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Defence sector opened up
On a day when there were rumours that the Finance Minister had resigned because of Opposition from the Sangh Parivar to the liberalisation policies, the Union Cabinet took a major decision to throw open defence equipment production to the private sector with permission for foreign direct investment also.

 PM dares Opposition to prove majority
The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today began distancing his Government from the expected electoral setbacks for the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the Assemblies of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala as well as in Pondicherry. The poll outcome would have no bearing on his Government, he argued.

Rise in farm tariffs likely
The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today reassured farmers that import tariffs on agricultural products could be raised further to protect their interests. Though the markets had been opened to imports after lifting of quantitative restrictions, customs duties had already been raised to a high level. ``We can hike the customs duty further to provide a cushion to farmers,'' he said.

All set for Assembly polls
The stage is set for polls in five States tomorrow in what is being dubbed as ``mini general elections'' amid unprecedented security in Assam where pre-poll violence has claimed 37 lives.

Not quitting: Sinha
There was wild speculation here today that the Union Finance Minister had resigned - till Mr. Yashwant Sinha himself clarified that he had not and had no intentions of doing so.

Minister, 6 others killed
The bodies of all seven passengers, including the Arunachal Pradesh Education Minister, Dera Natung, and the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, S.K. Jain, were found amidst the wreckage of the Pawan Hans helicopter early this morning, official sources said.

BJP's calculations may go awry
With pollsters predicting a not-too-favourable an election result for the National Democratic Alliance partners, the Bharatiya Janata Party has started saying that whatever the results the BJP is bound to make handsome gains.

Support for Kashmiri cause: Musharraf
The chief executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, today reiterated Pakistan's commitment to provide ``all diplomatic, moral and political support'' to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for the right to ``self- determination''.

Twin blasts near Sena Bhavan
Two crude bombs went off in quick succession in the highly sensitive area behind the South Block on Rajaji Marg - where the Sena Bhavan is located - and Dalhousie Road in New Delhi today leaving one person injured.


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