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Bid to divert attention: Cong.
The Congress today continued its defence of Mr. Vincent George, private secretary to the party president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, and questioned the timing of the CBI First Information Report. ``The idea behind the move to file a first information report is to divert attention from the Tehelka expose,'' said the party spokesperson, Mr. S. Jaipal Reddy.

'Sonia owes an explanation'
The Bharatiya Janata Party today said the Congress president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, ``owes an explanation to the nation'' for retaining the services of her Private Secretary, Mr. Vincent George, booked by the CBI on charges of corruption.

 India wins Chepauk thriller
Sport's a strange matter, full of unreason. For, generations to come will celebrate the two precious runs that came off Harbhajan Singh's bat in the raucous cauldron of Chepauk on Thursday afternoon as much as his record-shattering 32 wickets in the India-Australia Test series as the home team won an excruciatingly thrilling, breathtakingly close contest by two wickets to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Blackwill to be next U.S. envoy
In a significant development, the U.S. President, Mr. George W. Bush, has announced his intent to nominate Mr. Robert Blackwill as the next Ambassador to India.

Cong. relenting on PMK
In a reversal of its declared opposition to any alliance in which the PMK is a major player, the Congress is negotiating with the AIADMK and the TMC to form a PMK-inclusive united secular front in Pondicherry.

Assembly polls likely in early May
The countdown for the Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry will begin after the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr. M.S. Gill, returns here from his one-day visit to Chennai.

PM denounces defiling of Quran
Denouncing the fanatics who burned the Holy Quran, the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today warned of ``swift and stern action'' against them. Calling the miscreants ``irreligious and anti-national criminals'', the Prime Minister urged the State Governments to take action.

 Padma awards presented
Amitabh Bachchan, who was presented the Padma Bhushan award today, stole the show at the presentation of Padma awards at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where over 50 eminent personalities from various walks of life were honoured.

Megawati visit to India off
The Indonesian Vice-President, Ms. Megawati Sukarnoputri, has cancelled her scheduled visit to India on account of ``domestic developments'' in her country.


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