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OPS gets boost as more AIADMK bigwigs back him in power tussle with Sasikala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) today denied that its personnel had opened fire at Tamil Nadu fishermen or used any force against them in Palk Bay yesterday.
 
The denial came after the marine police of the Coastal Security Group registered a first information report (FIR) against ICG personnel following a complaint from a fisherman from Rameswaram that he was fired at while he and some others were fishing in the area.
 
Two fishermen alleged that ICG personnel had opened fire at them while they were fishing in the high seas. The complaint by one of them said that when he and five other fishermen were fishing in Indian waters, about four nautical miles from the shore, personnel of the ICG asked them to stop. They said they could not do so because they had laid the net and ICG personnel then opened fire at them.
 
In a statement, the Coast Guard its vessel was on patrol in Palk Bay and was routinely investigating a fishing boat, Jehovah Jireh, yesterday afternoon which was engaged in pair trawling, which is not permitted in the waters of Tamil Nadu.
 
"On sighting the approaching Coast Guard ship, the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ fled away from the scene leaving its nets behind in the water and did not stop despite repeated caution by the Coast Guard ship. During the chase, the boat had also rammed into the Coast Guard ship. After a chase of 50 minutes, the boat was finally stopped and investigated and also cautioned by the Coast Guard ship to stop for checks whenever called upon by the Coast Guard.
 
"The stopping of the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ and subsequent investigations were carried out in a peaceful manner as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Indian Coast Guard. There was no use of force or any firing by the Indian Coast Guard.
 
"The attributability of injury and/or bruises, if any, on the fishermen of the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ by the Coast Guard are wholly denied as the investigations were undertaken in a peaceful manner as per the SOP," the statement added.
 
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New Instrument Landing System commissioned at Chennai Airport

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Airports Authority of India (AAI) has installed a state-of-the-art Instrument Landing System (ILS) for runway 7 at Chennai International airport at a cost of Rs. 5 crore, an official press release said today.
 
ILS provides the necessary guidance to pilots as they approach for landing on the runway. The new ILS will facilitate smooth landing of the aircrafts at Chennai Airport even during rain, low clouds or smog and provide an improved guidance to the aircraft.
 
The new system uses a highly directional antenna system - “Wide Aperture Log Periodic Antenna Array [LPDA]” system. This antenna system has addressed the coverage restrictions of the old ILS and will provide guidance to the aircraft to a much lower height and improved precision. This, in turn, will enhance the safety of the aircraft during landing.
 
The state-of-the-art equipment is manufactured by Indra Navia AS, Norway. The complete installation, alignment, testing, flight inspection and commissioning of the new Instrument Landing System has been done in-house by AAI’s CNS Technical Experts, the release added.
 
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Modi says media must use editorial freedom wisely, in public interest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday the media must use its editorial freedom wisely, in public interest, and pointed out that, equally, the freedom to write, and to decide what is to be written, did not include the freedom to be "less than accurate" or "factually incorrect".

 
Modi says media a means of transforming society
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the media must use its editorial freedom wisely, in public interest, and pointed out that, equally, the freedom to write, and to decide what is to be written, did not include the freedom to be "less than accurate" or "factually incorrect".
 
"Even though media may be owned by private individuals, it serves a public purpose. As scholars say, it is an instrument to produce reform through peace, rather than by force. Hence, it has as much social accountability as the elected government or the judiciary. And its conduct must be equally, above board," he said in his address at the platinum jubilee celebrations of Dina Thanthi, a leading Tamil newspaper, here.
 
"Technology has brought about great change in the media. There was a time, when the headlines of the day, written on a village blackboard, carried immense credibility. Today, our media spans the entire range, from that village blackboard, to online bulletin boards. 
 
"Just as education now focuses a lot more on learning outcomes, our attitude towards consumption of content has changed. Today, every citizen analyses, discusses, and attempts to cross-check and verify the news that comes to him, through multiple sources. Media, therefore, must make an extra effort, to maintain credibility. Healthy competition among credible media platforms is also good for the health of our democracy," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said he firmly believed that reform in the media, whenever required, could only come from within, through introspection. "Indeed, we have seen this process of introspection happen on some occasions, such as the analysis of the reportage of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Perhaps, it should happen more often," he said.
 
He said that a lot of the media discourse today revolved around politics. "It is only fair that politics be discussed at length, in a democracy. However, India is more than just us politicians. It is the 125 crore Indians, which make India what it is. I would be happy to see media focus a lot more, on their stories, and their achievements. 
 
"In this endeavour, every citizen with a mobile phone is your ally. Citizen reporting can be an important tool in the sharing and dissemination of success stories of individuals. It can also be of immense help in directing relief and rescue efforts in times of crisis, or natural disasters. 
 
"Let me also add, that during times of natural disasters, media usually does its best to cover various aspects of the incident. Natural calamities seem to be occurring with increasing frequency and intensity across the world. Climate change is a challenge for each one of us. Can media take a lead in the battle against it? Can media devote just a little space, or a fixed time daily, to report, discuss, or increase awareness about what we can do to combat climate change? 
 
"I take this opportunity, to appreciate the media's response to the Swachh Bharat Mission. As we strive to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, I am touched by the constructive role that media has played, both in generating awareness and mass consciousness towards cleanliness. They have also pointed out the work that remains to be done, before we can claim to have achieved our goal," he said.
 
"There is another key area, where media can play an important role. This is the initiative of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat. Let me explain this with one example. 
 
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"Can a newspaper, devote just a few column inches of space, each day for one year, to this cause? Every day, they can write one simple sentence in their language of publication, along with its translation, and trans-literation, in all major Indian languages. 
 
"At the end of the year, the readers of the newspaper will have been exposed to 365 such simple sentences, in all major Indian languages. Imagine the positive impact this simple step can create. Further, schools can be encouraged to discuss this in their classrooms daily for a few minutes, so that children too, are exposed to the strength and richness of our diversity. Hence, this step will not only serve a noble cause, but will also increase the strength of the publication itself," he said.
 
Mr. Modi began by expressing his condolences and sympathies to the families of all those who had lost their loved ones or faced immense hardship in the recent heavy rains and floods in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. "I have assured the State Government of all possible support," he said.
 
He also commended the Dina Thanthi on completing 75 years and recalled the contributions of S.P. Adithanar, S.T. Adithanar, and  Balasubramanian in this journey so far.
 
"24 hour news channels are now available to millions of Indians. Yet, for many, the day still begins with a cup of tea or coffee in one hand, and a newspaper in the other. I am told that the Dina Thanthi offers this option today, through seventeen editions, not only in Tamil Nadu but also in Bengaluru, Mumbai and even in Dubai. This remarkable expansion over seventy five years, is a tribute to the visionary leadership of Thiru S.P. Adithanar, who began this newspaper in 1942. Newsprint was a rare commodity in those days. But he began the newspaper by printing on paper made by hand, from straw," he said.
 
"We must never forget that successive generations performed the duties required of them, towards society, and the nation. That is how we achieved freedom. After independence, the rights of citizens gained importance in public discourse. Unfortunately, over time we seem to have neglected our individual and collective sense of duty. This has in some way contributed to several ills that plague our society today. The need of the hour is to create a mass awakening towards 'engaged, responsible, and aware citizens.' The civic sense of 'entitlement' must be suitably balanced by a civic sense of 'responsible engagement'.  This should happen, of course, through our education system, and the conduct of our political leaders. But the media too, has a key role to play here," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, in this diverse nation, the role of vernacular newspapers - newspapers published in regional languages - remains as important today, as it was then. 
 
"They carry content in a language that is easily understood by people. Very often, they cater to vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups. Their strength, their impact, and thus, their responsibility, can never be under-estimated. They are the messengers of the intent and policies of the Government, in far-flung areas. Equally, they are the torch-bearers of the thoughts, feelings and emotions of our people. 
 
"In this context, it is indeed heartening to note that today, among our vibrant print media, some of the largest selling newspapers, are published in the regional languages. The Dina Thanthi, is of course, one among them," he said.
 
"Seventy five years may be a considerable amount of time in a human life-span. But for a nation, or an institution, it marks just a significant milestone. About three months ago, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement. In a way, the journey of the Dina Thanthi, has mirrored the rise of India as a young, vibrant nation. 
 
"Speaking in Parliament on that day, I gave a call for creating a New India by 2022. An India that is free from the evils of corruption, casteism, communalism, poverty, illiteracy, and disease. The next five years must be about Sankalp se Siddhi - accomplishment through resolve. Only then can we create the India of the dreams of our freedom fighters. As a newspaper that was born when the nation embraced the Quit India Movement, may I suggest that the Dina Thanthi has a special responsibility in this regard. I hope that you will use this opportunity, to reflect upon what you can do for your readers, or for the people of India, over the next five years. 
 
"Even beyond the immediate target of five years, perhaps on the occasion of its platinum jubilee, the Thanthi must think of what the next seventy five years will be like. What is the best way to continue to remain relevant, and serve the people and the nation in the age of instant news at the fingertips. And in doing so, continue to maintain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and objectivity," he added.
 
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Heavy rains continue to lash TN, more showers likely in next 48 hours

 
Rains continue in Chennai, surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu
Heavy rains continued to lash many parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai and surrounding areas, affecting normal life, even as a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal lay centred as a trough off the coast that could lead to more showers over the region during the next 48 hours.
 
Sources in  the Meteorological Department said yesterday’s low pressure area over southwest Bay of Bengal now lay as a trough of low at mean sea level over southwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining West-central Bay of Bengal off Tamil Nadu–South Andhra Pradesh coast.
 
In addition, an upper air cyclonic circulation lay over the Gulf of Mannar and neighbourhood and extended upto 1.5 km above mean sea level.
 
Under the influence of these systems, heavy  rains were likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry tomorrow, it said. Thunderstorm accompanied with lighning at isolated places was very likely over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Rayalaseema and Kerala, it said.
 
Heavy rain was very likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala on Monday, it said.
 
The forecast for Chennai, which has been lashed by heavy and intermittent rains, said the sky condition was likely to be generally cloudy. There would be intermittent spells of rain or thundershowers with heavy spells at times. 
 
Schools and colleges in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, which bore the brunt of the north-east monsoon's fury in the past one week, had a holiday for the fifth day today.
 
Normal life continued to be affected in  several areas, especially Nagapattinam district, where samba crop in several thousands of acres were submerged in rain water.
 
Chennai received heavy rains last night and this morning and people in suburban areas of the city continued to suffer, with knee deep water all around.
 
After Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inspected the rain-hit areas in the city last evening, several Ministers went around the city and supervised relief efforts. They interacted with the people in affected areas and promised to solve their grievances.
 
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State government and civic officials and personnel of the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Agency were working overtime to prevent casualties and move people from water-logged areas to safer places.
 
The state disaster management agency has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to help in the rescue efforts. "We are using helicams to get a bird's eye view of the damage," an official explained.
 
In Manimangalam, two pregnant women were rescued by the Kancheepuram flood relief team headed by Ms Amudha. After they expressed their wish to shift to a safe place, after being confined to their homes for the last one week, officials reached the spot and rescued the two women, official sources said.
 
They were taken to a hospital for a check-up before they went to their relative's house.
 
Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director S Balachandran told reporters that Chennai city has received 93 per cent excess rainfall in the last one week.
 
"When Tamil Nadu is taken into account, an average of 19 cm has been recorded against the normal 21 cm. So far rains are deficient by eight per cent," he added
 
''But when Chennai is considered, 63 cm has been recorded so far as against the normal rainfall of 31 cm. The city has received around 93 per cent excess rains this time,'' he said. 
 
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Floods in polluted rivers can pollute groundwater too: Study

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A new study has pointed out that flooding in polluted rivers has the potential to make groundwater unsafe for human use.
 
In December of 2015, when Chennai was flooded and people were marooned, a team of scientists from Anna University was collecting groundwater samples along the Adyar river to investigate if the groundwater in this region was fit for human consumption.
 
Researchers collected water samples from 17 locations in December 2015 and April 2016, that is, during and after floods. They tested the samples for salt and heavy metal concentration, microbial load and their susceptibility to available antibiotics.
 
“We wanted to know if the city water met water quality parameters laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards during and post-flood,” Lakshmanan Elango, professor at the Department of Geology of Anna University, who led this study, told India Science Wire.
 
The results showed that heavy metal and microbial load in groundwater samples was high. The samples contained microbes such as Enterobacter, Staphylococcus, Escherichia, Streptococcus, Vibrio, and Salmonella that are known to cause infections like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid in humans. These microbes were cultured with various antibiotics used in clinical practice to treat life-threatening infections, to know they were susceptible or resistant to drugs.
 
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“The bacteria were sensitive to most antibiotics but some were resistant to nalidixic acid, which is alarming as antibiotic resistance can rapidly spread in the environment," said Prof Elango. The results of the study have been published in journal Nature Scientific Data.
 
In addition, scientists found high genetic similarity between bacteria from various locations implying that they must have originated from a single domestic sewage source containing fecal matter. “Sewage must have washed off with flood water, which in turn inundates the wells that would have resulted in contaminating the ground water,”believes Prof Elango.
 
“Our findings show that floods have the potential to impact the microbial quality of ground water in affected areas. Based on our study, we advise that wells must be chlorinated and the public must be warned to avoid consuming ground water for drinking, at least for some months post floods,” he added.
 
The research team included Ganesan Gowrishankar, Ramachandran Chelliah, Sudha Rani Ramakrishnan, Vetrimurugan Elumalai, Saravanan Dhanamadhavan, Kartikeyan Brindha, Usha Antony, and Lakshmanan Elango. It was done in collaboration with the University of Zululand in South Africa and the National University of Singapore, and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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L&T launches lead offshore patrol vessel for Indian Coast Guard

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Infrastructure and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today launched the lead offshore patrol vessel (OPV) of a series of seven OPVs for the Indian Coast Guard at the L&T Shipbuilding Yard at Kattupalli here today.
 
Entirely designed in-house, from concept, this is the first OPV class vessel for the Indian Coast Guard that has been built by a private sector yard in a record time frame, a press release from the company said.
 
The OPV was launched by Mrs. Jyoti Murthy and was named Vikram in the presence of Additional Director General of Coast Guard, VSR Murthy. Mr. J.D. Patil, Whole Time Director (Defence Business) and Member of Larsen & Toubro Board, Vice Admiral B. Kannan (Retd), MD & CEO L&T Shipbuilding, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
 
L&T was entrusted by the Ministry of Defence in March 2015 to design and build seven OPVs for an order value of Rs. 1432 crore. The order stipulated delivery of the first OPV within 36 months from signing of the contract, by Mar-2018 and subsequent vessels at intervals of six months. However, with the construction of multiple OPVs progressing on or ahead of schedule, all are planned to be delivered ahead of the contracted delivery dates, the release said.
 
The OPVs are long range surface ships, capable of operation in the maritime zones of India, including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities. Their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control & surveillance, anti-smuggling & anti-piracy with limited wartime roles.
 
The vessel is 97m long, 15m wide, has 3.6m draught, 2140 T displacement with a range of 5000 NM, and is built to attain sustained speeds of up to 26 knots. The entire design and construction processes have undergone dual certification from the American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping and the project is being overseen by the Indian Coast Guard’s resident team at Kattupalli shipyard.
 
Having been built with modern methods and the build strategy of construction on land and launch through ship lift, on launch the OPV would be put through a series of Harbour and Sea Acceptance Trials before delivery to the Indian Coast Guard. Once commissioned, it would significantly enhance the coastal patrolling capabilities of the Indian Coast Guard, the release said.
 
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Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “This launch is a reaffirmation of our credentials in the ship-building space as this is our third major mandate from the Indian Coast Guard under relationship that began with a contract for 36 Interceptor Boats followed by a repeat contract for 18 more Interceptor Boats. It is also heartening to note that our team has overcome all challenges to remain ahead of contractual schedules for all the mandates. A total of 34 of those Interceptors Boats has already been delivered well ahead of contractual delivery schedule, and the remaining boats have been constructed and ready for delivery. The timely launch of the first OPV following that of the Floating Dock (FDN-2) for Indian Navy in June 2017, reaffirms our ability to execute and deliver multiple complex projects on time."
 
L&T was mandated by the Indian Navy to design and build Floating Dock (FDN-2) for the Indian Navy. The dock has undergone post launch trials at Kattupalli Shipyard and will be delivered shortly at Port Blair, suiting the Navy's requirements.
 
In addition to new-build defence ships, L&T is also undertaking Medium Refit (MR) and repairs of Naval and Coast Guard ships. Currently, INS Darshak, a Naval Survey Vessel, is undergoing refit at Kattupalli shipyard. L&T has delivered six refit Defence ships (including the largest logistics tanker ship INS Jyoti) from Kattupalli shipyard so far.
 
The shipyard was designed and built for concurrent construction of a variety of defence ships as well as to undertake refits, the release added.
 
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Eminent Malayalam filmmaker I. V. Sasi passes away

I. V. Sasi
I. V. Sasi
Eminent filmmaker I. V. Sasi, who had helmed more than 150 movies, mainly in Malayalam, passed away here today, sources close to his family said.
 
He was 69. He is survived by his wife, well-known actress Seema, and their two children, daughter Anu and son Ani.
 
According to the sources, Mr. Sasi died while he was being taken to a hospital after complaining of uneasiness.
 
The sources said that he was planning to leave later today on a visit to Australia, where his daughter lives, when the end came suddenly.
 
Mr. Sasi was one of the dominant figures in Malayalam cinema during the 1970s, '80s and '90s. He also made several films in Tamil and some in Hindi, too.
 
He was credited with introducing several new aspects to filmmaking during his illustrious career and played an important role in establishing actors such as Mammootty and Mohanlal as superstars. 
 
Born as Irruppam Veedu Sasidaran on March 28, 1948, Sasi moved to Chennai and began his career in films as an art director with Kaliyalla Kalyanam in 1968.
 
He worked as an assistant director in some films before directing his first film, Ulsavam, in 1975. He went on to make more than 170 films, many of which turned out to big hits. "Avalude Raavukal" helped him establish himself in the industry. He met his future wife Seema during the making of that film, and the two worked together on about 30 movies.
 
He introduced Mammootty as a hero in his film Thrishna and gave Mohanlal a major break in Ineyengillum. His collaborations with M. T. Vasudevan Nair, Padmarajan and T. Damodaran produced some memorable movies.
 
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He worked with Mammootty in more than 35 films and gave Mohanlal one of his biggest hits, Devaasuram.
 
He directed superstar Kamal Haasan in films like Guru, Kasishma and Eeta. He introduced megastar Rajanikanth to Malayalm films through through Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum in 1979. Other films with Rajinikanth include the Telugu-Tamil bilingual film Kaali and Ellam Un Kairasi. 
 
His Hindi movies included Patita (Mithun Chakraborty), Anokha Rishta (Rajesh Khanna and Smita Patil), Pratishodh (1980) and Karishma.
 
He won the Nargis Dutt Award for the best feature film on National Integration in 1982 for Aaroodam.
 
At the Kerala State Film Awards, he won awards for Best Art Director in Anubhavam (1976), Second Best Film for Aalkoottathil Thaniye (1984), Best Popular Film for 1921 (1988) and Best Director Mrigaya.
 
He won the Filmfare Awards (South) for Best Director for Itha Ivide Vare (1977) and for Eetta (1978. In 2015, Filmfare honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also won the prestigious J. C. Daniel Award for the year 2015.
 
His daughter has acted in Symphony directed by him. His son is also into filmmaking.
 
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Eight killed as roof of TNSTC building collapses in Nagapattinam district

 
8 die as bus depot roof collapses near Nagapattinam
Eight employees of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) died when the roof of a portion of a building at the Porayar bus depot, about 20 km from Nagapattinam, collapsed in the early hours of today, official sources said.
 
Three others suffered grievous injuries in  the incident and have been admitted to a hospital in Nagapattinam, about 300 km from here, they said.
 
The victims were bus crew who were resting in the building before operating early morning services, the sources said. Most of them were asleep when the roof collapsed around 3.30 am, they said.
 
Fire and Rescue Service personnel rushed to the spot and extricated the victims from the debris, they added.
 
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MS remains unsurpassed phenomenon in Carnatic music: Naidu

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Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said late classical vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi remains an unsurpassed phenomenon in Carnatic music.
 
Speaking at the birth centenary commemoration of the legendary singer, Mr Naidu said Dr. Subbulakshmi, affectionately referred to as MS Amma, was the face of Indian Carnatic music for several decades.
 
She captivated the hearts of billions, not only in Tamil nadu, South India or India but in the entire world. Setting aside mere gimmicks and gymnastics of classical music, she delved deep into the soul of the music and brought forth the treasures from there, not only to the pundits or the elite but also to the common man, he added. 
 
The Vice President said “she rose to heights where all differences vanished and she took us there with her.” All the nations stood united when she sang in the assembly of the United Nations Organisation. In the enjoyment of such a fine expression of art, all differences of caste creed, race and nationality evaporated, he added.
 
Even Mahatma Gandhi was spell bound when he listened to her rendition of 'Vaishnava Janatho'. Knowing that she might not be able to sing a song he had requested, Gandhiji is supposed to have said, “I would rather hear her recite the lines than hear anyone else sing it.”
 
The Vice-President said that titans on the opposite sides of ideology, the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajaji, united and stood together when it came to appreciating the music that flowed in her mellifluous voice. Even the great sage of Kanchi, Paramacharya Chandrasekhara Saraswati was not an exception. MS was an epitome of grace, respected by one and all, he added.
 
Mr Naidu said that she was not only a singer par excellence, but was also a great actor who donned the roles of Bhaktha Meera and Shakuntala on the silver screen. She had that glow, that divine glow, hailed by the great philosopher president Dr S Radhakrishnan as 'Brahma Tejas' found in the "God intoxicated faces" of great sages. Dr Sarojini Naidu was the Nightingale of India by her verses, Dr MS Subbulakshmi was the Nightingale of India by her voice, he added.
 
“Upon Gandhiji’s insistence, she recorded his favourite Meera bhajan ‘Hari Tum Haro’ overnight and sent it to him on his birthday in 1947,” he pointed out.
 
She was the first musician to be awarded Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour. She was also the first Indian musician to have performed at the United Nations General Assembly and the first Indian musician to be conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay award for public service.
 
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She was called the ‘Nightingale of India’ by Sarojini Naidu and “Tapaswini” by Lata Mangeshkar, while Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan described her as “Suswaralakshmi Subbulakshmi. Apart from UN, she performed at the Edinburg International Festival and for Queen Elizabeth-II at the Royal Albert Hall, London. She mostly sang in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Meera Bhajans in Hindi.
 
For many decades now, it has been a common practice in most South Indian homes for people to wake up in the morning to the strains of M S Subbulakshmi’s rendition of Bhaja Govindam, the popular devotional composition written by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, Vishnu Sahasranaamam and Shri Venkateswara Suprabhatam, among others. Her Venkateswara Suprabhatham is played in Tirumala temple daily as part of the ritual.
 
She also made a huge contribution to popularizing Annanmacharya Kritis. MS undertook more than 200 charity concerts and donated the royalties she had earned on devotional albums to the Tirumala temple.
 
“When we celebrate the music of M S Subbulakshmi, we must also remember her husband Sri T.Sadasivam who visualized and orchestrated her career. We must also acknowledge another remarkable person in MS Subbulakshmi life – her daughter Radha Viswanathan who accompanied her mother for almost 55 years on the concert stage and trained her granddaughters Aishwarya and Saundarya. The legacy continues,” he added.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Minister for Fisheries, Personnel and Administrative Reforms, Tamil Nadu, D. Jayakumar, family members of Dr. M.S. Subbulakshmi and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
 
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Sitaraman’s maiden visit to CVRDE, Chennai

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her maiden visit to Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) at Avadi here yesterday.
 
Dr. S. Christopher, Chairman, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and Secretary, Defence R&D, and Distinguished Scientist & Director, CVRDE, Dr P Sivakumar, made a brief presentation on the achievements and on-going national programs of CVRDE in Combat Vehicles & Technologies.
 
The dignitaries were taken to various technology centres by Director, CVRDE to witness the products and systems/technologies developed by CVRDE.
 
Ms. Sitharaman evinced keen interest in the advanced systems like Arjun MBT Mk-II, Arjun Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle (ARRV), Arjun Catapult, Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Sub-systems of Light Combat Aircraft –Tejas, Landing Gear, 180 hp engine for Rustom-II, 1000 hp Engine for T-72, 400 hp for BMP-II, besides Armoured Ambulance Tracked, Carrier Command Post Tracked, Bridge Laying Tank (BLT-72). 
 
The respective project leaders highlighted the uniqueness and specialities of their systems to the visitors, an official press release said.
 
Later, when they assembled at CVRDE-Arjun Auditorium after the showcasing of tanks/ technologies, Ms Sitharaman released a book namely ‘Arjun MBT – an Indian Success Story’ that describes the entire project of Arjun MBT Mk-I. The first prototype of Arjun ARRV was handed over by Chairman & Managing Director, BEMLDeepak Kumar Hota to Director, CVRDE. He also handed over one set of Landing Gear along with CEMILAC certification to Director, ADE; One set of Power Take Off Shaft to Director, GTRE; Director, VRDE handed over the 180 hp engine to Director, ADE.  
 
The Minister launched the website, ‘DRDO Robotics & Unmanned Systems Exposition’ (https://rac.gov.in/druse) for inviting young and talented minds of engineering community from all parts of the country to take part in Defence Challenging applications. She also released a book titled ‘Achievements of CVRDE’ during the ceremony. 
 
Congratulating the DRDO fraternity, in particular, CVRDE, for their unstinted efforts and contributions for the defence self-reliance of the nation, she expressed confidence that DRDO will strive hard to empower the nation further with the ‘Make in India’ concept.
 
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L&T Technology Services sets up development centre to support wind energy leader Vestas

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L&T Technology Services Limited, a pure-play engineering R&D services company, today said it had set up an engineering solutions delivery centre here focused on supporting a key customer, Danish wind energy leader Vestas.
 
The centre will strengthen the company's collaboration with Vestas, the world leader in the development, manufacturing, sale and maintenance of wind power plants, a press release from L&T Technology said.
 
The dedicated development centre will facilitate cost-effective engineering solutions and focus on solutions in areas like Energy Storage, Hybrid Energy and Smart products, it said.
 
“Vestas works with long-term partners like L&T Technology to help develop solutions that lower the cost of energy, ensure flexibility in product development and shorten the amount of time needed to bring new products and solutions to market,” said Mr Andreas Bürger, Senior Vice President, Power Solutions, Industrialization at Vestas.
 
Mr Bhupendra Bhate, Chief Digital Officer, L&T Technology Services Limited said, “We have helped to create global success stories in energy management and storage solutions as well as services for the solar and wind power segments. We are excited to strengthen our partnership with Vestas by leveraging our expertise in automation, engineering analytics and the IoT for the wind energy industry.”
 
L&T Technology Services has been associated with Vestas for over a decade as a strategic engineering partner, the release added.
 
L&T Technology Services Limited is a publicly listed subsidiary of infrastructure giant Larsen & Toubro Limited focused on engineering and R&D services, addressing global customers. 
 
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TN Assembly Speaker disqualifies 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said it had delivered two more High Speed Interceptor Ships (C-433 and C-434) to the Indian Coast Guard at the company’s Kattupalli Shipyard, near here, seven months ahead of contractual schedule.
 
The ships are part of the two contracts being executed by L&T for design and construction of 54 interceptors for the Indian Coast Guard, valued at Rs.  1424 crore, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said L&T had won the order against global competition. With these two, 34 interceptors have been delivered by the company so far.
 
Made of aluminum alloy hull with waterjet propulsion, the ships have a speed of over 45 knots with excellent maneuverability and are ideally suited for high interception, it said.
 
Drawing attention to the Government of India’s recent approval of Rs. 318 billion for a definitive action plan to bolster the force levels of the Indian Coast Guard, Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO and Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “We appreciate the urgent need of Indian Coast Guard to augment coastal security in these turbulent times. Our production is over a year ahead of schedule, and we are ready to deliver the remaining 20 vessels to the Coast Guard at any time suiting their operational requirements.”
 
Mr. J.D. Patil, Senior Executive Vice President (Defence) & Whole time Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “Besides the Interceptor Vessels Program, L&T has also been mandated by the Coast Guard to design and build seven Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). The construction of OPVs is on schedule and the launch of first OPV is slated for next month.”
 
“All these ships constructed by L&T are designed in-house and we are committed to the Make-in-India vision of the Government with homegrown design and build technologies, and are in the process attaining indigenous content in excess of the policy stipulations. Towards this, a number of marine equipment and systems are also developed and built in-house. The deliveries re-affirm L&T’s capabilities to consistently execute and deliver defence projects on time using indigenous design and technologies. From design to construction to refits, we are a total life cycle partner to the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for a range of Naval Platforms, Equipment & Systems across the Fight, Move and Float segments," he added.
 
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On June 20, L&T had launched a Floating Dock for the Indian Navy, a giant platform, and currently trials are in progress for on-time delivery to the Indian Navy before November 2017.
 
“L&T is committed to nation building across sectors of our operations. Over the past three decades of our presence in the Defence sector, we have built a range of capabilities and have invested in creating dedicated work centers spread across eight locations in India. With the globally benchmarked, state-of-the-art facilities at Kattupalli Yard, we look forward to continue to serve the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in endeavors of national capability building,” Mr. Patil added.
 
L&T has till date completed repairs and refits of Naval and Coast Guard ships, and has delivered six refit ships (including the largest logistics tanker ship) from its shipyard at Kattupalli, dedicated to Defence shipbuilding.
 
L&T was licensed for warship and submarine building in the year 2002 and has shipbuilding yards at Hazira (near Surat) on the West Coast and at Kattupalli on the East Coast.
 
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DMK chief M Karunanidhi admitted to hospital for minor procedure

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

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