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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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Kannada actor, three accomplices arrested on assault charge

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Kannada cine star 'Duniya' Vijay and his three friends were arrested here on charge of assaulting a gym trainer, police said on Sunday.
 
"We have taken Vijay (44) and his three friends into custody on a complaint by the victim's relative Kitti for questioning though there are conflicting reports about the crime and its reasons," Assistant Police Commissioner (West) Ravi Shankar said.
 
A metropolitan court remanded the accused in 14-day judicial custody till October 6 after the police produced them before its judge at his residence in the city.
 
"The accused have been lodged in the city central jail, as they have been remanded to judicial custody for investigating the assault charge," said Shankar.
 
According to the complaint, the accused forcibly whisked away gym trainer Maruti Gowda outside an event hall on Saturday night and assaulted him in a moving car before freeing him after police warned the actor.
 
"The accused and the victim went to watch a bodybuilding event at the Ambedkar Bhavan in the city centre on Saturday night and quarrelled over some issue. They forcibly pushed Gowda into a car and drove away and thrashed him for over an hour while driving around the city," said Katti in the complaint.
 
Denying the assault, Vijay told the police that it was his fans who attacked the latter for abusing him during the fracas at the hall.
 
"We will investigate the case after recording the statement of the victim, admitted at a private hospital with bruises," said Shankar.
 
The 'rebel' actor shot to fame when his fans began calling him Duniya Vijay after his Kannada film "Duniya" became a blockbuster over a decade ago.
 
Some of Vijay's other films like "Chanda", "Junglee", "Johny Mera Naam Preethi Mera Kaam" and "Jayammana Maga" have also turned into box office hits since then.
 
According to international magazine Forbes latest list of wealthy Indians in the celluloid world, Vijay's net worth is $21 million (Rs 151 crore).
 
"Vijay is on bail after he was arrested in another case on June 8 on charge of obstructing police from investigating an accidental death of two stunt actors by drowning during a film shoot in a city lake in November 2016, in which he was the hero," a police officer said.
 
IANS
 

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Infosys to design new forms for filing GST returns

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The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) has directed its software vendor Infosys to design new forms for filing returns by traders, said its Group of Ministers (GoM) Chairman Sushil Kumar Modi on Saturday.
 
"We have directed Infosys to design new forms as suggested by the GST Council to simplify filing returns by traders on the network," Modi told reporters here after the 10th meeting of the GoM, held here to review the working of the network.
 
"We plan to roll out the new simplified GST returns form in the next 4-6 months for the benefit of dealers or traders paying the indirect tax through the network," said Modi, who is also Bihar Deputy Chief Minister.
 
The new forms will enable all businesses to file their annual returns with details of sales, purchases and input tax credit benefits in a consolidated format.
 
Returns filed in the new forms (GSTR 9 and GSTR-3C) will enable the tax authority to detect evasion and false claims under the GST unlike in the current forms (GSTR 3B and GSTR-1), which do not have a provision to match invoices.
 
Last date for filing GSTR-1 has been extended up to October 31 and late fee waived off till then.
 
"Infosys is developing a mobile app for field staff (tax inspectors) to verify accounts of traders during spot inspection and file reports with photos and location," said Modi.
 
The GoM has identified 18 companies across the country to develop a uniform accounting software for the smaller tax payers.
 
"The new software will be given to all small traders to ensure uniformity in filing GST returns," said Modi.
 
As decided by the GST Council, e-commerce firms will pay Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) with effect from October 1.
 
The Union government on September 13 notified October 1 as the date for implementing the TDS and TCS provisions under Section 52 of the Central GST (CGST) Act.
 
The e-commerce companies have to deduct TDS up to 1 per cent state GST and 1 per cent central GST on intra-state supplies of over Rs 2.5 lakh.
 
In the case of inter-state supplies of over Rs 2.5 lakh, the TDS will be 2 per cent of the integrated (state and central) GST.
 
The Council had earlier deferred implementing the TDS and TCS after e-commerce players like Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra expressed concerns on compliance burden.
 
Claiming that GST revenue was improving after the procedures and rules were reformed, Modi said revenue deficit of states had declined to 13 per cent from 17 per cent earlier.
 
"We are hoping the combined revenue will soon touch Rs 1.3 lakh crore per month with greater compliance by all the stakeholders," reiterated Modi.
 
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The data and business intelligence by the network is helping the Council to track tax evasions and warn dealers filing fake invoices.
 
The GST Council's 30th meeting will be held on September 28 in New Delhi through video conferencing.
 
For the fiscal 2018-19, 15.71 crore returns have been filed since April 1, with 5.34 crore making tax payment.
 
About 50.6 lakh new traders have registered under the GST in the last five months.
 
"We have issued 23.61 crore e-way bills since April 1. Till September 17, 11.38 crore inter-state bills were generated, accounting for 48 per cent of total bills," added Modi.
 
According to returns filed so far, 92 per cent of taxpayers have turnover below Rs 5 crore and 20 per cent have filed nil returns.
 
As the state-run NIC (National Informatics Centre) software on e-way bill enables tracking of goods, tax authorities can detect any mismatch easily.
 
Till August 8, 65,000 e-way bills were verified and 3,588 inspection reports filed.
 
The electronics and equipment sector has generated highest e-way bill, followed by textiles sector and iron and steel sector.
 
The GoM was set up in September 2017 to address the IT-related issues of the GSTN, operated by Infosys since the new tax regime was introduced across the country on July 1, 2017.
 
Besides Modi, other GoM members are Chhattisgarh Minister for Commercial Taxes Amar Agarwal, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byregowda, Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Issac and Telangana Finance Minister Etela Rajendar.
 
IANS
 

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Rajnath chairs Southern Zonal Council Meeting, 27 items discussed, 22 resolved

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the 28th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council here on Tuesday at which 27 issues came up for discussion and 22 were resolved.
 
The Council expressed deep sorrow and sympathy to the people who lost their lives and property in the floods caused by the fury of the monsoon in the southern part of the country. The Council was informed that the Central Government would not lag behind in providing the requisite assistance to the States concerned in this regard.
 
The Council reviewed the progress of the implementation of the recommendations made at the last meeting relating to security to fishermen, introduction of peninsular tourism trains, uniformity in allocation of funds in proportion to population of SC/ST for scholarship for all the courses, optimum harnessing of renewable energy available in the Southern States without endangering grid security and development of Puducherry Airport.
 
Thereafter, the Council took up issues which relate to Pulicat lake dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu fishermen over fishing rights, menace of red sander smuggling in the holy Seshachalam hills, and supply of Krishna water to augment the drinking water supply to Chennai city.
 
Issues relating to fishing in coastal States in Southern Zone, checking of antibiotic residues in aquaculture shrimp export, scheme for modernization of State Police Forces in the States of Southern Zone, issuance of 'No Objection Certificate' (NOC) for LPG godown site plan, and issues pertaining to the biofuels programme also figured in the meeting.
 
Prior to the meeting of the Council, the Standing Committee of the Council met here on November 28, 2017 when seven issues were resolved. These were the extension of high speed rail corridor between Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore up to Udupi, revision of ceiling on Profession Tax by the Union Government, giving infrastructure status to housing by the Central Government, inter-State animal movement, promotion of oil seeds and oil palm cultivation to augment availability of vegetable oils, inclusion of Puducherry in Central Finance Commission and security of fishermen from Puducherry.
 
The five Zonal Councils (Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Center Zonal Councils) were set up under the States Re-organisation Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State cooperation and coordination among the States.
 
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The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport, and so on.
 
They are the regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally. Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.
 
It was emphasized that it has been the objective of the present Government to strengthen the institution of the Zonal Councils as well as the Inter-State Council in order to promote and maintain a good federal atmosphere of cooperation among the States and between the Centre and the States as well.
 
As a result, during the last four years, two Council meetings and three Standing Committee meetings of the Southern Zonal Council were held. Apart from this, eight Council meetings and twelve Standing Committee meetings of other Zones were also held. In these meetings, about 600 issues were discussed, out of which 406 issues were resolved.
 
The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Puducherry; Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu; Finance Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment and Minister for Tourism, Karnataka; Minister for Health, Puducherry and the Union Minister of State for Home, Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and senior officers from the Central and State Governments.
 
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Indian ride-sharing major Ola to launch services in New Zealand

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Indian ride-sharing major Ola said here today that it planned to launch its services in New Zealand soon.
 
"Ola ... plans to enter New Zealand to provide both drivers and passengers a fair and safe way to get around Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington," a statement from the company said.
 
Founded in 2011, Ola enables smart transportation to over 125 million users in India, Australia and the UK. Through its platform, Ola serves as many as a billion rides annually, it said.
 
The company said it had appointed Brian Dewil as Country Manager for New Zealand to built its presence locally.
 
"Brian is a proven business leader with over 15 years’ of experience working in the technology and start-up industry. He previously founded UrbanSherpa, a firm that disrupted the local courier market and, before his newly appointed role at Ola, he was the Co-Founder and Director of Horizon Robotics, where he implemented robotic technologies to reimagine the way physical goods are transported and delivered," the release said.
 
Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO at Ola, said, “We see a real opportunity in New Zealand to provide a fair alternative in the rideshare space for both customers and drivers. We  invested in understanding the New Zealand customer and devised the right strategy to meet their transport needs”
 
“We are the rideshare brand that cares and are looking forward to creating high quality transport experiences for both passengers and drivers in New Zealand," he said.
 
Ola’s planned foray into New Zealand follows its launch in Australia in February 2018 and the United Kingdom in August 2018. Today, Ola operates in seven major cities across Australia and has close to 50,000 registered drivers who have completed millions of rides, the release added.
 
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Petrol, diesel to be cheaper by Rs 2 in Karnataka

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Petrol and diesel will be cheaper by Rs 2 per litre across Karnataka from Tuesday following a reduction in state cess, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said on Monday.
 
"The sales tax levied by the state on petrol and diesel is 32 per cent and 21 per cent respectively, which has been reduced by 3.25 per cent and 3.27 per cent respectively," the statement added.
 
"... the fuel price will thus decrease by Rs 2 per litre," the CMO tweeted.
 
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy also announced the relief at a public event at Kalaburagi, about 620 km from here.
 
Petrol price in Bengaluru is Rs 84.74 per litre and diesel Rs 76.16 per litre, according to the Indian Oil Corp. The average prices of petrol and diesel across the state are Rs 84.80 and Rs 76.21 per litre respectively.
 
Bengaluru has lakhs of vehicles, including 45-50 lakh two-wheelers and 20-25 lakh cars and other four-wheelers. 
 
Andhra Pradesh had earlier announced reduction in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2 per litre. Rajasthan reduced the fuel prices by around Rs 2.50 by cutting Value Added Tax by 4 per cent. West Bengal too had reduced the price by Re 1.
 
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Bengaluru to host Aero India 2019 from February 20-24

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The next edition of Aero India, a five-day event that will combine a major trade exhibition for the aerospace and defence industries with public air shows, will be held in Bengaluru from February 20-24, 2019.
 
"The Government has decided to hold the Aero India 2019 in Bengaluru from 20-24 February 2019," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said here today.
 
Besides global leaders and big investors in aerospace industry, the show will also see participation by think-tanks from across the world, the release said.
 
"It will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of information, ideas and new developments in the aviation industry. Besides giving fillip to the domestic aviation industry it would further the cause of Make in India. The Department of Defence Production is committed to make this a successful and result oriented show," the release added.
 
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Infosys and Temasek announce joint venture in Singapore

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IT services major Infosys and Singapore-based global investment company Temasek today announced a joint venture that will support the latter's digital transformation journey.
 
"The joint venture will integrate teams from Infosys and the operations of Temasek’s wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore, Trusted Source Pte Ltd, which currently delivers IT services to Temasek and a number of other clients," a press release from the two companies said.
 
As part of the transaction, Infosys will acquire a 60% stake in the joint venture and Temasek will hold 40%. The agreement was signed by the parties last night and is effective immediately, the release said.
 
"Infosys and Temasek see important synergy and strategic alignment in the joint venture. Infosys gains significant capacity in terms of workforce as it focuses on strengthening its footprint in Southeast Asia, while Temasek will see a rapid enhancement of its IT services through the augmented capabilities of the joint venture entity. Trusted Source will provide Temasek and its other clients in the region solutions and technologies across Cloud, Data & Analytics, Cybersecurity, Digital Experiences and AI & automation, and more," it said.
 
The joint venture will support Temasek’s digital transformation journey, managing a complex Cloud migration program that will enable Temasek to host its applications on a cloud platform, it said.
 
Infosys and Temasek have named Shveta Arora, Vice-President at Infosys, as Chief Executive Officer. The joint venture will be headquartered in Singapore, and more than 200 employees and contractors from Trusted Source will be part of it on establishment, in addition to Infosys staff who will join over time.
 
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 "In line with Infosys’ commitment to invest in advanced technologies and skills for its workforce, employees of the joint venture will have access to the company’s world class education and training capabilities that will enable them to provide excellent professional services and have rewarding career paths," it said.
 
Mohit Joshi, President, Infosys, said, “Infosys will leverage its digital skills, learning capabilities and transformation experience to help enhance operations across Temasek’s global business. Our joint venture with Temasek will accelerate our efforts in the region, enhancing our existing presence, as we help clients navigate the next journey in their business transformation. This development is a key element of our continued efforts to invest and have a presence in the regions in which we operate.”
 
Jon Allaway, Chief Technology Officer, Temasek, said “We warmly welcome the opportunity to build this joint venture with Infosys, and provide those who support our business, at Trusted Source, the ability to further develop their careers with one of the world’s leading technology service providers. The partnership will also help unlock new capabilities and technology platforms that help Temasek as the organization continues our growth as a Singapore-headquartered investor, with a global presence.”
 
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Congress wins majority in Karnataka civic polls

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Karnataka's ruling coalition partner, the Congress, won a majority of the seats across 10 of 22 districts during vote count for 105 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on Monday, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.
 
In the civic body polls held on August 31, the Congress has won 982 seats out of the total 2,662 seats, with a majority in 10 districts including Ballari, Bidar, Gadag, Mysuru, Uttara Kannada and Raichur, the SEC said in its website.
 
On the other hand, the Congress' leading ally in the state government, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), trailed behind winning 375 seats and a majority in its strongholds of Hassan, Mandya and Tumakuru districts.
 
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 929 seats, with majority in seven districts including the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada.
 
Independents won 329 seats across the 22 districts, while other fringe parties and regional outfits won another 34.
 
The civic election verdict shows the BJP performed well in its traditional bastions of coastal districts, while the Congress retained its position in its strongholds of northern districts.
 
The result in Vijayapura district in the northern part of the state threw a hung verdict, with both Congress and BJP winning eight seats each of the total 23 seats, while JD-S won two seats and Independents five.
 
In the event of no party getting majority on its own in the election, the Congress and the JD-S have decided to forge a post-poll alliance to keep the BJP out of power, similar to May 12 state Assembly election which threw up a hung verdict, a JD-S official told IANS earlier.
 
Polling took place last Friday across 22 districts of the state spread over 29 city municipalities, 53 town municipalities, 23 town panchayats and 135 wards of three city corporations -- Mysuru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru.
 
A record average of 67.5 per cent voter turnout was registered across the state for the civic polls.
 
The polling in 45 seats of Kodagu district's civic bodies has been postponed due to recent heavy rains and flooding in the region.
 
In the 2013 ULB elections held in 4,976 seats, the Congress had won 1,960 seats, while BJP and JD-S had won 905 seats each, and Independents bagged the remaining 1,206 seats.
 
IANS
 

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Voting underway in Karnataka civic polls

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Moderate polling is underway since this morning for the election to 102 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across Karnataka, a poll official said on Friday.
 
Polling started at 7 a.m. amid tight security, the official added.
 
About 40,000 security personnel have been deployed in cities and towns to maintain law and order across the state where voting will continue till 5 p.m.
 
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used in the poll.
 
Voting is being held in 2,529 wards spread over 29 city municipalities, 53 town municipalities and 23 town panchayats and in 135 wards of the three city corporations.
 
In all, 8,340 candidates, including 2,306 from the Congress, 2,203 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 1,397 from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are in the fray for the ULBs, while 814 are contesting in the city corporations, including 135 from Congress, 130 from BJP and 129 from JD-S.
 
A total of 36 lakh voters are registered for exercising franchise in the ULB wards and 13.33 lakh in the three towns of Mysuru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up on September 3 and most of the results are expected by night or early the next day.
 
Though the civic election was earlier scheduled to be held in 105 ULBs, it has been postponed in three of them -- Somwarpet, Virajpet and Kushalnagar due to heavy rains and flash floods early in August in the Kodagu district, about 270km from here.
 
In the 2013 ULB elections held in 4,976 seats, the Congress had won 1,960 seats, while BJP and JD-S had won 905 seats each. Independents bagged the remaining 1,206 seats.
 
IANS
 

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Kumaraswamy regrets tiff over Nirmala visit to Kodagu

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Terming the controversy over Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to Karnataka's flood-hit Kodagu district on Friday as unfortunate, Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy on Sunday regretted the inconveniences caused to her.
 
"Though the state government and the district administration have ensured and followed protocol despite the tough situation in the region during her visit, it was unfortunate that the Defence Minister had to go through certain inconveniences which we regret," said Kumaraswamy in a post on the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
 
Admitting that he was pained at the turn of events, the Chief Minister said he spoke to her on the reported tiff over protocol with state Tourism and district in-charge Minister Sa Ra Mahesh.
 
"I believe this is the time to forget the differences and forgive each other and join hands in the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. The grave situation in the district warrants it. I look forward to the support of the central government, especially of the Defence Minister," said Kumaraswamy.
 
Lauding Nirmala Sitharaman for helping the state government in the rescue operations and visiting the flood-hit areas, the Chief Minister said the state and relief agencies were jointly working to rehabilitate the flood-hit people with the Union government's support.
 
"Mahesh has tirelessly worked to oversee the rescue and relief operations by being with the teams on the ground since day one," he said.
 
Kumaraswamy's comments came a day after the Defence Ministry clarified reports in the media that Nirmala Sitharaman was "angry with Mahesh" at the flood-review meeting at Madikeri over the issue of protocol.
 
The media reports also alleged that Mahesh made personal remarks against the Minister.
 
The controversy arose when Mahesh objected to the Defence Minister meeting ex-servicemen, as her visit was for reviewing the rescue and relief operations in which the Army, Navy and Air Force were also involved.
 
"On completion of the field visit, as per the programme, the Defence Minister was interacting with ex-servicemen who had also been affected by the floods when the (state) Minister insisted that meeting with the officials be conducted first," said the Ministry in a statement.
 
When Nirmala Sitharaman clarified to Mahesh that ex-servicemen's welfare was part of her ministry and her meeting with them was scheduled in the programme by the district administration, the latter insisted that she stop the interaction and proceed to the review meeting with the officials.
 
IANS
 
 

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Karnataka seeks Rs 2,000 crore aid from Centre for flood victims

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Karnataka on Friday sought Rs 2,000 crore interim relief from the central government for relief and rehabilitation of flood victims in the southern state's Kodagu district.
 
"I appeal to you to release an interim relief of Rs 2,000 crore to enable the state government rehabilitate Kodagu's flood-hit victims," said state Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
 
The Chief Minister's office released the letter to the media on Friday night.
 
As per initial estimates, the huge loss caused by heavy rains, floods and landslides to the infrastructure, public property and crops is feared to be Rs 3,000 crore.
 
The letter also highlighted the large-scale destruction the natural calamity caused to crops, coffee plantations, spices and arecanut (beetle nuts) across the hilly district, about 270 km southwest of Bengaluru.
 
Thanking Modi for enquiring about the situation in Kodagu on August 19 and providing help in the rescue operations through the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, the Chief Minister said the landslides changed the geomorphology and river course in the region.
 
"As the arterial roads connecting Kodagu have been battered, relief operations and the movement of essentials like food, drinking water and medicines were hampered," recalled Kumaraswamy. 
 
The torrential rains, landslips and floods during the southwest monsoon from August 14-22, claimed 17 lives and damaged over 2,200 houses.
 
"Undeterred by the devastation, the state machinery and the district administration rescued over 4,500 people and provided shelter to 7,500 people in 53 relief camps, served 50,000 food packets and supplied rice, oil, pulses, salt and sugar," added the letter.
 
IANS
 

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1,500 stranded in flood-hit Kodagu of Karnataka; CM visits affected areas

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Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy on Saturday visited the flood-hit Kodagu district in the southern state, where hundreds are marooned in villages and towns due to heavy rains.
 
"At least 1,500 people are stranded in various parts of the district, but the rescue officials have not been able to reach them due to bad weather and landslides. Efforts are being made to rescue them," Kumaraswamy told reporters here.
 
The Chief Minister earlier in the day held a meeting with district officials on the flood situation in Kodagu, and on heavy rains lashing coastal and south interior districts.
 
He made an aerial survey of the coffee-growing district, about 270km from the state capital Begaluru. THe district is one of the worst-hit districts in the southern state.
 
"The officials are trying to airlift people in the district, but the weather has not been very favourable," the Chief Minister said.
 
Heavy rains, flooding and landslips in the district have claimed six lives so far, a statement from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.
 
The state has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of those who lost their lives due to the rains.
 
The Chief Minister earlier announced Rs 200-crore fund to take up relief measures in the rain-hit districts.
 
IANS

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Infosys CFO M D Ranganath quits to pursue "professional aspirations"

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IT services major Infosys today said its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) M. D. Ranganath, a key managerial personnel, had resigned from his position to pursue "professional aspirations".
 
A press release from the company said its Board of Directors had, at its meeting today, accepted his resignation.
 
The release said Ranganath would continue in his current position till November 16, 2018. The Board will immediately commence the search for the next CFO, it said.
 
"After a successful career spanning 18 years in Infosys including as CFO for the last three crucial years, I now plan to pursue professional opportunities in new areas," Ranganath said.
 
"I am grateful to Infosys for giving me the opportunity of serving as CFO of this global iconic company. I am proud that over the last three years, during a critical phase of the company, we delivered strong and consistent financial outcomes, maintained high standards of financial reporting, built a world class finance team, further strengthened the company’s competitive position and thereby enhanced value to the stakeholders. I thank the Board, management team, my colleagues in the finance team and all the stakeholders for their wholehearted support during my tenure. I wish the management team all the best as I pursue opportunities outside the company," he said.
 
Nandan M Nilekani, Chairman of the Board said, “Over the last 18 years Ranga has played a pivotal role in the growth and success of Infosys. During his long stint in the company, I have seen him in a wide spectrum of leadership roles and in each of them he has delivered results with distinction. With Ranga as CFO, the company has in the last three crucial years, delivered a strong and resilient financial performance on multiple fronts, implemented an efficient capital allocation policy and earned the respect of all stakeholders through enhanced value creation. On behalf of the Board, I thank Ranga for his excellent contribution to the company and wish him all the very best in his endeavors.”
 
Salil Parekh, Chief Executive Officer said, “Ranga and I have worked closely over the past few quarters in shaping the strategic direction of the company. I admire his strong financial acumen, deep understanding of the company’s business and ability to deliver consistent results. He played a crucial role as the CFO and provided strong leadership for the company. I am confident that over the next few months Ranga will ensure a smooth transition. I thank him for his lasting contribution and wish him all the best.”
 
During his 18 years in Infosys, Ranganath has been a part of the Infosys Leadership team and has played several leadership roles in the areas of consulting, finance, strategy, risk management and M&A and has worked closely with the Board and its committees in formulating and executing strategic priorities for the company.
 
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Torrential rains disrupt normal life in Karnataka

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Torrential rains measured at 35 cm lashed Karnataka's coastal and south interior districts, forcing suspension of train and bus services and disrupting normal life, officials said on Wednesday.
 
"Due to the southwest monsoon being rigorous over the coastal and south interior districts, exceptionally heavy to very heavy rainfall was received in the region," the Bengaluru division of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its weather advisory.
 
According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), the coastal district of Udupi received the maximum rainfall over the past 24 hours recording rains as high as 35.7 cm.
 
Other coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada received a maximum of 33.8 cm, while Uttara Kannada experienced 33.6 cm, and south interior districts Kodagu 28.8 cm, Chikkamagaluru 25.1 cm, Hassan 24.5 cm and Shivamogga 33.6 cm.
 
Districts in the northern part of the state have also received light to moderate rainfall. 
 
Due to the heavy rains, landslides were reported since Monday in several parts of the state, particularly on the Bengaluru-Mangaluru route, leading to several state-run buses and trains suspending their services from Tuesday night.
 
Landslides were reported in Sakleshpur sub-district in the Western Ghats mountains in Hassan district, obstructing vehicular movement from Bengaluru to Mangaluru.
 
"All premium bus services from Bengaluru towards Mangaluru, Dharmasthala (in Dakshina Kannada district) and Kundapura (in Udupi district) have been cancelled due to landslides," the state-run Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had said in a statement.
 
Trains including Karwar-Yeshwanthpur Express, Yeshwanthpur-Mangalore Junction Express, were partially cancelled and few other trains diverted, the South Western Railway said in a statement.
 
The state capital, which has been receiving only light to moderate rains, remained cloudy on Wednesday morning as the Chief Minister delivered his Independence Day address from the Field Marshal Manekshaw Parade Grounds in the city centre.
 
With the Arabian Sea being rough with winds along the coast, the IMD has asked the fishermen not to venture into the waters.
 
"Due to strong winds along the Karnataka coast, sea condition is likely to be rough in the southwest and central Arabian sea. Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea," an advisory from the IMD added.
 
Heavy rains are likely to continue for the next two days.
 
IANS
 

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