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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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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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Tirunelveli-Pune special train derails in Tamil Nadu, all passengers safe

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The engine and seven coaches of the 03122 Tirunelveli-Pune Special train derailed after hitting a tree that had fallen on the track in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu last night, but none of the passengers suffered any injuries, official sources said here today.
 
The tree had been uprooted and fallen onto the track due to strong winds, a press release from Southern Railway said.
 
The mishap occurred at 2150 hours yesterday near Minatchipuram on the Pollachi-Palakkad section of Southern Railway, it said.
 
"All passengers are safe. No injuries to any passenger," the release said.
 
According to the release, the unaffected portion of the train will continue its journey via diverted route of Dindigul, Karur, Erode to Palakkad and resume its normal route from Palakkad to  Pune via Mangalore, Konkan Railway (KRCL).
 
Railway officials have rushed to the spot to oversee restoration work, the release said.
 
The Railways have set up the following helpline numbers for the benefit of passengers and their relatives: 0491 - 2556198, 0491 - 2555231, and 0452 - 2308250.
 
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V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, TANGEDCO sign MoU to upgrade Coal Jetty-I&II

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The V.O. Chidambaranar Port at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu is all set for a four-fold increase in the capacity of two of its Coal Jetties -- Jetty I and II -- from 6.25 MTPA to 24 MTPA following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) for their upgradation here yesterday.
 
Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and Tamil Nadu Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise P. Thangamani were present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Gadkari said the project would benefit both TANGEDCO and the VOCPT. It would make coal handling by the jetties much more voluminous and efficient, and thus bring down logistics costs. He said this would also allow for the cheaper production of electricity, which would be very beneficial for industrial growth.
 
With the upgradation of the coal jetties, TANGEDCO will be able to handle additional volume of coal cargo for the new power plants in Uppur and Kadaladi in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu. In addition to this, there will be a quicker turnaround of vehicles with the deployment of high-tech handling equipment like two ship unloaders, each with a minimum 2000 TPH capacity and a high capacity conveyor system of 4000 TPH, an official press release said.
 
This enhancement of handling capacity and upgradation of infrastructure will result in a reduction of logistics costs. TANGEDCO will, therefore, be able to utilise the services of the port in a more cost-effective way. With the power generation from TANGEDCO’s Tuticorin plants being linked to the National Grid, this would enable availability of additional power at reduced costs, which, in turn, can fuel industrial growth and employment generation.
 
The project is the outcome of Ministry of Shipping’s Project Unnati, under which a study, ‘Unlocking National Ports Potential’ was done to improve the handling capacity of CJ-I & II. The estimated cost for upgrading CJ-I & II is about Rs. 800 crore. As per the MoU, initially, Coal Jetty-I will be upgraded in about 24 months by constructing a new Coal Jetty-I of 300m x25m along with repair of the existing CJ-I. CJ –II will be upgraded thereafter. The upgradation will give a competitive edge to VOC Port and will help it maintain its lead position in coal handling, the release added.
 
The MoU was signed by Mr. S. Anantha Chandra Bose, Chairman, V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust and Mr. M. Sai Kumar, Chairman cum Managing Director, TANGEDCO.
 
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NHAI signs MoU with TIDCO for Multimodal Logistics Park in Tamil Nadu

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (TIDCO) here today for the development of a Multimodal Logistics Park in the Ponneri Industrial Node area near Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu.
 
The MoU was signed in the presence of the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and Mr. M.C. Sampath, Minister for Industries of Tamil Nadu government.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Gadkari said that it is an important agreement for the development of an integrated, multi-modal transport infrastructure in the country.
 
 
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is planning to develop Mutimodal Logistics Parks under its Logistics Efficiency Enhancement Programme (LEEP) in 15 locations all over India at a cost of Rs 33,000 crore, including Rs 1295 crores investment for the Chennai Region. The proposed logistics parks will bring down the overall freight costs, reduce vehicular pollution and congestion and will enable reduction of warehousing costs.  All this is expected to result in lower logistics costs, he added.
 
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Kannada television actress Rega Sindhu dies in road mishap near Vellore

Rega Sindhu
Rega Sindhu
Rega Sindhu, a young Kannada and Tamil television actress, died when the car she was travelling in hit the median and overturned near Vellore in Tamil Nadu, on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, in the early hours of today.
 
Three others with her in the vehicle, including a woman and the owner-driver of the car, suffered injuries in the incident, Vellore Superintendent of Police P Pakalavan told NetIndian over the telephone.
 
The 23-year-old actress was on her way back from a shooting schedule in Chennai to Bengaluru, where she lived, when the mishap occurred around 2 am today.
 
According to Mr. Pakalavan, Rega Sindhu died on the spot, while the injured were taken to a nearby hospital. The woman co-passenger returned to Chennai later, while the two men were admitted to the hospital for treatment.
 
He said the police had launched an investigation into the incident.
 
The driver of the vehicle appeared to have lost control over the wheel and the car hit the median on the highway at Sunnampukuttai near Pernambut and and overturned two or three times before coming to a halt, he added.
 
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Shriram Properties, Xander ink $350 million deal for Chennai SEZ

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Shriram Properties and Xander Group have signed a $350 million (about Rs. 2290 crore) deal under which Xander has acquired 100% interest in Shriram's Gateway Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Chennai for $ 190 million (Rs. 1250 crore) with a further commitment of $ 160 million (Rs 1040 crore) towards expansion of the IT SEZ.
 
This is one of the largest private equity (PE) deals witnessed in the real estate space in India and involves 1.7 million square feet of occupied and operational SEZ, and a partnership with Shriram Properties to deliver the under construction 1.9 million square feet, a press release from the two companies said.
 
Shriram Gateway, is a 58-acre integrated township project including office space, a shopping mall and residential apartments.  Shriram will continue to develop and own the residential and retail components comprising 2.6 million square feet while Xander will have the ability to develop an additional 1 million square feet of office space.
 
“This acquisition demonstrates our continued interest in large, well-positioned assets with growth potential across gateway cities in India, and nicely complements our existing office portfolio," said Rohan Sikri, Senior Partner, The Xander Group. 
 
“We are pleased to be working with Shriram Properties to expand our existing Chennai footprint.  We see the opportunity to deliver additional high-quality supply in a market where vacancy is rapidly falling.  As always, our team will be focused on tenant experience and satisfaction, which is a high priority across the portfolio," he added.
 
Shriram Gateway is the first integrated township in Chennai comprising a large office campus with 4.6 million square feet of SEZ and IT office space. The campus currently provides employment for over 20,000 employees which will grow to an estimated 50,000 employees by 2020. Accenture is currently the largest tenant.
 
“The project offers a plethora of opportunities and is a source of employment generation across various sectors in Tamil Nadu. The mixed use, commercial cum residential project is a benchmark in the industry, and we plan to develop many such projects across cities in India. We are also delighted to join our hands with The Xander Group and enhance our position as a leader in India’s real estate space,” said M. Murali, Managing Director, Shriram Properties.
 
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“The project is strategically located near Tambaram and is very well connected to both the city and suburbs. Further addition of residential, office and retail space over the next three years will make it the most strategic location to invest in Chennai,” he said.
 
The comes close on the heels of the recent announcement by Shriram Properties on their plans to invest Rs 15,000 crore over the next 7-8 years for the development of around 30 ongoing projects, across six major cities - Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vizag, Coimbatore and Kolkata. 
 
Shriram Properties holds close to 2% of the FDI in India, the largest by a single developer. Their key investors include Walton Street, Starwood capital, TPG Capital, Tata Opportunities Fund, ASK, Motilal Oswal, Amplus and ICICI Prudential, the release added.
 
The Xander Group Inc. is a global investment firm focused on real estate, infrastructure, hospitality, retail and credit in emerging markets. Since 2005, the firm has committed over $ 2.3 billion equity capital to the Indian market across private, public, credit and venture investments.
 
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ECI rescinds assembly bye-election in TN because of bribing of voters

The Election Commission of India has rescinded the bye-election to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, slated for April 12, because the electoral process had been "seriously vitiated" by unlawful activities of candidates and political parties, including bribing of voters.

 
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has rescinded the bye-election to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, slated for April 12, because the electoral process had been "seriously vitiated" by unlawful activities of candidates and political parties, including bribing of voters.
 
"....the Commission hereby directs, under Article 324 of the Constitution read with sections 150, 30 and 56 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and further read with Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, that the Commission’s Notification 100/TN-LA/1/2017, dated 16th March 2017, calling upon the said 11-Dr.Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency to elect a member to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly shall stand rescinded forthwith," an order from the Commission, dated yesterday, said.
 
It said that, consequently, all actions and steps taken by the Returning Officer of the constituency, District Election Officer, Chennai District and all other electoral authorities concerned were declared as null and void.
 
The order also said that the bye-election to fill the vacancy from the constituency, which arose on the death of then Chief Minister and ruling AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016, shall beheld in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors got removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency became conducive to the holding of free and fair election.
 
The Commission had issued the notification for the bye-election on March 16 and March 23 was the last date for making nominations.
 
The order, signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners  O. P. Rawat and A. K. Joti, noted that the Commission had made elaborate arrangements for the conduct of a free and fair poll in the constituency and that it had, in this regard, issued extensive guidelines for monitoring of expenditure of the candidates and political parties, enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, maintenance of law and order, and so on.
 
It said that, immediately on announcement of the bye- election, on 10th March, 2017, the enforcement of MCC was commenced by putting in place 9 Flying Squad Teams (FSTs), 9 Static Surveillance Teams (SSTs) and 2 Video Surveillance Teams (VSTs). Subsequently, the numbers of teams were increased in a phased manner, considering complaints by the candidates, political parties and inputs from the observers and electoral machinery, to 30 FSTs, 21 SSTs and 10 VSTs per day as on 5th April,2017 and they were operating round the clock.
 
Generally in an assembly constituency, only 3 FSTs and 3 SSTs team are deployed during any election, but, for this bye-election, the deployment of these squads was increased manifold and total of 61 teams were deployed keeping in view the sensitiveness of the constituency and past experience, it said.
 
Each FST/SST included a 7-member team with one Executive Magistrate, 4 CAPF personnel, one person from the state police and one videographer. VST is a 3 member team with one employee of the state government and one from state police. Thus, a total of 277 persons in 61 teams operating round the clock were put on job for enforcing the provisions of MCC, particularly, stopping distribution of cash or gifts in any form, it said.
 
The Commission said that, furthermore, one Central Government employee was included in each FST from April 7 onwards, Similrly all FSTS and SSTs had a CAPF personnel attached with it. Their vehicles were GPS enabled in order to ensure that their position and movement could be monitored from a central control room. 
 
An SMS based complaint monitoring system wherein the FST/SST received a complaint through SMS for gift and cash distribution was also used. SMS- and GPS-based monitoring was to ensure that there is no delay in movement of these teams to attend to the complaints, a camera was also fixed on the top of vehicles so as to monitor how the complaints were handled by the teams after reaching the spot, which was monitored from the DEO’s control room.
 
Considering a large number of complaints, apart from deployment of these teams, as a first time measure, 70 mobile parties on two-wheelers were also additionally deployed from April 6 onwards. Each team consisted of one Micro Observer along with one police personnel. The total 70 teams, comprising 140 members, were deployed (21 Teams in Morning Shift, 21 Teams in Afternoon Shift and 28 Teams in Night Shift) from April 6 onwards, the Commission said.
 
Furthermore, 10 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) were deployed for area domination and confidence-building among the voters to ensure free, fair and inducement-free election, it said. The deployment of CAPF was also doubled. ency. These companies got placed in the constituency from April 2 itself and were deployed at check posts and FST and SST. To prevent any violence before and during the polls, doubtful licensed arms were deposited. As 195 persons were bound under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) and 94 non-bailable warrants (NBWs) were executed, it said.
 
The Commission said it had also deployed three senior observers additionally exclusively for the constituency. To strengthen supervision, it deployed three more special observers to the constituency, taking the number of observers to six, which was the highest deployment of central observers to any assembly constituency.
 
"The ECI was thus not leaving any stone unturned to ensure free and fair election," the Commission said.
 
It said that a team of senior officers of the Commission also visited the State to have feedback of the political parties, candidates and general public and based on their report the Commission made some additional arrangements. CCTV/surveillance cameras were deployed in major streets and junctions in the constituency to record the movement of vehicles and undesirable elements.
 
A highly visible campaign was launched to popularise the toll-free number of the control room and to make people aware about the penal provisions on bribing of voters throughout the constituency. Web casting was ordered to be done in all the 256 polling stations. 
 
Micro observers were deployed in all the 256 booths. Micro observers  were to be appointed from employees of Central Government, who were to supervise the voting procedure in the booths and report to the Commission through the Observers. Central Government / PSU employees were to be deployed as Presiding Officer or Polling Officer and at least one member of the team was drawn from amongst PSU / Central Government employees.
 
More than a dozen Income Tax officials were assigned duty to attend to the complaints of storage / distribution of money, both inside and outside the constituency. Surveillance was also stepped up at important places like Railway Stations, Airport, bus stands, taxi and auto stands.
 
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All the IT applications like SWC ( single window clearance), vehicle bill payments, and SMS complaint monitoring system used during general elections 2016 and other elections were also deployed for this election.
 
A special team of two IAS and two IPS officers was put in the night duty rounds till the completion of election.
 
According to the Commission, for attending complaints of distribution of money outside the constituency, Special Flying Squads were assigned to check them. A separate set of 5 FSTs were deployed for this purpose. These FSTs could visit any area in the Chennai and neighbouring districts.
 
Based on the complaints of political parties, the Election Commission transferred, totally 22 police officials and 18 officers of the revenue side. Further, one Assistant Commissioner, two Executive Engineers, four Assistant Executive Engineers and four Assistant Engineers were transferred.
 
The Commission issued special instructions to the effect that no Government vehicle belonging to any department, political leader, Minister should be allowed to move in the constituency and vehicles should be subjected to check without any hesitation.
 
The Commission said it had received many complaints about the possibilities of inducement of electors by distribution of cash and gifts in innovative forms like tokens, pre-paid mobile telephone recharge coupons, newspaper subscriptions, milk tokens, money transfer in no frill accounts in banks and even mobile wallet payment to mobile numbers. The ECI had put an elaborate system for prevention of any such malpractices, it said.
 
These included monitoring of transactions in bank accounts, top-up of mobile phone charges, newspaper agents and milk vendors. Teams of Sales Tax (commercial tax) department were pressed into service to immediately verify sale of goods through tokens.
 
The Commission said detailed enquiries were conducted on various complaints received relating to inducement/bribing of voters. On the complaints of distribution of money, gift articles and violation of MCC, till 7.4.2017 an amount of Rs. 18,80,700 was seized and 35 FIRs were registered. Apart from cash, various items such as lamps, T-shirts, silver plates, mobile phones and sarees, which were used for distribution to workers, were also seized.
 
According to it, a total of 35 first information reports (FIRs) were registered on complaints of cash or gift distribution.
 
The Income Tax department informed the Commission on April 8 that, on the basis of information on tax evasion and distribution of cash, search and seizure actions under Section 132 of Income Tax Act 1961, were conducted at 21 places in Chennai and 11 outside Chennai in Tamil Nadu belonging to Dr. C. Vijaya Baskar, Minister for Health, Government of Tamil Nadu and his associates.
 
Prominent among his associates who were searched are Sarath Kumar, film actor and President, Samathuva Makkal Katchi; Rajendran, AIADMK leader and former MP(2009); and Dr. S. Geetha Lakshmi, Director of Health Services (TN) and Vice Chancellor of Dr. MGR Medical University. 
 
The Income Tax authorities also informed the Commission that several complaints were received recently indicating that Dr. Baskar is the main person involved in bribing the voters in the constituency. Some loose sheets were found with his accountant Mr. Srinivasan indicating distribution of Rs. 89 crore to a number of politicians for further distribution among the voters. The premises of Rajendran were also searched on receiving the input from a central agency that a huge amount of cash was brought there by particular vehicle, for distribution in the constituency.
 
In all, IT officials seized Rs. 5 crore from the confidantes of Dr. Baskar and from his native place. Incriminating documents in the form of overall money distribution chart to several leading political executives and functionaries totaling Rs. 89 crore were found from his premises. Further,  distribution charts, ward-wise and voter-wise, entrusted to each of these politician totaling to Rs. 89 crore were found and seized from the room allotted to Dr. Baskar in the MLAs' hostel. A lot of incriminating material including voters lists, marking against each voter either DMK or AIADMK, and amount to be paid and paid in some cases, were also found and seized, the Commission said.
 
"The above mentioned search and seizure action by the Income Tax authorities has resulted in unraveling a huge and systematic design to distribute money to voters in order to induce/bribe them to influence their voting behaviour.
 
"The election machinery was always on the state of alert and on receipt of the complaint over phone/whatsapp the Teams FST /SST were alerted and they reached the area mentioned by the complainant . The teams have seized cash totaling approximately Rs 31.91 lakhs while being distributed. Thirty-two FIRs were registered and 74 persons were arrested. Similarly, eight FIRs were registered for distribution of gifts and eight persons were arrested," it said.
 
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The Commission said the General Observer to the constituency had reported that “… The bye-elections in Dr R.K Nagar AC has proved to be very sensitive and challenging for the election machinery from the point of view of use of money and material inducement to voters, violation of MCC and law and order. Large number of allegations and counter allegations of money and material distribution to induce the voters keep pouring in.”
 
The Special Observer- 2 Expenditure reported that “Large number of complaints was received by control room that senior party including some of the ministers of ruling party and other dominant party leaders were distributing cash to voters. The information was also shared with the senior officers of Income Tax."
 
"The Commission has carefully analyzed and examined the whole situation as prevailing in the said constituency. From the very early stages of the notification of the bye-election, the Commission started receiving complaints in large numbers with regard to the distribution of money and other gifts in the form of consumable items, etc., to the electors of the said 11-Dr.Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency by the candidates and political parties in the election fray. As a counter move to check these illegal activities of the candidates and political parties, the Commission took several proactive steps to curb these activities. As many as 21 Static Surveillance Teams, 30 Flying Squad Teams and 10 Video Surveillance Teams, headed by senior officers, were deployed in the constituency to keep a constant vigil on the above mentioned unlawful activities of the candidates, political parties and their agents. In addition, as another extraordinary step, three senior officers belonging to Indian Revenue Service were appointed as Expenditure Observers by the Commission under section 20B of the said Act, who were assisted by Assistant Expenditure Observers in the constituency. Despite the above special measures adopted by the Commission, it is apparent from the facts narrated above that inducement and allurements to electors by the candidates, political parties and their agents by distribution of money and other gift items on a large scale went on in clandestine manner vitiating the purity of electoral process and disturbing the level playing field.
 
"It may be noted that the election law seriously frowns upon the acts of ‘bribery’ at elections and those indulging in such acts are visited with severe penalties under the law. The ‘bribery’ at elections to any person with the object of inducing him or any other person to exercise any electoral right or, even inducing or attempting to induce any person to exercise any such right, is an electoral offence under section 171B of the Indian Penal Code, and is punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term extending upto one year or, with fine, or with both. Any conviction for the offence of ‘bribery’, even if resulting in the imposition of a very nominal fine, will automatically disqualify the convicted person for a minimum period of six years under section 8(1) of Representation of the People Act, 1951. Further, such ‘bribery’ at elections is also a corrupt practice under section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which can result in the election of the returned candidate being declared void and the candidate found guilty of commission of such corrupt practice can also be disqualified by the President on the recommendation of the Commission for a further period of six years.
 
"The above provisions in the law, making ‘bribery’ an electoral offence and also a corrupt practice, have been made with the manifest object of ensuring purity of the election process. Purity of electoral process has been placed at higher pedestal than even the secrecy of ballot which is considered to be sacrosanct in democratic elections," it said.
 
"Having regard to the above constitutional and legal position enjoining upon the Commission the duty of conducting free and fair elections and upholding the purity of election and after taking into account all relevant facts and circumstances of the present case, the Commission is fully satisfied that the current electoral process in the said 11-Dr.Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency in Tamil Nadu has been seriously vitiated on account of unlawful activities of the candidates and political parties and their workers by bribing the electors and unlawfully inducing them by offering money and other gifts of consumable items to woo them in their favour.
 
"In the Commission’s considered opinion, allowing the current electoral process to proceed and conduct the poll in the constituency on 12th April, 2016, as scheduled, in such vitiated atmosphere would severely jeopardize  the conduct of free and fair election in the said 11-Dr.Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency," it said.
 
The Commission also expressed its anguish over the "sordid state of affairs" as revealed in the reports of the Election Expenditure Observers, Election Expenditure Monitoring Teams, Static Surveillance Teams, Flying Squad Teams, Video Surveillance Teams, as well as the reports of the Income Tax Authorities. 
 
"The innovative ways which the political parties and their leaders at the top echelons have devised to bypass the law enforcing authorities entrusted with the task of keeping an eye on the unauthorized and illegal expenses incurred in the conduct of election campaigns of their party candidates need to be dealt with heavy hand. Some of the States have particularly excelled in innovating more and more subtle ways to circumvent the statutory provisions enacted by Parliament to curb the menace of money power in elections. The top leaderships of the parties cannot feign ignorance about such illegal activities being indulged in by the candidates set by their parties, and also the managers appointed by their parties to oversee the election campaigns of their candidates. If not their express consent, their tacit approval to the resort to such undesirable activities on the part of their candidates and electoral managers cannot be wished away. It is high time that they exert their moral influence and legal authority to reign in their erring candidates and electoral managers without loss of time, if democracy is to flourish and deepen its roots in our country," it said.
 
 
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Fire at actor Kamal Haasan's house in Chennai, no one hurt

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A fire was reported from well-known Tamil actor Kamal Haasan's residence on East Coast Road here in the early hours of today, but he was safe and no one was hurt in the incident.
 
"Thanks to my staff. Escaped a fire at my house. Lungs full of smoke, I climbed down from the third floor. I am safe No one hurt . Goodnight," the actor said on micro-blogging site Twitter shortly after the incident.
 
"Thanks for all the love and concern. Now off to sleep. Good night indeed:)," he added.
 
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ECI conveys displeasure to AIADMK factions for use of frozen Two Leaves symbol

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has conveyed its displeasure to the two factions of the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu -- the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) and the AIADMK (Amma) - for using the party's frozen election symbol "Two Symbols" in various forms and advised them not to repeat such acts in the future.
 
In what was seen as a major setback to the AIADMK, the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, the ECI had, on March 23, 2017, issued an interim order freezing its "Two Leaves" election symbol after hearing claims to it from the two rival factions and later allotted them new symbols for the key bye-election to the State Legislative Assembly from Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency.
 
The factions, one led by Ms. V. K. Sasikala, the general secretary of the party who is currently undergoing a jail term in a corruption case, and the other by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, had laid claim to the popular symbol.
 
The order also said that neither of the two groups led by the petitioners (Mr. E. Madhusudhanan, Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. S. Semmalai) and the respondents (Ms. Sasikala and party deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party "All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam" simplicitor. Neither of the two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol "Two Leaves" reserved for the AIADMK, it said.
 
Later, on the basis of choices indicated by two groups to the Commission, the faction headed by Ms. Sasikala was allotted the name "All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma)" and the symbol "Hat" for the candidate set up by it in the bye-election from Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency.
 
The OPS camp was allotted the name "All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma)" and the symbol "Electric Pole".
 
In a press note issued here yesterday, the ECI said that, following its order of March 23, the use/representation/drawing similarity with the Two Leaves symbol with any other party symbol or name of any party in whatsoever form is illegal.
 
The Commission said it had received a number of complaints from the Dr.R.K. Nagar Assembly Constituency that AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) party had put up posters and uploaded social media messages showing its symbol electric pole superimposed on the symbol “Two Leaves”. 
 
It had also come to the notice of the Commission that the AIADMK (Amma) had continued to use symbol “Two Leaves” in its official website and in other party papers. It continued to use the symbol even after the Commission froze the symbol and it continued to do so during the filing of nomination of the candidature in the bye election, the note said.
 
The note said both the parties were issued show cause notices for the act which violates the Model Code of Conduct, comes within the ambit of corrupt practice as defined under Section 123(4) of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 and also violates Section 171(G) of the Indian Penal Code. 
 
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"Replies filed by the said parties were considered by the Commission and found unsatisfactory and hence they have been conveyed its displeasure and advised not to repeat such acts in future," it said.
 
The Commission directed the two groups to remove "Two Leaves" from all its official websites and social media forthwith and submit compliance reports by 4 pm today.
 
"The Commission, for the sake of clarity and to set the matter into right perspective, has clarified that the symbol 'Two Leaves' has been frozen by the Commission and no party/faction/candidate/leader has any claim over the said symbol till further orders," the press note added.
 
The dispute between the two factions arose after the death of AIADMK supremo and then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016 after 75 days of hospitalisation. 
 
She was succeeded by Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6. He resigned from the position on February 5 after Ms. Sasikala was elected as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party. 
 
On February 7, Mr. Panneerselvam raised the banner of revolt by saying that he was forced to resign and support Ms. Sasikala and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the party and the people so desired.
 
Ms. Sasikala, meanwhile, staked claim to form the new government, but Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao did not respond immediately to it. The pending judgement of the Supreme Court in the corruption case was seen as one of the factors he took into account while deciding to wait.
 
In its verdict on February 14, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal by the Karnataka government against the May 11, 2015 acquittal of Ms. Jayalalithaa, Ms. Sasikala and the two others and restored the September 2014 verdict of a trial court in Bengaluru convicting the four accused in the case. The special leave petition against Ms. Jayalalithaa's acquittal, however, abated because of her death. The court ordered Ms. Sasikala, 60, and the other two accused to surrender forthwith before the trial court in Bangalore, which she did the next day to serve out the remainder of her four-year sentence.
 
The Sasikala faction elected Mr. Edappadi Palaniswamy as the leader of the legislature party and he was sworn in as the new Chief Minister on February 16.
 
Before setting out for Bangalore on February 15, Ms. Sasikala appointed her nephew and former Member of Parliament T T V Dhinakaran as the deputy general secretary of the AIADMK -- a newly created post -- shortly after readmitting him and another nephew to the party, six years after they were expelled by Ms. Jayalalithaa.
 
Mr. Dinakaran is the Sasikala faction's candidate for the bye-election, which will fill the vacancy caused by Ms. Jayalalithaa's death. The OPS faction has nominated Mr. Madhusudhanan for the seat, while Ms. Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar is also in the fray.
 
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ECI transfers officers ahead of bye-election in TN's R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has ordered the transfer of all officers in the rank of assistant returning officers and below, all officers of the rank of Additional Commissioner of Police and upto the inspector of police looking after or working in the constituency and assistant engineer to executive engineer in the municipal corporation in the Dr. R. K. Nagar Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu ahead of the bye-election for the seat.
 
An official press release said the Commission had, on March 30, deputed a delegation of its senior officers to review the preparedness of the state election machinery in the constituency for the bye-election.
 
The team submitted its report today and, in turn, the Commission issued the transfer orders, the release said.
 
The Commission has deputed another five observers to the constituency. It has also decided to deploy micro-observers who will move in the narrow lanes of the constituency on motor bicycles and assist the observers.
 
The Commission has also ordered deployment of cameras in all the streets to monitor movement; mapping of all incoming roads to the constituency; setting up of check posts; and deployment of additional teams of flying squads, which will now be ten in number and work 24x7 and work in three shifts.
 
The flying squads will be GPS-enabled and manned by staff from Central Government departments. 
 
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The release said that, on poll day, all the polling stations will be covered by Central forces, will have web-casting in all booths, inside and outside the booths. Proceedings outside the booth can be seen by the general public.
 
"Services of IAS/IPS  probationers from the state will also be pressed into service.  A number of officers of the level of Tehsildars/Dy. Collectors having knowledge of Tamil language will be requisioned from neighbouring state of A.P and Kerala to strengthen Flying Squads.
 
"The Commission has issued special instructions to the effect that no government vehicle belonging to any department, political leader, Minister  should be allowed to move in the constituency and vehicles should be subjected to check without any hesitation. There will be daily press briefing of District Election Officer and Commissioner of Police to meet the media, brief them of the arrangements made, action taken in regard to complaints etc.  Similarly on a daily basis the observers of the Commission will interact with the leaders of the political parties/candidates," the release added.
 
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Drought & cyclone relief: Centre releases Rs. 1,712.10 crore for TN; Rs. 1,235.52 crore for Karnataka

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The Central Government has sanctioned Rs. 1793.63 crore to Tamil Nadu for drought and cyclone relief and Rs.1,782.44 crore to Karnataka for drought relief from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
 
An official press release said the step followed the receipt of detailed memoranda from these states. It said Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) were deputed to visit the drought affected areas for on-the-spot assessment of the calamity.
 
The High Level Committee (HLC) had recommended the quantum of assistance to the States based on the extant norms of assistance and the report of the IMCT.
 
A sum of Rs. 1447.99 crore has been released to Tamil Nadu after adjusting Rs. 345.64 crore available with the State as balance in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
 
For Karnataka, after adjusting Rs. 96.92 crore available with the State as balance in the SDRF and earlier release of Rs. 450 crore by the Central Government, sum of Rs. 1,235.52 crore has been released.
 
The release said the HLC had also advised the State Governments to take utmost care and ensure that all the individual beneficiary-oriented assistance are disbursed only through the bank account of the beneficiaries.
 
Further, the Central Government has released Rs. 264.11 crore from NDRF for providing the Central assistance to Tamil Nadu for the cyclonic storm ‘Vardha’ during December, 2016. This amount has been approved by the HLC on the basis of the report of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team sent by the Central Government to assess the damage.
 
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These releases are over and above the releases made to States as devolution of 42% of Central Taxes as per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission. For the year 2016-17, a sum of Rs. 6.08 lakh crore has been released to all States as devolution of Central Taxes. Tamil Nadu has received Rs. 24,538 crore and Karnataka has received Rs. 28,750 crore under devolution formula during 2016-17.
 
During 2016-17, the Central Government has also provided Rs. 48,869 crore to all the States as grant for Rural and Urban Local Bodies to primarily meet the requirement of basic necessities for people living in these areas.
 
For the benefit of farmers, Rs. 13,240 crore has been provided under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY) in 2016-17.
 
Also, Rs. 2,45,435 crore has been provided under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) for transfer to the States from the Central Government during 2016-17. This includes Rs. 47,499 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) which is used for employment generation and water conservation works.
 
In view of onset of the summer season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed that, in the next three months, all the States should focus on water conservation related works by utilizing the funds available under various Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) and MGNREGS.
 
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Govt. says no proposal to shift proposed Indian Neutrino Observatory from Theni, Tamil Nadu

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The Government today said there was no proposal at present to shift the location of the Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) from West Bodi hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
 
There is no representation from any neighbouring state against construction of the said observatory, Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh said in a written reply during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.
 
However, there are two public interest litigations (PILs), one in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court by Mr. Vaiko and another in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone, Chennai by Mr. G. Sunderrajan, he added.
 
The High Court has passed an interim order restraining commencement of the research work of the project, without getting necessary clearance from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.
 
The TNPCB clearance was applied for on May 22, 2015 and is still awaited. A few days ago, TNPCB formed an expert committee to look into the matter. As for the NGT case, TNPCB did not respond for a long time leading to postponements. The NGT case has had a ruling by the judge that the Environmental Clearance issued by MoEF is in abeyance and a fresh application has to be made by INO.
 
The project was cleared way back in 2010 after a public meeting was organized by the then Theni Collector on July 8. It was attended by about 1200 persons mostly from the nearby villages, including panchayat members, local MLAs, District officials, DSP as well as members of the press.
 
There was vocal questioning by the villagers. INO scientists patiently explained all the features of the project. At the end of the meeting, the Collector, with the consent of the members present, gave the go ahead for the INO project.
 
While DAE has carried out many science outreach programmes at nearby schools and colleges and public outreach programmes in nearby villages, members of the INO team stationed at Madurai and Theni regularly visit Pottipuram and interact with the local populace, the Minister said.
 
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LIBA, TCS launch PGDM programme on business analytics

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Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), Chennai, and IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) yesterday announced a partnership to design a first-of-its-kind management programme with a specialisation focused on business analytics. 
 
LIBA will offer this course from the next academic year (2017-18), a press release from TCS said.
 
"The partnership will mark yet another milestone in the industry-academia collaboration to fulfil the growing demand for business analytics in India," it said.
 
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in the presence of Fr Christie SJ, director, LIBA, and Ranjan Bandyopadhyay, vice president, HR, TCS, along with and other senior management representatives and academicians from TCS and LIBA.
 
Considering the increasing demand for business analytics, TCS and LIBA have collaborated to design a management course that specialises in this segment to bridge the existing skill gap in the industry. This will be offered under full-time and part-time MBA (PGDM) in business administration.
 
Fr Christie said, “It is a momentous event for LIBA to sign an MoU with TCS, the largest IT company in India, as an industry partner to offer programmes in the area of business analytics. With its expertise, TCS will be able to add value to the students of LIBA. LIBA is the first B-school in India which is forging ahead in signing an agreement with TCS to offer business analytics as a specialisation for the full-time PGDM students”.
 
“We are extremely happy to note that LIBA with its focus on excellence and ethics has found a renowned industry partner, which espouses the same values," he said.
 
Mr Bandyopadhyay said, “Analytics is emerging as a key growth area spanning industries. The need of the hour is talent that can work on delivering carefully crafted analytics solutions insights and recommendations to businesses. TCS designed courses bring in contemporary application oriented inputs to the class room thorough its academic collaboration. We are delighted to partner with LIBA in the field of analytics.
 
One of the key highlights of the course is the ‘Train the Trainer (TTT) Programme’, in which TCS specialists will train the faculty with industry knowledge.
 
TCS-designed courses will also comprise one-year executive diploma in business analytics, to train experienced professionals through part time / weekend programmes offered at the institute, the release added.
 
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