The meeting comes a day after Ms Gandhi appealed to Gandhian Anna Hazare to end his fast, which entered the fourth day today, assuring him that his views would receive the government's full attention
New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi today met prime minister Manmohan Singh and discussed the stalemate on the issue of an effective Lokpal Bill for which Gandhian Anna Hazare has launched a campaign, reports PTI.
Ministers Pranab Mukherjee and Kapil Sibal, political secretary to Congress president, Ahmed Patel and principal secretary to the prime minister TKA Nair were also present at the meeting, party sources said.
The meeting comes a day after Ms Gandhi appealed to Mr Hazare to end his fast, which entered the fourth day today, assuring him that his views would receive the government's full attention.
Stepping up his anti-corruption campaign, Mr Hazare yesterday brushed aside Ms Gandhi's appeal to him to withdraw his hunger strike as the government initiated talks on formation of a joint committee to draft an effective Lokpal Bill but there was no consensus on two crucial aspects.
A meeting of Mr Sibal with activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal scheduled this morning did not take place as both sides said they were waiting for each other. The meeting is now scheduled at 6pm.
The 7.1 magnitude tremor-one of the most powerful to hit Japan since the country's worst post-war disaster nearly four weeks ago-triggered new concerns over nuclear power plants in a region still grappling with an atomic emergency
Sendai (Japan): A powerful aftershock rocked Japan's tsunami disaster zone on Thursday, killing at least four and triggering new concerns over nuclear power plants in a region still grappling with an atomic emergency, reports PTI.
Electricity was cut across a huge area of northern Japan, forcing cooling systems at three nuclear plants to switch to emergency power and plunging more than 3.3 million households into darkness last night.
At least one back-up supply remained online at all three plants, but the aftershock highlighted the potential risks of nuclear generation in an earthquake zone amid a battle to stabilise reactors at tsunami-hit Fukushima.
Officials and reports said four people had been killed by the 7.1 magnitude tremor-one of the most powerful to hit Japan since the country's worst post-war disaster nearly four weeks ago.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency immediately issued a tsunami alert, warning two-metre (six-feet) high waves could hit an area where much of the coastline still lies in ruins from the 11th March catastrophe.
The alert, which had sent people fleeing to higher ground, was withdrawn 83 minutes after the 11:32 pm (1432 GMT) quake, but set already frayed nerves on edge.
In the town of Kitakami, northwest of yesterday night's epicentre, a media person witnessed queues being formed at convenience stores as people tried to stock up anew on food, water and batteries.
"It was so scary," said Kazuyuki Shiroiwa, who had been to four shops in central Kitakami in a vain effort to find batteries.
"The midnight quake reminded me of the fear I felt a month ago," he said. "I'm fed up with earthquakes. No more quakes, please."
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said a 63-year-old woman in Yamagata prefecture died after her home respirator failed when the power was knocked out.
Broadcaster NHK said two men aged 79 and 85 were killed in Miyagi prefecture-the area worst hit by the 9.0 magnitude quake of 11th March and the towering tsunami it spawned.
The Jiji news agency said an 83-year-old woman in the same prefecture was taken to hospital immediately after the earthquake and later confirmed dead.
The disaster management agency said at least 93 people were confirmed injured, while Jiji Press said about 140 were hurt.
With World Cup frenzy yet to subside, media moghuls are hoping they will have yet another record-breaking season with IPL4. But all may not be well with the big sports money-spinner that kicks off today
The ICC Cricket World Cup set records at every stage. Television recorded the highest ratings for a cricket tournament ever. And advertisers paid astounding rates as the tournament progressed. So much so, experts worried that companies paying such huge amounts could be financially strained. Broadcasters never had it so good. They are still counting the money from the World Cup tournament and now the fourth instalment of the Indian Premier League, that has been a huge money-spinner, gets underway today.
But experts are sceptical about the IPL generating the kind of frenzy that the World Cup did. According to the latest Brand Finance study, IPL's brand value has dropped by 11% since last year. Currently, the premier Twenty20 tournament is valued at $3.67 billion, against last year's $4.13 billion.
IPL 3, at its peak, got a TRP of 4.6, whereas the just-concluded Cricket World Cup climbed to over 15 during the India-Pakistan semi final and the final broke all records with a TRP of 35.91. (TRPs or television rating points are a measurement of popularity of TV programmes that usually influence the advertising rates.)
As a result, advertisers who had previously held back funds for the IPL, which they believed was more popular with women, changed tack and got into the World Cup action after seeing the success of the initial matches. "Many companies have spent too much on the World Cup," said an analyst. "Now, they may decide to be more passive and restrained during the IPL." Some advertisers think that after the hectic World Cup, even if players are fit, the audience is exhausted.
Interestingly, after the second edition of the IPL in Johannesberg, South Africa, where allegations of match-fixing also surfaced for the first time, the brand value of the tournament doubled last year.
Then why the drop this time? The IPL is said to be in troubled waters due to ballooning costs. While the ceiling for a franchise in 2008 was $5 million, it has been raised to $9 million this year. Players have been auctioned at jaw-dropping prices that have been much higher than in the previous tournaments. Their payments have undergone huge hikes, taking away about 45% of the revenues. Post the World Cup, the rates could go up still further, especially for the champions.
Moreover, with the tournament kicking off within days of the World Cup, the IPL teams have had little time for brand building and advertising. New teams like Pune Warriors and the (now infamous) Kochi franchise have not been able to announce themselves.
Basab Datta Chowdhury, CEO, Madison Media, said, "If the franchise owners had built around the teams, they could have leveraged from the win, as fans would have wanted to see the cricketers in their local teams, but that is not likely to happen now. However, that does not take away from the fact that the IPL is a great platform for advertisers."
Of course, the disappointment from the scandal that derailed some top notch careers and saw the exit of a minister last year has not gone away yet. Allegations of match-fixing and money laundering are still rife. Despite the enormity of the situation, Lalit Modi, the man who is credited for the success of the IPL, appears defiant. Speculation that he invited some MCC members for a meeting to discuss the possibility of creating another lucrative premier tournament has resulted in many players keeping out of the IPL. There is also the case of the exclusion of cricketers from Pakistan and some big names being left out without explanation. All in all, IPL's image has taken quite a beating.
"Transparency is a big issue," said the analyst. "The opaque financial dealings and team ownership structures have drawn a lot of speculation. And the idea that they may be cheering at a match that is fixed puts off a lot of spectators."