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Karnataka

Missing Cafe Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha's body found from river

The body of Cafe Coffee Day founder V. G. Siddhartha was found in the Netravathi river near Mangaluru in Karnataka on Wednesday morning, about 36 hours after he went missing on Monday evening.
V G Siddhartha
V G Siddhartha
The body of Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder V. G. Siddhartha was found in the Netravathi river near Mangaluru in Karnataka on Wednesday morning, about 36 hours after he went missing on Monday evening.
 
He had last been seen on a bridge on the river near Mangalaru and the police had launched a massive search to trace Siddhartha, who was suspected to have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the river.
 
Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil told journalists this morning that fishermen had found the body around 6.30 am today and informed the police.
 
Senior police officers rushed to the scene and took charge of the body, which was then sent to the Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru for post-mortem examination.
 
Patil said the family of Siddhartha had been informed and his relatives were expected to arrive soon and help in the identification of the body and completion of other formalities.
 
The body will be later handed over to the family, who will decide on the time and place of the last rites, he added.
 
About 200 people, including policemen, Coast Guard personnel, divers and fishermen, had been engaged in the search for the missing coffee tycoon, one of the best-known businessmen of Karnataka.
 
Siddhartha was on his way to Mangaluru from Ullal on Monday evening. Around 6.30 pm, when his car reached the bridge, he told his driver to stop so that he could take a walk for some time. He asked the driver to wait for him at the other end of the bridge.
 
When Siddhartha did not come even after an hour, the driver returned to the spot to look for him. He then informed the businessman's family who, in turn, informed the police.
 
Siddhartha, 60, who was the Chairman and Managing director of Coffee Day Enterprise Limited (CDEL), the holding company of all his companies, is the eldest son-in-law of former External Affairs and former Karnataka Chief Minister S. M. Krishna. Krishna, who had also served as the Governor of Maharashtra for some time, was a senior Congress leader who shifted to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March, 2017.
 
In his complaint to the police, Siddhartha's driver Basavaraj Patil said that the businessman had gone missing after he got out of the car at the bridge and started walking while talking to someone on his mobile phone.
 
"Siddhartha got down from the car on the side of the bridge and asked me to wait for him at the other end, as he wanted to walk for a while. But he did not turn up even after an hour," said the driver in his complaint filed in Kannada.
 
Siddhartha had on March 18 this year sold his entire 20 per cent stake in the city-based software major Mindtree to the Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for Rs 3,300 crore at Rs 980 per share. He wanted to raise funds to reduce his company's mounting debts.
 
"Sir (Siddhartha) and I left in a car from Bengaluru on Monday afternoon for Sakaleshpur near Hassan, where he has a house near one of his coffee estates. On reaching there by evening, he told me to drive to Mangaluru on National Highway 66. When I drove onto the bridge, he asked me to stop the car and got down, saying he would walk and get into the car at the end of the bridge on the other side," the driver recounted.
 
When Siddhartha didn't reach the other side of the bridge, the driver went in search of him but he was nowhere to be found. "I filed the complaint with the local police past midnight on his family's advice, when I told them how Siddhartha suddenly went missing," Patil told the police.
 
The port city of Mangaluru is about 350 km west of Bengaluru.
 
During the day yesterday, a fisherman in the area had claimed that he saw a man jumping off the bridge into the river at the place and time where Siddhartha was seen last.
 
"When I heard a thud-like sound in the river, I turned and saw the same man in the water struggling to float but drowned by the time I could reach the spot. As the current was strong, I could not find him in the fast-moving water, as the river is almost full and deep," the fisherman told the police.
 
Siddhartha had left Bengaluru on Monday afternoon for Sakleshpur near Hassan where he has a house and one of his coffee estates. As it was on the way to Mangaluru, he told Patil to drive towards Mangaluru after a short break at Sakleshpur to freshen up.
 
In a letter to the Coffee Day Board of Directors and employees, dated July 27, Siddhartha spoke about pressure from one of the company's private equity partners, who was forcing him to buy backshares, as well as from other lenders. He also wrote about a "lot of harassment from the previous Director General of Income Tax".
 
In a letter to the Coffee Day Board of Directors and employees, dated July 27, Siddhartha spoke about pressure from one of the company's private equity partners, who was forcing him to buy backshares, as well as from other lenders. He also wrote about a "lot of harassment from the previous Director General of Income Tax".
 
"I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts.
 
"I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me. I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation. There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking possession of our Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch," he said.
 
"I have enclosed a list of our assets and tentative value of each asset. As seen below our assets outweigh our liabilities and can help repay everybody," he added.
 
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SC says rebel MLAs can't be compelled to participate in trust vote

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that 15 Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations, cannot be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that 15 Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations, cannot be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House.
 
The top court also said the Speaker is free to decide on the resignation of the MLAs as per the Constitution. 
 
According to the order, MLAs are free to skip the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly slated for tomorrow.
 
The court was hearing petitions filed by 15 rebel MLAs, seeking directions to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignations.
 
"The Speaker should decide freely, as the court will not come in the way of this process....," said the court, citing the trust vote which is scheduled on July 18 in the House. 
 
The rebel MLAs are free to not participate in the trust vote, said the bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. It said the decision of the Speaker should be placed before the court. 
 
The court said it was passing interim orders in facts and circumstances of the case and to maintain "constitutional balance" and "competing rights" of the parties."
 
The court also said the Speaker should be allowed to pass appropriate orders on the resignation of the MLAs within parameters of Article 190 of the Constitution and relevant the Rules.
 
During the day-long arguments on Tuesday, the parties involved pointed out to the bench the implications of the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka on the state as well as elsewhere, and also questioned the apex court's jurisdiction power to entertain the rebel MLAs' petition.
 
Hearing rebel MLAs counsel senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, the bench said: "We cannot say, in which way, the Speaker should decide the resignation or disqualification of MLAs. We cannot fetter him. Although, the important question is, is there any constitutional obligation for the Speaker to decide upon the resignations before the disqualification of the MLA or to club his decisions on both?"
 
The bench asked counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi what stopped Speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar from deciding on whether to accept or reject the resignations tendered by the MLAs on July 6.
 
"You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court. Why? If you have decided on the resignations, then where is the scope for disqualification?" the Chief Justice asked Singvhi. 
 
Singhvi replied that the Speaker had filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining what had happened. 
 
Asked why wasn't a decision taken when the MLAs went to the Speaker with their resignations, Singhvi said it was a written communication, and the Speaker was not available on that day. "But the decision was communicated to him on July 6," the court added.
 
Singhvi argued that the first condition of a genuine resignation tendered by an MLA was that "he has to be personally present before the Speaker" and added that the MLAs first met the Speaker on July 11.
 
Reacting sharply to the argument, the court said that the provision did not negate resigning by letter, but if the MLAs did make a personal visit to the Speaker then he was expected to decide on their resignations immediately. "Why didn't it happen on July 11?" the bench further queried. 
 
Asking if the Speaker was challenging the Supreme Court's jurisdiction power, the Chief Justice said: "For your benefit, the court had ordered a floor test (referring to the last year's floor test) and appointed a pro tem Speaker in a midnight hearing. The exercise of jurisdiction of our power depends only on self-restraint."
 
Singhvi said the Speaker was in no way questioning the court's jurisdiction and added: "Suppose a Speaker goes crazy, then Your Lordships can intervene." 
 
The Chief Justice also heard senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and questioned the veracity of the petition filed by the rebel MLAs.
 
Asking the Supreme Court to look at the notice behind the petition, Dhawan said: "The court should have not entertained this petition." 
 
IANS

Yeddyurappa paid Rs 1,800 crore to BJP leaders: Report

Former Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa made payouts of Rs 1,800 crore to senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, judges and lawyers, reported The Caravan on Friday.

File photo of B S Yeddyurappa (Photo: IANS)
File photo of B S Yeddyurappa (Photo: IANS)
Former Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa made payouts of Rs 1,800 crore to senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, judges and lawyers, reported The Caravan on Friday.
 
The report said the news magazine accessed copies of diary entries in the handwriting of Yeddyurappa that note payoffs amounting to over Rs 1,800 crore to the BJP leaders such as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, the BJP stalwart L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, among others. 
 
"The copies of the diary pages note that Yeddyurappa paid the BJP Central Committee Rs 1,000 crore; that he paid the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari Rs 150 crore each; that he gave the Home Minister Rajnath Singh Rs 100 crore; and that he paid the BJP stalwart LK Advani and the senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi Rs 50 crore each," reads the report.
 
"Besides this, the entry notes, Yeddyurappa paid Rs 10 crore for 'Gadkari's son's marriage'. The diary entries also state that Yeddyurappa paid Rs 250 crore to 'judges'; and Rs 50 crore to 'advocates (fee paid for cases)', but does not mention any names."
 
The alleged payouts were recorded by Yeddyurappa in a Karnataka state assembly legislator's 2009 diary, in Kannada, in his own hand, the report said.
 
Copies of these entries have been with the Income Tax Department since 2017. 
 
The entries regarding payments to the BJP leaders, judges and advocates were written against rows dated January 17, 2009, while the entry regarding the BJP central committee was written against rows dated January 18, 2009, said the report, adding it was unclear whether the entries were made on these dates or written in the diary on a later date.
 
Yeddyurappa served as the Chief Minister in Karnataka from May 2008 to July 2011. 
 
IANS
 

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Rahul takes Rafale battle to HAL doors

Taking the Rafale battle to the doors of HAL, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Modi government has "insulted, hurt and destroyed" the future of the public sector undertaking by depriving it of the offset contract with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
 
Rahul Gandhi interacts with HAL employees in Bengaluru
Taking the Rafale battle to the doors of HAL, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Modi government has "insulted, hurt and destroyed" the future of the public sector undertaking by depriving it of the offset contract with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
 
In an hour-long interaction with about 100 former and present employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), who were directed by the management to keep away from it, he also questioned the credibility and the experience of the private company that got the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract.
 
Gandhi said firms such as HAL, ISRO and DRDO were the "temples of modern India" which were being "destroyed" by the Modi government that was indulging in corruption. 
 
"A very senior person in the government has raised questions over the 'capacity' of HAL. I ask them as to what is the capacity of Anil Ambani's company that has got the contract? What exactly is the experience this person has (in aeronautics)? The HAL's capabilities are all in front of us. You (HAL) have built HF-24, MiGs, Sukhoi and Tejas. The public sector is the backbone of the country and the defence sector," Gandhi said.
 
He said it was "completely ridiculous" to say that HAL does not have any experience. The person who got the contract has zero experience. 
 
"Does HAL have debt? No. But the person who got the contract has Rs 45,000 crore debt," he added.
 
Gandhi said, "You are the only company with the requisite experience to build that aircraft (Rafale). You are the people who built Tejas, MiG, Sukhoi. How can anybody say that you are not experienced? The forces trying to take away your future are quite powerful, quite connected," he said, adding that concerted efforts would be needed to save HAL and other public sector companies.
 
"I have come to give a message that we are going to protect your future. We are going to fight for your rights. Rafale is your right. The decision (to give offset contract) should be done only on merit. Nobody in the world who thinks objectively and takes decisions on merit can take away the offset contract from HAL."
 
He said when the Congress comes to power at the Centre its government would ensure that HAL got more orders to make aircraft. "We will not allow this government or anyone to destroy HAL or take away orders from it.
 
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Referring to the circular directing employees to keep away from the interaction with him, Gandhi said the management must have been under "pressure" from the government but "we are fighting for you too".
 
He said the HAL fraternity has been insulted and hurt. "Their hard work of the last 78 years, their patriotism, has been insulted and questioned by the government through the Defence Ministry. The gentleman who has got the contract has worked only for 12 days. The temples of modern India are being destroyed," the Congress President said.
 
Taking a jibe at the media, he said: "You (HAL employees) called me here because you feel the media is not listening to your voice. But media does not listen even to us these days. The media bosses don't want these types of conversations."
 
Gandhi said he was 100 per cent with the employees of the defence public sector undertakings and told them they were free to call him anytime 24/7 to voice their grievances. 
 
Replying to questions by reporters on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that the government of India had no role in deciding the offset partner, the Congress chief said the defence minister was "lying". 
 
"The former president of France (Francois Hollande) has said that the Government of India told him to give the contract to Ambani. Documentation has also come out that Dassault has said this."
 
Before interacting with the employees, Gandhi said "We are in opposition but if there is something we can do to help you we would like to do it. When we come to government we would like to do even more aggressively."
 
Mirajuddin, a former trade union leader of HAL, said the company was capable of manufacturing Rafale in India and they were agitated over the offset contract going to a private company. 
 
"We felt let down...we were not only surprised but felt insulted. We are not begging. We are demanding that our rights based on merit should be protected," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Yeddyurappa gets ready for cliffhanger trust vote

The BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa faces a crucial trust vote on Saturday in the Karnantaka Assembly that began its new session with MLAs taking oath with numbers stacked against the ruling party on its own.
BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
The BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa faces a crucial trust vote on Saturday in the Karnantaka Assembly that began its new session with MLAs taking oath with numbers stacked against the ruling party on its own.
 
Governor Vajubhai Vala convened the 15th Karnataka Assembly in the Vidhana Soudha here that began with the newly-elected legislators taking oath. Pro tem Speaker K.G. Bopaiah conducted the proceedings.
 
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was the first to take oath followed by Congress legislature party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Janata Dal-Secular's (JD-S) legislature party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy.
 
Legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and JD-S were administered the oath in pairs starting with the BJP, followed by that of the Congress and JD-S as per the number of seats they all got in the bitterly fought May 12 election.
 
Among the prominent legislators present in the House were BJP leaders like former Deputy Chief Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, B. Sreeramulu, Congress legislators D.K. Shivakumar, R.V. Deshpande, M.B. Patil, Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, and JD-S lawmakers G.T. Devegowda and H.D.Revanna.
 
The oath-taking of all the legislators will be completed before 4 p.m. for Bopaiah to conduct a floor test in the House to ascertain if Yeddyurappa has majority in the hung Assembly, as directed by the Supreme Court on Friday.
 
If the opposition legislators insist on the division of votes, the pro tem Speaker will ask the members who are in favour of the motion to vote first and those against it soon after.
 
The May 12 election across the state in 222 constituencies of the 225-member assembly, including one nominated, threw up a hung House, with no party securing majority. The nominated member is yet to be decided and polls in two constituencies were deferred.
 
Yeddyurappa requires the 112-halfway mark to win the motion or one more than the half of the members present when the floor test is conducted in the House with an effective strength of 222.
 
Of the 222 seats, the BJP won 104, Congress 78, JD-S, 37 and one each by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) and an Independent.
 
As the single largest party, the BJP is eight short of the 112-halfway mark in the House.
 
As Kumaraswamy won from both Channapatna and Ramanagaram segments, the party's effective strength in the House is 36 as he can cast his vote only once.
 
Though the Governor directed Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence on the floor of the House within 15 days from the date of assumption of office as the Chief Minister (May 17), a three-judge bench of the top court ordered the floor test on Saturday, rejecting his plea for a week's time to prove his majority.
 
IANS
 
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Karnataka drama: SC orders floor test in Assembly at 4 pm on Saturday

The Supreme Court on Friday directed that a floor test be held at 4 pm on Saturday to determine if BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday morning, has the requisite strength in the state legislative assembly.
The Supreme Court today directed that a floor test be held at 4 pm tomorrow to determine if BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka yesterday morning, has the requisite strength in the state legislative assembly.
 
Governor Vajubhai Vala, while inviting Mr. Yeddyurappa to form the government after the May 12 elections to the assembly threw up a split verdict, had told him to prove his majority in the house within 15 days.
 
The order by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Mr. Justice A. K. Sikri, on petitions filed by the Congress and the Janata Dal (S), said the Karnataka government could not nominate a member from the Anglo-Indian community to the assembly till the vote of confidence is held.
 
Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the petitioners, told newspersons later that the court had also made it clear that the Chief Minister could not take any major policy decisions during this period.
 
The apex court also directed the Director General of Police to ensure the security of all the newly-elected MLAs so that they can reach the Assembly safely.
 
The Governor will now appoint a pro tem Speaker, usually the senior-most among the newly-elected MLAs, who will preside over the House when the legislators take oath in the House.
 
Mr. Singhvi said the court had also agreed to address the larger question of whether the Governor had acted correctly or not in inviting Mr. Yeddyurappa to form the government as the leader of the single largest party when a post-poll alliance had claimed in writing that it had a clear majority in the House with the signatures of the members on its side. The court said it would take up this aspect after ten weeks.
 
Mr. Singhvi said the letter written by Mr. Yeddyurappa to the Governor, staking claim to form the new government, which was submitted to the court today, clearly showed that he had not given any details on how the BJP would bridge the eight-member gap between its strength and the number required for a simple majority. "He had no basis for laying claim to forming the government," he said.
 
The Supreme Court had held a rare midnight hearing on Wednesday on the petitions filed by the Congress and the JD (S) seeking a stay on the swearing-in of Mr. Yeddyurappa, pointing out that the Governor had overlooked their claim that their post-poll alliance had a clear majority in the Assembly.
 
The BJP had won 104 of the 222 seats for which polling was held on May 12, while the Congress, which was ruling the state for the past five years, ended up with 78 seats and the JD (S) with 37 seats.
 
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The Congress and JD (S) announced a post-poll alliance even as the results were coming in, and also claimed that they had the support of two of the three other members in the house, adding up to 117 in all. The Congress had agreed to let JD (S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to head the government in case the alliance was invited to form the new government.
 
Mr. Yeddyurappa, also a former Chief Minister, was, meanwhile, elected leader of the BJP legislature party and he, too, staked claim for forming the government, asserting that he would be able to prove his majority in the House. Late on Wednesday night, the  Governor invited Mr. Yeddyurappa to form the government and take the oath of office on Thursday morning.
 
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard the appeals by the Congress and JD (S) from 2 am yesterday till about 5.30 am, when it declined to stay the swearing-in ceremony  but directed that a further hearing on the matter would be held at 10.30 am today.
 
The court had, however, sought the communications which Mr. Yeddyurappa had written to the Karnataka Governor informing him his election as leader of the BJP legislature party.
 
The court said that the swearing-in would be subject to the final outcome of the matter before it.
 
Fearing poaching by the BJP, the Congress and the JD (S) shifted their MLAs out of Karnataka to Hyderabad in Telangana overnight last night. They were lodged in a resort near Bengaluru and a hotel in the state capital for two days after the results of the elections were declared on May 15. The MLAs, who reached Hyderabad by road only this morning, will now have to make their way back to Bengaluru so as to be in time for tomorrow's proceedings.
 
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No stay on Yeddyurappa swearing-in after midnight battle in Supreme Court

Amid jockeying for power in Karnataka, the Supreme Court early on Thursday after a midnight hearing refused to stall the swearing-in of BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa as Karnataka's new Chief Minister.
BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Amid jockeying for power in Karnataka, the Supreme Court early on Thursday after a midnight hearing refused to stall the swearing-in of BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa as Karnataka's new Chief Minister.
 
The court, however, sought the communications which Yeddyurappa had written to Karnataka Governor informing him his election as BJP legislature party.
 
Yeddyurappa would take the oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday at 9.00 a.m. at Raj Bhavan. 
 
The court said that the swearing-in is subject to the final outcome of the matter before it.
 
The bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, while seeking Yeddyurappa's response on the petition by Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) seeking to stall his swearing-in, has directed further hearing of the matter at 10.30 a.m. on Friday.
 
During the hearing, that commenced at 2.20 a.m. and concluded with the court passing order at 5.30 in the morning, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal was asked to produce the letters which the court was told are with the Karnataka Governor.
 
The top court heard a joint petition by the Congress and JD-S challenging Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision inviting Yeddyurappa to form a new government in the state despite having 104 MLAs -- eight short of simple majority.
 
The court also issued a notice to Yeddyurappa, asking them file a reply even as former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the BJP said how long Yeddyurappa should be given to prove majority could be debated after two days.
 
The petition was filed late on Wednesday night after Governor Vala invited Yeddyurappa for an oath taking ceremony on Thursday at 9 a.m. and gave him days to prove his majority in the legislative assembly.
 
The Congress and the JD-S, who formed a hurriedly stitched post-poll alliance after a hung assembly verdict to claim a majority of 116 members in the new assembly, called the Governor's decision "unconstitutional".
 
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"The BJP has only 104 MLAs, the Governor invited Yeddyurappa to form government in an unconstitutional manner," senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the Congress, told the three-member bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan.
 
Chief Justice Dipak Misra constituted the bench shortly after midnight on Wednesday to hear the matter in court number six of the Supreme Court.
 
Singhvi argued in the fully packed court room and talked about occasions when post-poll alliances have been called despite single largest party.
 
He cited the instances of Goa and Manipur where the Congress had emerged as the single largest party sans majority but post-alliances were invited to form governments.
 
He said in the case of Karnataka, it was unheard of that a Chief Minister who does not have a majority was given 15 days to conduct floor test.
 
"There is only one way a party which got 104 will get 113... I heard he asked for seven days, but the Governor gave 15 days. Elementary common sense and arithmetic against this kind of giving of time," Singhvi said.
 
He said in Jharkhand in 2005, Goa in 2017 and in the Jagadambika Pal case in Uttar Pradesh, the court advanced the date of floor test from seven days to 48 hours.
 
"It is biggest license to poaching if Governor gives 15 days to the BJP to prove majority," he said.
 
To this, the Justices Sikri, Bobde and Bhushan said they were wondering whether the Supreme Court can restrain a Governor that might lead to constitutional vacuum in a state.
 
They said that the general trend of the past Supreme Court judgements was not to issue injunction to Governor or to restrain Governor.
 
Singhvi responded: "It is not like restraining the Governor, who only acted in pursuance of the BJP letter. Act of swearing-in is less than they make it out to be.
 
"If President's rule under Article 356 can be stayed by a court, why not this (decision to invite BJP and give 15 days for floor test) in which a Governor has exercised his discretion without the aid and advice of the Cabinet?"
 
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, in his argument said everything was in the realm of "speculation" as the entire matter was still "a grey area".
 
Rohatgi who appeared for the BJP questioned the urgency of the matter to hear it at midnight.
 
"Will heavens fall if a person is sworn in in the morning?" he said.
 
Justice Sikri asked him to submit before the court how his side was claiming a majority in the House.
 
Venugopal intervened and said, "Everything is reversible. What is the great loss by waiting for 15 days."
 
Justice Bobde countered: "That is the other point. Why wait for 15 days?"
 
Venugopal said it was the Governor's decision and it was an area of darkness how Yeddyurappa was claiming to form the government.
 
"But let the swearing-in go on. This is a purely reversible situation."
 
The court observed that it was "preposterous" to argue that before MLAs take oath they were not amenable to anti-defection law. "It means open invitation to horse-trading."
 
"In a case like this where the opposite side is showing 117 MLAs support, how will you have 112?," Justice Sikri asked Venugopal.
 
The case was still being heard till early morning on Thursday.
 
IANS
 
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BJP takes early lead as counting of votes progresses in Karnataka elections

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took an early lead as counting of votes began in the crucial elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly this morning.
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The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took an early lead as counting of votes began in the crucial elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly this morning.
 
As early counting trends became available, the BJP, which is hoping to regain power after a gap of five years, was ahead in 44 of the 86 seats from where figures were available, the Election Commission said on its website.
 
The ruling Congress was leading in 25, while the Janata Dal (Secular), headed by former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, which is expected to play a crucial role in case neither party gets a clear majority, was leading in 17 seats.
 
Polling was held on May 12 for 222 of the 224 elected seats in the 225-member Assembly. One member of the House is nominated.
 
Polling in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency in Bengaluru has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of about 10,000 voter ID cards in a flat in the area and was countermanded in the Jayanagar constituency in the city after the death of the BJP candidadte, B. N. Vijayakumar.
 
In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. They include 222 candidates each from the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is making a strong bid to regain power after a gap of five years. The Janata Dal (S), headed by former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, which is expected to play a key role in case neither of the two main contestants gets a clear majority, has fielded 201 candidates. There are about 800 candidates put up by various other national and regional parties and as many as 1,155 independent candidates.
 
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting from two seats -- Chamundeshwari in Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkot district.
 
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa is in the fray from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district, while JD (S) state president and former Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy is contesting from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats.
 
Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district. 
 
A record 72.36 percent of the 50.7 million electors had exercised their franchise in the polling on May 12.
 
The results of the Karnataka elections are crucial in that both the Congress and the BJP will see a win in the state as a major morale booster ahead of the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram later this year and, of course, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
No government in Karnataka has been re-elected to office since Ramakrishna Hegde managed the feat at the head of the Janata Party government way back in 1985.
 
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High-voltage Karnataka battle ends, millions vote

A high-stake battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.
 
First time voters in Karnataka share their expectations
 
 
A high-stake battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.
 
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was "very very confident" that the Congress would retain power in the only major southern state it now rules as officials said more than 60 per cent of the over 5.06-crore electorate had voted till 6 p.m.
 
"Voting has been peaceful by and large barring a few incidents of some non-functional EVMs, missing voter names and procedural delays," an official told IANS.
 
All three main contenders for power -- the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- claimed they would win hands down.
 
The BJP's Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was among the first to vote at Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He has claimed that the BJP will secure 140-150 seats and that he will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his swearing in.
 
Siddaramaiah ridiculed him after voting on Saturday, saying the BJP leader was "mentally disturbed" and that the Congress was sure of bagging more than 120 seats.
 
JD-S chief and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, his wife Chennamma and second son H.D. Revanna cast their votes in their hometown Holenarsipura in Hassan district.
 
"We expect a possibility of forming the government as we have done well to get a majority," Deve Gowda told reporters.
 
Many in Bengaluru lined up outside polling centres since 6.30 a.m. to beat the early rush.
 
Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of voter ID cards and cancelled in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar.
 
In all, voting is being conducted in 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city.
 
Karnataka has over 5.06 crore electors, including 2.6 crore men and 2.5 crore women. A total of 15.42 lakh voters, aged 18-19, have registered for the first time.
 
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The highest number of voters (6.03 lakh) are in Bengaluru South and the lowest (1.7 lakh) at Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district.
 
Polling is being held in 58,008 stations in 30 districts, with 600 of them dubbed 'pink booths', overseen by women personnel. Over 1.5 lakh security personnel have been deployed.
 
The vote count will take place on May 15.
 
In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. A total of 222 are from the Congress and BJP each, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties. About 450 contestants are in the battle from Bengaluru.
 
Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari at Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkot district.
 
BJP's Lok Sabha member from Ballari B.R. Sriramaulu, contesting from two seats including Badami and Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district, on Saturday worshipped a cow and visited temples before voting.
 
JD-S state president and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is in the fray from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats. BJP state unit President Yeddyurappa is contesting from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.
 
Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district.
 
IANS
 
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Brisk voting underway in Karnataka Assembly polls

Voting began on Saturday on a brisk note across Karnataka to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly for a five-year term.
 
Voting begins in Karnataka Assembly Elections
 
 
Voting began on Saturday on a brisk note across Karnataka to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly for a five-year term.
 
"Peaceful polling is being held in 222 of the 224 constituencies, including 36 segments reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC), 15 for Scheduled Tribes (ST) under tight security," an official told IANS here.
 
Denizens of Bengaluru were seen lined up outside polling booths from 6.30 a.m. to beat the rush in casting their ballots as voting began at 7 a.m.
 
Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari (RR) Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the voter ID cards case and countermanded in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar on May 4.
 
In all, voting is being conducted across 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city.
 
During the initial hour of voting, there were reports of electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunctioning in some booths; power crisis in a polling station in Rajajinagar seat; voters' names missing at few booths and women clad in burqa made to reveal their faces at a Belagavi polling booth -- that led to a few hiccups.
 
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was among the first to cast his vote in Shikaripura segment in Shivamogga district of Malnad region.
 
The state has over 5.06 crore voters, including 2.56 crore men, 2.5 crore women and over 5,000 who identify themselves as the third gender.
 
A total of 15.42 lakh voters, aged 18-19, have registered to cast their ballot for the first time.
 
Voting is being held in 58,008 polling stations of 30 districts across the state, with 600 of them as pink booths, manned by all-women personnel, and 28 ethnic booths.
 
Over 1.5 lakh personnel have been stationed across the state for the election, with paramilitary forces from 585 state and central companies at 20,826 polling booths, including 12,001 critical booths.
 
Voting will continue till 6 p.m. and votes will be counted on May 15. 
 
IANS
 
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Congress, BJP lock horns in Karnataka's triangular poll contest

The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP have locked horns to outsmart each other in the Karnataka assembly election on Saturday, with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) making the contest triangular.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and BJP President Amit Shah addressing press conference on the last day of campaigning for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru on May 11, 2018.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and BJP President Amit Shah addressing press conference on the last day of campaigning for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru on May 11, 2018.
The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP have locked horns to outsmart each other in the Karnataka assembly election on Saturday, with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) making the contest triangular.
 
As the only assembly poll being held in the peak summer, wth temperatures soaring, the battle royal at the hustings has the nation glued to the southern state where the stakes are high for both the national parties whose prospects the JD-S can make or mar as a kingmaker or spoiler in a fractured verdict.
 
"If the Congress is desperate to retain power defying anti-incumbency, the BJP is impatient to return to power in south India after losing badly five years ago, while the JD-S wages a lone battle to play a key role in the new government formation," a poll analyst told IANS on Friday ahead of D-day.
 
Single-phase polling will be held across the state in 223 assembly segments, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) candidates. The election in south Bengaluru's Jayanagar constituency was countermanded following the death of BJP's candidate B.N. Vijayakumar on May 4. One member is nominated in the 225-member assembly.
 
A total of 4.97-crore electorate includes 2.52-crore men and 2.45-crore women. They will cast their ballots in 56,696 polling booths across the state amidst tight security, with 45,000 personnel from 585 the central and state forces deployed.
 
"In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women; 222 are from the Congress, 222 from BJP, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and about 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties," state Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told IANS after scrutiny and withdrawals on April 27.
 
With the largest number (28) of assembly seats in a district, Bengaluru will witness a battle of sorts as 449 contestants, including 37 women, are in the race.
 
Though the Congress returned to power in 2013 after losing the mandate in the 2004 and 2008 elections, it is betting on the 'performance" of its government, under Siddaramaiah, the only Chief Minister to have completed a five-year term 40 years after the party's legendary Devaraj Urs in 1978.
 
"When the votes are counted on May 15, we will know if the Siddaramaiah-led Congress is lucky to beat anti-incumbency and return power as no outgoing party could do over the last four decades," the analyst said.
 
As the second among the six southern states to be in power besides Puducherry, the Congress has been sweating out to hold on to Karnataka, as its outcome will decide not only Siddaramaiah's fate, but also the fortunes of his party's new president, Rahul Gandhi, who took over the mantle from his mother Sonia Gandhi in mid-December 2017.
 
"More than Gandhi, the party's state unit leaders are anxious to win the election at any cost so that they could credit it to him (Rahul) for leading the party to victory and revive its fortunes for the 2019 general elections," said Pradeep Puranik, a poll pandit in this tech hub.
 
According to Congress state unit vice-president B.K. Chandrashekar, the ruling party would get 115 seats, which are more than the halfway mark (113) and will retain power.
 
"Our welfare schemes like Indira canteens, 7 kg free rice per person for every household, free milk to school students and free education to girls up to post-graduation will work in our favour, with large number of women wanting to vote. We are confident of getting majority," Chandrashekar told IANS.
 
In contrast, the BJP has pulled all stops to free Karnataka also from the Congress yoke and consolidate its position for its expansion south of the Vindhyas.
 
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The BJP declared its popular Lingayat leader, B.S. Yedduyurappa, as its chief ministerial nominee even before the elections were announced on March 27 although he was responsible for its defeat in the 2013 poll after he left it and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), which split its votes.
 
The 75-year-old veteran politician, however, returned to BJP in early 2014, was elected to the Lok Sabha from his home district Shivamogga in the Malnad region and was made its state unit president for leading it in the crucial assembly polls.
 
Yeddurappa was also the party's first Chief Minister in south India for three years from May 2008 to July 2011, when he was forced to resign following his indictment by the state's anti-graft watchdog (Lokayukta) in the multi-crore mining scam that rocked Karnataka for over a decade (2001-11).
 
"We are hopeful of getting majority due to palpable anti-incumbency against the Congress. We are confident of a decisive mandate to form the government on our own strength and without the support of other parties, as coalitions have failed in the past," BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash told IANS.
 
The BJP and Yeddyurappa were beneficiaries of a 'sympathy wave' in the 2008 assembly election after coalition partner JD-S withdrew support to them in November 2007, resulting in President's rule for six months.
 
The BJP is also betting on the 'popularity' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the development model of its NDA government at the Centre over the past four years to again upstage the Congress and JD-S this time.
 
Modi campaigned extensively across the state with 21 rallies over five days from May 1-9 and drew huge crowds with his extempore speeches in Hindi that were translated into Kannada for the benefit of the local people.
 
The JD-S, on the other hand, has been working overtime to win the poll battle on the plank of being a regional party that alone takes care of the people in the face of national parties letting down the state on all fronts.
 
"We will be single largest party with more number of seats, followed by the BJP and the Congress. With the help of Independents, we will form the next government, as the people want a local party like ours to be in power this time, as the national parties have deceived them," JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu told IANS.
 
IANS
 
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RSS trying to crush Karnataka's spirit: Rahul

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of trying to crush the spirit of the people of Karnataka and said the Congress will win Saturday's Assembly polls hands down.
 
BJP doesn't understand meaning of term 'Hindu': Rahul Gandhi
 
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of trying to crush the spirit of the people of Karnataka and said the Congress will win Saturday's Assembly polls hands down.
 
Gandhi, who addressed a press conference here on the last day of campaigning, said that the Karnataka polls were not just between two political parties but between two ideologies. 
 
He alleged that the RSS was imposing its idea of oneness and was against the people of Karnataka to express themselves. 
 
"There is an idea in India that says the entire country must be ruled with one idea, one imposition and everybody must submit to that idea. That is what RSS is trying to do. Institution after institution is being attacked by the RSS," he said. 
 
"Supreme Court judges for the first time are asking people for justice. The reason for this is because the RSS is placing its people everywhere. My friends in Karnataka listen to this carefully. The idea is to crush your spirit. We will never ever allow your spirit and ideas of Basavanna to be crushed," he said 
 
The Congress President also ruled out the possibility of a hung assembly in the state. 
 
"I am pretty clear that there is going to be one outcome here which is the Congress party winning the elections hands down," Gandhi said. 
 
"On one side you have the RSS idea of one concept in the whole country. On the other, you have an idea that every single person in the country should be able to express himself, that all my friends in Karnataka should have pride in their language, in their food. That is what this fight has become. There is no half-way answer possible in this," he noted. 
 
Gandhi said the media had estimated only a few seats to Congress in Gujarat but the party came very close to defeating the BJP whose campaign was spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
 
"In Gujarat, my friends in the media said Congress will not get more than 20-30 seats. Congress came very close to defeating BJP. The Prime Minister put whatever effort he could," he added. 
 
IANS
 
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Congress, JD-S in poll tie-up, pretending to fight: Modi

Taking head-on the two rival parties of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday charged the ruling Congress and the JD-S of being in tacit alliance for the May 12 Karnataka assembly polls while pretending to fight in parts of the southern state.
 
Congress doesn't care about farmers,says Modi
 
 
Taking head-on the two rival parties of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday charged the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) of being in tacit alliance for the May 12 Karnataka assembly polls while pretending to fight in parts of the southern state.
 
"The people of Karnataka have right to know about the alliance between Congress and JD-S because they pretend to fight in some parts of the state while being together in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as evident from the latter's support to the ruling party's corporator (Sampath Raj) in becoming the city mayor last year," asserted Modi at a public rally, organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to campaign for its candidates in the northwest district, about 70 km from here.
 
The Congress and JD-S had tied up to run the Bengaluru civic body after the 2017 elections for the state capital's 198 wards, denying BJP the mayoral post.
 
The JD-S also supported the Congress candidate Sampath Raj in becoming the city mayor in 2017.
 
Incidentally, Raj is a Congress contestant in the C.V. Raman Nagar assembly segment in the city's southeast suburb against P. Ramesh of JD-S and the two-time legislator S. Raghu of BJP.
 
Modi also alleged that the JD-S was working towards saving the Congress in the assembly elections.
 
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"The Congress doesn't speak the truth. Its members lie every day and if anyone is trying to save the image of the Congress, it is the JD-S," he alleged.
 
Reiterating his argument from earlier rallies, Modi told the voters that there was no way the JD-S could defeat the Congress to form a government.
 
"If there's a party that is capable of bringing change in the government and to the state of Karnataka and its people, it is the BJP, under the leadership of (its Chief Ministerial face) B.S. Yeddyurappa," thundered Modi.
 
The Congress-led government in the state failed to even ensure supply of water to the state, due to which several farmers had to commit suicide, he lamented.
 
Alleging the Congress was doing only "lip-service" to the farmers' issues, while indulging in corruption themselves, he said BJP has taken on a full-fledged battle against corruption.
 
"There is no way this kind of corruption can be tolerated," he reiterated.
 
Modi is on his third visit to the poll-bound state this month ahead of the May 12 Assembly polls.
 
He will later be addressing rallies in Gadag, Mangaluru and Shivamogga.
 
IANS
 
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10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.
 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Jayalalithaa acquitted in corruption case, paving way for her return as TN CM

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Monday acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today acquitted by the Karnataka High Court here in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
 
The High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Reading out the operative part of the judgement at 11 am in the court, Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Today's acquittal means that Ms Jayalithaa, supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), can return as Chief Minister.
 
After she had stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29 last year.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, a film star-turned-politician, and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The special court had sentenced the co-accused -- her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew Sudharakan, who is Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi -- also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
 
Jayalalithaa acquitted by Karnataka HC in corruption case
Celebrations broke out among Ms Jayalalithaa's supporters all across Tamil Nadu as well as outside the high court here, where they had gathered in large numbers.
 
Hundreds of people who had congregated outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai since early morning burst firecrackers, danced and distributed sweets as soon as news of the verdict by Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy ame in.
 
Mr Panneerselvam and many of his Cabinet colleagues also turned up to congratulate her.
 
On October 17 last year, Ms Jayalalithaa had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case after the Karnataka High Court had turned down her application.
 
Along with her, the apex court also granted bail to Ms Natarajan, Mr Sudhakaran and Mr Ilavarasi.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Ms Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In 2011, Jayalalithaa had appeared in the Bangalore court for four days to answer more than 1390 questions posed by the judge.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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10 dead, 50 hurt as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails near Hosur

At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed on Friday morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
10 dead, 50 injured as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails
At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed this morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 7.45 am between Anekal Road and Hosur stations on the Bangalore-Salem section of South-Western Railway, they said.
 
Prima facie, the derailment occurred after the train hit a boulder that had rolled down onto the tracks in the ghat section, the sources said.
 
The train had left Bangalore at 6.15 am for Ernakulam in Kerala. Nine coaches and the engine of the train went off the rails, and one coach in particular, D8, a second class chair car, was badly affected, they said.
 
The derailed coaches included two air-conditioned chair cars and six second class chair cars, but they did not suffer much damage.
 
A pantry car and four second class chair cars were not affected by the derailment, the sources said.
 
South-Western Railway spokesperson Chandrasekhar Gupta told NetIndian over the telephone that ten bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches.
 
He said 18 of the injured passengers had suffered severe injuries and were undergoing treatment in the Narayan Hridalaya, Sparsh and Anekal General hospitals nearby.
 
Police and emergency personnel, including railway officials and staff, from nearby areas in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka rushed to the spot with ambulances and medical equipment. The Railways rushed medical vans and accident relief vans to the spot.
 
Efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section at the earliest, the sources said.
 
In Delhi, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the scene of the accident and that he had directed the Chairman of the Railway Board, the General Manager of South-Western Railway and other senior officials to reach the spot.
 
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He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
  
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
 
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
 
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
 
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
 
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143
 
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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who were convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 66, the apex court also granted bail to her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each.
 
The Karnataka High Court had, on October 7, rejected Ms Jayalalithaa's bail application. While doing so, Judge A V Chandrashekhara recalled that the Supreme Court had made it clear in the past that corruption cases should be put on the fast track. He pointed out that the apex court had taken a tough stand in such cases and had described corruption as a "violation of human rights".
 
Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9.
 

 
Jayalalithaa granted interim bail by SC in DA case
The apex court today suspended her sentence and granted her bail after imposing some conditions, including that she would have to submit her paprs for the appeal against her conviction within two months, that is by December 18, and that she would not seek any adjournment of the hearings. 
 
As soon as news of the court's decision to grant her bail came, hundreds of supporters of Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai and elsewhere broke out into rapturous celebrations.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, who has been held in prison in Bangalore since September 27, is expected to be released on bail later today or tomorrow. She will remain confined to home in Chennai while she is on bail.
 
The court fixed December 18 as the date to satisfy itself if she had complied with its order.
 
Her counsel Fali Nariman assured the court on her behalf that there would be no act of lawlessness by her party's workers in Tamil Nadu. She had sought bail on the grounds that she was suffering from various ailments and that she was a senior citizen and a woman.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa stood disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after her conviction and sentence and had to resign as Chief Minister. She is also barred from contesting elections for six years after she completes her four-year sentence.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Ms Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
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The court held that the prosecution had been able to prove that she possessed disproportionate assets of about Rs 53 crore. 
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state and emerging as the third largest party in the House.
 
Elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly are due in 2016 and unless her conviction is overturned by a higher court, Ms Jayalalithaa cannot contest them.
 
After Ms Jayalalithaa stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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1 dead, 14 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station on Thursday morning.
 
Chennai train blasts: 14 injured passengers stable
A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station here this morning.
 
Southern Railway sources said two of the injured had suffered serious grievous injuries while the others had received minor injuries.
 
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters at the scene that the "minor intensity" blasts occurred in sleeper coaches S4 and S5 at about 7.15 am, some ten minutes after the train arrived on platform number 9.
 
Three coaches of the train -- S3, S4 and S5 -- were affected by the two explosions, the sources said.
 
The deceased passenger was identified as Ms Swati who was travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada on her way to her home town of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said. Media reports said she was an employee of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
 
Sources said the blasts appeared to have been caused by some devices placed under seat 70 of coach S4 and seat 30 of coach S5.
 
Mr Mishra said the train was running slightly late and had arrived at the station at 7.05 am instead of its scheduled time of 5.45 am.
 
The injured were rushed immediately to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital near the station.
 
Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge has sanctioned an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the next-of-kin of the deceased passenger, Rs 25,000 for each of those with grievous injuries and Rs 5,000 for each of those with minor injuries.
 
Police officials, accompanied by dog squads and bomb disposal squads, rushed to the scene of the blasts immediately and platform number 9 was cordoned off.
 
The entire train was checked by the police and it later resumed its journey to Guwahati, Assam after the affected coaches were detached and replaced with new coaches.
 
Mr Mishra said the entire train was being checked and it would resume its journey to Guwahati, Assam an hour later after the two affected coaches are detached.
 
The Railways have set up a helpline at Chennai on telephone number 044-25357398 to provide information to relatives of the passengers of the affected train.
 
Operations on other platforms as well as on the nearby suburban section continued to remain normal, Mr Mishra added.
 
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Hyderabad will reach Chennai later today to probe the incident.
 
Security was intensified at Chennai Central railway station after the incidents.
 
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Among the seriously injured passengers, one was identified as Sumantho Devnath (37, Male), while the other was an unidentified male.
 
Those with minor injuries were identified as follows:
 
1. Shaiful Haque – 27 years Male
2. Anjanedu– 29 years Male
3. Vimal Kumar Das – 43 years Male
4. Shagun Kumar Rai– 23 years Male
5. Altaf Khan – 17 years Male
6. Uma – 35 years Female
7. Jitendra Mohanto Deka – 58 years Male
8. Sari – 21 years Male
9. Murali – 27 years Male
10. Bijoy Kumar – 14 years Male
11. Sudanchand Debnath – 64 years Male
12. Surendra Varma– 31 years Male
 
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Bengaluru Metro to extend last train time from new year

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Bengaluru Metro will extend train timings from January 1, 2020 enabling passengers to take trains later than the existing schedule.
 
At 12 midnight, the last train from Majestic station will depart in all directions, said Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) in a statement.
 
From Yelachenahalli station, the last train will depart at 11:35 p.m., against 11 p.m. now and Nagasandra at 11:25 p.m. compared to 10:50 p.m. now.
 
The last metro train from Baiyappanahalli will depart at 11:35 p.m. against 11 p.m. now and from Mysuru Road station at 11:40 p.m. against current 11:05 p.m.
 
The east-west corridor of the metro, from Baiyappanahalli in the east to Mysuru Road in the west is 18.1 km long.
 
The north-south corridor from Nagasandra in the north to Puttenahalli in the south is 24.2 km long.
 
Bengaluru metro, also known as Namma Metro, is a joint venture between the government of India and government of Karnataka.
 
IANS
 

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Karnataka Cabinet expansion after Shah clears names: CM


File photo of B S Yediyurappa (Photo: IANS)
File photo of B S Yediyurappa (Photo: IANS)
The second Cabinet expansion of the over four-month-old BJP government in Karnataka would take place after party chief Amit Shah approved the names to be finalised soon, Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa said on Tuesday.
 
"The Cabinet will be expanded soon after Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi approve the names to be finalised in consultations with the party high command when I go to Delhi in 3-4 days," Yediyurappa told reporters here.
 
As declared on Tuesday after the ruling party won 12 of the 15 Assembly seats in the December 5 bye-elections, Yediyurappa said he would make all the 11 winners ministers as he had promised them for bringing the party back to power.
 
"I am committed to honour the word I have given them for resigning their Assembly seats and joining our party to contest and win on our symbol (Lotus). They have to be rewarded for sacrificing their seats, which led to the fall of the previous JD-S-Congress coalition government in July," recalled Yediyurappa.
 
The first Cabinet expansion took place on August 20 when 17 BJP legislators, including an independent, were inducted, with three as deputy chief ministers.
 
In the 34-member ministry, including the chief minister, 16 cabinet posts are vacant and will be filled in the second phase of its expansion.
 
Resignations of 17 rebel legislators, including 14 from the Congress and 3 from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in mid-July led to the fall of the 14-month-old coalition government on July 23 after its chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy lost the confidence motion he moved on July 18 for want of a majority in the Assembly.
 
Though former Assembly speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified the 17 rebels on July 25-28 for the remaining term of the House that lasts till May 2023, the Supreme Court allowed them to recontest in the bye-elections on November 13 while upholding their disqualification.
 
Of the 11 BJP winners in the bye-elections, nine had defected from the Congress and two from the JD-S.
 
Two defectors -- M. T. B. Nagaraj from the Congress and A. H. Vishwanath from the JD-S -- lost in the bye-elections to independent Sharath Kumar Bachegowda and H. P. Manjunath of the Congress.
 
Nagaraj, the richest candidate in the bye-elections, was the state housing minister in the previous coalition government.
 
Though independent-turned-Congress defector B. L. Shankar joined the BJP on November 14, he was not given the party ticket to re-contest from Ranibennur in Haveri district. Instead, the party fielded its local leader G. Arun Kumar, who won, defeating K. B. Koliwad of the Congress.
 
In a related development, hectic lobbying began among the ruling party's legislators for grabbing the remaining five cabinet posts after 11 posts are filled by the winners.
 
One more Congress defector to the BJP -- Munirathna Naidu -- is yet to contest as the bye-election to R. R. Nagar in Bengaluru southwest was not held due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over its results in the May 2018 Assembly polls.
 
IANS
 

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Karnataka bye-elections: BJP wins 12 seats, Congress 2, JD (S) 0

In a near sweep, a resurgent BJP won 12 seats, while the Congress managed just two and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) faced total rout in Karnataka's bye-elections for 15 Assembly seats held on December 5, an official said on Monday.
In a near sweep, a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 12 seats, while the Congress managed just two and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) faced total rout in Karnataka's bye-elections for 15 Assembly seats held on December 5, an official said on Monday.
 
"Of all the results declared for the 15 Assembly seats, the BJP won 12, Congress 2, while the JD-S drew a blank," poll official G. Jadiyappa told IANS here.
 
An Independent, backed by the JD-S, won from Hosakote in Bengaluru Rural district.
 
The BJP won in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijayanagara, Chikkaballapur, K. R. Pura, Yeshvanthpur, Mahalakshmi Layout and Krishnarajapete.
 
The Congress won in Hunasur in Mysuru district and Shivajinagara in Bengaluru central.
 
The ruling BJP needed to win at least seven of the 15 seats to secure a simple majority in the 223-member Assembly and can now look forward to continuing in office for three and a half more years till the five-year term of the present Assembly ends in May 2023.
 
The BJP secured 50.3 per cent of the total votes polled, the Congress 31.3 per cent and the JD-S 12.1 per cent in the 15 Assembly segments.
 
The BJP fielded 11 Congress and 3 JD-S defectors to wrest the seats from both the opposition parties.
 
The Congress won two of the 15 seats it contested while the JD-S lost in all the 12 seats it contested across the state.
 
Independent Sharat Kumar Bachegowda won the high-profile Hosakote seat against BJP's M. T. B. Nagaraj by a margin of 11,486 votes. Bachegowda had declared assets worth Rs 1,230 crore in his poll affidavit.
 
Nagaraj is a Congress defector, while Bachegowda is a BJP rebel whom the party expelled for not withdrawing from the crucial battle at the hustings as an Independent.
 
JD-S did not field its candidate in Hosakote but supported Bachegowda, who is the son of BJP's Lok Sabha member from Chikkaballapur, B. N. Bache Gowda.
 
Constituency-wise, the BJP candidate won the Athani seat, defeating Congress candidate Gajanan Bhalachandra Mangasuli by a margin of 39,989 votes.
 
In Kagwad, Shrimant Balasaheb Patil from the BJP defeated Congress candidate Bharamgouda Alagouda Kage by a margin of 18,557 votes.
 
BJP's Jarkiholi Ramesh Laxmanrao won in Gokak against Congress' Lakhan Laxamrao Jarakiholi by a margin of 29,006 votes.
 
In Yellapur, BJP candidate Arabail Hebbar Shivaram defeated Bhimanna Naik of the Congress by 31,408 votes.
 
In Hirekerur, B.C. Patil of the BJP defeated Congress candidate Bannikod Basappa Hanumantappa by 29,067 votes.
 
BJP candidate Arunkumar Guththur won against K.B. Koliwad in Ranibennur by a margin of 23,222 votes.
 
In Vijayanagara, BJP's Anand Singh defeated V.Y. Ghorpade of the Congress by 30,125 votes.
 
K. Sudhakar of the BJP defeated M. Anjanappa of the Congress in Chikkaballapur by a margin of 34,801 votes.
 
In Bengaluru city, BJP's B.A. Basavaraja won in K.R. Pura, defeating M. Narayanaswamy by a margin of 63,443 votes.
 
In the city's Yeshwantpura constituency, BJP's S.T. Somashekar defeated JD(S) contestant T.N. Javarayi Gowda by 27,699 votes.
 
BJP's K. Gopalaiah defeated Congress contestant M. Shivaraju in Mahalakshmi Layout by a margin of 54,386 votes.
 
In Bengaluru, Congress' Rizwan Arshad won from Shivajinagar, defeating BJP's Saravana by a margin of 13,521 votes.
 
Narayan Gowda from the BJP defeated B.L. Devaraj from the JD(S) in Krishnarajapete by a margin of 9,731 votes.
 
In Hunasuru, H. P. Manjunath from the Congress defeated BJP candidate Adagooru H.A Vishwanath by a margin of 39,727 votes.
 
IANS

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Karnataka bye-elections: BJP wins 2, leads in 10, Congress in 2

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is heading for a landslide victory in Karnataka's Assembly bye-elections, as it won two seats and is leading in 10 others out of the 15 seats for which polling was held on December 5.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is heading for a landslide victory in Karnataka's Assembly bye-elections, as it won two seats and is leading in 10 others out of the 15 seats for which polling was held on December 5.
 
"The BJP has won Yellapur and Chikkaballapur seats and is leading in 10 seats, while the Congress is ahead in 2 seats and an Independent is leading in one seat. The regional party Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) is trailing behind both the national parties," poll official G. Jadiyappa told IANS.
 
BJP's A. Shivaram Hebbar defeated Bhimanna Naik of the Congress in Yellapur by over 31,000 votes.
 
Though Hebbar defected to the BJP from the Congress, he retained the seat for the fourth time in the state's coastal Uttar Kannada district.
 
K. Sudhakar of the BJP won the prestigious Chikkaballapur seat, defeating M. Anjappa of the Congress by 34,801 votes. Sudhakar retained the seat even after defecting from the Congress to the BJP.
 
The ruling party is leading in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Hirekuru, Vijayanagar, Ranibennur, K. R. Pura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Yeshvanthpura and Krishnarajapete.
 
The opposition Congress is leading in Hunasuru in Mysuru district and Shivajinagar in Bengaluru central.
 
Independent Sharat Kumar Bachegowda is leading in the high-profile Hosakote seat against the BJP's M. T. B. Nagaraj, who declared assets worth Rs 1,230 crore in his poll affidavit.
 
Nagaraj is a Congress defector, while Bachegowda is a BJP rebel whom the party expelled for not withdrawing from the crucial battle at the hustings. JD-S did not field its candidate in Hosakote but supported Bachegowda. Bachegowda is the son of BJP's Lok Sabha member from Chikkaballapur B. N. Bache Gowda.
 
The BJP needed to win at least seven of the 15 seats to achieve a simple majority in the 223-member Assembly.
 
The BJP had fielded 11 Congress and 3 JD-S defectors for the 15 seats.
 
IANS

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Karnataka bye-elections: BJP leads in 10 seats, Congress, JD-S in two each

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading in 10 out of 15 Assembly segments while the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are leading in two seats each, a poll official said here on Monday.
 
By-elections in the 15 constituencies in the southern state were held on December 5 and counting of votes began this morning.
 
According to the Election Commission website, an Independent is leading in one seat (Hosakote in Bengaluru Rural district).
 
The BJP is leading in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekuru, Vijayanagar, Chikkaballapur, Ranibennur, K. R. Pura and Mahalakshmi Layout.
 
The Congress is leading in Shivajinagara and Hunasuru, while the JD-S was ahead in Yeshvanthapura and K. R. Pete.
 
The ruling party needs to win at least seven of the 15 seats to attain a simple majority in the 223-member Assembly.
 
The BJP and the opposition Congress contested in all the 15 Assembly constituencies, while the JD-S fielded candidates for 12 seats.
 
IANS

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Counting of votes begins in Karnataka Assembly bye-elections

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The counting of votes in the Karnataka's bye-elections held on December 5 in 15 Assembly constituencies began on Monday.
 
"Vote count in all the 15 Assembly segments began at 8:00 a.m. at 11 centres, including three in Bengaluru for four urban seats. Postal ballots are counted first, followed by counting of votes in EVMs," Election Commission official G. Jadiyappa told IANS here.
 
The results of the bye-elections are crucial for the four-month-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the southern state, as the ruling party requires at least seven seats in the 223-member Assembly for a simple majority, with 112 as the halfway mark.
 
IANS
 

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Karnataka bye-elections: Heavy turnout in rural areas, poor in Bengaluru

An estimated 62.18 per cent average voting was registered in the crucial bye-elections on Thursday to 15 Karnataka Assembly constituencies, whose results will have a key bearing on the state's political future.
 
"The average voting for all the 15 Assembly seats after polling ended at 6 p.m. is an estimated 62.18 per cent, with heavy turnout (over 75 per cent) in 8 rural segments and below 50 per cent in 4 Bengaluru seats," poll official G. Jadiyappa told IANS here.
 
The final percentage is likely to go up marginally, as voters were still in queues after the gates of the polling stations were shut at 6 p.m., he added.
 
A record 86.40 per cent was registered in Chikkaballapur, a rural constituency, about 60km east of Bengaluru.
 
Congress defector K. Sudhakar is the ruling BJP's candidate in this prestigious seat.
 
K. R. Pete in Mandya district recorded a whopping 80 per cent. BJP fielded K. C. Narayana Gowda, a Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) defector from this rural segment.
 
Similarly, Yellapur in Uttar Kannada district registered 77.52 per cent. The BJP fielded Congress defector Shivaram Hebbar from this rural constituency.
 
Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district registered an estimated 76.19 per cent. The ruling BJP fielded Congress defector M. T. B. Nagaraj, who declared a whopping Rs 1,223 crore worth of assets in his nomination affidavit.
 
Athani in Belagavi district in the state's northwest region, recorded 75.23 per cent, where Congress defector Mahesh Kumatahalli contested on a BJP ticket.
 
Likewise, Hunasuru in Mysuru district registered 74.47 per cent. The BJP fielded JD-S defector A. H. Vishwanath from this rural seat.
 
Gokak in Belagavi district has registered 73.08 per cent. Congress defector Ramesh Jarkiholi contested on the BJP ticket in this high-profile seat.
 
Hirekerur in Belagavi district recorded 72.42 per cent. The BJP fielded Congress defector B. C. Patil from this rural segment.
 
As in the past, the four assembly segments in Bengaluru registered below 50 per cent, with the lowest -- 37.50 per cent -- in K.R. Pura in the city's eastern suburb. Congress defector Byrathi Basavaraj is the BJP candidate from this urban seat.
 
Similarly, Mahalakshmi Layout in the city's northwest, had a low turnout of 40.47 per cent. The BJP has fielded JD-S defector K. Gopalaiah there.
 
Shivajinagar in the heart of Bengaluru also witnessed a low turnout of 41.13 per cent. The BJP fielded its former corporator M. Saravana from this high-profile urban segment.
 
Yeshwanthapura in the city's north, however, had a modest turnout of 48.34 per cent. Congress defector S. T. Somashekar is the BJP's candidate in this urban seat.
 
Voting percentage in the other three assembly segments was Kagwad 69.76, Ranibennur 67.92 and Vijayanagara 58.93.
 
Barring glitches in the EVMs and voters names missing in the electoral list in some polling stations, voting was peaceful amid tight security.
 
There were also reports of voters boycotting the polls in some areas over various issues.
 
The 15 constituencies had nearly 38 lakh eligible voters - 19.25 lakh men and 18.52 lakh women.
 
As many as 165 candidates, including 126 Independents and 9 women are in the fray in the 15 Assembly seats, necessitated by the resignation -- and subsequent disqualification -- of 14 Congress and three Janata Dal-Secular rebel MLAs which led to the collapse of the then H. D. Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD-S coalition government.
 
However, bye-elections are being held in only 15 seats, since there is ongoing litigation in the Karnataka High Court over the results of two seats -- Muski (Raichur district) and R.R. Nagar (Bengaluru) in the May 2018 Assembly elections.
 
The BJP and the opposition Congress contested in all the 15 Assembly seats, while the JD-S fielded candidates only in 12 seats.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up on December 9.
 
The outcome of the bye-elections will decide the survival and continuation of the four-month-old BJP government in the southern state.
 
The ruling BJP, which has 105 members, including one independent but excluding the Speaker, needs to win seven more seats to have a majority in the 225-member Assembly, whose current strength is 223.
 
The Congress has 66 members, the JD-S 34 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one.
 
IANS

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