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Tamil Nadu

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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TN Assembly Speaker disqualifies 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs

Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal on Monday disqualified all the 18 rebel MLAs of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) owing allegiance to T T V Dinakaran, who was recently ousted from his position as Deputy General Secretary of the party.

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Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal today disqualified all the 18 rebel MLAs of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) owing allegiance to T T V Dinakaran, who was recently ousted from his position as Deputy  General Secretary of the party.
 
The MLAs were disqualified for allegedly going against the party line by withdrawing their support to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.
 
A press release issued by  the Legislative Assembly Secretary K. Boopathy said that the 18 MLAs were disqualified under the Anti-defection rules created under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
 
"All the 18 MLAs have lost their membership of the Legislative Assembly with effect from today," the release said.
 
The 18 disqualified MLAs are: Thangatamilselvam (Andipatti), R Murugan (Arur), S Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai), Dr K Kadhirgamu (Periyakulam), Ms C Jayanthi Padmanabham (Gudiyatham), P Palaniappan (Pappireddipatti), V Senthil Balaji (Aravakurichi), Dr S Muthiah (Paramakudi), P Vetrivel (Perambur), N G Parthiban (Sholingur), M Kothandapani (Tiruporur), T A Elumalai (Poonamallee), M Rengasamy (Thanjavur), R Thangadurai (NIlakottai), R Balasubramani (Ambur), Ethirkottai S G Subramanian (Sattur), R Sundarraj (Ottapidaram) and Ms K Uma Maheswari (Vilathikulam).
 
In all, 19 MLAs had turned rebel in protest against the merger of the two warring factions of the AIADMK headed by Mr. Palaniswami and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who was later sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister in the present government on August 21.
 
On August 22, the MLAs handed over letters to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao withdrawing their support to the Chief Minister and demanded his removal, following which the Government fell short of a simple majority in the Assembly.
 
Since then, the Dinakaran camp and the Opposition parties, led by the DMK, have been saying that the Palaniswamy government had been reduced to a minority and urging the Governor to direct the Chief Minister to seek a fresh trust vote in the House.
 
In the meantime, one of the 19 MLAs deserted the rebel camp and pledged his support to Mr. Palaniswami.
 
The Speaker had issued notices twice to the MLAs asking them to explain why action should not be taken against them under the anti-defection law for violating the party's decision taken in February electing Mr. Palaniswamy as its legislature party leader. 
 
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The MLAs did not respond to the notice and the Speaker invoked the provisions of the anti-defection law and disqualified them with effect from today.
 
The Dinakaran faction is expected to go to court against the Speaker's decision.
 
Of the total 135 AIADMK MLAs, including the Speaker, in the 234-member Assembly (RK Nagar fell vacant following the death of former CM Jayalalithaa), the Chief Minister enjs the support of 114 MLAs.
 
The Opposition parties have a combined strength of 98 (DMK-89, Congress-8 and IUML-1).
 
The MLAs loyal to Mr. Dinakaran were housed at a resort in Coorg in arnataka, in a bid to prevent them from leaving the fold. They were earlier kept at a luxurious resort in Puducherry for about ten days.
 
The General council of the unified AIADMK, attended by more than 95 percent of its 2,140-odd members, had on September 12 annulled the appointment of V K Sasikala, a close aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, as the 'interim' General Secretary of the party on December 29, 2016, of the party and also that of Dinakaran, her nephew, as Deputy General Secretary.
 
Dinakaran had been appointed to the position by Ms. Sasikala just hours before she surrendered before a trial court in Bengaluru following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case that also involved Ms. Jayalalithaa. She is now serving the remainder of her jail term.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had set the removal of the duo as one his main pre-conditions for the merger of his faction with the Palaniswamy faction.
 
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AIADMK General Council nullifies appointments of Sasikala, Dinakaran

 
AIADMK removes jailed Sasikala from party General Secretary's post
A crucial meeting of the General Council of the unified AIADMK today nullified the appointment of jailed interim General Secretary V. K. Sasikala and held that the appointment of her nephew T T V Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary of the party was iillegal.
 
Resolutions to this effect were adopted at the meeting, which was attended by more than 95 percent of the 2,140 members of the General Council at a hall in the Vaanagaram area of the city.
 
In other resolutions, the meeting gave the nod for a steering committee with Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam as its coordinator and Chief Minister Edapaddi K. Palaniswami as the Joint Coordinator, and vested them with full powers of the General Secretary.
 
The party also decided that it would not appoint anyone to the post of General Secretary, which was held by late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa till her death in December 2016, saying that she would remain the "eternal General Secretary" of the party.
 
The latest developments have ensured that Ms. Sasikala, serving a jail term after being convicted in a corruption case basically involving the late Ms. Jayalalithaa, would no longer be the General Secretary of the party.
 
The meeting was held today after a division bench of the Madras High Court late last night declined to stay the meeting after rebel MLA P. Vetrivel of the Dinakaran camp, challenged the dismissal of his earlier plea by a single judge.
 
At the outset, the meeting adopted resolutions authorising Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswamy to bring in necessary amendments to Rule 19 of the party to give full powers to the Steering Committee. Former state Minister K P Munusamy and Rajya Sabha member R. Vaithilingam were made deputy coordinators of the committee.
 
The Panneerselvam camp had insisted on the removal of Ms. Sasikala and members of her family from the party as a key condition before agreeing to the merger with the Palaniswamy group on August 21.
 
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Ahead of the meeting, 19 rebel MLAs, who were housed in a resort in Coorg, Karnataka after staying for some days in Puducherry, withdrew support to Mr. Palaniswamy's government, which fell short of a majority in the legislative assembly. This led to demands from the Dinakaran camp that the Chief Minister must prove his majority in the House.
 
The meeting resolved that the AIADMK would remain united and would retrieve the party's "Two Leaves" election symbol, which has been frozen by the Election Commission following the split of the party into two factions headed by Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswamy.
 
The meeting was conducted by senior leader and party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhan.
 
In all, the meeting adopted 12 resolutions, including one which said that all party office-bearers appointed by the late Ms. Jayalalithaa would continue in their positions.
 
None of the MLAs owing allegiance to Mr. Dinakaran attended the meeting.
 
On his part, Mr. Dinakaran said today's meeting of the General Council was illegal since the General Secretary alone had powers to convene such meetings.
 
Talking to reporters in Madurai, he hoped Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao would act on his group's demand for a direction to the Chief Minister to face a trust vote in the assembly.
 
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Common Food Processing Incubation Centre for Shallots at Perambalur

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Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal launched a Common Food Processing Incubation Centre for Shallots (small onions) in Chettikulam village in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu through video conferencing from here yesterday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that it is a historic an auspicious occasion for Tamil Nadu and Chettikulam Village in particular. She also congratulated Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur for their initiatives to help double farmers' income by 2022.
 
The farmers in Perambalur district are producing 70,000 tons of shallots per year in a cultivation area of 8,000 hectares, inspite of the increasing difficulty in cultivation due to increase in prices of inputs, unpredictable weather, disease outbreak and not getting adequate prices in the market.
 
The Central Processing Centre for Shallots in Perambalur will ensure that no shallots are wasted, increase farmers' income and also ensure availability of shallots to consumers, the Minister said.
 
This onion processing technology should be taken to all parts of India, she added.
 
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TN: 19 MLAs in Dinakaran faction withdraw support to Palaniswami govt.

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A day after the two rival factions of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) merged and rebel leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister, a third group of 19 MLAs owing allegiance to the party's interim General Secretary V K Sasikala and her nephew T T V Dinakaran today withdrew support to the Edapadi K. Palaniswami government.
 
The 19 MLAs met Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan and handed over to him individual letters stating that they had withdrawn support to Chief Minister Palaniswami.
 
The letter said that Mr. Palaniswami had forfeited their confidence and the confidence of the public and that they had, therefore, decided to withdraw support to him.
 
One of the MLAs, Thanga Tamil Selvan, said they had urged the Governor to direct the Chief Minister to seek a fresh vote of confidence in the state legislative assembly.
 
''We all voted for Palaniswami during the February floor test only because general secretary V K Sasikala asked us to do so. Now they want her to be sacked from the party which is not fair," he said.
 
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Soon after the 19 MLAs met the Governor, Mr. Palaniswami went into a huddle with his senior colleagues, including Mr. Panneerselvam.
 
Meanwhile, Mr. Dinakaran, the Deputy General Secretary of the AIADMK, expelled Rajya Sabha member R. Vaithilingam from the party for "anti-party activities".
 
Mr. Vaithilingam had said yesterday that General Council of the AIADMK would be convened soon to expel the jailed Ms. Sasikala. Her expulsion was one of the key demands made by the Panneerselvam camp before it agreed to the merger between the two factions.
 
Meanwhile, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has urged the Governor to ask Mr. Palaniswami to seek a trust vote in view of today's developments.
 
DMK Working President M. K. Stalin said in a letter to the Governor that the withdrawal of support by the 19 MLAs had created a crisis because the government had lost its majority. He said any delay in asking the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the House would mean continuance of an unconstutitional government. He also felt this would pave the way for horse-trading.
 
The AIADMK has 134 members in the 234-member assembly, in which one seat, R. K. Nagar, is vacant following the death of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in December 2016. If the 19 MLAs withdraw their support, the government will have 115 members, two short of the number required for a simple majority.
 
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Tamil Nadu: AIADMK factions merge, OPS sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister

More than six months after their bitter split, the two rival factions of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu merged in Chennai on Monday after reaching an understanding as part of which Mr. Edapaddi K. Palaniswamy will continue as Chief Minister and his predecessor O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister.

 
Warring AIADMK factions merge, OPS is Deputy CM
More than six months after their bitter split, the two rival factions of the ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu merged here today after reaching an understanding as part of which Mr. Edapaddi K. Palaniswamy will continue as Chief Minister and his predecessor O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 66, and former Minister K. Pandiarajan were sworn in as Ministers by Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan this afternoon.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam was allocated the portfolios of Finance, Housing, Rural Housing and Housing Development, Slum Clearance Board and Accommodation Control, Town Planning, Urban Development and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority and also designated as Deputy Chief Minister, a press release from Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Pandiarajan was allocated the portfolios of Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, it said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam will also be the coordinator of the ruling AIADMK while Mr. Palaniswami will be the co-coordinator, party sources said.
 
The decision to merge the two factions was announced at the AIADMK headquarters here where Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam were both present. Both leaders were greeted with loud cheers by party workers who lined up on the road leading to the building.
 
This was Mr. Panneerselvam's first visit to the AIADMK headquarters after the split in the party and came after hectic, last-minute parleys and hard bargaining between the two sides.
 
The last-minute discussions came after the Panneerselvam camp stood firm in its demand for the ouster of jailed "interim" AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala. Senior Ministers turned up at Mr. Panneerselvam's residence and the two sides worked out a rapprochement after which he set for the party headquarters.
 
Reports said that, after the merger, the General Council of the AIADMK would be convened to formally adopt a resolution on the removal of Ms. Sasikala and her nephew and party Deputy General Secretary from the party.
 
The two leaders shook hands and later went together to the memorial of the late Ms. Jayalalithaa. "No one can separate us, we are all children of Amma,” Mr. Panneerselvam said.
 
“MGR and Amma will be very happy today as we have both united," Mr. Palaniswami said, referring to late AIADMK founder M. G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa. "In six months, we suffered many problems. We shall overcome them,” he said.
 
The Chief Minister said the party would work to get back its "Two Leaves" election symbol, which had been frozen by the Election Commission after the two factions took their dispute to it.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that a steering committee would be constituted to guide the party and the government.
 
Later, the leaders drove to Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in ceremony. Mr. Vidyasagar Rao, the Governor of Maharashtra who is holding additional charge of the post of Governor of Tamil Nadu, had cancelled all his engagements in Maharashtra today and flown down to Chennai.
 
"I congratulate Thiru O Panneerselvam & others who took oath today. I hope Tamil Nadu scales newer heights of progress in the years to come," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter, amidst speculation that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had played a role in bringing the two factions together.
 
"Centre assures all possible support to CM Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami & Dy CM Thiru O Panneerselvam for the growth of TN," Mr. Modi added.
 
Mr. Palaniswami, 63, was sworn in as the 13th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on February 16, bringing the curtains down on nearly two weeks of political drama in the state and marking the split of the party.
 
The divisions within the party came to the surface on February 5 with the election of the party's general secretary V. K. Sasikala as the leader of its legislature wing. In the days that followed, the state witnessed political turmoil, which included efforts by two factions of the ruling party, led by Ms. Sasikala and then caretaker Chief Minister Panneerselvam to win over a majority of the 135 AIADMK MLAs.
 
The crisis culminated with the conviction of Ms. Sasikala in a 20-year-old corruption case, that basically involved the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, and her surrender before a trial court in Bengaluru on February 15 to resume her four-year jail sentence. 
 
Before leaving for Bengaluru, Ms. Sasikala oversaw the election of Mr. Palaniswami as the new leader of the legislature party and then placed her nephew, T. T. V. Dinakaran, in the newly-created position of deputy secretary general of the AIADMK, ensuring that she would retain some control over its affairs from inside prison.
 
Mr. Palaniswami had become the third Chief Minister of the state in the short span of ten months since the AIADMK retained power for a second consecutive term in the May 2016 elections to the State Legislative Assembly.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had earlier raised the banner of revolt against Ms. Sasikala on February 7, precipitating the crisis.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa took over as the Chief Minister after the elections but, following her death on December 5, 2016 after 75 days of hospitalisation, Mr. Panneerselvam succeeded her and assumed office on December 6.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is popularly known, had resigned as Chief Minister on February 5, shortly after Ms. Sasikala's election as the new legislature party leader. The Governor accepted his resignation the following day and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangements were made.
 
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With the Supreme Court verdict in the corruption case against Ms. Jayalalithaa, Ms. Sasikala and two others, expected within a few days, Mr. Rao did not respond immediately to Ms. Sasikala's claim to forming the new government.
 
On February 7 night, OPS, in rather uncharacteristic fashion, came out openly against Ms. Sasikala, claiming that he had been forced to resign and support her and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the party and the people wanted him to.
 
In the days that followed, both the Sasikala and OPS camps tried to woo the AIADMK's 135 MLAs. While Ms. Sasikala said she had the support of more than 120 of them, Mr. Panneerselvam could not get more than ten on his side, even as 11 AIADMK Members of Parliament threw their lot in with him.
 
On February 14, the Supreme Court convicted Ms. Sasikala and directed her to surrender forthwith before the trial court in Bengaluru to resume the four-year prison term she had been awarded by it in September 2014 before the Karnataka High Court overturned that verdict in May 2015. The case against Ms. Jayalalithaa had abated because of her death.
 
The Supreme Court's order, overturning the Karnataka High Court judgement and restoring the verdict of the trial court, meant that Ms. Sasikala would have to spend time in prison and be barred from contesting elections for six years after that, bringing her political career to an abrupt halt and putting paid to her chief ministerial aspirations.
 
Her faction of the AIADMK then elected Mr. Palaniswami as the new leader of its legislature party within a few hours of the Supreme Court verdict on February 14.
 
In recent months, however, there have been indications that the Palaniswami faction was sidelining Ms. Sasikala and Mr. Dinakaran. A few days ago, the state government announced an inquiry into Ms. Jayalalithaa's death and declared that her Poes Garden residence here would be taken over and converted into a memorial for her.
 
These were among the key demands made by the Panneerselvam group, and the announcements gave a fresh impetus to the merger talks between the two factions.
 
This is not the first time that the AIADMK has come together after suffering a split following the death of their leader.
 
Earlier, after the demise of its founder MGR in 1987, the party had split into two factions, one headed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and other by MGR's widow Janaki Ramachandran.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa fought her way back to bring the two factions together before her death led to another split, when Ms. Sasikala tried to gain control of the party and the government.
 
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DMK chief M Karunanidhi admitted to hospital for minor procedure

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Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was admitted to a private hospital here today for a minor procedure.
 
A press release from the Kauvery Hospital said Mr. Karunanidhi, 93, was admitted for a "minor procedure -- change of PEG tube".
 
"He will be discharged from the hospital later today," Dr. S. Aravindan, Executive Director, Kauvery Hospital added in the release.
 
PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) is a procedure in which a flexible feeding tube is placed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach. PEG allows nutrition, fluids and/or medications to be put directly into the stomach, bypassing the mouth and esophagus. The procedure is used for patients who have difficulties in oral intake of food.
 
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HCC wins Rs 763.57 crore contract from IGCAR

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) today said it had won a prestigious contract worth Rs. 763.57 crore from the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) for construction of a Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle facility in the coastal city of Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu.
 
The scope of work includes construction of Nuclear Safety Compliant Structures for fuel processing plant for Fast Breeder Reactors and allied facilities including civil, electrical and mechanical works, a press release from the company said. The project is to be completed in 48 months.
 
Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO- E&C, HCC Ltd said “We are happy to receive this contract for building Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle facility at Kalpakkam. With our well experience team, we are confident of delivering this job on time with precision in quality, safety and state-of-the-art technology.”
 
When completed, this would serve as fuel processing facility for Fast Breeder Reactors. This is the fourth contract awarded to HCC by IGCAR. Prior to this order, the company has received three contracts from IGCAR to build Administrative Blocks, Township and Metallic Fuel Plant. 
 
Some of the major work HCC is currently executing for Department of Atomic Energy includes the first phase of Integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant of BARC in Tarapur and PWHR Units 7 & 8 (2×700 MW) at Rawatbhata, Kota, Rajasthan for NPCIL, the release added.
 
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For future cancer drugs, scientists look to clues from outer space

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Microgravity conditions experienced by astronauts in space induce stress and strain around human cells. Cancer cells have also been known to die under microgravity. Scientists are exploring if this knowledge can be used to develop novel ways to find new drugs.
 
A group of Indian scientists has figured out the mechanism of cancer cells dying under microgravity, and believe that this can be used to find new drugs in future.
 
The research group at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) subjected cultured colorectal cancer cell lines to microgravity and observed that they die within 48 hours.
 
Cancer cells died due to apoptosis, which is death induced by cancer cells themselves in response to stress. For simulating microgravity conditions, an equipment called Rotational Cell Culture System-High Aspect Ratio Vessel was used.
 
“Cancer cells initiate their own death, it is also called programmed cell death. They did so by increasing the levels of two proteins called PTEN and FOXO3 and reducing the levels of another protein, Akt, when they experienced microgravity,” researchers said.
 
When brought back to normal gravity conditions, they stopped dying and started proliferating again which is their ‘normal’ state, Professor Rama Shanker Verma, who led the study, told India Science Wire. However, the time taken for cancer cells to start proliferating again was longer -- nearly three weeks as opposed to less than a week when they do not experience any microgravity, added Raj Pranap Arun, a member of the research team which published its findings in journal Scientific Reports.
 
“We can exploit the properties of cancer cells under microgravity to find potential drug targets”, believes Professor Verma. The team is now extending the work to cancer stem cells that are responsible in cases of relapse.
 
Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, professor at Jamia Hamdard Institute of Molecular Medicine, New Delhi, who is not connected to the study, commented that “it is a long way to find a new drug against cancer. But this study has taken an interesting route to address a fundamental problem and may help identify novel drug targets to intervene against cancer.”
 
The research team also included Divya Sivanesan and Prasanna Vidyasekar from IIT Madras and National University of Singapore. (India Science Wire)
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Tamil Nadu deploying artificial reefs to save sinking islands

Sinking islands may become a reality with sea level rise and climate change in decades to come. Tamil Nadu has hit upon a novel idea to protect such islands on its coast – deployment of artificial reefs near vulnerable islands.
 
Artificial reefs, made of concrete, have been found to be capable of preventing further erosion of ecologically sensitive islands and also regenerate coral biodiversity in the Gulf of Mannar region.
 
“We have successfully demonstrated this in Vaan island in the Munnar region. The island which had sunken to a great extent over decades has regained some of its area,” said Dr H Malleshappa, head of the Tamil Nadu State Climate Change Cell.
 
Vaan is one of the 21 islands in the Gulf of Mannar which were declared marine biodiversity park in 1986. Indiscriminate mining of coral and use of destructive fishing practices in the past few decades have fully submerged two of the islands while Vaan was on the verge of submergence when the project began in 2015. Its area had been reduced from 16 hectares in 1986 to 2 hectares in 2014.
 
“Following the deployment of artificial reefs, new accretion has occurred,” Dr Malleshappa told India Science Wire on the sidelines of a workshop on climate change.
 
The area of Vaan island has increased by 2.24 hectares in low tide and 1.8 hectare in mean tide between December 2015 and August 2016. The restoration of Vaan island is one the climate adaptation projects funded by the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The state has been given Rs 25 crore for the project.
 
It is the first attempt in India to protect and restore a sinking island. Deployment of artificial reefs parallel to the sinking island in the seaward side reduces the effect of currents and waves, enhances fish habitats for higher fish production and protection of fish diversity. Natural corals get attached to artificial reefs over time and start regeneration.
 
Following the success in Vaan, Tamil Nadu has proposed to undertake restoration of two more islands and has approached Green Climate Fund for funding of Rs 100 crore.
 
The first two phases of the project were funded by the TN Coastal Zone Protection Authority, starting in February 2015. The project had two components in these phases – coral rehabilitation and artificial reef deployment. In the first phase, three square kilometre degraded area around the island was rehabilitated with native coral species using standard coral transplantation techniques.
 
Rehabilitated coral sites were monitored regularly to document survival and growth of the transplanted corals. The survival rate is 80 to 90 percent and spawning has been observed in transplanted corals. The coral rehabilitation project was started with technical expertise from the Suganti Devadason Marine Research Institute.
 
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In the second phase, artificial reefs were deployed. For this, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) conducted wave dynamic and bathymetry studies. Based on this, the design of artificial reefs was finalised and locations identified for deploying artificial reef modules. Each module is 2.5 meter in width, 2 meter in height and 1 meter in longitudinal length, and weighs 1.8 tonnes. 
 
The concrete reefs have been deployed 250 meters from the island in a semi-circular constellation. In the first two phases, 4600 modules have been deployed in eight months. Now with the funding from Adaptation Fund, the plan is to take the total number of artificial reefs to 10,000 in two layers.
 
None of the islands are inhabited but they support livelihoods of people. Therefore, one of the key objectives of the project is to undertake eco development activities among coastal communities to enhance their adaptive capacity, Dr Malleshappa added.
 
Though the reason for erosion of islands is a combination of several factors such as coral mining in destructive fishing techniques, experts point out that sea level rise due to climate variation is posing additional threat to coastal islands. 
 
“Low-lying coastal areas are more vulnerable to impacts of climate change as they are highly prone for inundation due to sea level rise,” observed Dr K Palanivelu, director of the Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research at Anna University.
 
The media workshop on climate change was organised by the Centre for Media Studies, GIZ and the Ministry  of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) . 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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CCEA okays doubling of railway line with electrification between Thiruvananthapuram, Kanniyakumari

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the construction of double line with electrification between Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
 
The total length of the line will be 86.56 km.  The estimated cost of the project will be Rs. 1431.90 crore and completion cost of Rs. 1552.94 crore with 5% escalation per annum, an official press release said.
 
The project is likely to be completed in four years by 2020-21.  The project will generate direct employment during construction for 20.77 lakh mandays, it said.
 
The project would not only speed up the operation of goods and coaching trains, but also provide additional capacity for meeting the increase in traffic in future, the release said.
 
The release said the section is heavily passenger oriented and also serves the goods traffic from nearby ports. Operations from Vizhinjam port are likely to start by 2019 and 30% of its gateway traffic is likely to be handled by the Railways.  
 
The Present line capacity of Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil section of this route has already saturated which is causing heavy detention to trains moving towards Kanniyakumari and Chennai.   
 
"Line capacity of this route needs to be enhanced to meet the demands for additional trains and smooth movement of trains through the route.  Hence, doubling of Thiruvananthapuram-Kanniyakumari line needs to be taken up," the release added.
 
The CCEA also approved the doubling and electrification of the line Vanchi-Maniyachchi-Nagercoil line via Tirunelveli and the Madurai-Vanchi and Maniyachchi-Tuticorin lines.
 
The total length of the Vanchi-Maniyachchi-Nagercoil line will be 102 km. The estimated cost of the project will be Rs. 1003.94 crore and completion cost of Rs. 1114.62 crore with 5% escalation per annum. 
 
The total length of the Madurai-Vanchi and Maniyachchi-Tuticorin lines will be 160 km. The estimated cost of the proejct will be Rs. 1182.31 crore and completion cost of Rs. 1272.51 crore with 5% escalation per annum.
 
The projects are likely to be completed in four years by 2020-21, the release added.
 
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Modi inaugurates Kalam Memorial in Rameswaram, flags off train to Ayodhya

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Memorial at Rameswaram and flagged off a train from there to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh during a day's visit to the coastal town in Tamil Nadu.
 
Mr. Modi unveiled a statue of former President Kalam and offered floral tributes at Kalam Sthal. He also briefly interacted with the members of the family of Mr. Kalam.
 
The Prime Minister flagged off the Kalam Sandesh Vahini, an exhibition bus which will travel across various States of the country and reach Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on October 15, the birth anniversary of the former President.
 
At a public meeting, the Prime Minister distributed sanction letters to select beneficiaries of Long Line Trawlers under the Blue Revolution Scheme.
 
He flagged off a new express train from Rameswaram to Ayodhya - named Shraddha Setu - via video conference. He released the synopsis of the Green Rameswaram Project; and unveiled a plaque to mark the dedication to the nation of a 9.5 km Link Road on NH-87, between Mukundarayar Chathiram and Arichalmunai.
 
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said Rameswaram has been a beacon of spirituality for the entire nation; and is now also known as the place closely associated with Mr. Kalam. He said Mr. Kalam reflected the simplicity, depth and calmness of Rameswaram.
 
The memorial for Mr. Kalam showcases his life and times in a remarkable manner, the Prime Minister said.
 
Paying rich tributes to late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, Mr. Modi said she was a leader that every one remembered. 
 
He said a transformation in the ports and logistics sectors can contribute immensely to India's growth. He mentioned that there is a healthy competition among States as far as the Swachh Bharat Mission is concerned.
 
He said Mr. Kalam inspired the youth of India, who want to scale heights of progress and become job creators.
 
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Modi to inaugurate APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial at Rameswaram on Thursday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the memorial of former President A P J Abdul Kalam’s at Pei Karumbu, Rameswaram, in Tamil Nadu tomorrow.
 
He will hoist the national flag at the memorial, designed and built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), an official press release said.
 
Mr. Modi will unveil a statue of Mr. Kalam, and offer floral tributes. He will also interact with members of Mr. Kalam's family.
 
Later, the Prime Minister will flag off ‘Kalam Sandesh Vahini’, an exhibition bus which would travel across various States of the country and reach Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 15, the birth anniversary of the former President.
 
Mr. Modi will then proceed to Mandapam for a public meeting. He will distribute sanction letters to the beneficiaries of long liner trawlers under Blue Revolution scheme. He will also flag off a new express train from Ayodhya to Rameswaram (via video conference). 
 
He will release a synopsis of the Green Rameswaram Project. He will unveil a plaque to mark the dedication to the nation of the 9.5 km Link Road on NH 87, which runs between Mukundarayar Chathiram and Arichalmunai. He will conclude the visit by addressing a public meeting.  
 
The Kalam Memorial has been constructed by DRDO in exactly one year. Architecturally, it has taken inspiration from several national landmarks.  The entrance looks similar to India Gate, while the two domes are on the lines of Rahstrapati Bhavan. 
 
The memorial has four main halls, each depicting the life and times of Mr. Kalam.  Hall-1 focuses on his childhood and educational phase, Hall-2 the Presidential days, including address to Parliament and UN Council, Hall-3 his ISRO and DRDO days and  Hall-4 his post-Presidential days, till he breathed his last at Shillong. 
 
There is a separate section to exhibit some of the personnel belongings of Mr. Kalam, including his famous Rudra Veena, the G-suit he wore during his Su-30 MKI flight and numerous awards he received.  Twelve walls have been utilized for murals and paintings. 
 
The entire area has been landscaped to reflect the peace and harmony aspect of Mr. Kalam’s personality. 
 
The construction material and other accessories for the memorial have been shipped to Rameswaram from many parts of India. The crafted front doors are from Thanjavur; stone claddings from Jaisalmer and Agra; stone pillars from Bengaluru; marbles from Karnataka and murals from Hyderabad, Shanti Niketan, Kolkata and Chennai, to name a few, the release added.
 
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SC orders NEET-UG results to be declared, CBSE to do so in two weeks

The Supreme Court on Monday issued an interim order directing the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to declare the results of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) Undergraduate (UG) conducted by it on May 7.

The Supreme Court today issued an interim order directing the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to declare the results of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) Undergraduate (UG) conducted by it on May 7.
 
While doing so, the vacation bench comprising Mr. Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta, stayed an interim order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on May 24, staying the declaration of the results.
 
The CBSE, which conducts NEET, said it would declare the results by June 26 as the apex court's order. The results were originally scheduled to be declared on June 8.
 
The Supreme Court clarified that the declaration of the results and admission of students to medical colelges shall be subject to the decision of the special leave petitions on which the Madras High Court had issued its interim order.
 
The apex court also requested all High Courts not to entertain any writ petitions in the matter. The special leave petitions will now be listed before the Supreme Court immediately after the summer vacation.
 
The court noted that the counsels for the CBSE and other petitioners, who  had appealed against the Madras High Court stay, had submitted that the interim direction issued by the High Court was directly against the spirit of the order passed by the apex court whereby a schedule had been fixed for declaration of the results.
 
"In view of the above, we are inclined to pass interim order. The impugned order is stayed and it is directed that the authorities concerned may further proceed with the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for under Graduate (UG) conducted on 07.05.2017. It is clarified that the declaration of the result and admission shall be subject to the decision of these special leave petitions. The High Courts are requested not to entertain the writ petitions in the matter.
 
"List these petitions immediately after summer vacation," the order said.
 
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NEET-UG is held by the CBSE for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in India and as many as 11.35 candidates had registered for the test this year -- the highest ever for the examination. The examination was held in 103 cities across the country.
 
The Madras High Court had stayed the declaration of the results after being told that the NEET-UG question papers in English and Hindi, on the one hand, and in eight other regional languages, on the other, were different.
 
The CBSE had prayed for an urgent hearing on its appeal, stating that the delay in declaration of results would delay the completion of admission to UG courses in medical colleges.
 
It said that it had decided to frame different question papers so that, in the event of a leak, it would not have to cancel the entire examination.
 
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Gadkari inaugurates new projects at Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu

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Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari today said an investment of Rs. 2.5 lakh crore was being made in Tamil Nadu under the Sagarmala project.
 
Of this, Rs. 39,000 crore will be for port modernisation, Rs. 55,000 crore for port connectivity and Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for port-led industrialisation, he said after inaugurating several new projects at Kamarajar Port in the state.
 
The projects inaugurated today include a new container terminal worth Rs. 1270 crore, a new multi-cargo terminal worth Rs. 151 crore, railway line to container and multi-cargo terminal worth Rs. 60 crore, and RFID system worth Rs. 11.82 crore. 
 
Mr. Gadkari said the work being done under Sagarmala is estimated to create about 2 lakh direct jobs in the state in the next two years.
 
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Nine MPs chosen for Sansad Ratna Awards 2017

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Nine Members of Parliament (MPs) -- six from the Lok Sabha and three from the Rajya Sabha -- have been chosen  for the Sansad Ratna Awards for 2017 for their outstanding performance in the just concluded sessions of both Houses of Parliament.
 
Kerala Governor Justice P Sathasivam will confer these awards at a function at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras here tomorrow.
 
IIT Madras is a partner with Chennai-based NGO Prime Point Foundation and e-magazine PreSense, which have been giving awards to top performing MPs since 2010.
 
The awards were instituted by the foundation on a suggestion given by the then President of India A P J Adul Kalam that good work by people's representatives in Parliament should be recognised and awarded. 
 
Shrirang Appa Barve (Shiv Sena--Mavel--Maharashtra), Rajeev Shankar Rao Satav (INC--Hingoli--Maharashtra)  and Dhananjay Bhimrao Mahadi (Nationalist Congress Party--Kolhapur--Maharashtra) were nominated by the jury for awards under different categories of debates, questions, discussions and so on.
 
Bhatruhari Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal – Cuttack – Odisha) and N K Premachandran (Revolutionary Socialist Party -- Kollam --Kerala) , have been nominated for special awards by the jury for their excellence in quality of debates and other parliamentary proceedings.
 
K Srinivasan , Chairman of the Prime Point Foundation, told newspersons here today that Dr Heena Vijaykumar Gavit, the youngest MP of BJP from Nandurbar, Maharashtra has been nominated for the award under the Women MP category. NCP’s Supriya Sule had won this award twice in previous years.
 
The foundation commernced honouring outstanding Rajya Sabha members who had retired the previous year after the completion of their full six-year term. This year Sanjay Raut , Shiv Sena, Maharashtra, K N Balagopal, CPI-M, Kerala and Dr T N Seema, CPI-M Kerala, have been nominated among the Rajya Sabha MPs who retired in 2016 after putting in an outstanding performance highlighting issues of public interest.
 
The jury was headed by Anandrao Adsul, veteran MP from Shiv  Sena, and included Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir and Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal.
 
Alongside the awards ceremony, a seminar on politics, democracy and governance will also be held with the participation of well-known political leaders, journalists and educationists.
 
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Mukherjee addresses 159th founder’s day celebrations of Lawrence School

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President Pranab Mukherjee today said education does not merely imply imparting information but the values imparted by schools have to be absorbed in the personalities of students so that they become worthy citizens of this great nation.
 
Addressing the 159th Founder’s Day Celebrations of Lawrence School here, Mr Mukherjee said, “We do not want merely informed robots without any soul. We want human beings who are sensitive to the needs of society.”
 
He stated that the beaming and confident faces of students in the school inspired confidence in him that the future of the country is safe in the hands of young children who have the competence to face all odds and challenges.
 
The President said that Lawrence School is a premier residential public school of the country. Established in 1858, it was set to impart vocational education to the orphans and children of European soldiers in India. Over the years, the school has developed its own unique character. He wished the management, staff and students of the school all success in their future endeavours.
 
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Mukherjee to address 159th Founder’s Day Celebrations of Lawrence School on Tuesday

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President Pranab Mukherjee will address the 159th Founder's Day Celebrations of the Lawrence School at Ootacamund in the Nilgiris during a two-day visit to Tamil Nadu.
 
An official press release said Mr. Mukherjee would return to Delhi on May 24.
 
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