BJP retains Karnataka as defectors win big in bypolls
Voters in Karnataka handed a decisive mandate to help stabilise the four-month old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by B.S.Yediyurappa, over contentions of political morality as it registered victory in 12 out of the total 15 constituencies in the bypolls.

The mandate in which 11 out of the 13 disqualified legislators won inspite of their role in bringing down the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government allegedly for personal gain, indicating that engineering defections is indeed a sustainable political strategy that could pave the way for similar actions in other states.

Monday’s results will take BJP’s tally to 116 (excluding the speaker) in the 224-seater house and giving the party much needed relief after it lost Maharashtra last month. The party also enjoys the support of independent legislator taking its tally to 117 with two seats remaining vacant.

“In the remaining three and a half years, I along with my cabinet and legislators will give good governance and aim to win 150 seats in the next elections," an ecstatic Yediyurappa said in Bengaluru.

True to his word, Yediyurappa said that those legislators who resigned from the coalition and stood by the BJP will be given ministerial berths. The BJP had left 16 berths vacant of the total 34 to placate the rebels.

Party leaders and analysts says that voters had to either back Yediyurappa by overlooking the BJP’s role in bringing down Kumaraswamy or vote against them and plunge further into a political crisis since the Congress and JD(S) had snapped ties, leaving no alternative to take over the reins of the government. Yediyurappa’s plea to the dominant Lingayat community for support paying off and keeping him in power after he was forced to step down from the top office three times in the past.

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17.60% polling recorded till 11 in 15 bypoll-bound constituencies in Karnataka
The 15 bypoll bound constituencies in Karnataka recorded an average voting of 17.60% at 11 am, according to state election authorities.

The high profile three way contest between disqualified legislator N.Nagaraju (M.T.??, who defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), independent Sharath Kumar Bache Gowda and Padmavathi Suresh of the Congress in Hosakote recorded polling of 22.39% at 9 am.

Though all 15 constituencies have seen fierce contests, this particular seat, about 35 kms from Bengaluru, has seen splurging of money and goodies by its three candidates who have declared assets of ₹1200 crore (Nagaraju), ₹138 crore (Sharath Bache Gowda) and ₹424 crore (Padmavathi Sures).

A video of Nagaraju barging into one of the polling booths and demanding to see identification cards of election officials on Thursday led to some confusion and arguments between the candidate and agents.

Reports of minor scuffles and allegations of misconduct was reported from a few other constituencies. The bypolls were necessitated after 17 Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) resigned, allegedly at the behest of the BJP, from the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government leading to its collapse.

The BJP fielded 13 out of the 15 rebels to help keep the four month old B.S.Yediyurappa-led government from meeting the same fate as the previous dispensation.

From giving lofty grants to dedicating the entire governments resources including the cabinet to help the disqualified legislators win, Yediyurappa has left little to chance to help keep his government afloat. Yediyurappa requires at least six seats currently to save his minority government.

Ranibennur constituency in Haveri district recorded 19.08% polling. The Congress candidate and former Karnataka assembly speaker K.B.Koliwad’s home was raided by Income Tax (I-T) department soon after campaigning ended, according to a report in The Hindu.

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SC upholds former Karnataka speaker’s decision to disqualify 17 Cong-JD(S) MLAs
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of former Karnataka assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), legislators. The apex court, however, rejected Kumar’s decision to disallow the lawmakers from contesting polls.

Seventeen rebel Congress- JD(S) legislators had moved the apex court challenging their disqualification by the then assembly speaker in July.

The legislators had resigned amid growing dissent, toppling the previous Congress-JD(S) rule in July. After days of uncertainty, Kumar not only accepted the resignations but disqualified them, ruling that they cannot return to contest the bypolls. This was challenged by the rebels in the apex court.

The court’s decision came ahead of the bypolls scheduled to be held in 15 assembly seats in Karnataka on 5 December. The Election Commission (EC), in September, had deferred the bypolls until the SC decided the fate of the 17 disqualified legislators. The bypolls were earlier to be held on 21 October.

The nomination process for the bypolls in 15 of the total 17 vacant constituencies of Karnataka commenced on Monday. The three main political parties--Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and JD(S)--are yet to finalise their candidates for an election that will determine the future of the three-month old B.S.Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state.

The Congress and the JD(S) have been embroiled in their own internal battles and problems affecting probably its biggest opportunity to bring down the BJP that came to power after it allegedly capitalised on simmering dissent in the opposition ranks and engineered defections that led to the collapse of the 14-month old H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government.

Yediyurappa became the biggest beneficiary of the coalition’s collapse and has the most to lose if he cannot contain the growing voices of dissent within his own party and secure at least eight victories out of the total 15 to continue in power.

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Shivakumar, accused in money laundering case, gets a hero's welcome in Bengaluru
Bengaluru: Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka cabinet minister D.K. Shivakumar arrived in Bengaluru on Saturday to a rousing welcome, fifty days after he was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on money laundering charges.

Hundreds of his supporters lined the streets and the party office to welcome the leader, who they believe is a target of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s witch hunt.

"If I have done anything wrong or not obeyed the law, let god and the law punish me," Shivakumar said at a press conference in the party office.

Sporting a beard, not appearing as belligerent as before his jail term and sometimes choking on his words, Shivakumar appeared to bask in the affection of hundreds of supporters who turned up at the airport to receive him after 50 days. It took the leader over four hours to cross the 35 kms distance from the airport to state Congress office as supporters had gathered near the toll and enroute, forcing the convoy of hundreds of bikes and cars, to stop every few kilometers. The convoy and its frequent stops causing massive pile up of traffic on the busy airport road.

Former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) H.D. Kumaraswamy met Shivakumar at the airport. Congress leader Siddaramaiah was conspicuous by his absence.

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Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar sent to ED custody till 13 September
The special CBI court on Wednesday sent Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar to Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody till 13 September in connection with a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dayan Krishnan appeared for the former Karnataka minister. Additional solicitor general K.M. Nataraj appeared for the Enforcement Directorate.

"Pursuant to summons issued to him, he appeared...but he remained evasive and did not reveal the truth." ASG K.M. Nataraj had submitted.

Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka minister, D.K.Shivakumar was produced before special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on Wednesday.

He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday after almost four days of rigorous interrogation over charges of money laundering.

Multiple agencies have been probing Shivakumar’s assets for almost two years now.

In August 2017, the Income Tax (I-T) department raided several premises owned by the Congress leader, his family and associates and claimed to have unearthed crores of rupees in unaccounted income.

His home in Sadashivanagar, an upscale neighbourhood in Bengaluru, was raided when he was shielding around 40 Congress legislators from Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in August 2017. Shivakumar had attracted all the attention on himself and his ability to shield legislators from Karnataka and other states from alleged poaching attempts by political rivals and lodging them in plush hotels, especially Eagleton Golf resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Vokkaliga community takes to streets, rallies against Shivakumar’s arrest
Around 30,000 people on Wednesday took part in coordinated protests in Bengaluru by Opposition parties and the powerful Vokkaliga community against the arrest of senior Congress leader and former Karnataka minister D.K. Shivakumar.

The Congress leader was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 3 September in connection with a money laundering case.

Wednesday’s protests marked one of the largest popular mobilizations since the early 1990s by the Vokkaliga community, which is trying to reassert its dominance in the caste-driven politics of the state.

Influential seers from Vokkaliga mathas (monasteries), as well as other leaders are trying to portray Shivakumar as the victim of an alleged political vendetta targeted at Vokkaligas by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president and home minister Amit Shah.

“The message has gone to whoever it was supposed to. This is only a sample," Nanjavadhutha Mahaswamiji, a prominent seer of the community declared at Freedom Park, where the protests culminated after a 4km rally across the city.

Prominent leaders told demonstrators that former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), Shivakumar and the late Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha had been targeted by the BJP by misusing central investigative agencies. This, they said, showed that there was a systematic targeting of the Vokkaliga community that has, in recent years, consolidated behind the JD(S).

The protests appear to have dented the BJP’s plans to end the dominance of the JD(S) in south Karnataka where Vokkaligas can influence the results in several constituencies.

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Making sense of Yediyurappa’s new cabinet in Karnataka
After keeping its state unit on edge for days, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday officially announced its first list of 17 legislators who will be inducted into the B.S.Yedyurappa cabinet.

Rewarding the dominant Lingayat community for backing the party in the assembly as well as the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has included eight people from this caste grouping (including Yedyurappa). Laxman Sangappa Savadi, Jagadish Shettar, V.Somanna, Basavaraj Bommai, J.C.Madhuswamy, C.C.Patil and Shashikala Annasaheb Jolle hail from the Lingayat community, believed to be the single largest in the state.

Shettar is taking up a cabinet minister’s role despite having served as chief minister of the state from July 2012 till May 2013.

The BJP has also included three Vokkaligas in C.N Ashwath Narayan, C.T.Ravi and R.Ashok to help the party make inroads into south Karnataka, where it has little or no presence. The Vokkaligas have, in recent times, consolidated support for former prime minister the H.D.Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and the BJP has been trying to break this dominance.

The party is rewarding Ashwath Narayan and Laxman Savadhi for their alleged role in shielding rebels with whose help the BJP was able to topple the H.D.Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

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Death toll in Karnataka flood fury climbs to 76
The human death toll in Karnataka rose to 76 on Sunday revealing the extent of devastation left by the rains and floods that lashed the state since the beginning of August.

Over 992 livestock were also killed due to the heavy rains in the state and 10 people are still missing.

People slowly started to leave relief camps and return to their homes and villages as rains subsided and flood waters receded throwing up bigger challenges to rehabilitate the displaced population.

The B.S.Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is depending on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government for financial assistance for flood relief. The floods are touted to have caused losses to the tune of ₹50,000 crore in the southern state.

The monsoon has left a trail of destruction in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and other places across the western side of the country snuffing out lives and livelihood of millions.

According to Karnataka disaster management authorities, over the next two days the northern parts of the state is likely to receive mostly moderate rains and will be heavy in isolated places while coastal and Malnad regions are most likely to receive moderate-to-heavy rains during the same period.

The rains, however, have brought in some respite for some parts of the state including Bengaluru. Heavy inflow into dams has ensured that most reservoirs are almost full and will take care of drinking water requirements for India' information technology capital and growth engine of the state that is home to over over 10 million people.

The chief minister has made several appeals seeking funds for flood relief.

Around 103 taluks in 22 districts of the state has been badly hit with over 6.9 lakh hectares of crop loss. Around 75,317 houses are damaged due to the rains.

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BJP government in Karnataka axes Tipu Sultan Jayanti
Bengaluru: The newly formed Karnataka government on Tuesday cancelled celebrations of Tipu Sultan Jayanti, indicating how the B.S. Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led rule would not eulogise any aspect of the 18th century controversial ruler of erstwhile Mysuru.

The orders coming barely a day after Yediyurappa proved his majority in the legislative assembly and almost three years after the Congress government initiated the celebrations.

Ironically, Yediyurappa had addressed his first press conference after his swearing in on Friday while facing a portrait of Tipu Sultan in the conference room of Vidhana Soudha.

The order states that there have been several protests in various parts of the state against the celebration of Tipu Jayanthi, especially in Kodagu district. The people of the coffee growing district, are opposed to the celebrations and two people had died as a result when the protests turned violent in 2016.

"In the backdrop of all this, the cabinet has decided that Tipu Sultan celebrations by the Kannada and culture department have been canceled with immediate effect," the order added.

K.G.Bopaiah, the BJP legislator from Virajpet in Kodagu sought that Tipu Jayanthi be cancelled.

The order putting the Congress and BJP, that resolved to work together for the development of the state, on a collision course over the contentious topic. The new government has also been accused of scrapping works and appointments made during the previous government, that is likely to add to the commotion on Wednesday, when the legislature is scheduled to reconvene. The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had initiated government sponsored celebrations on 10 November, since 2016.

"For three years continuously we have celebrated it and the people of Karnataka, too, have accepted it. He was a man who fought the British. According to me, he is the first freedom fighter, " Siddaramaiah said in Bengaluru.

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Karnataka speaker Ramesh Kumar clears all hurdles for BJP ahead of floor test
Karnataka assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Sunday disqualified 14 legislators from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), removing the last remaining hurdle for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is scheduled to prove its majority in the Lower House on Monday, the day the finance bill is also to be taken up by the assembly.

Sunday’s disqualification takes the total number of vacancies in the assembly to 17, including the three legislators, Ramesh L. Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli and R. Shankar, who had been disqualified earlier. This brings the strength of the House to 208, including the speaker.

“The respondents thus cease to be members of the Karnataka legislative assembly with immediate effect from the date that is 28 July 2019 till the expiry of the term of this assembly that is the 15th legislative assembly of Karnataka," Kumar announced on Sunday.

Kumar himself may have to step down if the BJP moves a motion against the speaker, but his ruling is likely to hurt the rebels and their aspirations of landing top offices in the Opposition’s rule.

The rebels have denounced the ruling and will challenge it in the courts.

It remains to be seen if more people from the coalition benches will abstain from the floor test on Monday. B. Nagendra, the Congress legislator from Ballari, is still in hospital. It also remains to be seen if expelled Bahujan Samaj Party legislator N. Mahesh will be present in the House during the vote.

The speaker’s ruling has helped the BJP to avoid a crisis. Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa can prove his majority with just the BJP members and will not have to disappoint his own legislators by accommodating the demands of any new entrants for cabinet berths.

However, analysts say that the BJP might be in for trouble if the ruling barring the re-entry holds good. The party will have to now worry about winning most of the bypolls to retain majority when all vacancies are filled up.

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With a new spelling, Yediyurappa takes oath for fourth time
BENGALURU: Bhookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, the 76-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president, was sworn in on Friday as the Karnataka chief minister for a record fourth time, following a power tussle and an unexpected twist.

Even before being sworn in, the Lingayat strongman had changed the spelling of his surname, swapping a ‘d’ for an ‘i’ to make it Yediyurappa, apparently to ward off any bad omen associated with the unlucky ashada month.

The hope apparently is that the change in spelling would allow him to occupy the post for a longer period than what he has managed so far— he has not been able to complete a full term in office in his previous three terms.

The move is set to be tested on Monday, when he has to prove his majority in the assembly.

The swearing-in comes three days after the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition lost a confidence motion, forcing the 14-month-old government to make way for the BJP, which had emerged as the largest single party in last year’s assembly elections.

The decision by the BJP to approach the Karnataka governor came a day after assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified three Congress legislators—Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli and R. Shankar—under the anti-defection law. The speaker is yet to decide on the fate of at least 14 other rebel MLAs—one of the reasons that had forced the BJP to restrain itself from forming the government.

Hailed for his tenacity, Yediyurappa, said analysts , could have remained in power for longer had he not rushed to occupy the chair last year. He was forced to resign after just two days as chief minister in May 2018.

In 2007, he had to step down barely seven days after the BJP’s then ally, JD(S), withdrew support.

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Karnataka: Monsoon session may see heated exchange over trust vote, resignations
Bengaluru: The Karnataka legislative assembly that reconvened on Monday, after the weekend, is expected to witness heated exchanges and drama as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will look to corner the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) coalition over the resignations of its legislators and trust vote.

With a total of 16 resignations so far since 1 July, the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition is facing an imminent collapse even though Congress and JD(S) leaders remain confident of saving the year-old government. The BJP had asked the speaker to fix a time for the trust vote on Monday.

Kumaraswamy’s decision to seek a trust vote has spooked the BJP, which until Friday was certain of forming the next government within weeks, if not days.

Though the Congress appears to have convinced senior leader Ramalinga Reddy, the coalition continues to face a risk of crumbling if assembly speaker, K.R.Ramesh Kumar, does accept the resignations.

“I will attend the assembly today. News that I have left for Mumbai is false," Reddy said on Monday, countering updates on TV channels that said the seven- time legislator from Bengaluru was on his way to join 14 other rebels in Mumbai.

Of the 16 legislators who have resigned so far, 14 are currently holed up in an upscale Mumbai hotel and have refused to meet or entertain any outreach by the Congress. The rebels on Monday wrote a letter to the Powai police station asking them not to allow any Congress delegation entry into hotel premises as they “anticipate serious threat from them".

Meanwhile, all three political parties have lodged their respective legislators in plush hotels across Bengaluru to shield them from alleged poaching attempts from the other side.

But even in the face of possibly its worst ever crisis, most Congress leaders appeared nonchalant. Siddaramaiah was seen joking as he entered Vidhana Soudha along with Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao and other leaders.

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Two Congress MLAs resign from Assembly in Karnataka
Bengaluru: In a setback to the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka, two Congress MLAs on Monday quit the Assembly further bringing down the coalition numbers in the House.

Vijayanagar MLA, Anand Singh, met Governor Vajubai Vala and submitted his resignation. Copy of it was sent to Speaker Ramesh Kumar. Hours later, Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been sulking for the last few months over not being made a minister, also resigned from the Assembly.

Jarkiholi reportedly submitted his resignation to Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar.

"I met the Governor and tendered my resignation, I gave a copy to him. I will give a copy to the Legislative Assembly speaker as well. I am not hungry for power," Singh told reporters here after meeting the Governor.

Singh said he resigned because CM Kumaraswamy had signed a deal with the Jindal South West Holding Ltd (JSW Steel), the Mumbai-headquartered company, despite his and other leaders repeated protests.

"I had earlier said that if JSW steel had got a lease-cum-steel deal then I would resign. This is against the interest of the state. I had requested the government not to go ahead with it. The government's responsibility was to ensure and uphold the interests of the people," he said.

"Anil lad is also with me. He is also supporting me," he added about the Bellary MLA from Congress.

With the Speaker claiming he has not got any resignation, Singh clarified that he had sent a copy of his resignation to the Speaker. "I will tender my resignation again to the Speaker if he has not got it yet."

With the resignation of Singh and Jarkiholi, the strength of Congress has come down to 76 in the state Assembly.

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In revamp, JD(S) names H.K. Kumaraswamy as Karnataka unit chief
BENGALURU: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday named six-time legislator H.K. Kumaraswamy as the party’s new state president. The move is part of an effort to rebuild the party after its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

Kumaraswamy, who represents Scheduled Castes, was made in-charge of the Vokkaliga-backed party, as it faces an existential threat with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) breathing down its neck.

The JD(S) also named former legislator Madhu Bangarappa as its working president. Chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil was named the leader of JD(S)’s youth wing.

Nikhil’s elevation coincides with that of Udhayanidhi Stalin, the actor son of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M.K. Stalin. Udhayanidhi was made the head of the youth wing of DMK.

Nikhil had unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections against independent candidate Sumalatha Amarnath (Sumalatha Ambareesh) from the Mandya parliamentary seat.

“At 11am today I got a call from party leaders and I didn’t expect this at all. I had said a few days ago in Malavalli that if I work as a diligent party member, only then should I be given any post," Nikhil said in Bengaluru.

His appointment will help retain some balance as the Gowda household witnesses a battle for dominance between Kumaraswamy and his brother H.D. Revanna.

Revanna’s son Prajwal was the sole winner for the JD(S) in the Karnataka Lok Sabha polls.

Prajwal, who congratulated the new president and other office bearers, said in Delhi that he was not aware of Nikhil’s appointment, indicating that all was not well within the family.

However, the JD(S) have bigger problems, especially with its alliance with the Congress perpetually in trouble, mostly emanating from within the latter’s ranks.

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BJP to intensify protest against land-to-JSW Steel
The state BJP on Sunday said the party would intensify its agitation against the state government’s move to hand over 3,667 acres land to JSW Steel in coming days, even as its the saffron party concluded two-day dhana by taking out a protest march.

BJP leaders and workers led by state party president B S Yeddyurappa took out a march from Anand Rao Circle to the chief minister’s residence, shouting slogans against the coalition government.

The protesters wanted to stage a dharna in front of chief minister’s residence. But they could not do so as the police took them into preventive custody near Shivananada Circle.

“The BJP is not against giving land to the company on lease. But the government wants to sell the land at a throwaway price. Even the Congress and the JD(S) leaders such as H K Patil and A H Vishwanath are against the deal. The government’s keenness to give the land proves that it has received kickbacks,” Yeddyurappa said while addressing the partymen.

The BJP also made use of the protest to mount attack on the government on other issues such as the IMA cheating case, crop loan waiver and drought.

“Many big leaders of the Congress are involved in IMA case. Minorities Welfare Minister B Z Zameer Ahemd Khan was said to be close to IMA founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan. So, the government has been trying to hush up the case by setting up an SIT,” Yeddyurappa said. The BJP has been demanding a CBI probe into the issue.

The government has failed to provide relief to the drought-affected people, especially farmers. The aggrieved people in rural areas have migrated to nearest cities due to lack of water and jobs. The BJP will launch a state-wide protest and force the government to wake up from deep slumber, he added.

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Karnataka: Water levels in dams down, crucial Cauvery meet today
BENGALURU: The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) is set to meet on Tuesday amid a weak monsoon aggravating the storage situation in the reservoirs in the river basin and a severe water crisis gripping Tamil Nadu.

The CWMA had in May directed Karnataka to release 9.19tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil

Nadu for the month of June, subject to inflow in its reservoirs. However, only 1.72tmcft has flown from Biligundlu reservoir to Mettur dam.

“The rain gods are to be blamed. The reservoirs in Cauvery basin are near-empty and we are in no position to release water for cultivation even in Karnataka. We can just manage the drinking water requirement with the available storage,” said MK Venkataram, technical adviser on irrigation to chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.

The four reservoirs — Krishnaraja Sagara (KRS), Harangi, Kabini and Hemavathi — cumulatively received only 1.59tmcft of water between June 1 and 23, compared to 60tmcft of inflow in the same period last year. The live storage of these reservoirs, put together, is just 13.24tmcft at present; last year, it was 59tmcft.

K’taka should release water: TN

Certainly, this is the hour of distress. We hope farmers from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu understand this,” said Rakesh Singh, irrigation principal secretary, who will represent Karnataka in the CWMA meeting. He pointed out that the inflow to the reservoirs has been the lowest in the past 40 years.

Representatives from Tamil Nadu said their state is entitled to its due share and Karnataka should ensure the release of water. “There should be no reason for holding back the share,” said R Subramanian, chairman of Tamil Nadu Cauvery Technical Cell. Tamil Nadu was entitled to 9.19 tmcft in June, and 31.24tmcft in July. With the present storage condition and prediction that monsoon will weaken further in the coming days, officials see little chance of Karnataka complying with schedule of water release.

“Cauvery basin has received 50% deficit rain so far.

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No connection with IMA, says Zameer
Minority Welfare Minister B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan said on Wednesday he had no links with the scam-hit IMA Group, except for having sold them his property for which he received Rs 5 crore.

"That was in 2017. Before that, I had nothing to do whatsoever with this company," he told reporters.

Khan said he visited the IMA's office late last month after receiving WhatsApp messages that the company had defaulted on payments to investors. "In my capacity as the minister for minority welfare, I visited their office to inquire about the complaints. I was shown their gold stash and all that. They said payments had stopped for whatever reason," he said.

"People should've filed a police complaint as soon as the payments stopped, but they kept faith," Khan said and appealed to IMA founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan to resurface. "The government is committed to protecting the interests of the investors. That's why I've been running around for the last two days."

Khan refuted reports that he was targeting Shivajinagar legislator R Roshan Baig. "We're brothers. No one is conspiring against him."

He also said that he, along with other Congress Muslim leaders, had submitted to the chief minister and home minister a list of 25 assets belonging to the IMA promoter. "There's information that there are benami assets also," he said.

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Siddaramaiah slams BJP for not inducting any Dalit MP from Karnataka in Union Cabinet
Five Dalit candidates of the BJP had won from Karnataka in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah has hit out at the BJP for not inducting a Dalit MP from Karnataka in the Union cabinet, saying “upliftment” of the community will not happen just by “big talk”.

Five Dalit candidates of the BJP had won from Karnataka in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

“Upliftment of Dalits won’t happen just by big talk. In the recent elections several BJP candidates have won from reserved constituencies. Best wishes to them.

“Despite this not even one Dalit MP from the state has got representation in the Union cabinet. Is there a bigger injustice or betrayal than this?” Siddaramaiah, who is also the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, tweeted in Kannada.

Calling Siddaramaiah “Twitter Ramaiah,” the Karnataka BJP hit back at the Congress leader and asked him to make veteran party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost in the Lok Sabha polls, the chief minister, if he really cared for Dalits.

People are also aware that it was Siddaramaiah who prevented G Parameshwara (now deputy chief minister) from becoming the chief minister as he was a Dalit, it alleged in a tweet in Kanada.

“Respected Twitter Ramaiah. Don’t show your love towards Dalits only through your tweets. People of the state know that you averted chief minister position to G Parameshwara (now deputy chief minister), as he was a Dalit.

“If you really cared for Dalits make Mallikarjun Kharge, who has lost election- the CM,” the Karnataka BJP tweeted.

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The lotus blooms in Karnataka: How the BJP changed the traditional vote bank formula
For the first time in the state, the BJP secured a 51.4% vote share, while the Congress scraped through with a negligible 31.9%.

May 23 was a day of historical significance for the BJP in Karnataka. The party accomplished what seemed like an unachievable feat just a couple of decades ago – the decimation of the Congress in Karnataka. It was a washout for the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka, as the BJP won 25 out of the 28 constituencies in the state. The results came as a massive embarrassment to the Congress, which had prided itself in reigning over Karnataka for decades at a time. The tables have turned and the status quo has been demolished.

For the first time in the state, the BJP secured a 51.4% vote share, while the Congress scraped through with a negligible 31.9%. Even a decade ago, the BJP in Karnataka could not have achieved such a monumental feat. So what changed in Karnataka in 2019?

The traditional Congress voters shifted to BJP

One of the reasons why the Modi wave swept Karnataka and demolished traditional vote banks is due to the pre-poll alliance the Congress forged with the sub-regional party – the JD(S).

The vote base of the Congress – comprising the OBC, minority and Dalits ended up voting for the BJP. One of the most shocking turn of events was the BJP’s victory in the Old Mysuru region, which was a fortress of the Congress and JD(S).

The Old Mysuru Congress strongholds comprised the Mysuru-Kodagu, Mandya, Hassan, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Tumakuru and Chamarajanagar constituencies.

This time around, in Kolar and Chikkaballapura, two Congress heavyweights KH Muniyappa and Veerappa Moily conceded defeat to the BJP candidates. This was because the members of the Chalavadi community along with the Marasu Vokkaligas voted for the BJP. The situation was the same in Chamarajanagar, where the votes of the OBC community went to BJP’s V Srinivas Prasad.

In Mysuru, Tumakuru and Mandya regions, the Congress vote base, including a certain section of Vokkaligas and the members of the Kuruba community voted for the BJP. This sudden shift in vote base is purely because of the coalition, says political analyst Mahadev Prakash.

“See, the people belonging to backward communities and certain sub-sects of the Dalit community have been unhappy with the Congress. This is because the Vokkaligas were traditionally the community which oppressed and humiliated those belonging to backward castes. There is history of violence and humiliation perpetrated by Vokkaligas that the minorities and OBCs cannot forgive. They will never vote for the JD(S) or anyone who supports the JD(S) simply because it is a party of those belonging to the feudal class. The alliance was a big mistake,” he added.

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Drinking Water Crisis in Mumbai-Karnataka region
BENGALURU: Water from Maharashtra is expected to flow into river Krishna in Karnataka in the next two days, Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy announced on Sunday.

Karnataka had requested Maharashtra to release water from its Koyna or Warna reservoirs to meet the drinking water needs of Belagavi, Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts. The neighbouring state has also requested Karnataka to release water from Almatti reservoir to meet its the drinking water needs, too, across the border.

Kumaraswamy, in a tweet said, the Maharashtra Chief Secretary has sent an official communication to his Karnataka counterpart on the release of water.

On Friday, a delegation of BJP MLAs and MPs from North Karnataka had met Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and sought his intervention to deal with the drinking water crisis in parts of Karnataka. Water Resources Minister D.K.Shivakumar too had been pursuing the request with Maharashtra.
At 69%, Karnataka records all-time high voter turnout
Karnataka has posted an all-time polling high of 68.6% in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, surpassing its previous best of 67.6%, recorded in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

The state also improved its 2014 figure of 67.2% by 1.4 percentage points, data released by the Election Commission of India on Wednesday showed.

The record turnout in the state left both the JD(S)-Congress alliance and the BJP, which won more seats than the other two combined in 2014, confident of improving their individual tallies.

As far as constituencies go, Mandya by breaching the 80% mark has broken all records since 1951 with no constituency having ever crossed 78% mark. Before April 18, 2019, the record for constituencies was held by Dakshina Kannada — 77.15% in 2014 — which barely broke a record held by Mandya previously. Mandya had polled 77.13% in 1984.

Leaders of the JD(S)-Congress combine attributed the high voting percentage to people’s commitment to democracy. BJP leaders, on the other hand, were more inclined to believe that the turnout was indicative of people’s support for the saffron party. Some leaders of the party said there should have been an even greater increase in voting, going by the overall mood, but non-BJP voters did not turn up.

Leaders of the JD(S)-Congress combine attributed the high voting percentage to people’s commitment to democracy. BJP leaders, on the other hand, were more inclined to believe that the turnout was indicative of people’s support for the saffron party. Some leaders of the party said there should have been an even greater increase in voting, going by the overall mood, but non-BJP voters did not turn up.

“It shows people’s faith in democracy, and we are confident that they have made the right choice,” chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said. “That voters have come out in large numbers is also a result of overall increase in awareness,” the CM added.

‘Difficult to predict who will benefit from large turnout’

In South And West, Voters In Two States Make A Strong Statement

Congress’ Priyank Kharge said: “Unlike up to the late 1980s when caste politics was not so divisive in Karnataka, it is very difficult to predict who will benefit from a large turnout until we get the booth-wise details. As an alliance, we’re confident of getting 18-20 seats.”

Arguing that there is a greater awareness among people and that the increase has largely been in rural segments may mean that people have sought change, he said: “Unlike in urban areas, people in rural areas are more concerned about policies. I think this will have an impact.”

BJP state general secretary N Ravi Kumar said the high turnout was because of enthusiastic voting by BJP supporters.

“Barring segments like Tumakuru and Mandya, Congress and JD(S) voters have not come out to vote and this clearly indicates that it is advantage BJP,” he said. “We’ll get a minimum of 20 seats this time and that’s because we have also managed to poach some votes from traditional Congress voters. For example, other than in Mysuru belt, we will get at least 50% of the Kuruba votes too.”
Karnataka govt transfers Mandya deputy commissioner after EC direction
The Karnataka government Tuesday transferred the deputy commissioner of Mandya, from where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil is contesting the Lok Sabha election as JD(S) candidate, following direction from the Election Commission.

P C Jaffer, IAS commissioner for public instruction, Bengaluru, is transferred with immediate effect and posted until further order as deputy commissioner, Mandya district, from where Deputy Commissioner N Manjushree is transferred, the official notification said.

The order is issued as per the direction of Election Commission of India, it said.

Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh had accused Manjushree of "bias".

She had alleged that Kumaraswamy was misusing the office of the deputy commissioner, also the district election officer.

Sumalatha's polling agent had also alleged that the DC did not act on their complaint against flaws in Nikhil Kumaraswamy's nomination papers.

Sumalatha, a multi-lingual actress and widow of actor-turned-politician M H Ambareesh, is contesting as an independent candidate from Mandya, from where her late husband had contested on a Congress ticket.

BJP is supporting Sumalatha, by not fielding any candidate in Mandya.

Congress had denied ticket to Sumalatha, citing coalition compulsions, and ceded the seat to JD(S), as the party had sitting MP there.

However, several Congress leaders and workers, miffed over the party's decision to cede the seat to JD(S), their arch-rival in the Vokkaliga bastion, have extended support to Sumalatha.

It is a high-stake battle for Kumaraswamy in Mandya as his son is the coalition candidate.

Sumalatha is also running a high-voltage campaign, with several Kannada film industry personalities on her side. Film stars like Darshan and Yash are actively campaigning for her.

Mandya will go to polls on April 18, the first phase of the two-phase polling in the state.
Income Tax searches trigger political storm in Karnataka, Kumaraswamy leads protest
Over 20 locations searched across the State, unaccounted cash seized.

Searches by Income Tax officials on premises linked to leaders of the Janata Dal (Secular) and their associates across six districts in south Karnataka triggered a political storm on Thursday. The searches, coming just 20 days ahead of the election, were conducted in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga.

The ruling coalition — the JD(S) and the Congress — closed ranks and condemned the BJP government at the Centre for misusing official machinery against the Opposition. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy later led a protest in front of Income Tax Department offices in Bengaluru.

The action came within hours of Mr. Kumaraswamy predicting a “massive IT search” against JD(S) leaders on Wednesday evening, with I-T sleuths reaching the premises of politically connected businessmen around midnight in Bengaluru.

Soon, the searches expanded, with I-T officials reaching the residences of Minor Irrigation Minister C.S. Puttaraju at Chinakurali in Mandya district early on Thursday. The raids covered the premises of Mr. Puttaraju’s two nephews.

Others targeted were at least five contractors believed to be close to Public Works Minister H.D. Revanna, and two senior PWD engineers in Hassan. Sources said searches by officials continued late on Thursday and were likely to be widened. I-T sources said the searches were based on “credible information” that certain contractors had received favours while works were awarded, and the possibility of these funds being used during the election. In all, 20 locations were searched and a couple of crores of unaccounted money was seized.

CM leads protest

Senior cabinet Ministers of Karnataka, led by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah staged a protest in front of the offices of the Income Tax Department in Bengaluru on Thursday evening as day long raids against Janata Dal (S) leaders and their associates continued across six districts in south Karnataka.

Mr Kumaraswamy said the misuse of Central agencies to create an environment of fear by the BJP was setting the States on a collision course with Centre.

Congress and JDS activists who tried to storm the Income Tax office were arrested and later released as the protest led to massive traffic jam’s on arterial Queens Road.

As the protests continued with colaition leaders accusing the BJP-led NDA at the Centre of misusing the official machinery, the I-T Department, in an unprecedented move, clarified that no sitting minister, MP or MLA had been investigated.
'PM Modi's real surgical strike’: Kumaraswamy on IT raid at minister’s home
No confirmation was given by the I-T department about the number of locations raided even as unconfirmed news reports filtered in of raids in Hassan and Mysuru districts as well.

Hours after Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said he had information that the Income Tax department was set to conduct searches on leaders of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance, minor irrigation minister CS Puttaraju confirmed that the raids had begun at his residences from the early hours of Thursday.

Puttaraju said his family home in Mandya district had been raided and that there were similar searches that were being conducted in Mysuru and elsewhere.

“My house in Chinakurali village has been raided, mine is a joint family so it is a raid on me,” he said.

Kumaraswamy took to Twitter to hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that he is playing a “revenge game”.

Karnataka Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said the IT department has become “a political wing of the BJP.”

“It’s now clearly established that the IT Dept is now a political wing of the BJP. Congress & JDS leaders/supporters are and will be wilfully targeted. Abuse of power & position for political gain is the norm for #ModiShahGoondaRaj,” Rao wrote on Twitter.

No confirmation was given by the I-T department about the number of locations raided even as unconfirmed news reports filtered in of raids in Hassan and Mysuru districts as well.

Kumaraswamy had said on Wednesday that he had information that the I-T department had sought the support of Central Reserve Police Force personnel, rather than the state police as was the practice.

“Around 300-350 Central CRPF personnel have been brought here from different states to conduct raids. Are we indulging in vengeance politics or is the Bharatiya Janata Party?” Kumaraswamy had asked.

Kumaraswamy said he had information that 300 taxis had been readied to pick up the personnel.

“To stoop so low to scare us, we haven’t done anything we haven’t committed any crime. At this late stage, during elections, the games being played by the I-T department... we know what they are playing at. If they think they can work as the agents of a political party they will have to face the consequences,” he said.

Kumaraswamy said that usually, the I-T tax utilised the state police force for raids.

“Getting the CRPF personnel from outside to conduct raids... This will not continue for long and they should realise it,” he said. “I am not protecting anybody and I will not allow vengeance politics of any kind here. If they continue in this manner I will have to protest like West Bengal chief minister [Mamata Bannerjee].”

State BJP spokesperson S Prakash condemned the statements by the chief minister.

“This is Kumaraswamy’s style, which is to not allow officials to do their duty. The I-T department is an independent authority,” he said. “The department’s raid means they will check the books of some persons. So, there is no need for alarm if there is no wrongdoing involved,” he said.

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JD(S) to field Congress candidates
At least four Congress candidates will be contesting on a JD(S) symbol in the Lok Sabha elections. A decision was taken after former prime minister HD Deve Gowda consulted Congress leaders to allow their candidates to contest on a JD(S) symbol in Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Bengaluru North and in Vijayapura.

The JD(S) got these Constituencies in the seat sharing deal with the Congress, but it has no base and no formidable candidates to field.

That is why the party has decided to field Minister RV Deshpande’s son Prashanth Deshpande (Uttara Kannada), Pramod Madhvaraj (Udupi Chikkamagaluru), Shivaraj Tangadagi (Vijayapura) and BL Shankar or an industrialist friend of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (Bengaluru North).

Meanwhile, Minister HD Revanna’s son Prajwal will file his nomination papers for Hassan Lok Sabha on Friday. Earlier there were doubts whether Prajwal, a politically ambitious grandson of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, would contest or not. As Gowda, who will turn 87 on May 1, was unable to find a safe Constituency, Prajwal had offered to back out. At a meeting between Gowda, his sons - Revanna and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, the grandson offered to make way for the family patriarch.

Meanwhile, Minister HD Revanna’s son Prajwal will file his nomination papers for Hassan Lok Sabha on Friday. Earlier there were doubts whether Prajwal, a politically ambitious grandson of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, would contest or not. As Gowda, who will turn 87 on May 1, was unable to find a safe Constituency, Prajwal had offered to back out. At a meeting between Gowda, his sons - Revanna and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, the grandson offered to make way for the family patriarch.

BJP defers list announcement

Discontentment over selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha seat has forced the BJP to defer announcing the list for two days. There has been opposition to a few sitting members including Ministers Ananth Kumar Hegde and Ramesh Jigajinagi, Shobha Karandalaje, Pratap Simha and Naleen Kumar Katil.

There has been opposition to A Narayanaswamy in Chitradurga. Two MLAs, Goolihatti Shekhar and Chandrappa, have revolted openly and demanded that a candidate from the Bovi community be given ticket. In Tumakuru too, there is a stiff resistance to GH Basavaraj being given ticket. In Ballari, the district BJP unit is divided over making Devendrappa as candidate. Another group is demanding that Venkatesh Prasad, brother of Congress MLA Nagendra be given the ticket.

Power disruption, a desperate act: BSY

BJP president BS Yeddyurappa termed the State government’s disruption of Sumalatha’s rally in Mandya as an act of desperation.

“Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s desperation and the fear that son Nikhil would lose the Lok Sabha has made him to stoop to low standards,” he said.
Lok Sabha elections 2019: Sumalatha to announce her decision on March 18
MYSURU: Actor Sumalatha, who is busy touring the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, said she would announce her decision about contesting the upcoming general elections on March 18. “I have not yet taken a final decision on contesting the Lok Sabha elections. I will announce the same within a week,” she said.

Speaking to mediapersons here on Monday, she said that she was being urged to contest the Lok Sabha elections on April 18.

She said Congress leaders, party workers and Ambareesh fans want her to enter politics. Recalling her tour in all assembly constituencies of Mandya, she said she received an overwhelming response from the public. Sumalatha had said that she was mother India to Darshan, who has supported her family and her ambitions. He has asked people to follow her if she contests in the Lok Sabha elections.

Hinting that too many from Sandalwood will campaign for her, she refused to disclose names. She clarified that irrigation minister D K Shivakumar was not pressuring her to contest and advised her to contest from elsewhere.

However, Sumalatha has said she would contest only from Mandya. When asked about Minister H D Revanna's comments, she refused to comment. She said the people of the state were tracking the developments and will soon react.

She said she was happy to know that Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy apologised for Revanna’s remarks and said she entered social media for political reasons. Meanwhile, Sumalatha was given rousing reception during her visit to Nagamangala.

Hundreds of Congress workers, former minister N Chaluvarayaswamy, fans and others burst crackers and welcomed Sumalatha.
Karnataka Lok Sabha elections schedule 2019: Polling on April 18 & 23; results on May 23
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Sunday announced the schedule for Lok Sabha elections 2019 on Sunday evening.

The LS polls in Karnataka will be held in two phases, with 14 constituencies going to the polls in each phase - April 18 and April 23.

The dates for the seven phases are: April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. Counting of votes will be done on May 23.

The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately after the announcement. VVPATs will be used with EVMs at all polling stations in the country.

Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held with Lok Sabha polls. Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will not be held along with the LS polls.

The number of total electorate in the general elections is expected to be 900 million, of which 15 million voters are in the age group of 18-19 years. There will be approximately 10 lakh polling stations across the country as compared to 9 lakh polling stations in 2014.
Karnataka Lawmaker Quits Congress. "Sold Himself To BJP," Says Party
BENGALURU: A Congress legislator in Karnataka who had gone "missing" for several weeks during the political turmoil in the state resigned from the party today. Umesh Jadhav submitted his resignation to the state assembly speaker. The Congress called him a "betrayer" and said that he had "already sold himself to the BJP".
Mr Jadhav is a two-time legislator from Chincholi constituency in north Karnataka's Kalaburagi district.

He submitted his resignation letter without giving any explanation.

Umesh Jadhav and three other Congress legislators - Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumtahalli - surfaced in Bengaluru last month, weeks after they went "missing". The Congress had recommended their disqualification to the assembly speaker.

"Dr Umesh Jadhav's resignation was a forgone conclusion because he had already sold himself to the BJP. He is leaving the Congress party for his selfish motives. He can be called a betrayer," Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters.

The four leaders had kept the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, skipping the budget session of Karnataka assembly last month and defying the party's instructions to attend the two meetings of its legislators on January 18 and February 8.

The opposition BJP has been accused of trying to poach the legislators to bring down the coalition government of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress.

Umesh Jadhav's resignation will not affect the majority of the coalition government.
Special court discharges Karnataka minister in three cases registered by I-T department
BENGALURU: In a big relief for Karnataka water resources minister D K Shivakumar, a special court people’s representatives on Thursday discharged him from three cases registered by the Income tax department.

Special judge allowed the applications filed by the minister seeking discharge from the case, holding that the computation of income tax evasion and assessment proceedings are yet to be completed.

The judge, however, reserved the liberty to the Income Tax department to register the complaint once the assessment proceedings are completed.

DK Shivakumar had sought for discharge from the case claiming that the income tax department could not have launched prosecution even before culmination of assessment proceedings for the year 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

In one of the cases, Shivakumar has also been charged under section 201 of IPC, for destruction of evidence, for allegedly tearing of a sheet of paper during an income tax raid about 18 months ago.

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Air strike will help BJP win 22 seats in Karnataka: BS Yeddyurappa
BENGALURU: Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said the India's air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group inside Pakistan will prove to be a decisive factor for the BJP’s victory in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to reporters prior to attending a meet of the BJP party workers in Davangere and Chitradurga, Yeddyurappa said, "The assault on Pakistan will prove to be decisive for our victory across the country with the Modi wave catching fervour among the youngsters celebrating the attack on the neighboring state and avenging the 44 CRPF jawans killed in Pulwama. I am certain that in Karnataka also we will be able to pull off at least 22 seats after yesterday’s attack and today morning’s effort in bringing down the Pakistan airplane at the border.”

However, the former Karnataka CM claimed that his statement was being reported out of context.

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300 cars gutted in fire near Bengaluru air show
A massive fire in the parking lot opposite the IAF's Yelahanka air base, where the Aero India show is underway, gutted about 300 cars on Saturday, police said. No casualties were reported.

"The blaze is likely to have been caused due to dry grass catching fire aided by high velocity winds," Director General of Police for Fire and Emergency Services M.N. Reddi told IANS.

The fire broke out around noon in the fourth parking lot near the air base's fifth gate where visitors on the fourth day of the 5-day show had parked their vehicles.

As many as 25 fire tenders and 150 firemen battled for two hours to douse the blaze, first limiting the fire's spread by a gap created by removing adjacent cars, Reddi said.

"In all, 300 cars were burnt. Fire is fully extinguished now," he tweeted later.

"Details of damage to vehicles is being ascertained. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of fire," said a statement by the Defence Ministry.

Thick columns of black smoke were seen billowing soon after the flying display of fighters, helicopters and aerobatics by jet trainers, which began at 10 a.m., concluded by noon.

The news of the fire was announced at around 12.30 p.m.

"An announcement by the organisers at 12.30 p.m. only said it was a small fire, but did not mention about the cars catching fire," Shashi Kumar, a city-based engineer visiting the expo, told IANS.

As news of the cars being gutted came, several of the visitors began leaving, fearing their vehicles were among the ones damaged even as the aerial display of about 30 aircraft resumed as per schedule between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

State transport buses were operated to ferry those whose cars were burnt and were stranded at the venue.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government deployed a team of surveyors to assess the damage and process the insurance claims by the owners of the burnt-out cars.

"The state transport department will issue duplicate RCs (registration certificate) and DL (driving licenses) to all those who have lost them in the fire," said Chief Secretary T.M. Vijaya Bhasar in a statement.

The state government has urged the Central government to ask insurance firms to take a lenient view of the incident for claims.

"Alternate parking place has been identified for the show on Sunday," added Bhaskar.

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HD Kumaraswamy Ask Officials To Take Measures To Keep Fire Under Check
KARNATAKA: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday directed the state's Forest Department officials to take preventive measures to keep the forest fires under check.
His instructions come in the wake of the fire tragedy which took place in Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park in Chamarajanagar district on February 23.

"We are closely monitoring the forest fire. The Forest Department is overseeing the preventive action, Mr Kumaraswamy told ANI.

He further said that forest officials and the fire service personnel are trying to control the fire.

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Hospet MLA attack case: Kampli Ganesh remanded to judicial custody
BENGALURU: Congress MLA from Kampli JN Ganesh, who was arrested on Wednesday from a hotel in Somnath in Gujarat, was produced before the chief judicial magistrate's court in Ramanagara in Karnataka and remanded to judicial custody till March 6.

Ganesh had gone missing after attacking his colleague Hospet MLA Anand Singh at a resort on late January 20 night. Ganesh was booked for attempt to murder after Anand Singh gave a statement to police that his colleague attempted to kill him.

According to sources, Ramanagara district police did not seek police custody for Ganesh as they had already completed spot mahajar and recorded Ganesh's statement.

Ganesh's counsel requested the court that Ganesh be lodged in Central Prison, Parappana Agrahara rather than being incarcerated in the Ramanagara district jail. The court acceded for his request and sent Ganesh to Parappana Agrahara prison.

The Kampli MLA was arrested on Wednesday afternoon when he was on his way to have lunch at a hotel near Somnath Temple, Ramanagara district, superintendent of police Ramesh Bhanot said.

Police brought Ganesh to the city on Thursday morning and later took him to Bidadi police station, where the attempt to murder case was registered against him. Police recorded his statement about the incident in the police station, got him to undergo a medical exam at the district hospital and produced him before the court around 3.30pm.

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2 killed as Karnataka MLA CT Ravi's car hits another in Tumkur district
Two people were killed in a collision between two cars near Kunigal town in Tumkur district of Karnataka last night (February 18). In one of the cars, Bharatiya Janata Party Karnataka general secretary CT Ravi was travelling.

The deceased were returning from Kollur Temple in Udipi to Bengaluru. They were urinating on the side of the road when CT Ravi's car hit them and their car.

Four others, including CT Ravi and his driver, were also injured in the accident.

CT Ravi, an MLA from Chikmagalur, was sitting on the left seat. He sustained minor injuries on the chest as he hit the car's dashboard in the accident. He was later discharged from the hospital.

Karnataka BJP media convener S Shantharaman said, "CT Ravi was present at the accident spot till the bodies were taken care of and the injured shifted to a hospital. He left the place only after the police permitted him and the car was taken for further investigation."

S Shantharaman said that CT Ravi was not driving the car, neither does he have any drinking problems.

Friends of the victims claimed that CT Ravi, along with the driver, should be held responsible for the accident.

The driver is currently admitted in the hospital. He will be taken into custody later.

A case in the matter has been registered at Kunigal Police Station under Sections 279, 336 and 304A of IPC.

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Pulwama terror attack: Braveheart from Mandya among martyred CRPF jawans
BENGALURU: A CRPF jawan, H Guru, a native of Mandya district in Karnataka was martyred in the terrorist attack on the force's convoy in Kashmir on Thursday.

Guru, son of Honnayya from Gudigere village in Maddur taluk of the district, was among the over 2,500 jawans travelling in the convoy that was attacked.

He had joined the paramilitary force 7-8 years ago and was deployed in Jharkhand before being posted in Kashmir.

Guru had married just six months back and had recently constructed a home.

He was returning to Srinagar from Jammu after completing his leave. He had joined duty on Sunday, February 10.

Guru had spoken to his mother on phone at noon, hours before the attack. His wife Kalavati was informed about Guru's death in the evening.

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Bengaluru: Hidden portions of audio recording of Operation Lotus leaked
Bengaluru, Feb 13: Karnataka chief minister, H D Kumaraswamy, had released only a part of the audio to expose the designs of opposition leader, B S Yeddyurappa, to lure legislator from Gurmitkal, Naganagouda Kandkur, to join him. Parts of the audio which had not been released by the chief minster have since been available.

Yeddyurappa is heard in the video advising the MLA's son, Sharanagouda, to seek police protection, duly giving the reason to the police that he wants to resign. "The speaker cannot escape from accepting the resignation. During the period the session is on, the speaker would be available, and he has no other option but to accept it. Only one rule that he can press for is that the letter is to be handed over by the MLA himself personally. There is no other condition governing it," Yeddyurappa is heard saying.

Shivanagouda Nayak, MLA of Devadurga, agrees that the speaker is obliged to accept it in 24 hours. He is heard asking Sharanagouda to convince his father to agree to resign, and leave the rest for Yeddyurappa to do. "Once you are mentally prepared, I will speak to Vijayanna. Now you can seek blessings from Yeddyurappa. Another point is that Lingayats should be happy to make one among them the chief minister. Why clinging on to Kumaraswamy from Ramanagara and Hassan?" Shivanagouda is heard commenting.

Yeddyurappa: Mostly the people here are non Lingayat. There is no problem in executing our plan. We would never have invited you and discussed the matter if there was no workable plan. Let your father be here. After you convince him, you can come to Mumbai on your own. Once a total of 15 legislators come together, we can come here. You can come with your father then and tender resignation. Your father need not even come to Mumbai.

Shivanagouda: You have a glimpse of plan. I will speak to him thereafter. You can go ahead without any hesitation. We are with you. One should be able to show courage to move forward. Our leader is with you and we are with you. Our leader is known for not breaking his promises. A person of his stature who abides by his words is rarely seen in political field.

The full text of the audio is expected to be raised in the assembly session and it promises to give rise to another round of ruckus.

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Karnataka Speaker Compares Himself To Rape Survivor Amid Controversy Over Audio Clip
BENGALURU — Karnataka assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar Tuesday compared himself to a rape survivor having to undergo repeated questioning as he referred to repeated charges against him being part of the controversial audio tapes, over which government has announced an SIT.

The speaker made the intervention during the discussions in the assembly over the Special Investigation Team probe into an audio clip showing BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa in a purported conversation to lure a JD(S) MLA in his alleged attempt to topple the Congress-JDS government.

The Speaker, pointing to repeated reference to charges against him, said his “situation was like that of a rape victim, as they too are supposedly questioned about the incident repeatedly.”

The stand-off between the government and opposition continued in the assembly Tuesday over an SIT probe into the audio clip.

Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Monday had announced a comprehensive SIT probe into the audio clip.

He had accepted an “advice” by an emotional Speaker to constitute the Special Investigation Team to probe the episode to “establish the truth” as his name has also been dragged with the charge that he had been “booked” for Rs 50 crore.

The Speaker called for a meeting of floor leaders on Wednesday to resolve the issue, as the BJP stuck to its strong opposition to the SIT, saying it could be used for “political vengeance.”

He decided to convene the meeting at the end of the day long discussion on the issue for the second consecutive day in the Assembly, with both the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and opposition BJP refusing to budge from their positions.

“Lets discuss and try to find a solution,” the Speaker announced as he adjourned the assembly proceedings to Wednesday morning.

The Speaker’s decision came after Yeddyurappa, the leader of the opposition, pointed out that no effort was made by the Chair to seek the opinion of the opposition before deciding on the investigation agency to inquire into the case.

“SIT is being imposed upon us forcefully,” he said.

Yeddyurappa expressed apprehensions about the SIT as it comes under the Chief Minister and said he was firm on his stand to quit politics if it was proved he was present during conversations between the persons in the audio on a “Rs 50 crore offer to book” the Speaker, as alleged by Kumaraswamy.

Accusing the Chief Minister of hatching a conspiracy against him by “twisting facts”, he said Kumaraswamy has released the audio partially, to save his seat.

The BJP has objected to the SIT and insisted on constituting a House committee or a judicial probe. They also saId that the probe cannot be conducted by an agency that is under the Chief Minister as he too was a party in the case.

The political war over charges of horse-trading had escalated in Karnataka on Friday with Kumaraswamy releasing the audio clip.

As the House met for the day, opposition members requested the Chair to reconsider the decision to hand over the probe to the SIT.

Several BJP members, including Yeddyurappa, demanded a probe by house committee or judicial inquiry into the matter.

Kumaraswamy had said that during the purported conversation that there was a mention about a “Rs 50 crore offer to book” the Speaker to give a ruling in favour of MLAs who might resign to help the BJP bring down his government.

Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar alleged that Kumaraswamy was behind the audio conversation as he was the one who sent Sharan Gouda, son of the MLA Naganagouda, who was being lured and he also heard the conversation between the two individuals via a conference call.

“So the CM is the offender, he is the first accused in the case,” he said.

Another senior BJP member Madhu Swamy, questioning the constitution of the SIT, said the probe report can only be submitted to court by the SIT and not to the government or the Chair.

Kumaraswamy expressed surprise about being called A1 by BJP in the case and said that since the leader of the opposition and other members have called him accused, “at least to punish me, a comprehensive inquiry has to happen.”

Hitting out at BJP for suspecting political vengeance on the part of the government and its officials, he asked “did I direct Yeddyurappa and others in the way they did?”

Claiming to enjoy the complete confidence of Congress and JD(S) MLAs, Kumaraswamy spoke of the need to amend the anti-defection law and said if an elected MLA resigns, he should not be allowed to contest elections for five years.

“Such a permanent change has to be brought in,” he said.

Stating that he was also ready for a discussion on the alleged 2014 video CD about the cash for vote allegedly involving him, which was raised by the BJP, the chief minister said he would abide by the Speakers advice on constituting an SIT to probe the audio clip.

The political slugfest broke out as Kumaraswamy on Friday claimed there were two audio clips of recorded telephonic conversation between Yeddyurappa and Sharan Gouda.

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Rebel MLAs from Karnataka Congress return to Bengaluru; claim 'it was all miscommunication'
Bengaluru: Putting an end to the political crisis in Karnataka, five rebel MLAs returned to Bengaluru last night. At least three MLAs have talked to the media and cleared the air over their absence. Cabinet minister in Karnataka government Zameer Ahmed Khan said that party high-command will decide the fate of the 4 dissenting MLAs and added that decision to disqualify them has been taken in the CLP meeting and a letter has already been given to Governor Vajubhai Vala.

Khan accused the BJP of leading them astray from their path and said that they have now realised that the path they had chosen was a wrong one and that they will have to suffer on that path.

Talking to ANI, Karnataka Congress MLA Mahesh Kumathalli said that he had small issues with Congress leaders and clarified that there was some miscommunication. Saying that he was not satisfied with some of the party decisions he further added that he has returned as this is a budget session.

Another disgruntled Karnataka Congress MLA Umesh Jadhav also accepted that he had small issues with party leaders in his constituency. “I will discuss those issues separately. Mallikarjun Kharge is a big leader and I can’t speak anything against them. I'll speak at an appropriate time. I have come to attend the budget session,” he said.

Meanwhile, JD(S) MLA Narayana Gowda claimed that the BJP can never purchase him and added that he can bring 10 BJP MLAs if he wants. The MLA further claimed that he was admitted in hospital after food poisoning and said that he had hospital bills to prove that he is not lying. MLA Ramesh Jharkiholi who had been incommunicado for the past few days also returned to Bengaluru last night.

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Kumaraswamy’s audio tape allegations: Yeddyurappa admits he met Gurmitkal MLA’s son
Mr. Yeddyurappa said he was ready to face any inquiry pertaining to the audio clips.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa, who earlier rubbished the audio clips released by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy as mimicry, took a U-turn on Sunday and admitted that he did meet Sharanagouda, son of JD(S) MLA from Gurmitkal Naganagouda Kandkur.

Speaking to the press persons at Hubballi Airport, Mr. Yeddyurappa however accused Mr. Kumaraswamy of writing the script for the recording.

"Kumaraswamy is indulging in third grade politics. It is true that I met Shankargouda. Kumaraswamy sent the MLA's son to me to make me speak according to their requirements and then used whatever was useful to them. But they have covered up few truths", he alleged.

Mr. Yeddyurappa then referred to the earlier statement of Prajwal Revanna about 'suitcase culture' in JD(S) and said the clip pertaining Mr. Kumaraswamy's demand for money for giving MLC post would be released on Monday. Mr. Yeddyurappa said he was ready to face any inquiry pertaining to the audio clips.

Mr. Kumaraswamy on Friday had released two audio tapes allegedly of the BJP State president trying to lure JD(S) MLA with the promise of money and position.

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HD Kumaraswamy A "Punching Bag": PM Modi's Jibe At Karnataka Coalition
Hubbali, Karnataka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was becoming a "punching bag", as he took a swipe at the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state. Calling the coalition "helpless", PM Modi predicted a similar model for the country if the opposition came into power at the centre.

Addressing a rally at Hubbali, PM Modi said there was not even a single day "when the country doesn't see the natak (drama) of the government", as he launched BJP's campaign for the Lok Sabha polls in the party's north Karnataka stronghold.

PM Modi's visit comes amid the political turmoil in the state, with the BJP being accused of trying to dislodge the coalition government.

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