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ED’s statement in court points towards Cong’s involvement in AgustaWestland deal: BJP

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Christian Michel,

New Delhi | The BJP Saturday launched a sharp attack on the Congress’ Gandhi family, claiming the ED’s statement in a court that alleged middleman Christian Michel made reference to “Mrs Gandhi” and “son of an Italian lady” pointed toward its involvement in the AgustaWestland deal.

It is, however, not clear in what context Michel, who is under arrest, mentioned this to the investigation agency. The Congress has rejected the charge, saying that the central government has been using agencies to implicate the Gandhi family.

Hitting out at the Congress, Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters that truth was coming out of the probe into the alleged corruption in purchase of VVIP choppers during the UPA government, and that Michel’s comments point towards one family.

“The story of loot of public money is coming out, Everything went to one family,” he alleged, accusing the Congress of compromising with national security during its rule.

He claimed that Michel has made reference to ‘Mrs Gandhi’, ‘son of Italian lady’, ‘big man’, ‘R’ and added, “This all points to only one family”.

Taking a dig at the Congress, he said it should answer who all Michel was referring to and claimed that people know of one ‘R’, a reference to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had torn an ordinance of the Manmohan Singh government.

Referring to Gandhi’s attack on the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal, Javadekar described it as a case “thief making noises” and claimed that Michel has also spoken about the public sector firm, HAL, being removed from the Rafala contract during the UPA rule.

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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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