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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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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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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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Modi says defence public sector companies have to perform better

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that it would no longer be enough for India to buy defence equipment from abroad and simply assemble them in the country and made it clear that the public sector needed to improve its performance in this sector.
 
Modi inaugurates Aero India-2015, says India reforming defence policies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it would no longer be enough for India to buy defence equipment from abroad and simply assemble them in the country and made it clear that the public sector needed to improve its performance in this sector.
 
"We have been doing this in the past, without absorbing any technology or developing our own capabilities. In some areas, we are where we were three decades ago," he said in his inaugural address at the 10th edition of Aero India, the international air show here.
 
"Frankly, our public sector needs to do much better than they are doing now. We have to exploit their huge assets and a vast potential. At the same time, we have to make them accountable," he said.
 
Mr Modi said his government was focusing on developing the defence industry with a sense of mission in view of the impact it could have on the creation of jobs directly and in the related sectors and of the possible spin-off benefits on other sectors in terms of advanced materials and technologies.
 
"This is why it is at the heart of our Make in India programme," he said.
 
"We are reforming our defence procurement policies and procedures. There would be a clear preference for equipment manufactured in India. Our procurement procedures will ensure simplicity, accountability and speedy decision making," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the government had raised the permitted level of foreign direct investment (FDI) to 49%. This could go higher, if the project brought state-of-the art technology, he said.
 
He also said the government had permitted investments upto 24% by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and there was no longer a need to have a single Indian investor with at least a 51% stake. 
 
"Industrial licensing requirements have been eliminated for a number of items. Where it is needed, the process has been simplified. We are expanding the role of private sector, even for major platforms. Our goal is to provide a level playing field for all. We speak in terms of national capacity, not public sector or private sector," he said.
 
More than 250 Indian companies and more than 300 foreign firms are participating in Aero India. Defence ministers, senior officials and hundreds of business leaders from around the world are attending the event.
 
"This is the largest ever Aero India. This reflects a new level of confidence within our country and global interest in India. To many of you, India is a major business opportunity. 
 
"We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. That may be music to the ears of some of you here. But, this is one area where we would not like to be Number One!" Mr Modi said.
 
"Our security challenges are well known. Our international responsibilities are evident. We do need to increase our defence preparedness. We do have to modernize our defence forces. 
 
"We have to equip ourselves for the needs of the future, where technology will play a major role. As a nation of one billion people, we also have huge requirements for managing internal security. We are increasingly integrating technology and systems into it.  These opportunities make Aero India an important international event," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said Aero India was not just a trade fair for defence equipment but a mega meeting of one of the largest global supply chains, with the most advanced technology and complex equipment  
 
He said it was a platform to launch India's defence manufacturing sector, stressing that a nation with a strong defence industry would not only be more secure but also reap rich economic benefits. 
 
"It can boost investment, expand manufacturing, support enterprise, raise the technology level and increase economic growth in the country," he said.
 
He said that, in India, the defence industry in the government sector alone employed nearly 200,000 workers and thousands of engineers and scientists. They produce an output of nearly 7 billion dollars annually. It also supports a very large pool of small and medium enterprises. 
 
He said the country's defence industry in private sector wass still small but it already employs thousands of people.
 
"This is despite the fact that nearly 60% of our defence equipment continues to be imported. And, we are spending tens of billions of dollars on acquisitions from abroad. There are studies that show that even a 20 to 25% reduction in imports could directly create an additional 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs in India. 
 
"If we could raise the percentage of domestic procurement from 40% to 70% in the next five years, we would double the output in our defence industry. Imagine the impact in terms of jobs created directly and in the related manufacturing and services sector! Think of the spin off benefits on other sectors in terms of advanced materials and technologies!" he said.
 
Mr Modi said the offsets system was a crucial instrument to develop and upgrade our defence industry. 
 
"We have introduced significant reforms in our offsets policy. I am acutely aware that it still needs a lot of improvements. We will pursue them in consultation with domestic industry and our foreign partners. I want our offsets policy not as a means to export low-end products, but to acquire state-of-the art technology and skills in core areas of priority," he said.
 
He pointed out that government's support for research and development was essential for defence sector. And, it should also be accompanied by a degree of assurance on purchase. 
 
"We are introducing a scheme to provide up to 80% of funding from the government for development of a prototype in India. And, we are also launching a Technology Development Fund. 
 
"For too long, our research and development has been confined to government laboratories. We must involve our scientists, soldiers, academia, industry and independent experts more closely in research and development," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, while it had made its export policies clearer, simpler and predictable, the government would also abide by the highest standards of export controls and international responsibility. 
 
"We will expand our exports, but we will ensure that our equipment and technology do not fall into the wrong hands. India's record in this area has been impeccable and it will remain so," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said he was pleased with the positive impact of the government's policies and noted that the Indian private corporations had responded with enthusiasm.
 
"There is new excitement in our small and medium scale sector. Many of the biggest global firms are forming strategic partnerships in India. Some of them have already begun using India as part of their global supply chains or engineering services." he said.
 
He also expressed happiness that the first set of parts from the joint venture set up in September last year by Dynamatic Technologies and its collaborator Boeing, to manufacture critical parts for a Boeing helicopter that is sold globally, was ready for shipment today.
 
"But, we still need to do more. We have to further reform our acquisition and approval processes. We must indicate a clear roadmap of our future needs. 
This must take into account not only new technology trends, but also the nature of future challenges," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said there was need to pay attention to developing supply chains, with emphasis on innovation and bridge the gap between prototype development and quality of production. 
 
"We must develop a financing system suited to the special needs of this industry. It is a market where buyers are mainly governments, the capital investments are large and the risks are high. We must ensure that our tax system does not discriminate against domestic manufacture in comparison to imports," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, more broadly, the defence industry would succeed more if the manufacturing sector were transformed in India.
 
"We need great infrastructure, sound business climate, clear investment policies, ease of doing business, stable and predictable tax regime, and easy access to inputs. We need a national industry that produces advanced materials, the most sophisticated electronics and the best engineering products. Over the last eight months, we have worked hard to create that environment for you. 
 
"Above all, we need a vast pool of highly skilled and qualified human resources for the defence industry. Our aerospace industry alone would need about 200,000 people in another ten years," he said.
 
He said the government would set up special universities and skill development centres to cater to the defence industry, just as it had done in atomic energy and space. "I have especially invited the State Governments to come here with package of facilities to attract investments in defence manufacturing," he said.
 
"We want to develop an industry is dynamic. It should constantly stay at the cutting edge of the global industry. I am confident that India will emerge as a major global centre for defence industry. We have the basic building blocks for it in India; and, a large nation requirement. We will build an industry that will have room for everyone – public sector, private sector and foreign firms. 
From sellers, foreign firms must turn into strategic partners," he said.
 
"We need their technology, skills, systems integration and manufacturing strength. The nature of industry is such that imports will always be there. In turn, they can use India as part of their global supply chain," he said.
 
He said defence budgets around the world were becoming tighter and India's frugal but sophisticated manufacturing and engineering services sectors could help reduce costs. 
 
"India can also be a base for export to third countries, especially because of India's growing defence partnerships in Asia and beyond. 
 
"A strong Indian defence industry will not only make India more secure. It will also make India more prosperous. 
 
"Aero India can be a catalyst in realizing our goals. That is why I am here today. So, as we look at these wonderful aircraft and enjoy the amazing fly pasts, I also hope we can get some business done. And, sow the seeds of successful new ventures and partnerships – to give our people new opportunities, to make our nations safer, and the world more stable and peaceful," he added.
 
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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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Karnataka Congress MLA Roshan Baig suspended

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The Karnataka Congress suspended its senior legislator from Bengaluru R. Roshan Baig for anti-party activities, a party official said late Tuesday.
 
"Baig has been suspended with immediate effect for his anti-party activities," said state Congress General Secretary V. Y. Ghorpade in a statement here.
 
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has approved Baig's suspension on the recommendation of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to take action against him on the basis of an enquiry into his activities.
 
Baig, a former Congress minister, is an eight-time legislator from the Shivajinagar Assembly segment in the city centre.
 
Baig has been in the news of late for wrong reasons, including his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Ponzi scheme, operated by IMA Jewels owner Mohammed Mansoor Khan, who fled the country on June 8.
 
In a purported video clip posted in the social media, Khan accused Baig of blackmailing him for asking to return about Rs 400 crore he claimed to have given the latter for contesting in the recent Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore Central seat though he did not get the ticket.
 
Upset by Baig's open criticism of the party's state leadership, KPCC on May 21 served notice to him, seeking explanation for his attack on AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah for the rout the party faced in the parliamentary elections.
 
Venugopal is also in-charge of the party's state unit affairs.
 
Commenting on the May 19 exit polls on May 20, that projected Congress performing poorly in the general elections, Baig lashed out at Venugopal, Siddaramaiah and party's state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao.
 
"Venugopal is a buffoon. What he knows about the party in our state as he is from Kerala? Due to Siddaramaiah's arrogance, the party lost in the May 2018 Assembly elections and Rao's immaturity is responsible for the dismal state of affairs currently," Baig told reporters at his residence here.
 
Baig has been sulking against the party leadership since a year for being denied a cabinet post despite being the Muslim face of the party after the death of veteran party leader Jaffer Shariff in November last year.
 
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Efforts to raise awareness about skin donation in Bengaluru

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More than 4500 people participated in India's first skin donation campaign in years held here recently to raise awareness about it.
 
The Bengaluru Skin Donation Walkathon was organized on June 9 by Rotary Midtown Bangalore in association with Prestige Group, Ashirvad Pipes and Bagmane Group
 
A first-of-its-kind initiative, the walkathon was aimed at sensitizing the public about the ordeals and challenges that burn survivors face and to request for maximum skin donation pledges.
 
The walkathon was flagged off by Laxmi Agarwal, award-winning campaigner and acid attack survivor, at St. Joseph’s Indian High School. She was instrumental in encouraging and motivating Bangaloreans about the cause by sharing her life experiences. The walkathon also witnessed participation from celebrities like actress Ragini Dwivedi.
 
Kshama Bhatia, President Rotary Midtown Bangalore, said “We are thankful for all the fellow participants that joined us for this much-neglected cause by creating awareness around skin donation. We are also grateful to our sponsors - Prestige Group, Ashirvad Pipes and Bagmane Group for their support towards this cause and believing in us.”
 
Agarwal said “In India, around 70 lakh people suffer from burn injuries and it takes years for them to overcome the physical, mental and emotional trauma. Initiatives like this help in giving them a second chance by providing them with a normal life. I am thankful to Rotary Midtown Bangalore for this thoughtful initiative and choosing me as the cause ambassador. I further request people of Bangalore and India to come and pledge their skin for donation”.
 
Irfan Razack, Managing Director, Prestige Group said that “It gives me great joy to witness the enthusiasm and commitment of so many individuals today. It is my sincere wish that the message of this activity is spread across and adapted to the daily lives of every citizen. I hope to see a movement flower through a passionate campaign like the skin donation walkathon.”
 
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Tvesa’s charge on back nine earns her 2nd win on Hero WPGT 2019

Tvesa Malik in action during the eighth leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Prestige Golfshire course in Bengaluru on June 14, 2019.
Tvesa Malik in action during the eighth leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Prestige Golfshire course in Bengaluru on June 14, 2019.
Tvesa Malik staged a strong comeback on the back nine with three birdies in a span of five holes to card two-under 70 and edge past overnight leader Millie Saroha (72) to win the eighth leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Prestige Golfshire course here on Friday.
 
Tvesa totalled three-under 213 while Millie achieved her best result of sole second at two-under 214. 
 
The 23-year-old Tvesa became the third player this season after Ridhima Dilawari and Gaurika Bishnoi, to win twice. Tvesa had earlier won the third leg, while Ridhima and Gaurika had two wins each in the last four events. Millie, however, continues her search for her first win.
 
Neha Tripathi shot the day’s only card in the 60s, with a three-under 69 to finish fourth, while Khushi Khanijau (75), Astha Madan and Ridhima Dilawari (78) were Tied-fifth at 227.
 
Amandeep Drall (72), Ananya Datar (74) and amateur Sneha Sharan (78) completed the Top 10.
 
Millie started the day with a one-shot lead that vanished as Tvesa opened the day with a birdie. Both of them bogeyed the second, but when Tvesa followed her birdie on Par-3 sixth with a double bogey on Par-4 seventh, Millie had the sole lead once again. It stayed that way till they reached the 13th tee.
 
Tvesa made a decisive move on the 13th and 14th, both of which she birdied, while Millie failed to convert her chances. The birdie on 13th saw Tvesa catch up with Millie and the birdie on 14th saw her go ahead again. 
 
Her birdie on Par-3 17th was matched by Millie as Tvesa stayed ahead. 
 
Millie was unable to find the crucial birdie on 18th, while Tvesa held her nerve for a par and notched up her second success of the season.
 
Tvesa, who turned pro in 2017 and won two titles in her rookie season, won four titles in 2018 and topped the Hero Order of Merit. Her first win this season came at Kensville Golf and Country Club in the third leg, when she won by a massive 15-shot margin.
 
Gaurika after bogeys on second, third and seventh finally found a birdie on ninth and she had four more birdies on the back nine. In between she dropped a shot on Par-5 16th and ended with a card of 71 and in a distant third at six-over 222, nine shots behind winner Tvesa and eight behind runner-up Millie.
 
Meanwhile, Ridhima, who was a distant third overnight, fell apart at the start with a double bogey on the first and bogeys on the next three holes. Barring a bogey on ninth, she had pars the rest of the way for a 78 and ended Tied-fifth.
 
The first five on the Hero Order of Merit stayed the same Gaurika Bishnoi maintained her top spot. 
 
She was followed by Neha Tripathi, Gursimar Badwal, Amandeep Drall and Ridhima Dilawari. Tvesa Malik jumped from ninth to sixth place.
 
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Golf: Millie Saroha in sight of maiden win on Hero WPG Tour

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Millie Saroha, still searching for her maiden success on the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour, put herself in pole position at the end of the second round of the 8th leg of the Tour at the Prestige Golfshire golf course here on Thursday.
 
The 23-year-old Delhi golfer, who has never played in the lead group on the final day, carded two birdies in the last three holes to rush past Tvesa Malik on the second day when the conditions were somewhat less challenging than the first day.
 
Millie shot three-under 69 while Tvesa bogeyed the last two holes for a 71. Millie is now two-under 142 and one shot ahead of Tvesa who is one-under 143.
 
Ridhima Dilawari (75), who played in the last group with Millie and Tvesa, was lying third despite a rough patch between third and sixth, when she had three dropped shots in a span of four holes. 
 
Millie, who had a fine amateur career before she went off to Texas for college golf, where she played in Division 1, has never won on the Hero WPG Tour despite holding the lead on several occasions after the first round. In fact, she has never had the lead after 36 holes, so this will be her first time in front and she could break through for her maiden win.
 
After a bogey-free front nine of one-under 35, she bogeyed 10th for her only mistake of the day. She made up on the very next hole and then birdied 16th and 18th.
 
Tvesa was actually in the lead after the players had completed 15 holes and they arrived on the 16th tee. 
 
As Millie birdied, Tvesa parred and then dropped back-to-back bogeys on the last two holes. Millie, in contrast, had a par on 17th and birdied 18th. The three holes saw a four-shot swing, as Tvesa three ahead after 15 became one behind after 18.
 
Astha Madan made up for a three-over 39 on the front nine with a hat-trick of birdies on the back nine for a round of 72, and is lying fourth at six-over 150. One shot behind her is Gaurika Bishnoi (72), winner last week, after a round of 74 at seven-over 151.
 
Amateur Sneha Sharan (74) and Khushi Khanijau (77) were tied for sixth, while Neha Tripathi (74) and amateur Asmitha Sathish (75) were tied-eighth. Yet another amateur, Shreya Pal (73) and Gursimar Badwal (75) were tied 10th.
 
Amateurs Asmitha and Shreya each had an eagle. Asmitha holed her third shot on Par-5 13th, while Shreya holed her second shot on the Par-4 11th.
 
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Karnataka orders banks to waive crop loans: Official

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Amid conflicting reports about banks withdrawing the money deposited earlier in farmers accounts after the recent general elections, the Karnataka government has ordered the waiver of all crop loans farmers borrowed from state-run banks, an official said on Thursday.
 
"The revenue department has directed the commercial banks to waive loans farmers borrowed to buy seeds and fertilisers for growing various crops but could not due to severe drought last year," the official told IANS here.
 
In line with the promises to write-off farm loans made by the ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress allies in their poll manifestos before the state assembly elections in May 2018, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy also told the banks to restructure the loans to enable the farmers borrow money for sowing operations in the kharif season this year.
 
"The loans include Rs 2,812 crore restructured, Rs 3,067 crore overdue and Rs 720 crore incentive for regular loans in the public sector banks," the official said, citing the government order to the banks.
 
The state government will compensate the banks from its resources for waiving the farm loans, including borrowings from the state-run National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard).
 
The year-old coalition government has compensated the state-run banks by paying them Rs 3,930 crore for waiving loans of 7.49 lakh accounts, and Rs 4,830 crore to co-operative banks for writing off crop loans of 11.20 lakh accounts.
 
"The state government is, however, yet to decide on 1.08 lakh crop loans worth Rs 965 crore which turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) due to default on payment of capital and interest by a section of farmers over a period of time," said the official.
 
Clarifying that owing to wrong listing of re-structured loans of some farmers as regular accounts, the banks have withdrawn the amounts credited to their accounts before the Lok Sabha elections in April-May.
 
"The Chief Minister has called for a meeting with the state-level bankers' committee officials on Friday to streamline the crop loans and protect nearly 14,000 farmers in the state's northern districts like Yadgir, Ballari, Koppal, Raichur and Kalaburagi from the debt burden," the official added.
 
IANS
 

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In-form Gaurika Bishnoi seeks back-to-back Hero WPG wins in Bengaluru

Gaurika Bishnoi
Gaurika Bishnoi
Gaurika Bishnoi will attempt to win back-to-back titles at the immaculate Prestige Golfshire course here this week and cement her position at the top of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour’s money ranking.
 
The 32-player field is the largest ever in the history of the domestic Hero WPG Tour, surpassing the field of 29 at Clover greens last week.
 
There are 27 professionals, one more than the 26 last week in the seventh leg, and there are also five amateurs. The total prize will be the same as in the seventh leg at Rs. 10 lakh, only the second time, after last week, to have such a purse.
 
“It is a testimony to the growing popularity of women’s golf in India," said Kavita Singh, President of the WGAI. “The growing field is a big boost and we feel we could reach a target of 45-50 in a year or so. We are also aware of the importance of growing the game and giving amateurs adequate opportunity."
 
Gaurika, who has won two of the last three events, has been in great form and wants to consolidate her play before making a bid at a higher level abroad.
 
This season, Gaurika’s worst finish in six starts has been sixth in the second leg, while the last five starts have seen Gaurika win twice, finish runner-up twice and once she was third. That dominant performance has also seen her rise to the top of the Order of Merit with Rs. 6,12,800 while Neha Tripathi, who led before the start of the latest swing last week, has Rs. 5,56,800.
 
Another heartening feature of the seventh leg was the string of under par scores, which highlighted the rising quality of play. Last week the top six players shot under par totals and there were no less than 15 under par rounds, including seven in the second round and five on the final day. There were two rounds of 66 each, one by Gursimar Badwal in the first round and by amateur Pranavi Urs on the final day. Gaurika was most consistent with rounds of 71, 70 and 67, while Amandeep Drall also had three under par scores of 71, 71 and 70.
 
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Noted playwright, actor and filmmaker Girish Karnad passes away

Girish Karnad (File photo: IANS)
Girish Karnad (File photo: IANS)
Girish Karnad, a Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual scholar, master playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and a colossus in India's cultural landscape, passed away at his residence here on Monday, an official said. He was 81.
 
"Karnad died at home at around 8.30 a.m. due to age-related symptoms," an official in the Karnataka Chief Minister's office told IANS.
 
The veteran artist is survived by his son Raghu, a writer and journalist.
 
According to a family source, Karnad succumbed to multi-organ failure at his residence at Lavelle Road near the famous Cubbon Park.
 
Besides the Jnanpith, he was also honoured with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, apart from multiple National Film Awards and a Sahitya Akademi honour. 
 
He was a reputed scholar, who raised his voice on socio-political issues.
 
In a career spanning six decades, Karnad acted mostly in Kannada and Hindi films, which were both mainstream and off-beat. He also featured in television serials, including the famous "Malgudi Days", based on the works of renowned Indian English author, R.K. Narayan.
 
Karnad, who straddled the worlds of theatre and cinema in various languages, was born on May 19, 1938 in Matheran. He graduated from the Karnatak University, and was a Rhodes Scholar in the University of Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics.
 
With his plays "Yayati", "Tughlaq", "Hayavadana", "Naga-Mandala", "Taledanda" and "Agni Mattu Male", he used his creativity in merging folk and historic references to modernism, capturing changes in India's cultural, social and economic changes since gaining independence. 
 
His plays have been translated into English as well as different Indian languages.
 
"Samskara" marked Karnad's entry into filmmaking in 1970. He wrote the screenplay and played the lead role in the film.
 
For television audiences, Karnad may be best remembered as Swami's father in the much-loved "Malgudi Days" or as the presenter of Doordarshan's science show "Turning Point", while for Hindi movie audiences, his roles in "Manthan", "Nishant", "Pukar", "Iqbal", "Dor" and "Ek Tha Tiger" left an impact.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers D.V. Sadananda Gowda were among those who condoled his passing away.
 
IANS

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Multi-lingual actor, Jnanpith winner Girish Karnad passes away

Girish Karnad (File photo: IANS)
Girish Karnad (File photo: IANS)
Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual film actor and noted theatre personality Girish Karnad passed away here on Monday, an official said. 
 
He was 81.
 
"Karnad died at home at around 8:30 a.m. due to age-related symptoms," an official in the Karnataka Chief Minister's office told IANS.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Karnataka cabinet expansion on June 12

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The year-old Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka would be expanded for the second time on June 12, said Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy on Saturday.
 
"The Governor (Vajubhai Vala) has fixed the time at 11:30 a.m., on June 12 for the swearing-in at Raj Bhavan," tweeted Kumaraswamy in Kannada.
 
Though the chief minister has not mentioned how many legislators would be inducted as ministers to expand the cabinet, a party source hinted that at least three would take oath to fill vacancies.
 
"Of the three vacancies, two are from JD(S) quota and one from the Congress," the source told IANS.
 
IANS
 

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Near sweep by BJP in Karnataka, Congress, JD-S routed

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Riding on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP on Thursday made a near sweep in Karnataka, winning 25 of the state's 28 Lok Sabha seats, while another was won by an Independent candidate it supported.
 
In what may be their worst performance in the parliamentary polls in the state, the ruling coalition allies -- Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- could only win one seat each.
 
Of the 27 seats the BJP contested, it won 25, while the Congress only won Bangalore Rural and the JD-S Hassan.
 
An independent candidate -- multi-lingual south Indian film actor Sumlatha Ambareesh, backed by the BJP -- won the prestigious Mandya seat, defeating JD-S debutant Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of state Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy and grandson of JD-S supremo and former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda.
 
Karnataka has also been the only southern state where the BJP is dominant in the parliamentary elections over the past 15 years, winning 18 seats in 2004, 19 in 2009, and 17 in 2014.
 
The 25 seats the BJP won are Bagalkot, Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, Bangalore South, Belgaum, Bellary (ST), Bidar, Bijapur (SC), Chamarajanagar (SC), Chikkaballapur, Chikkodi, Chitradurga (SC), Dharwad, Davanagere, Dakshina Kannada, Gulbarga (SC) Haveri, Kolar (SC) Koppal, Mysore, Raichur (ST), Shimoga, Tumkur, Udupi-Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada.
 
In contrast, the Congress, which contested in 21 seats, lost 8 of the 9 seats it had won in the 2014 general elections to only retain Bangalore Rural where its candidate D.  K. Suresh defeated BJP's Ashwath Narayangowda by a margin of by 2,06,870 votes.
 
The JD-S, too, which contested 7 seats under the pre-poll seat-sharing arrangement with its ally Congress, retained only Hassan, a party bastion and the home turf of the Gowda clan, and lost to the BJP in 6 seats.
 
JD-S' Prajwal Revanna, son of state PWD Minister H. D. Revanna, and another grandson of Deve Gowda, defeated A. Manju of the BJP by 1,41,324 votes.
 
Deve Gowda, who opted to contest from Tumkur to pave the way for Prajwal to enter national politics through Hassan, however, lost to BJP's G. S. Basavaraj by a narrow margin of 13,339 votes.
 
Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the previous Lok Sabha, also lost to BJP's Umesh Jadav in the Gulbarga reserved seat by a margin of 95,452 votes.
 
BJP's first-time contestant Tejasvi Surya defeated Congress Rajya Sabha member B. K. Hariprasad in the high-profile Bangalore South by a whopping margin of 3,11,192 votes.
 
Among the prominent BJP winners are Union Ministers D. V. Sadananda Gowda from Bangalore North, Anantkumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada) and Ramesh Jigajinagi (Bijapur) and sitting members Prahlad Joshi (Dharwad), G. M. Siddeshwar (Davanagere), Shobha Karandlaje (Udupi-Chikmagalur), Pratap Simha (Mysore), Naleen Kumar Kateel (Dakshina Kannada) and B. Y. Raghavendra (Shimoga), son of the party's state unit president B. S. Yeddyurappa, who was the party's first Chief Minister in south India from 2008-11. 
 
Among other prominent losers of the Congress are former UPA ministers M. Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur) and K. M. Muniyappa (Kolar) and state Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda (Bangalore North).
 
IANS
 

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BJP wins 22, leads in 3 of Karnataka's 28 LS seats

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Setting an unprecedented record in south India, a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday won 22 seats and was leading in three of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka where the vote count was about to end for the two-phase polling held on April 18 and April 23.
 
In contrast, the ruling Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) allies faced a rout in the southern state, retaining only one seat each and forfeiting nine seats to the BJP.
 
The 22 seats the BJP won across the southern state are Bagalkot, Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, Bangalore South, Bellary (ST), Bidar, Chamarajanagar, Chikkaballapur, Chikkodi, Chitradurga (SC), Dharwad, Davanagere, Dakshina Kannada, Gulbarga (SC) Haveri, Koppal, Mysore, Raichur (ST), Shimoga, Tumkur, Udupi-Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada.
 
The BJP is leading in Belgaum, Bijapur (SC) and Kolar (SC).
 
The Congress retained only Bangalore Rural with D. K. Suresh winning against BJP's Ashwath Narayangowda by a margin of 2,06,870 votes.
 
JD-S also retained Hassan where its candidate Prajwal Revanna defeated A. Manju of the BJP by 1,41,324 votes. Prajwal is the grandson of JD-S supremo H. D. Deve Gowda and son of state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna, elder brother of Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy.
 
An independent - south Indian multi-lingual film actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, backed by the BJP - won in Mandya over JD-S contestant Nikhil Kumaraswamy by a margin of 1,25,876 votes.
 
Nikhil is the son of Kumaraswamy and another grandson of JD-S supremo H. D. Deve Gowda.
 
Deve Gowda, however, lost to BJP's G. S. Basavaraj in Tumkur by a narrow margin of 13,339 votes.
 
Congress leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge also lost to BJP's Umesh Jadav in the Gulbarga reserved seat by a margin of 95,452 votes.
 
BJP's first-time contestant and young turk Tejasvi Surya defeated Congress Rajya Sabha member B. K. Hariprasad in the high-profile Bangalore South by a whopping margin of 3,11,192 votes.
 
The BJP contested in 27 seats while Congress fought in 21 and ally JD-S in seven seats as part of their pre-poll alliance seat arrangement.
 
In the 2014 general election, the BJP had won 17 seats, the Congress nine and JD-S two.
 
In fact, the nine seats the Congress won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state was its highest anywhere in the country, which made the party appoint Kharge, its member from Gulbarga, as its leader in the lower house of Parliament.
 
 
IANS
 

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Naidu meets Gowda, Kumaraswamy for post-poll alliance

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday discussed forging a non-BJP alliance after the results of the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday with Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy here, a party official said.
 
"Naidu met Gowda and Kumaraswamy at the latter's residence in the city's southern suburb and sought their party's support for forming a non-BJP alliance and staking claim to power in the event of a fractured verdict and a hung Parliament," JD-S official Ramesh Babu told IANS here.
 
The JD-S, which is in power in the southern state with the Congress, has agreed to being a part of such an alliance and even endorsed Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the Prime Minister's post.
 
"Naidu also apprised Gowda and Kumaraswamy of his discussions with Gandhi, TMC President Mamata Banerjee, BSP President Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and other allies for a post-poll alliance to prevent the BJP from returning to power in a hung Parliament," said Babu.
 
The JD-S has contested in only 7 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats across the state, allowing the Congress in the remaining 21 seats as part of a pre-poll seat sharing arrangement for fielding joint candidates against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
 
"Naidu has agreed to call on both the JD-S leaders on Thursday after all the Lok Sabha results are declared and requested them to be in New Delhi on Friday for a meeting of the non-BJP alliance leaders, Babu added.
 
IANS

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