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Four IS militants among six killed in J&K gunfight

In the first gunfight with security forces after Jammu and Kashmir was put under Governor's rule, four militants belonging to the Islamic State terror group were killed on Friday in Anantnag district, Director General of Police S.P. Vaid said.

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4 militants, cop, civilian killed in J&K gunfight
 
 
In the first gunfight with security forces after Jammu and Kashmir was put under Governor's rule, four militants belonging to the Islamic State terror group were killed on Friday in Anantnag district, Director General of Police (DGP) S.P. Vaid said.
 
This is the first official confirmation of any IS militant being killed in Kashmir.
 
In a significant development, the police chief tweeted: "The slain terrorists were reportedly affiliated to Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK)."
 
On its website in 2017 the Islamic State had said that its Indian affiliate, Ansar Gazwatul Hind was being headed by Zakir Musa, a Kashmiri militant commander.
 
A civilian and a policeman were also killed in Friday's gun battle that erupted in Srigufwara area early in the day after information about the four militants holed up in a house in Khiram village was received by the security forces.
 
With days left for the highly awaited Amarnath Yatra the security forces laid a cordon around the village following specific information about the presence of the militants.
 
"As the cordon was tightened, the militants fired, triggering the encounter," a police officer said.
 
Vaid said: "The bodies of the slain terrorists can be seen inside the house where they were hiding. We are retrieving the bodies."
 
The house owners also came in the line of fire. While the husband Muhammad Yusuf was killed, his wife Hafeeza sustained a gunshot injury. She was shifted to hospital for treatment, police said. 
 
Of the four militants killed, one has been identified as Majeed Manzoor from Talangam village in Pulwama district while another was from the HMT area in Srinagar. The other two are yet to be identified.
 
A member of the special operations group (SOG) of the state police was also killed during the operation, while three other security personnel were injured, the police said.
 
Earlier dozens of youth had started pelting stones at the security forces some distance from the encounter site as the gun battle progressed.
 
Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services in the district to check the spread of any kind of rumours. 
 
IANS
 
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Hundreds attend slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari's funeral

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bukhari in his ancestral hometown of Kheeri in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

Shujaat Bukhari
Shujaat Bukhari
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bukhari in his ancestral hometown of Kheeri in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.
 
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, state Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar, senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, local journalists and other members from all sections of society attended the funeral.
 
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was also present in Kheeri.
 
Three motorcycle-borne militants killed Bukhari and two of his security guards as he was getting into his car in Srinagar's Press Enclave area at around 7.15 p.m. on Wednesday to reach home in time for Iftar.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari shot dead in Srinagar

Senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bhukhari was on Thursday shot dead by militants outside his office in Srinagar, police said.

Shujaat Bukhari
Shujaat Bukhari
Senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bhukhari was on Thursday shot dead by militants outside his office here, police said.
 
State police chief S.P.Vaid said that it was around 7.15 p.m., the Iftar time, that Bukhari came out of his office in Press Enclave and was getting  into his car when he was attacked by militants.
 
"Three motorcycle-borne militants came and fired at Bukhari and his guards. Bukhari and one guard were killed and another security guard critically injured," he said.
 
The killing drew wide condemnation from politicians across India and media organisations.
 
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: "Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family." 
 
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in a tweet, recited the Muslim prayer on hearing about a Muslim's death, and said: "Shocked beyond words. May Shujaat find place in Jannat & May his loved ones find strength at this difficult time."
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed it an "act of cowardice".
 
"The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist. Extremely shocked & pained at his death. My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family," he said on his Twitter handle.
 
The Congress said it was anguished, with party President Rahul Gandhi terming Bukhari "a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace".
 
"He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. My condolences to his family. He will be missed," Gandhi said in a tweet.
 
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "Anguished beyond words. Security situation in J&K has hit its nadir. Demand the Centre to take swift action to nab the killers. They can silence us but not our thoughts." 
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday expressed shock.
 
"Saddened and shocked at the brutal killing of respected editor and senior journalist @bukharishujaat. With a few hours to go for Eid this is terrible," Banerjee tweeted.
 
Several journalist bodies condemned the killing and demanded swift action against the forces responsible for his killing. 
 
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Condemning what it called a "dastardly attack", the Editors Guild of India said that Bukhari was "a voice of moderation and a courageous, big-hearted editor who mentored a large cadre of young journalists from Kashmir". 
 
"The guild calls upon the government of Jammu and Kashmir to take urgent steps to bring to book the culprits and ensure safety and security for the media in the state," it said in a statement. 
 
It added that an attack on a journalist challenges the very foundations of a free press and vibrant democracy and more so in a state like Jammu and Kashmir that is going through militancy, and called upon the state and Central government to enhance security for all journalists in the state. 
 
"Recent weeks have also seen threats of violence against many journalists in different parts of the country," it added. 
 
The Press Club of India also "strongly condemned" the killing in the holy month of Ramadan and said that "forces inimical to restoring peace in Kashmir Valley had silenced a voice of reason, logic and peace".
 
"Press Club of India deeply mourns the loss of Shujaat Bukhari's life and extends its condolences to the bereaved family in this hour of crisis," it said in a statement.
 
It added that the "terror attack" showed that lives of journalists were not safe.
 
"Press Club of India has time and again underlined the threat to the lives of journalists working under difficult and challenging circumstances and demanded protection for them," it said.
 
The Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Club of India also expressed "deep shock and outrage at the brazen murder" of Bukhari. 
 
They said that Bukhari was a respected journalist known for his wide range of analytical writings on Kashmir and that he continued to write actively despite the death threats issued to him. 
 
"His murder can only be viewed as yet another attempt to muzzle the media and the freedom of the press in the valley," a joint statement said. 
 
Bukhari started his career as a young reporter with Kashmir Times and moved to The Hindu in the 1990s. Later, he established his own English daily Rising Kashmir.
 
IANS
 
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Senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari shot dead in Srinagar

Senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bhukhari was on Thursday shot dead by militants outside his office in Srinagar, police said.

Shujaat Bukhari
Shujaat Bukhari
Senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujaat Bhukhari was on Thursday shot dead by militants outside his office here, police said.
 
State police chief S. P. Vaid said that it was around 7.15 p.m., the Iftar time, that Bukhari came out of his office in Press Enclave and was boarding his car when he was attacked by militants.
 
"Three motorcycle-borne militants came and fired at Bukhari and his guards. Bukhari and one guard were killed and another security guard critically injured," he said.
 
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock at the killing.
 
"Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family," she said in a tweet.
 
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also expressed shock at the gruesome murder of this senior Kashmiri journalist. Reciting the Muslim prayer on hearing about a Muslim's death, he said: "Shocked beyond words. May Shujaat find place in Jannat & May his loved ones find strength at this difficult time."
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also expressed shock at the incident.
 
"The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist. Extremely shocked & pained at his death. My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family," he said on his Twitter handle.
 
The murder also sent shock waves in the media fraternity.
 
IANS
 
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Varied voting in bye-elections; EVMs malfunction in UP, Maharashtra

Amid complaints of dysfunctional electronic voting machines (EVMs) in three parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the bye-elections on Monday to four Lok Sabha and nine Assembly seats across India saw moderate to high turnout.

 
Amid complaints of dysfunctional electronic voting machines (EVMs) in three parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the bye-elections on Monday to four Lok Sabha and nine Assembly seats across India saw moderate to high turnout.
 
The Congress and some other opposition parties complained to the Election Commission (EC) about "hundreds of EVMs" having malfunctioned, particularly in Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, but the poll panel said the news reports of "large scale" failure of EVMs were "an exaggerated projection of reality".
 
It said that adequate number of reserve EVMs-VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) were kept and deployed in almost half hour where there were reports of non-functioning of the machines. 
 
The poll panel said the malfunctioning could be attributed to "first-time use by polling staff, extreme heat, placement of the machine under direct sunlight and mishandling during use".
 
In Kairana, where the BJP is locked in an intense fight with combined opposition including the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, the polling percentage was 54.17 per cent till 6 p.m.
 
In the Noorpur Assembly segment of the state, the polling percentage was 61 till 6 p.m. 
 
In Kairana, there were reports of firing in Bhura village and skirmishes between supporters of the opposition-supported RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Mriganka Singh, daughter of late Hukum Singh, whose death necessitated the bypoll.
 
Both the RLD and the BJP filed complaints alleging that over 100 voting machines were malfunctioning.
 
The BJP told the EC that a large number of EVMs were out of order, forcing hundreds of voters to wait outside polling booths in the scorching heat.
 
In the national capital, a multi-party delegation including Congress leader R.P.N. Singh, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav and RLD chief Ajit Singh met the EC officers and demanded a repoll in booths where there were reports of dysfunctional EVMs.
 
In Maharashtra, about 40 per cent polling was estimated till 6 p.m. in the Bhandara-Gondiya Parliamentary constituency. In Palghar, the polling percentage was around 47 till 6 p.m.
 
Senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel alleged that "nearly 25 per cent of all the EVMs in Bhandara-Gondiya were defective or had malfunctioned".
 
EC officer in-charge Abhimanyu Kale told the media that around 156 EVMs were replaced or spares deployed.
 
Hundreds of voters patiently waited to cast their votes in the blistering heat as the EVMs were replaced.
 
The EC trashed reports that polling had been cancelled in 35 booths in Bhandara-Gondiya.
 
The defective machines hit polling severely, with barely 25 per cent of the electorate casting their votes by 2 p.m. in both constituencies.
 
Ruling ally Shiv Sena also strongly criticised the EC and the government for the glitches and claimed that these were reported mostly from the party's strongholds.
 
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Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the glitch is nothing but a manifestation of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' recent controversial statement on 'Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed'.
 
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) President Prakash Ambedkar demanded cancellation of the elections in Bhandara-Gondiya while Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant alleged large-scale irregularities. 
 
Both elections are prestigious for the state's ruling BJP, which faces the NCP in Bhandara-Gondiya and its own ally Shiv Sena in Palghar. 
 
The bye-election in Bhandara-Gondiya was necessitated after sitting BJP member Nana Patole quit the party in December 2017 and later joined the Congress. BJP's Hemant Patle, who was earlier in the Shiv Sena, faces NCP's Madhukar Kukde, who is supported by the Congress, while there were 18 others in the fray.
 
In Palghar, the bye-election came after sitting MP Chintaman Vanga died. However his son joined the Shiv Sena and was given party ticket. The BJP has fielded former Congress leader Rajendra Gavit, while the Congress has put up Damoda Shingda.
 
The bye-election to the Nagaland Parliamentary seat witnessed 75 per cent polling. The seat fell vacant as sitting member Neiphiu Rio resigned after being elected to the state Assembly and becoming Chief Minister.
 
In Bihar, Jokihat Assembly seat saw nearly 55 per cent polling.
 
Bye-elections to Silli and Gomia Assembly constituencies in Jharkhand saw 75 per cent and 62 per cent voting, respectively.
 
In West Bengal, around 70 per cent of votes were cast till 5 p.m. for the bye-election to the Maheshtala Assembly constituency. In Punjab, Shahkot Assembly constituency recorded over 73 per cent voting. 
 
Chengannur Assembly constituency in Kerala saw voting percentage of 77 per cent while Meghalya's Ampati Assembly seat saw a high voter turn out of 90.42 per cent.
 
Polling was also held at Tharali in Uttarakhand.
 
IANS
 
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Yeddyurappa gets ready for cliffhanger trust vote

The BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa faces a crucial trust vote on Saturday in the Karnantaka Assembly that began its new session with MLAs taking oath with numbers stacked against the ruling party on its own.

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

The Supreme Court on Friday directed that a floor test be held at 4 pm on Saturday to determine if BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday morning, has the requisite strength in the state legislative assembly.

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

Amid jockeying for power in Karnataka, the Supreme Court early on Thursday after a midnight hearing refused to stall the swearing-in of BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa as Karnataka's new Chief Minister.

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

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took an early lead as counting of votes began in the crucial elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly this morning.

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

Delhi Police on Monday filed a chargesheet in a court in Sunanda Pushkar's suicide case, accusing her husband and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of abetment to suicide, a charge he dubbed "preposterous" and his party called "baseless".

File photo of Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor
File photo of Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor
Delhi Police on Monday filed a chargesheet in a court in Sunanda Pushkar's suicide case, accusing her husband and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of abetment to suicide, a charge he dubbed "preposterous" and his party called "baseless".
 
The chargesheet was filed in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh here. It mentions that the body of Pushkar bore "scuffle marks" when it was found in a luxury hotel room in New Delhi on January 17, 2014.
 
"These (marks) seem to have been caused due to scuffle between Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor and her husband Shashi Tharoor as per the statement of their personal attendant Narain Singh. However, this fact is being examined further."
 
Tharoor has been charged under Sections 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code that deal with abetment to suicide and subjecting a woman to cruelty by her husband or his relative respectively, which entail a jail term that may extend up to 10 years.
 
Delhi Police Chief Spokesperson Deependra Pathak said the chargesheet was filed in the case on the basis of medico-legal and forensic evidence analysed during investigation as well as the opinion of experts regarding Pushkar's death, which was investigated by a Special Investigation Team of South District police.
 
The Congress, however, said that there "could be no more falsehood about this charge except that a conspiratorial BJP leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were seeking revenge against Tharoor by using the Delhi Police which, he said, was a willing tool to subserve BJP's political agenda". 
 
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said that all witnesses and documents in the case were destroyed during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule by the "corrupt" police.
 
"Under Section 301 CrPC and also via JK International judgment of SC, I am entitled to assist the prosecutor in the Sunanda unnatural death case," he tweeted.
 
He said he will appear in court on the next date of hearing on May 24.
 
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told the media here that top BJP leaders had "conspired against Tharoor" and accused him of murdering his wife while the chargesheet filed by Delhi Police on Monday was for abetment of suicide. 
 
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Surjewala dubbed these charges "baseless" and a conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who "hounded, prosecuted and maligned" Tharoor. 
 
He said that the BJP continued to leak unfounded evidence so that a media trial going on for a year-and-a-half against Tharoor could continue.
 
The Congress leader questioned the police investigation, saying how could it be called a suicide too when there were no suicide note or witnesses. 
 
"We will not be cowed down, we will not bow. We have full faith in the justice system," he added. 
 
The chargesheet says that the brothers and son of Pushkar made "no allegations against anyone".
 
Pushkar, 51, was found dead in her suite at Leela Hotel in south Delhi, days after she alleged that her husband was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist.
 
There was no evidence of Pushkar's murder but she may have been driven to suicide as she had not been eating or even leaving her room days before her death, according to the chargesheet.
 
Tharoor took to Twitter in his defence, saying he had taken note of the filing of this "preposterous chargesheet". He said he intended to "contest it vigorously".
 
"No one who knew Sunanda believes she would ever commit suicide, let alone abetment on my part."
 
He said if that was the conclusion arrived at after four plus years of investigation it "does not speak well of the methods or motivations of Delhi Police".
 
In October 2017, Tharoor said, a law officer made a statement in the Delhi High Court that they have not found anything against anyone "and now in six months they say that I have abetted a suicide". 
 
"Unbelievable!"
 
IANS
 
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Dust storm on Sunday night leaves 23 dead in Uttar Pradesh

Dust storms, hail and lightning have claimed as many as 23 lives in the last 12 hours in Uttar Pradesh, an official said on Monday.

A dust storm lashing Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on May 13, 2018.(Photo: IANS)
A dust storm lashing Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on May 13, 2018.(Photo: IANS)
Dust storms, hail and lightning have claimed as many as 23 lives in the last 12 hours in Uttar Pradesh, an official said on Monday.
 
The storm hit Etawah, Banda, Auriyya, Meerut, Kanpur rural, Kannauj, Farukkhabad and Orai districts.
 
Late on Sunday, gusty winds, followed by dust storm, had brought life to a standstill in many parts of the state. Many houses were razed to the ground, hoardings and trees uprooted and power outages reported from various cities and towns.
 
The relief commissioner's office, although, has confirmed only 18 deaths besides two dozen injuries in Sunday's dust storm. 
 
District officials have been asked by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to ensure prompt relief, a government spokesman said. 
 
Due to the uprooting of trees, vehicular traffic on the busy G.T. road near Orai was disrupted for more than four hours. 
 
A woman standing under a tree in Kannauj was killed as it fell on her while two persons have been reported dead from Barabanki. 
 
Three deaths, including a child have been reported from Bulandshahr due to a wall collapse.
 
Five persons have been reported dead in Kasganj and one in the temple town of Vrindavan. Two persons died in Saharanpur after being struck with lightning. 
 
One person died in Muzaffarnagar as he was hit by a tree branch when he was driving a bike. 
 
One person was killed in Ghaziabad's Lalkuan area after a tree fell on a car and a six-year-old died in Hapur after falling in a tube well tank due to the squall. 
 
A passerby was hit by a hoarding brought down by winds near the Stellar Jeevan Society in Noida and died while one woman was killed in Aligarh.
 
While one died in Sambhal, two persons were killed in Banjariya village when two minarets of a mosque were ripped off by high velocity winds and they fell on a house. One person was killed in Budayun.
 
IANS
 
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Dust storm lashes Delhi and NCR, air traffic and Metro services hit

A powerful dust storm accompanied by rains on Sunday evening brought down the temperature in the national capital and adjoining areas, seriously disrupting air traffic and Metro services, officials said.

A dust storm hit Delhi, on  May 13, 2018.
A dust storm hit Delhi, on May 13, 2018.
A powerful dust storm accompanied by rains on Sunday evening brought down the temperature in the national capital and adjoining areas, seriously disrupting air traffic and Metro services, officials said.
 
As the storm blew at a highest speed of 70 km per hour, the mercury crashed from 39 degrees Celsius at 4 p.m. to 25 degrees half hour later, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told IANS. By early evening, the skies had turned dark. 
 
Power supply was affected in many areas in Delhi and Gurugram in Haryana. 
 
More than 40 incoming flights to the Indira Gandhi International Airport were diverted between 4.15 and 5.30 p.m. due to poor visibility and strong winds, an airport official said. 
 
Delhi Metro operations were also hit. Thousands of commuters were stuck on the winding and busy Blue Line, which links Dwarka in west Delhi to Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh, for more than 45 minutes.
 
The Violet Line, one of the six lines of the Delhi Metro that connects Kashmere Gate in north Delhi to Escorts Mujesar in Faridabad in Haryana, was also disrupted.
 
In both cases, toppling trees fell and damaged overhead Metro wiring, an official spokesman said.
 
When the Metro services finally resumed after around two hours, the trains plied at halting speed. 
 
The rains and storm brought down trees and tree branches in some areas and led to traffic snarls, forcing two-wheeler drivers to take shelter under bridges and flyovers. Motorists switched on headlights to find their way in the enveloping darkness. 
 
The Delhi Fire Service said it received over 30 calls linked to falling trees and two calls related to wall collapse within two hours of the storm hitting the national capital. But no casualty was reported. 
 
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The dramatic change in weather, however, did bring respite to residents from the sweltering heat. 
 
The Met department had forecast rain and thunderstorm with gusty winds on Sunday. 
 
Mahesh Palawat, Director of the private weather forecast agency Skymet, told IANS that the change in weather was due to western disturbance which reached Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh on Saturday evening. 
 
"A cyclonic circulation formed near Haryana and north Rajasthan along with the western disturbance. South-easterly and easterly winds are creating moisture and high temperature in the region which caused the formation of thunder clouds. The strom blew over a trough which is spread from north Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 
 
"Delhi falls within the trough, but now this will move towards western Uttar Pradesh. There is a likelihood of light rains with thunder towards the afternoon or evening for two more days. Westerly winds will form again and temperature will begin to rise after May 15," Palawat said. 
 
Just after the dust storm hit Delhi and the National Capital Region, Delhi, Gurugram and Noida received heavy to moderate rains. 
 
The Met official said Sunday morning was the hottest of the season, with minimum temperature recorded at 30.6 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season's average. 
 
IANS
 
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High-voltage Karnataka battle ends, millions vote

A high-stake battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.

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

Voting began on Saturday on a brisk note across Karnataka to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly for a five-year term.

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

The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP have locked horns to outsmart each other in the Karnataka assembly election on Saturday, with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) making the contest triangular.

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

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of trying to crush the spirit of the people of Karnataka and said the Congress will win Saturday's Assembly polls hands down.

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

Taking head-on the two rival parties of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday charged the ruling Congress and the JD-S of being in tacit alliance for the May 12 Karnataka assembly polls while pretending to fight in parts of the southern state.

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

Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.

File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.
 
Asaram was convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) act and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
 
The judgement was pronounced by Judge Madhusudan inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.
 
Asaram Bapu was arrested in 2013 on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Uttar Pradesh's Shahajahanpur. She had accused him of raping her at his Jodhpur ashram in August. The victim was a Class 12 student at his Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The 77-year-old godman is facing trial in two other sexual assault cases: one in Rajasthan here and the other in Gujarat. 
 
He was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013. 
 
He also faces multiple charges, including wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and sexual harassment.
 
The chargesheet named Asaram and four others -- Sanchita alias Shilpi, Sharad Chandra alias Sharat Chandra, Prakash and Shiva alias Sava Ram Hethvadiya.
 
The quantum of punishment will be announced later.
 
IANS
 
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Salman gets bail against personal bond of Rs 50,000

After spending two nights in a Jodhpur jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.

 
Salman Khan convicted in black buck poaching case
 
 
After spending two nights in a local jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.
 
Arguments on the actor's bail application, which had been taken up yesterday, continued this morning before the judge reserved his order for the post-lunch session.
 
While granting him bail, the judge asked Salman, 52, to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and two sureties of Rs. 25,000 each with guarantees that he will adhere to all the bail conditions.
 
The court said Salman would have to secure special permission from it to travel abroad.
 
He is expected to be released by this evening after completion of various legal procedures, sources said.
 
Salman had spent a second night in the Central Jail here last night because the arguments on his bail plea could not be completed yesterday.
 
The superstar was convicted by a local court on Thursday and was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the two-decade-old case.
 
Salman and other Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam allegedly went hunting on October 1-2 in 1998 outside a forest reserve near Kankani village in Jodhpur while shooting for "Hum Saath Saath Hain" in 1998. 
 
While Salman was found guilty, the four co-stars and a local, Dushyant Singh, were acquitted.
 
Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri convicted Salman under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
 
(With  inputs from IANS)
 
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Class 12 re-test on April 25, Class 10 only in Delhi, NCR

Amid outrage over leak of CBSE question papers, the government on Friday said re-examination of Class 10 maths paper will be held only in Delhi, NCR and Haryana, "if at all", while fresh Class 12 test for economics students will be conducted on April 25.

Amid outrage over leak of CBSE question papers, the government on Friday said re-examination of Class 10 maths paper will be held only in Delhi, NCR and Haryana, "if at all", while fresh Class 12 test for economics students will be conducted on April 25.
 
Anil Swarup, Secretary School Education in Union Human Resources Development Ministry, said the CBSE Class 10 mathematics question paper was leaked only in Delhi and Haryana as there was no evidence that it was a pan-India affair.
 
"The leak was restricted to Delhi and Haryana, if at all a re-exam will happen, it will happen only in these states in July. A decision will be taken on this in the next 15 days," Swarup told reporters.
 
He said the Class 12 economics re-exam will be held on April 25. But there will be no fresh test outside of India.
 
IANS
 
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CBSE to re-conduct exams for Class XII Economics and Class X Mathematics

The Central Board of Secondary Education on Wednesday decided to re-conduct examinations in Economics for Class XII and Mathematics for Class X following reports about leakage of question papers.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today decided to re-conduct examinations in Economics for Class XII and Mathematics for Class X following reports about leakage of question papers.
 
The dates for the retest would be announced on the CBSE website within a week, the Board said.
 
"Board has taken cognizance of certain happenings in the conduct of certain examinations as are being reported. With the view to uphold the sanctity of the Board Examinations and in the interest of fairness to the students, the Board has decided to reconduct the examinations in the following subjects," a notice from the Board said, listing the subjects as Economics (Code 030) for Class XII and Mathematics (Code 041) for Class X.
 
"Dates for fresh examinations and the other details shall be hosted on the CBSE website within a week," the notice added.
 
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BJP suffers shock defeats in Gorakhpur, Phulpur LS bye-elections

Samajwadi Party candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

 
Samajwadi Party workers celebrate their victory in UP LS bye-elections
Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
 
What made the loss even more humiliating for the BJP, which is in power at the Centre as well as in Uttar Pradesh, was the fact that the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were held by its leaders Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya, who had resigned after taking over as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Uttar Pradesh.
 
The bye-election results have come a year after the BJP had scored a resounding win in the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, held in February-March 2017, in which it won 312 seats in the 403-member House. Its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party won nine and four seats, respectively.
 
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which was then ruling the state, could manage only 47 seats, while its ally Congress ended up with a single-digit tally of just 7.
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party of former Chief Minister Mayawadi picked up 19 seats and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) one. The Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal secured one seat and independents three seats.
 
As counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections today, Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Nishad won the Gorakhpur seat, defeating his BJP rival Upendra Shukla by a margin of 21,881 votes. In Phulpur, Nagendra Singh Patel of the SP prevailed by a margin of more than 59,000 votes over Kaushalendra Singh Patel of the BJP.
 
The BJP ended up on the losing side in Bihar, too, where its candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh lost to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) nominee Sarfaraz Alam in the bye-election for the Araria Lok Sabha seat by a margin of more than 57,000 votes. 
 
The vacancy in Araria was caused by the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Taslimuddin in September last year.
 
In bye-elections for Assembly seats in Bihar, the BJP's Rinki Rani Pandey won the Bhabua seat by a margin of more than 15,000 votes while the RJD's Kumar Krishna Mohan defeated Aviram Sharma of the Janata Dal (United) by a margin of more than 35,000 votes in Jahanabad. The two seats had fallen vacant due to the deaths of RJD MLA Mudrika Singh Yadav and BJP MLA Anand Bhusan Pandey, respectively.
 
In Bihar, the bye-elections were the first electoral test for the RJD and Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) after the collapse of their grand alliance, which also included the Congress. JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar continued to be the Chief Minister of the state after forging an aliance with the BJP.
 
Adityanath said the party accepted the people's verdict in Uttar Pradesh and would work on ironing out the flaws. "There are lessons for us in the results," he said.
 
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Gorakhpur was considered to be the Chief Minister's bastion, with Adityanath having won the seat for five consecutive terms from 1998 onwards. Before that, his mentor Mahant Avedyanath had won the seat for three consecutive terms from 1989 to 1998, the first time as a candidate of the Hindu Mahasabha and then twice as a candidate of the BJP.
 
Adityanath, 45, is the head of the Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, which has a huge following in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and other parts. 
 
Phulpur, which was the constituency of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was won by the BJP for the first time in 2014. After Nehru passed away in 1964, the seat was won by his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit in a bye-election that year and retained by her in 1967. V P Singh, who served as Prime Minister in 1989-90, had won the seat as a Congress candidate in 1971.
 
Samajwadi Party leader and former state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav thanked the people of Uttar Pradesh for the victory as well as BSP leader Mayawati for her support. Mr. Yadav met Ms. Mayawati to convey his gratitude to her and her party.
 
Ms. Mayawati's decision to back the Samajwadi Party nominee in the bye-elections caught the BJP unawares. Adityanath called their understanding as the coming together of "a snake and a mongoose", but it was the Opposition which had the last laugh today. The arrangement between the two parties has given rise to speculation about a grand alliance by the Opposition parties against the BJP and its allies in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
The BJP, on its part, tried to explain the defeat by saying that the low turnout of voters -- 49% in Gorakhpur and 38% in Phulpur -- was a factor. The party's leaders also said they did not anticipate the understanding between the SP and the BSP and could not respond to the new situation in the short time available to it. The results suggest that the BSP was able to transfer its votes to the SP candidate.
 
The Congress candidates -- Sureetha Kareem in Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra in Phulpur Lok Sabha -- ended up losing their deposits.
 
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BJP's Biplab Kumar Deb sworn in as Chief Minister of Tripura

 
Biplab Kumar Deb is new Chief Minister of Tripura
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Biplab Kumar Deb was today sworn in as the 10th  Chief Minister of Tripura at a ceremony that was attended by, among others, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who assured the people that the new government would work for the welfare of all citizens.
 
Mr. Deb was administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Tathagata Roy in the ceremony that was held at the Assam Rifles ground here.
 
Mr. Jishnu Deb Burman, a veteran BJP tribal leader, took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister. Seven other Cabinet Ministers were also sworn in.
 
Others present on the occasion included BJP President Amit Shah, senior party leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh and the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states.
 
The BJP had won an impressive victory in the February 18 elections to the state legislative assembly, winning 35 of the 59 seats for which polling was held, ending 25 years of Left Front rule. The BJP's partner, the tribal-based Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), picked up eight seats, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist), could get only 16 seats.
 
Mr. Deb, 48, has been the state BJP president since January 2016 and had led his party in last month's elections. He has been elected to the Assembly from Banamalipur constituency.
 
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Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Mr. Modi said the 2018 Tripura assembly elections would be always discussed by people in the history of India.
 
“I am here to assure the people of Tripura that this BJP Government is for people who voted for us and for those who did not vote for us. Elections are over and we have to look ahead. We will serve every citizen of Tripura”, he added.
 
The Prime Minister said that those in the opposition in Tripura today had been in power for long and they surely had a lot of experience. “Ours is a new and fresh team. In age, too, our team is younger. They have Anubhav, we have Umang and Utsah. We have to work together for the progress of Tripura,” he said.
 
He said last month's elections in Tripura as well as those in Meghalaya and Nagaland had renewed focus on the North-East.
 
He assured the full support of the Central Government to the state of Tripura and said the BJP and the Government would take all sections of society  together and work to fulfil the dreams of the people. "Tripura's dreams are our dreams as well," he said.
 
"It feels like the state is celebrating Diwali. We are lighting the lamp of progress and prosperity. There is new vigour and enthusiasm here. I congratulate all those who have taken oath and wish them the very best as they begin their work," he added.
 
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Modi says Govt. focused on improving Ease of Living for common citizens

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today on Saturday the Union Government had focused on improving the "Ease of Living" for the common citizen and all its schemes and programmes were oriented towards this end.

 
Modi launches Amma scooter scheme for working women in Tamil Nadu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Union Government had focused on improving the "Ease of Living" for the common citizen and all its schemes and  programmes were oriented towards this end.
 
"Be it financial inclusion, easy availability of credit for farmers and small business, healthcare or sanitation, this is the basic mantra, with which the NDA Government at the Centre is working," he said at a function to launch the Amma Two-Wheeler Scheme at Kalaivanar Arangam here on the occasion of the 70th birth anniversary of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
 
The scheme for subsidised scooters for working women was launched in the presence of Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister E. K. Palaniswamy and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.
 
Mr. Modi said the two-wheeler scheme and the planting of 70 lakh saplings in  the state on Ms. Jayalalithaa's birth anniversary would go a long way towards the empowerment of women and the  protection of nature.
 
"When we empower the women in a family, we empower the entire house-hold. When we help with a woman's education, we ensure that the entire family is educated. When we facilitate her good health, we help keep the entire family healthy. When we secure her future, we secure the future of the entire home. We are working in this direction," he said.
 
Referring to the various schemes launched by the Union Government, Mr. Modi said more than 11 crore loans had been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. An amount of Rs. 4.6 lakh crore had been given to people without any bank guarantee and, most importantly, seventy per cent of the beneficiaries are women, he said.
 
"The success of this scheme, therefore, is proof that the women of India are now stepping out of the age-old shackles, and seeking self-employment. We have taken a number of other steps, too, for women empowerment. In the recent Union Budget, we announced that the EPF contribution for new women employees will be reduced from 12 percent to 8 percent for three years. The employer contribution will remain 12 percent," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, under the Stand Up India scheme, women entrepreneurs will be given loans worth Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore. He said a change has been made in the Factories Act and the Centre has suggested to the States that they allow women to work in the night shift as well. He said the Government had also extended maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
 
Under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, the registry of the house is done in the name of the woman, he said. The Jan Dhan Yojana has also benefited women in a big way. Out of 31 crore Jan Dhan Bank Accounts, 16 crore are of women, he said.
 
He said the percentage of total bank accounts held by women had gone up from 28 percent in 2014, to 40 percent now. "The Swachh Bharat Mission has given women respect and dignity, which is their right .Rural sanitation coverage in the country has expanded from 40 percent to 78 percent. We worked in a mission mode, to provide toilets for girl children in all government schools," he said.
 
"The schemes of the Union Government are protecting nature, even as they are empowering people. 29 crore LED bulbs have been distributed so far under the Ujala scheme. They have led to a saving of 15 thousand crore rupees in electricity bills. They have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by a significant amount.
 
"The Union Government has so far given over 3.4 crore free gas connections under the UjjwalaYojana. As women benefit from a smoke-free environment, the reduction in kerosene usage is also helping the environment. Nine and a half lakh women in Tamil Nadu have benefited so far, from this scheme," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said that, keeping in mind the issues of gas supply and sanitation in rural areas, the Union Government has come up with the Gobar-Dhanscheme. He said the aim is to convert animal dung and agricultural waste into compost, bio-gas, and bio-CNG. This will raise incomes, and reduce expenditure on gas, he said.
 
The Prime Minister said projects worth more than Rs. 24,000 crore were currently being implemented by the Centre in Tamil Nadu. "All these projects have begun after the NDA Government assumed office.  They include solar power plants, crude oil pipelines, National Highways, and port-related works. More than Rs. 3,700 crore have been sanctioned for the Chennai Metro Rail, he said.
 
He said that, when there was a Congress-led Government at the Centre, Tamil Nadu had received Rs. 81,000 crore under the 13th Finance Commission. After the NDA came to power, Tamil Nadu received Rs. 1.80 lakh crore rupees under the 14th Finance Commission, an increase of about 120 percent.
 
Mr. Modi said the Government is working to provide a home to every poor person by 2022. About one crore houses have been built in the last three years, he said.
 
He said Tamil Nadu had been given about Rs. 700 crore in 2016-17, and about Rs. 200 crore in 2017-18, for rural housing. For urban housing, the State has been given over Rs. 6000 crore, he said.
 
"Farmers in Tamil Nadu have also benefited from the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. I am told that claim amounts worth over 2600 crore rupees have been given to farmers in Tamil Nadu so far, under this scheme.
 
"The Union Government is working towards modernization of fishing in Tamil Nadu. Under the Blue Revolution Scheme, we are providing financial assistance to fishermen for long liner trawlers. Last year, we gave the State Government 100 crore rupees, to convert over seven hundred and fifty boats to long liner trawlers. Besides making their lives easier, such trawlers will also help the fishermen earn more.
 
"India's vast ocean resources, and long coast-line offer immense possibilities. The Union Government is working on the Sagarmala programme, to overhaul our logistics sector. This will reduce the cost of both domestic and foreign trade. It will also benefit people living along India's coast-line.
 
"We have announced the Ayushman Bharat scheme in the recent Union Budget. Each poor family will be given the facility of free medical treatment upto a cost of 5 lakh rupees per year, at identified hospitals. This will help 45 to 50 crore people across the country.
 
"The Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Beema Yojana and the Jeevan Jyoti Yojana have provided insurance cover to more than 18 crore people. We have also taken other steps such as providing medicines at economical rates, through more than 800 Jan Aushadhi Kendras.
 
"We remain committed towards working hard in bringing a positive change in the lives of people," he added.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr. Modi visited the Union Territory of Daman & Diu, where he launched various development projects worth Rs. 1,000 crore. He also distributed certificates to beneficiaries of programmes.
 
Addressing a public meeting, Mr. Modi urged the people of Daman to  continue giving topmost importance to cleanliness as the opportunities in tourism increase when there is cleanliness. He congratulated the people and local administration for making Daman Open Defecation Free (ODF)  He said that the manner in which Daman has taken to cleanliness as a mass movement, using e-rickshaws and CNG, is a shining example for the country.
 
Lauding the inclusive culture of Daman, he said that Union Territory had become a mini-India, with people from all over the country living and working there. He said that the Government is taking several steps for the welfare of fishermen and his entire emphasis is on the 'blue revolution' inspired by the commitment to bring a positive difference in the lives of fishermen.
 
The Prime Minister inaugurated Air Odisha's flight connecting Ahmedabad with Diu under the UDAN scheme. He flagged off Pawan Hans helicopter services from Daman to Diu through a video link.
 
He presented the  Badhai kit to a newly born girl child under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao yojana. He handed over certificates to women given free driving training by Daman and Diu administration and cycles to school going girls. He distributed permits for CNG driven vehicles. He distributed certificates to the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana, Grameen and Urban, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Suraksha Yojana  and Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana. He also flagged off E-Rikshaws, Pehli Savari and Ambulances.
 
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Modi says Defence Industrial Corridor will be set up in UP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that one of the two Defence Industrial Corridors announced in this year's Budget would be established in Uttar Pradesh with likely investments of up to Rs. 20,000 crore which would help in the development of the state, especially the Bundelkhand region.

 
Modi praises Yogi for bringing positivity in Uttar Pradesh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said one of the two Defence Industrial Corridors announced in this year's Budget would be established in Uttar Pradesh with likely investments of up to Rs. 20,000 crore which would help in the development of the state, especially the Bundelkhand region.
 
Delivering the inaugural address at the Uttar Pradesh Investors' Summit 2018 here, he said the corridor -- which will cover Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi and Chitrakoot -- would provide jobs to nearly 2.5 lakh people.
 
Mr. Modi said that the organisation of such a major event in Uttar Pradesh, with the participation of so many investors, was indicative of the change that has come about in the state. He congratulated the State and its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for establishing itself on the path of development and prosperity in such a short timeframe.
 
He said the State is blessed with an abundance of resources and capabilities. He noted its strengths in agriculture. He complimented Yogi Adityanath for changing the negative atmosphere in the State, to one of positivity and hope. He said the State is making appropriate policies for various sectors. He said the State Government is serious about fulfilling the promises made to farmers, women and youth.
 
He said the State is working on a “One District, One Product” scheme. He said the Union Government’s schemes such as Skill India Mission, Stand Up India, Start Up India and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, will prove useful in implementing the “One District, One Product” scheme.
 
He said the Union Government’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Scheme would help reduce wastage in the agriculture sector. He said the State had immense potential in ethanol production, due to large sugarcane cultivation.
 
The Prime Minister said that the Kumbh Mela to be organized next year at Prayag, would be the largest such event of its kind in the world.
 
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Mr. Modi referred to the many strengths and attractions of Uttar Pradesh -- the chikan work of Lucknow, jari and zardosi of Varanasi, brassware of Moradabad, glassware of Firozabad, pethas of Agra and the perfumes of Kannauj; its places of tourist importance such as Agra, Ayodhya, Mathura; its mighty rivers Ganga and Yamuna; and its educational institutions like IIT Kanpur, IIM Lucknow and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
 
He pointed out that it was the number one state in production of foodgrains, sugarcane, milk and potatoes; number two in vegetables and number three in fruits; and among the top states in the small scale industries sector.
 
He stressed the need for the state to develop a better work culture and a business culture and introduce investment-friendly policies to take full advantage of its enormous potential.
 
Mr. Modi referred to the many projects under implementation, including plans for two new international airports at Khushinagar and Jhevar in the state, new airports at Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bareily, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Moradabad, Aligarh and Azamgarh, and so on.
 
He said that when the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors as well as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial corridor, all of which will pass through Uttar Pradesh, are completed, they will give a major boost to the state's economy.
 
Similarly, work was on on the Haldia-Varanasi national waterway and for metro rail projects in Meerut, Kanpur and Varanasi, and all these projects would help create a world class transport infrastructure in the state, he said.
 
Stating that Gujarat was the first state to host investor summits, a trend that has now spread to all the states, he stressed the importance of setting up a monitoring mechanism to ensure that MoUs are translated into projects on the ground.
 
Finland, the Netherlands, Japan, Czech Republic, Thailand, Slovakia and Mauritius are the partner countries at the two-day summit.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind will address the valedictory session of the summit tomorrow.
 
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