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Consular access granted to Christian Michel: Ministry of External Affairs

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Christian Michel

New Delhi | India has granted consular access to Christian Michel, a British national who was brought here from the UAE last month in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.

The British High Commission had sought consular access to Michel after he was arrested in the first week of December.

“He has been granted consular access. A second secretary-level officer from the British High Commission has met Christian Michel based on the request we received last month,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.

The consular access to Michel was given on Thursday, he said.

Asked about Michel’s plea in the Delhi court Thursday seeking permission to make calls to his family members and his lawyers abroad, Kumar said, “We have shared in the past that he has been allowed to communicate with his family members. I have not seen the plea which he has entered on this matter (now).”

Sources, however, said that if the British High Commission requests that he be allowed more communication, it may be considered.

Michel, 57, was brought to India following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the chopper deal case. At present, he is lodged in the Tihar jail here.

Michel is one of the three middlemen — the two others Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa — being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case.

Christian Michel has denied the charges.

The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.

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Supreme Court asks search committee on Lokpal to recommend names by Feb end

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed a February end deadline for the search committee on Lokpal to recommend the panel of names for appointment of the first anti-graft ombudsman of the country.

The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai,

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee with the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.

The bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench there were certain problems like lack of infrastructure and manpower due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.

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BJP not involved in any operation to topple Cong-JDS government: Yeddyurappa

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Yeddyurappa

Bengaluru | BJP Karnataka chief B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday said no member of his party was involved in any operation to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

With the ongoing power tussle between the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and BJP in Karnataka intensifying, both sides have been trading charges of trying to poach each other’s MLAs.

“The BJP has nothing do with ruling coalition MLAs who are in Mumbai,” the former Chief Minister said and accused the Congress and JD(S) of trying to shift the blame on his party to cover up their ‘failures and inability’ to keep their flock together. “No one from the BJP has indulged in any kind of operation or luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs.

We had gathered all our MLAs atone place and were discussing about the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for the last two-three days. Todayall are coming back,” Yeddyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he hit out at the Congress leaders, saying they talk about the Constitution, but everyone was aware of how they played with it since 1960. “Why do they have to fear if we gather our MLAs, I don’t understand. Internal fight within Congress and JD(S) is going out of control… to cover up their internal squabbles, they should not blame the BJP,” he added.

Yeddyurappa, who was in New Delhi and Gurugram along with 104 BJP MLAs for the last few days, returned to the city to visit the ailing 111-year-old prominent seer Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru district.

Reacting to Congress-JD(S) leaders’ claims that some BJP MLAs were in touch with them, Yeddyurappa said, “We are together. You (Congress-JD(S) have said four to five MLAs are in your contact. Call them. Let me see.

If your MLAs have gone to Mumbai or Delhi, what do we have to do with it? It is -Congress-JD(S)- your duty to keep your legislators intact. No one is in touch with us…I’mtelling you,”he added.

The Leader of Opposition in the assembly also questioned as to who the leaders of Congress-JD(S) combine were to question his party about camping in Gurugram. “Who are they to ask where we are going? You try tokeep your MLAs intact, why are you blaming us? Tomorrow they (Congress) have called their legislature party meeting. how many will come it will be known, their true colours will come out tomorrow.” “Without understanding that your MLAs are dissatisfied and disgruntled, don’t unnecessarily put blame on BJP,” Yeddyurppa said.

Pointing out that during S M Krishna’s chief ministership, Maharashtra MLAs were kept at a resort in Mysuru, and recently Gujarat MLAs were put up in a resort in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa questioned as to “where did Congress’ democracy go then?”

Hitting out at Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa said despite being taught a lesson by the people ofChamundeshwari constituency, he had notlearnt anything.

Siddaramaiah lost the Chamundeshwari assembly seat in the May polls, though he won from Badami. Lashing out at the BJP and calling it “shameless” for allegedly luring ruling coalition MLAs, Siddaramaiah on Wednesday had said that Yeddyurappa has grown old, but has no wisdom.

Yeddyurappa also targeted former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and called him “a political opportunist”. “…all his fights and principles are only limited to secure his and his family’s political interests.People of the state are well aware of Deve Gowda’s use and throw policy,” hesaid.

Targeting Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa said 156 taluks were in the grip of drought, but the chief minister and his ministers are not working effectively. “What are you doing? Who is travelling- Chief Ministers and Ministers- What steps have you taken when farmers are in distress?” he questioned. “In such a grave situation, without doing your duty, you are trying to shift the blame on BJP. You will not gain anything from it,” he said.

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Congress MLAs, MLCs urge Rahul Gandhi to nominate CLP leader

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Rahul Gandhi

Hyderabad | Newly-elected Congress MLAs and MLCs in Telangana on Thursday unanimously resolved to urge party president Rahul Gandhi to nominate their leader.

The meeting was attended by AICC representative K C Venugopal, who spoke to party MLAs, MLCs and MPs on the matter.

Venugopal said he would convey the legislators’ views to Gandhi, who would take a decision as early as possible.

“We took a unanimous resolution authorising the Congress president to nominate the new CLP (Congress legislature Party) leader of Telangana,” he said.

Congress won 19 seats in the 119-member house in the December 7 assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the first session of the assembly after the polls began here Thursday with the newly elected members taking oath as MLAs.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first to take oath.

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