corruption following a direction of the Madras High Court on April 26. 
 
The agency has been investigating all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutka and other forms of chewable tobacco which are banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
In April 2018, the Madras High Court ordered the CBI to probe the multi-crore scam on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
"The probe seems to be proceeding on the right track under the CBI. Whether a case will be filed against the scamsters or not will have to be seen," Anbazhagan told IANS. "If no case is filed, then we may have to approach the Madras High Court again."
 
Several political parties had demanded a CBI probe into the issue but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
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In June 2018, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu based on a first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
Stalin alleged that the AIADMK government had tried various measures to stall investigation into the scam.
 
The IT department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various persons. 
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT department was seized from the room occupied by V.K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
IANS
 

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Thousands take part in Alagiri rally in Chennai

 
In show of strength, Alagiri leads rally to Karunanidhi memorial
 
 
Thousands took part on Wednesday in a rally organised by expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri here but the DMK gave no indication that it was ready to take him back into its fold.
 
Speaking to reporters after offering tributes at M.K. Karunanidhi's memorial at the Marina beach, Alagiri said the aim of the rally was to pay homage to his late father and former Chief Minister.
 
Queried about the dismissal of a DMK member by the party for receiving him at the airport on Tuesday, Alagiri wondered whether the party would dismiss "the 1.5 lakh members who participated in the peace rally" on Wednesday.
 
Several thousands of Alagiri supporters and his family members joined the rally.
 
Alagiri was dismissed from the DMK by Karunanidhi in 2014 for anti-party activities. He was opposed to his younger brother M.K. Stalin becoming the DMK leader.
 
However, after the death of Karunanidhi last month, Alagiri expressed his desire to rejoin the DMK and even said that he would accept Stalin as his leader post admission.
 
But the DMK party has not shown any sign that it will take back Alagiri.
 
On August 27, Alagiri warned in Madurai that if the DMK leadership did not take him back, then its leadership would have to face "consequences". 
 
IANS
 

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Gutka scam: CBI raids residences of TN Minister, DGP

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday raided several places in Tamil Nadu, including the residences of Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police (DGP) T.K. Rajendran in connection with a gutka scam, said a CBI official.
 
In April, the Madras High Court ordered CBI to probe the multi-crore gutka scam in which Minister Vijayabaskar, DGP Rajendran and several other top police and other state government officials were alleged to be involved.
 
The court ordered the CBI probe on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu in 2016.
 
A diary was then seized which listed alleged bribe payments made to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka -- a tobacco product. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Several political parties had demanded the CBI probe into the scam but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
In June, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu's gutka scam based on the first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
Despite the opposition from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two year extension in 2018.
 
IANS
 

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Finance Commission to visit Tamil Nadu from September 5

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The 15th Finance Commission will visit Tamil Nadu from September 5-8, it was announced today.
 
The Commission led by Chairman N K Singh along with Members Dr Anoop Singh, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Dr Ramesh Chand and Secretary Arvind Mehta will have meetings with the Chief Minister, Ministers and other officials of the state in Chennai.
 
Detailed presentations will be made on the finances of the State Government. Ahead of its meeting with the Chief Minister on September 6, the Commission will meet the economists of the region to understand the macroeconomic issues and some peculiar issues related to southern part of the country in the light of the development trajectory of the region. Tamil Nadu will be the second state in Southern India after Kerala to be visited by the Commission.
 
There will be meetings with the leaders of various political parties, representatives of Trade and Industry, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions to understand the issues concerning the state. Commission will also undertake field visits in Madurai and pay a visit to the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam memorial in Rameshwaram. Ahead of the visit, the Commission received a briefing on various aspects of its finances and issues related to socio-economic spheres from Accountant General of Tamil Nadu.
 
"While Tamil Nadu has made great strides in its industrial sector development and emerged as a manufacturing hub, inter district disparity in PCI, GST Collections, declining growth of own tax revenue and capital expenditure remain concern," an official press release said.
 
"The State’s contribution to the country’s economic growth is quite impressive and it has shown a great growth potential. The structure of GSDP in Tamil Nadu has been shifting away from agriculture towards industry and services. From 2012-13 to 2016-17, the average share of agriculture and allied sector was 10.9%, industry was 35% and that of services was 54.6%.
 
"State's GDP after a decline in 2015-16 has picked up again, however declining growth rate of own tax revenue in recent years particularly from 2013-14 onwards is a concern. Since 2013-14 due to a combination of factors like slow revenue growth, spurt in exceptional expenditures like UDAY, pay commission award and drastic reduction in central devolution, the State is witnessing revenue deficits.
 
"Its capital expenditure is also low. As per RBI study of state budgets, Tamil Nadu is among the highest borrowing states. Its fiscal deficit stood above 4 % and debt to GDP ratio stands at 22.31% in 2016-17.  Commission will also look into the issues relates to GST collections. Power sector is not fully unbundled in the state. Commission will try to understand the issues related to the implementation of UDAY scheme.
 
"Though Tamil Nadu has done well in economic uplift of the people, Inter district disparity in per capita income (PCI) is evident. 18 out of 32 districts are having lower PCI than the state average PCI (Rs 1,54,375 in 2015-16). Per capita income of the top ranked district is about 2.8 times larger than that of the poorest district.
 
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"While poverty in Tamil Nadu is lower than many states of the country, parts of the state are having high rate of poverty. State intervention is resulting in fast decline in poverty ratios, nearly all of this reduction in the number of families below poverty line comes from rural areas.
 
"Tamil Nadu is one of most urbanised states which throws up the challenges related to urbanization, migration, slums and urban poverty. State has achieved replacement level of population growth therefore increasing population of elderly is a concern. This unique combination of demography and urbanization needs a specific strategy in public expenditure and investment in critical areas in the coming decade if it is to attain its growth potential and provide a model for the rest of India.
 
"The State was doing well on many social parameters like Sex Ratio, institutional delivery, IMR, MMR etc. However, NFHS -4 shows a higher percentage of Anaemia among women and children than All India percentage. In education sector, state is depicting weak learning outcomes as per ASER 2016-17 report, despite having high literacy rates. State has done well in the democratic decentralization to the third tier. 5th State Finance Commission recommendations (2016) are under implementation.
 
"Tamil Nadu has also submitted a detailed memorandum to the Commission for consideration. Commission expects to gain an in-depth understanding of the peculiar issue related to the economic growth and development in Tamil Nadu during its interactions and meetings with the state government," the release added.
 
NNN

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Woman held for shouting slogans against Centre in aircraft

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A young woman who shouted slogans against the "fascist" Modi government in an aircraft in the presence of Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan was on Monday arrested when the plane landed here.
 
Sophia (25), who is said to be pursuing research in Canada, was returning home and was seated behind Soundararajan's third row seat. Suddenly she got up and shouted slogans against the BJP and the "fascist" government at the Centre, creating a flutter in the aircraft.
 
On landing here, the BJP leader got into a verbal duel with the student and lodged a complaint with the police who arrested her.
 
Soundararajan later told the media that the girl student rose in a "menacing" manner against her and felt there was a threat to her life in the manner in which she protested. 
 
"She is not an ordinary person," the BJP leader said, adding she suspected her "background" and that there must be some "organisation" behind her protest which should be probed. 
 
Leaders of various political parties including the CPI-M, CPI and PMK criticized the police "high handedness" and demanded the woman's immediate release. 
 
They also said Soundararajan should have handled the issue in a mature manner without resorting to gimmicks. The incident only showed that young people in the country were angry with the Central government, they said. 
 
IANS
 

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Stalin elected as new DMK president, says BJP should be taught a lesson

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
Moments after his unanimous election as DMK President, M. K. Stalin on Tuesday dispelled notions that his party was leaning towards the BJP by accusing the Modi government of "saffronizing" India and said it should be taught a lesson.
 
He also charged the BJP-led government with trying to destroy the basics of education, art, culture and religion through religious hatred. 
 
In a hard-hitting speech to delegates at the party's General Council, which elected him as the party's second president to succeed his father M. Karunanidhi, who held the post for 49 years, Stalin also hit out at the Centre saying it was painful to note that it was destroying policies of egalitarianism, social justice and rationalist thinking. 
 
"The social and political environment that is prevailing now is a big challenge to the self-respect policies. The basics of education, art, literature and religion are being sought to be destroyed by the central government through religious hatred and on the basis of official power. 
 
"The selection process in judiciary, education and state governors and the Centre's actions are aimed at sabotaging the secular principles," he said, at times overtaken by emotion.
 
Setting two immediate tasks for his party colleagues, he urged them to join him in the fight against the Modi government and also the "spineless" AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
 
"Come, teach a lesson to the Modi government that is attempting to saffronize the whole of India. Unite and come to throw out the spineless AIADMK government in the state," he said to thunderous applause from the over 1,300 delegates who had earlier approved his election.
 
Senior party leader Duraimurugan was elected unopposed as Treasurer. 
 
Stalin's attack on the BJP and the central government assumes significance in the context of speculation of late that the DMK may be softening towards the saffron party after it invited BJP President Amit Shah to a memorial meeting to pay homage to Karunanidhi here on Thursday.
 
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Confessing at the outset that he was not like his father and did not have the command of the language like Karunanidhi, the 65-year-old said he would dare to try new things inspired by the late Dravidian legends Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy and C.N. Annadurai. 
 
He said the DMK was a fort founded on four pillars of rationalism, self-respect, social justice and equality. 
 
"But it is painful to see that the (state) government was spineless and without self-respect and the Centre was trying to destroy equality, social justice and rationalistic policies."
 
He charged the AIADMK government with sacrificing people-centric schemes initiated by the DMK and indulging in "daylight loot" of the state.
 
"The first duty of the DMK is to remove these social evils and rescue the state from the hands of these thieves," Stalin said, adding that the biggest danger facing the country now was the existence of political parties without any principles with the single aim of targeting offices of power and pelf.
 
Telling his party colleagues that they would be seeing a 'new Stalin' from now on, he said he dreamt of leading the party treating everyone as equal.
 
"We are not anti-God. Even if we don't believe (in God) we will respect the beliefs of believers. We will act against whoever commits wrongs, including myself," he said.
 
Stalin vowed to fight for restoration of individual right of speech and media freedom, protection of right to hold individual views and oppose parties that attempt to obliterate other languages and view the whole of India on the basis of religion. 
 
"These are not distant dreams but would be put to action just now," he said.
 
The election for party President was necessitated by the death of Karunanidhi on August 7. 
 
DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan, who has been a long-time associate of Karunanidhi and senior to him in age, formally announced Stalin's election, saying 1,307 party officials have proposed and seconded him..
 
Earlier, the General Council condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters killed in police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the Kerala floods.
 
The meeting passed a resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Karunanidhi and announcing a grant of Rs 2 lakh for over 200 DMK workers and supporters who died of shock after learning about Karunanidhi's death.
 
IANS
 

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Stalin elected unopposed as DMK President

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
M. K. Stalin on Tuesday was elected as the DMK President unopposed at the party's General Council meeting held here.
 
Stalin, 65, becomes the second President of one of the oldest political party in the country, a post held by his late father and five times Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for 49 years.
 
The election for party President was necessitated after Karunanidhi died here on August 7.
 
DMK General Secretary K.Anbazhagan said that 1,307 party officials seconded Stalin's candidature.
 
Senior leader Duraimurugan was also elected unopposed as the party's Treasurer.
 
The General Council, before announcing the news, condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, party cadres who died in shock after hearing of Karunanidhi's death, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters who were killed in the police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the floods in Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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M K Stalin set to become DMK President unopposed

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DMK Working President M. K. Stalin is set to become the party President unopposed as he is the only person who has filed the nomination for that post on Sunday, the last day for filing of nominations, said a party official.
 
Similarly, senior leader Duraimurugan is also set to become the party Treasurer unopposed.
 
Stalin gave his nomination papers to DMK's Organising Secretary R. S. Bharathi.
 
Stalin and Duraimurugan will be formally elected at the General Council meeting to be held here on August 28.
 
Their names were proposed by all the district secretaries of the party, a party official said.
 
On August 20, DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan said in a statement that the General Council would meet at the party headquarters to elect a new President and the Treasurer.
 
Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly, presently holds the posts of Working President and Treasurer in the DMK.
 
The party's Executive Committee has already urged Stalin to take over as the party President.
 
IANS

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Find ways to lower water level in Mullaperiyar Dam: SC to authorities

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Observing that the flood situation in Kerala is "grave", the Supreme Court on Thursday asked disaster management sub committee to sit with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Friday to bring down the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam "so people do not live in constant fear".
 
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra also asked the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to co-operate with the NCMC to provide the displaced people adequate relief immediately.
 
The sub-committee constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 may suggest, before any release of water in downstream areas from Mullaperiyar Dam, "what measures can be taken to handle the disaster so that people ultimately do not suffer the catastrophe of the flood".
 
The decisions of the sub-committee regarding the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam will be implemented by Tamil Nadu and Kerala "immediately", said the bench while asking the sub committee to submit the report by Friday before it.
 
The court was hearing a PIL filed seeking directions for management of water in the Mullaperiyar Dam reservoir and announcement of a disaster management plan in relation to the dam.
 
During the hearing, counsel appearing for Kerala government told the bench that water level of the Mullaperiyar Dam should be reduced to 139 feet.
 
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu told the apex court that inflow into Mullaperiyar Dam is 20,000 cusecs and, because of rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level in the dam immediately.
 
"There is limited capacity to release water," the Tamil Nadu government said.
 
The counsel appearing for the Centre contended that the NCMC, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, met on Thursday and assured continued assistance to Kerala.
 
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The case was mentioned before the bench for urgent hearing and it agreed to hear the plea on Thursday itself.
 
The petition filed by a Kerala resident Russel Joy also sought direction for Tamil Nadu to ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam, so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam.
 
The counsel appearing for Joy argued that about 100 people have lost their lives and more that 1,50,000 people have been rendered homeless due to floods in Kerala.
 
The petitioner's advocate requested the top court for proper coordination between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to ensure protection of life and property of the people living in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
The plea sought direction to the Central government to convene a meeting of the Committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act to ensure high-level preparedness to face any disaster in relation to the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
Tamil Nadu must ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam, the plea states.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 witnessed in the states have caused massive destruction, leaving 87 people dead, more than 80,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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India will put man in space for seven days: ISRO Chairman

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For the first time, India's space agency is planning to put an Indian astronaut for seven days in space at a cost less than Rs 10,000 crore as part of its manned mission by 2022, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said on Wednesday.
 
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving the Indian Space Research Organisation the target to be achieved in the next four years, Sivan told IANS: "Our plan is to have a human being in space for seven days and not less than that. 
 
"He will be in a spacecraft, 300-400 km above earth," Sivan said, as he explained that the rocket to be used for the manned mission would be a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III).
 
He said the first unmanned flight as part of a manned space mission will happen two years from now.
 
"There will be two unmanned space missions before the actual manned space mission," Sivan added.
 
In his Independence Day address to the nation, Modi said: "In space technology, we have dreamt something; our scientists have dreamt something. And I am happy to announce that by 2022, the 75th Independence year, we are planning a manned space mission.
 
"We will put an Indian in space by 2022 or earlier," Modi said.
 
Asked about the first animal flight before the actual manned mission, Sivan said those things have to be discussed.
 
Queried about the target date set by Modi and the steps to be taken by ISRO, Sivan said: "We will have to get a formal approval for the project. The manned mission project cost will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
 
"We are in the process of developing some of the technologies and already have some. Our idea is to develop everything within India," he added.
 
According to him, ISRO has already tested the crew module and crew escape systems.
 
The space agency on July 5 carried out a successful maiden pad abort test at its spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh for the safe escape of the crew in an emergency.
 
"The technology is very essential for our manned missions in the future," Sivan had said at an event on July 7.
 
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The critical technology is designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.
 
"We are in the process of developing the life support system for the astronaut, space suit and other things. ISRO is doing this with the support of industries," Sivan had said.
 
The ISRO Chairman had then said that the space agency was "not close" to a human spaceflight yet.
 
"We are not close to that. We need to work a lot towards achieving the dream of putting a man in space."
 
According to him, the selection of astronaut to fly the spacecraft would be done by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the spaceflight training would be given overseas.
 
Sivan said ISRO has to set up necessary infrastructural facilities like the control centres for the proposed manned mission.
 
He said Modi's announcement was a big kickstart and as a whole the nation's science and technology sector would benefit.
 
So far, only the US, Russia and China have launched human space flights.
 
IANS
 

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DMK leaders pledge support to Stalin

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
Top DMK leaders on Tuesday made it clear that they and the party were solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin, whose father and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi died a week ago.
 
An emergency meeting of the Executive Committee was called at the DMK headquarters here with a single agenda - to pass a resolution condoling the death of DMK President Karunanidhi.
 
The meeting was chaired by Stalin, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
 
After the passage of the condolence resolution that praised Karunanidhi and listed his numerous achievements, party leaders including Duraimurugan, T. R. Baalu and others expressed their support to Stalin and urged him to take over the party's mantle.
 
"Working President and soon-to-become President, lead us and we will obey your orders," Duraimurugan thundered.
 
Addressing the gathering, former Union Minister Baalu said in a quivering voice: "The commander of the army is no more. Nobody has to tell who will be the next commander. Stalin has all the qualities to lead."
 
Several District Secretaries of the party also voiced their staunch support to Stalin as the party's top leader.
 
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On his part, a normally clean shaven Stalin, sporting an unshaven face, said: "I have lost not only my leader but also my father."
 
Opening up on the subject publicly for the first time, he said he had pleaded with Chief Minister K. Palaniswami to allot space at the Marina beach to bury Karunanidhi.
 
"I held the hands of the Chief Minister and pleaded for space. They did not agree."
 
After the announcement of Karunanidhi's death at 6.10 p.m. on August 7, the government issued a statement formally refusing a burial space at Marina.
 
Praising the DMK's legal team led by T. Wilson, Stalin said they approached the Madras High Court late at night and won the case the next day.
 
Stalin said had the case been lost, a situation would have arisen leading to his own burial next to Karunanidhi.
 
Tuesday's meeting came a day after expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri, Stalin's elder brother, asserted that "true loyalists" of Karunanidhi were with him and that Stalin was a poor leader.
 
Paying homage to Karunanidhi, Alagiri, expelled from the DMK in 2014 for criticizing party leaders, told reporters that he had poured his anguish about the party to his father and not about his family.
 
But as expected, the Executive Committee lined up behind Stalin.
 
The elevation of Stalin as the party President will have to be decided by the DMK's General Council. The party has not announced a date for a General Council meeting.
 
IANS
 

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DMK Executive Committee pledges support to Stalin

The DMK's Executive Committee on Tuesday made it clear that the party was solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin.

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The DMK's Executive Committee on Tuesday made it clear that the party was solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin.
 
The urgent meeting of the Executive Committee was called at the DMK headquarters here to adopt a resolution condoling the death of party President and former Chief Minister M. Karunanidi.
 
The meeting was chaired by Stalin, who is also the Leader of the Oppositon in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
 
After the passage of the condolence resolution, speaker after speaker including leaders like Duraimurugan, T.R. Baalu and others expressed their support to Stalin and urged him to take over the party's mantle.
 
"Working President, lead us as the party President," Duraimurugan said to cheers.
 
Addressing the gathering, former Union Minister Baalu said in a quivering voice: "The commander of the army is no more. Nobody has to tell who will be the next commander. Stalin has all the qualities to lead."
 
IANS

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