Newsletter 20th May, 2018





Hopelessly outsmarted by the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) in the numbers game, three-day-old Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Saturday announced his resignation on the floor of the Assembly even before facing the trust vote.

As the House met at 11 am with a mandate to take up the trust vote at 4 pm, as per the orders of the Supreme Court, there was nervous tension in both camps.

Pro tem Speaker KG Bopaiah set aside the convention of allowing members to take oath individually and they were huddled into groups of five to speed up the process to meet the court deadline.

Earlier in the morning, the Supreme Court Bench brushed aside the Congress-JD(S) plea to replace Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker and asked the Assembly secretariat to record the proceedings.

While the JD(S) was able to keep its flock of 37 MLAs together, two Congress MLAs, Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil, had been holed up in a hotel, allegedly ‘kidnapped’ by the BJP. But both arrived in the Assembly at 3.15 pm, much to the relief of Congress benches. The BJP needed at least seven Opposition MLAs to cross-vote, or 14 MLAs to abstain from voting for the party to win the confidence vote. As the day progressed, it became increasingly clear that strategists in the BJP camp had failed to muster either of the numbers.

With the House proceedings being telecast live, as directed by the Supreme Court to ensure transparency, there was no way the BJP could indulge in any hanky-panky to claim majority through a voice vote, using the Speaker as its ally.

What possibly unnerved the BJP was the Congress coming up in a matter of an hour with four video recordings, allegedly involving Yeddyurappa, his son Vijayendra, Janardhana Reddy and Sriramulu, offering allurements of cash and Cabinet berths to Congress MLAs. The allegations were hotly denied by the BJP, but the damage had been done.

Realising the BJP’s game was up, Yeddyurappa got up at 3.45 pm, made an emotional speech and announced he would shortly meet Governor Vajubhai Vala and submit his resignation.





With the fall of BJP’s three-day-old government in Karnataka, H D Kumaraswamy heading the Congress-JD(S) coalition is set to become the chief minister for a second time on May 23.

Governor Vajubhai Vala on Saturday invited Kumaraswamy, who is the leader of Congress-JD(S) joint legislature party, to form the government.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Vala, he said the Governor has directed him to prove the majority on the floor of the House in 15 days but he would do it much before.

Kumaraswamy said the swearing-in ceremony would take place tentatively between 12 and 1.50 pm at Kanteerava stadium on Monday.

Kumaraswamy said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana CM Chandrashekar Rao and several other regional leaders would be invited for the swearing-in ceremony.

Kumaraswamy said modalities relating to government formation and number of ministers, who will be taking oath, would be discussed under the leadership of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and made public on Sunday.

Expressing apprehension that the BJP would again indulge in “operation Kamala (poaching on MLAs)”, he said “I’m aware of it that they will create problem. JD(S) and Congress leaders will take all precautionary measures for it.” He also ruled out any kind of differences among the party cadres on alliance with the Congress.





The Congress humbly acknowledged the need to work with other Opposition allies to keep the BJP away from power across India.

“The Opposition stood against the BJP in Karnataka and stopped it. We will continue to do so. We will work together. The Opposition will unite and coordinate to defeat the BJP and the RSS,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said minutes after Yeddyurappa conceded.

Rahul Gandhi’s public applause of JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda on Saturday marks an important shift in the grand old party’s coalition strategy indicating openness for pre-poll coalitions to consolidate the non-BJP vote. Pre-poll coalitions haven’t been Congress’ style. The party has always preferred post-election pacts.

The Congress president’s fresh take on allies comes at a time when party leaders have privately begun to admit that what TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said immediately after the Karnataka results is right. “Had the Congress and JDS allied, the results would have been different, very different,” she had said.

“My message to the Prime Minister is he is not bigger than India. He is not bigger than the people, than the Supreme Court and the MPs. The PM must stop thinking he’s bigger than all institutions but I am doubtful if he will ever understand this because he has been trained to respect only one institution — the RSS,” Rahul Gandhi said after earlier accusing the PM of encouraging horse trading in Karnataka.

He had said, “The idea of the PM fighting corruption is a blatant lie. He is corruption himself.”

In calculated criticism of the saffron fold, the Congress leader reminisced how BJP leaders, including the pro tem speaker, in Karnataka left the Assembly on Saturday even before the National Anthem was played.

In a message to the people of the state, Rahul also said “I am proud that the BJP and PM have been shown by Karnataka that in India, power, money and corruption are not everything, the will of the people is.”





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged the misguided youths in Kashmir to return to the mainstream and contribute to the development and progress of the country, as he unequivocally declared that development alone was the key to solving all problems that plagued Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi’s pitch for peace and his appeal to stone-throwers and youths wielding the gun came in his centrepiece speech in Srinagar on the second leg of his day-long visit to the state, during which he touched all three regions — Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu —  either inaugurating or laying stones of projects worth Rs 25,000 crore.

The PM delivered a powerful message in Srinagar where he commissioned the 330-MW Kishanganga hydro-electric project. He said the “recent decision on Ramzan ceasefire preceded by withdrawal of cases against thousands of students (charged with stone-throwing) was to mainstream misguided youths, as also to expose external forces instigating terrorism to make those wielding the gun and stone-throwers to inflict wounds on their motherland”.

The developmental theme was woven from his first stopover in the cold desert region of Ladakh, where he laid the foundation stone of the Rs 6,800-crore Zojila tunnel, expected to be Asia’s longest at a height of nearly 12,000 feet, while in Srinagar he inaugurated the Kishanganga project.

The 14-km-long Zojila tunnel promises to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar-Kargil and Leh. It will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila from the present three-and-a-half hours to just 15 minutes.

In Jammu, he inaugurated a new track leading to the Vaishno Devi cave shrine and kickstarted work for the Srinagar Ring Road, besides laying the foundation of the largest-ever hydro power project, Pakal Dul, with a 1,000 MW capacity, in Kishtwar district.

Speaking passionately on the importance of “Kashmiriyat”, PM Modi said former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a fan of the concept, “and so is Modi”. He said the 125 crore population of the country was working towards the “New India concept” and hoped that the people of J&K would become a part of it.

Cautioning against those indulging in violence under the garb of Islam, he said the only way to resolve issues was talks.









China has for the first time landed strategic bombers on an island in the disputed South China Sea, drawing sharp reaction from the United States. China’s air force said that its fighter jets, including an H-6K bomber, had recently conducted take-off and landing training on an island reef in the resource-rich SCS.

The Chinese move invoked sharp reaction from the US, which said that it would “raise tensions and destabilise the region”. A spokesman at the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, called the exercise an act of “China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea”, the Post report said.





Pakistani authorities blocked the circulation of the Dawn daily in many parts of the country, a media watchdog alleged, days after the newspaper published ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s controversial remarks on the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

The interview of Sharif, which reportedly displeased the Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, appeared in Dawn’s May 12 issue and the blocking began on May 15, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said as it condemned the “latest attack on media freedom in Pakistan”.

Sharif’s comments triggered a massive controversy, drawing sharp criticism from all quarters. The National Security Committee (NSC) – Pakistan’s top civil-military body – also condemned his statement in a high-level meeting.

The Press Council of Pakistan notified Dawn’s editor that the newspaper breached the ethical code of practice by publishing content that “may bring into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its sovereignty”.

“The blocking of the distribution of one of the main independent newspapers has yet again shown that the military are determined to maintain their grip on access to news and information in Pakistan,” RSF said.





A political bloc led by populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States who also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq, has won the country’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Saturday.

Sadr himself cannot become the Prime Minister because he did not run for the election, though his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations. His Sairoon electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats.

The nationalist cleric’s success could be a setback for Iran, which has steadily increased its influence in Iraq — its most important ally in the Middle East — since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Sadr capitalised on growing resentment over Tehran-backed governments who failed to improve basic services and build hospitals and schools in a country devastated by the war against Islamic State and by sectarian bloodshed. It was a remarkable comeback for Sadr, who had been sidelined by Iranian-backed rivals and was regarded by US and Iraqi officials as an unpredictable maverick.

He reached out to dispossessed Shi’ites and marginalised Sunnis, and restored links with Sunni neighbours while keeping Iran at bay.









As the May 15 results of Karnataka Assembly elections threw a fractured mandate, the Congress wasted no time in positioning strategists Ashok Gehlot and Ghulam Nabi Azad in Bengaluru to keep the party flock together and to win over the JD(S) even as former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s called up JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, thus outpacing the BJP.

Congress’ political strategists ensured immediate public acknowledgment of support from Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy, who was floored with Sonia Gandhi’s offer of chief ministership. Before that , the Congress had elicited a public statement from CM Siddharamaiah that he would be happy to vacate his throne for anyone his party wanted.

Back in Delhi, Congress’ legal team under Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Singhvi moved fast to challenge Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s “illegal” moves.

As pleaded by Singhvi and MP Kapil Sibal, the court iterated live telecast of Assembly proceedings. In the end, the BJP had to bow out. While Congress’ legal victory was owing to Singhvi and Sibal, its political strategy was skillfully crafted by Gehlot and Azad who had the support of local Congress MLA DK Shivakumar. Shivakumar, one of the richest politicians in India.





Former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday spoke out against the controversial January 12 press conference held by four senior judges of the Supreme Court, saying they “need not look for outside help for resolving their institutional problems”.

Justice Thakur was referring to the presser by Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, who had virtually revolted against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra by levelling a litany of allegations.

The former CJI, who dubbed the presser as a “disturbing” event, said the issues brought into the public domain in the press conference gave the media and the politicians an opportunity to discuss matters which “ought to have been addressed and solved within the confines of the Supreme Court”.

“No political party or media house or politician can be accused of indiscretion when judges of the Supreme Court make a public statement that democracy in the country is in danger,” he said.

Justice Thakur was speaking on the ‘Independence of Judiciary’ at an event organised by an NGO, Global Jurists, founded by former Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir.  Thakur said that instead of appealing to the nation for help, the four judges ought to have used the “tremendous reservoir of talent” available in the apex court for finding solutions to the problems.





Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle were pronounced husband and wife on Saturday by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a glittering union that brought a measure of modern Hollywood glamour into the 1,000-year-old monarchy.

After exchanging vows to love and to cherish “till death us do part”, Harry, 33, sixth-in-line to the British throne, placed a ring of Welsh gold on Markle’s finger before a congregation including Queen Elizabeth, senior royals, and celebrities including U.S. media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

The marriage brings Markle, three years older than Harry and born and raised in Los Angeles, into one of the world’s grandest royal families.

Among celebrity guests, American actor George Clooney and his wife Amal were joined by former soccer star David Beckham, his fashion designer wife Victoria and James Corden, British host of the American TV chat show ‘The Late Late Show’. Other guests included Priyanka Chopra, tennis ace Serena Williams, the siblings of Harry’s late mother Princess Diana, singer Elton John, who sang at Diana’s 1997 funeral, British actor Idris Elba, and two of Harry’s ex-girlfriends.

The royal couple, who met on a blind date in 2016 and fell in love in a tent under the stars in Botswana, tied the knot in a castle that has been home to 39 English monarchs since 1066.

To some Britons, the wedding of a senior member of the royal family to a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white embodied a modern Britain where race or background are no bar to even the most elite and traditional of institutions.





Rahul Tripathi’s half-century and leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal’s four-for helped Rajasthan Royals beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by 30 runs in their Indian Premier League match. The win keeps Rajasthan in the race for playoffs while the Bangalore team has been edged out of the race.

Rajasthan are now fourth in the points table with 14 points while RCB’s campaign is over, thanks to their inconsistent performances in this edition. The Kohli-led Bangalore fell short while chasing 164/5 and were eventually skittled out for 134.

In the other match yesterday, Kolkata Knight Riders beat Hyderabad Sunrisers. Opting to bat, hosts SRH were restricted to 172/9 after a flying start at their home ground in Hyderabad.

Playing in their crucial final league game, KKR held their nerves to chase down a target of 173 with two balls to spare.

If young medium pacer Prasidh Krishna’s three wickets in the last over was highlight of KKR’s rally with the ball, openers Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine’s scintillating start, scoring 52 runs in 3.4 overs, headlined the two-time winners’ response with the bat. Narine smashed 29 in just 10 to set up KKR’s chase.

Kolkata became the third team to qualify for the play-offs.

The last 2 league matches will be played today – Mumbai Indians vs Delhi daredevils and Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings


Team / Matches Won / Matches Played / NRR (After 54 matches, with 2 to go before Play-offs)

Sunrisers Hyderabad  9/14 (0.284); Chennai Super Kings 8/13 (0.220); Kolkata Knight Riders 8/14 (-0.070); Rajasthan Royals 7/14 (-0.250);

Mumbai Indians 6/13 (0.384); Royal Challengers Bangalore 6/14 (0.129); Kings XI Punjab 6/13 (-0.490); Delhi Daredevils 4/13 (-0.288)





Young forward Lalremsiami’s equaliser earned India a 1-1 draw against South Korea in the last round-robin match at the fifth Asian Champions Trophy women’s hockey tournament in Donghae yesterday.

With the draw, the Indian team led by defender Sunita Lakra go into the final today as the table-toppers. They remain unbeaten in the tournament, having won against Japan (4-1), China (3-1) and Malaysia (3-2).

Despite South Korea’s attacking game from the start, India managed to win the first penalty corner of the match in the fourth minute, but dragflicker Gurjit Kaur’s attempt was thwarted by the goalkeeper. Subsequently, though India made forays into the striking circle, breaking Korea’s defence was an uphill task.

The two teams will face each other again in the final clash today.





True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice. – Ben Jonson





A couple arrived at town hall seconds before closing time, and caught a judge just as he was about to leave, and asked him to marry them. He asked if they had a license and, when they didn’t, sent them off to get one.

They caught the town clerk just as he was locking up, and got the license from him. When they got back to the judge, he pointed out they had filled the names in backwards — his where hers belonged and vice versa.

They rushed back to the clerk’s office, caught him again, and got another license. This time, the judge noticed that the clerk had filled in the date in the wrong format. Again they catch the clerk… After five reissued licenses, the judge is finally satisfied.

Judge: I hope you appreciate why I made you keep going back. If there are irregularities in the license, your marriage would not be legal, and any children you might have would be technical bastards.

Groom: That’s funny – that’s just what the clerk called you.

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