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Cong., JD(S) Ministers resign; reshuffle likely

Speaker to decide on Karnataka MLAs’ resignation today

A brave front: Siddaramaiah, K.C. Venugopal and Dinesh Gundu Rao in Bengaluru on Monday. Sudhakar Jain The Hindu

In a last-ditch effort to save the coalition government in Karnataka, 21 Congress and nine JD(S) Ministers submitted their resignation to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Monday to give him a free hand to reshuffle the Cabinet and accommodate the “rebel” legislators.

The latest move in the political crisis came even as two Independent MLAs who were recently inducted into the Cabinet — H. Nagesh and R. Shankar — submitted their resignation. The former has announced his support for the BJP and joined the “rebel” legislators who have been camping in Mumbai before being moved to Goa, after tendering their resignation to the Speaker’s office. Mr. Shankar is also expected to join the group.

All eyes are now on Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar who is expected to look into the resignations when he returns to office on Tuesday. His decision will seal the fate of the 13-month coalition government.

Given the present number, if all the resignations are accepted, the government will be pushed into a minority with 104 members in the Assembly. The strength of the House itself will drop to 211 and a simple majority would be 106. With the support of Mr. Nagesh, the BJP’s strength would touch 106. However, Mr. Shankar has not yet announced support for the BJP.

The decision on en masse resignation of Ministers was announced by the Congress on Monday after a marathon meeting of party leaders. Within hours, Mr. Kumaraswamy announced that his party Ministers too would resign “voluntarily”.

Netanyahu expected in Delhi in Sept.

He may make a case for India to align itself less with Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to travel to India in September just days before he faces election, official and diplomatic sources confirmed to The Hindu.

Mr. Netanyahu, who was due to be in Delhi in February, also just ahead of the previous Israeli election, will make a “short visit”, possibly just for a day on September 9, and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the bilateral relationship. However, the final date of the visit was being worked out, the sources said.

India-Israel relations have been growing rapidly in the past few years, and Mr. Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017, a visit Mr. Netanyahu returned in January 2018, which marked 25 years since the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

Speaking at a Yoga Day event, Indian Ambassador to Tel Aviv Pavan Kapoor said the relationship was moving in an “upward trajectory”. “Modi and Netanyahu share an excellent equation, and it is in their tenure that we have had PM Modi coming to Israel for the first time and PM Netanyahu visiting India.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s February visit was cancelled due to “scheduling difficulties”, especially since both Israel and India were heading into election season.

Bilateral talks

In the run-up to the visit, bilateral talks on defence issues have focussed on the emergency procurement of ‘Spike’ anti-tank missiles and the purchase of more precision-guided munitions that were used during the Balakot strikes by the Indian Air Force. The two sides are also discussing a long-pending proposal to buy 2 Phalcon AWACS (warning systems).

Mr. Netanyahu’s visit will also come amid rising U.S.-Iran tensions, and he is expected to make a case for India to align itself less with Tehran to join Israel and the U.S. in putting pressure on the regime there.

In a tweet on Friday, Israel’s envoy to India Ron Malka said that Iran, “by promoting state-sponsored terrorism around the globe, is the #1 threat to regional and global peace & security.”

While India has fallen in line with the U.S. sanctions on cutting its oil imports from Iran, it retains a strong relationship with the Iranian government, and has publicly expressed its concerns over the impact of a war in West Asia on the millions of Indians living and working in the region. During a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Mr. Modi listed Iran as one of the “four areas” for discussion, which also included bilateral, defence and telecommunication issues.

(With inputs from

Dinakar Peri)

29 dead, 23 injured as bus falls off Yamuna Expressway

Hits divider, plunges 40 feet down into drain on way to Delhi

Tragic plunge: The bus which fell into a drain on the Yamuna Expressway on Monday.Special Arrangement

Twenty-nine passengers of an Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation bus were killed and 23 sustained serious injuries when the vehicle hit a divider and fell 40 feet down into a drain between carriageways on the Yamuna Expressway.

The Janrath bus from the Awadh depot in Lucknow was going to Anand Vihar in Delhi. It was carrying 52 people, including children.

The police said they received a PCR (police control room) call at 5 a.m. about the accident at milestone number 161 on the carriageway.

A police team rushed to the spot and started the rescue operation with the help of locals and expressway staff. “I informed my seniors and soon policemen from all nearby stations arrived at the spot for the rescue operation. The injured were pulled out of the bus and rushed to local hospitals,” said a policeman.

Driver fell asleep

Senior Superintendent of Police (Agra) Babloo Kumar said an initial probe found that the driver had fallen asleep and lost control of the vehicle.

The bus got submerged in the drain beneath a culvert.

Pump operator Saudaan Singh, who was sleeping under the culvert, said, “I heard a loud sound as if the bridge had collapsed. I rushed for my life. I then turned back to see the bus had fallen into the drain and heard the passengers screaming for help. I immediately called other villagers.”

Nihal Singh, a villager, said, “We brought out nine people from the drain and attempted to rescue more, but the bus was submerged. The police arrived at the spot with a team of divers and began the rescue operation.”

Ashnish Mishra, conductor of the bus, said he was sitting next to the driver and didn't know what had happened. “I came out of the bus after breaking the side glass with a bare hand,” he said.

Stocks dive as investors fret over tax proposal

The stock markets went into a tailspin on Monday as a mix of global and domestic concerns stemming from some budget proposals spooked investors.

The 30-share Sensex fell 910 points intra-day before recouping some of its losses to end the day at 38,720.57 points, which is 2.01% or 792.82 points lower than Friday’s close. Sentiment was bearish to begin with as Asian markets were depressed following robust U.S. jobs data that lowered the prospects of a rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

Adding to this was the budget proposal to increase tax surcharge on the high-income group and the imposition of a tax on buyback by listed companies.

The higher surcharge is expected to impact foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) who operate through a trust or an association of persons structure.

Govt. on back foot over repatriation of refugee

A video clip showing the Mizoram police dragging a woman refugee out of a hut and pushing her back into Myanmar has put the government in a spot, following criticism from a human rights group.

The footage shows the woman crying for help as police women forcibly pull her out of the hut and drag her away. A toddler and a young girl are also seen in the video.

An official from the Mizoram government said the Lawngtlai district administration, with the help of the State police and the Assam Rifles, pushed the Buddhist refugees back into Myanmar on July 2.

The move came after authorities in the neighbouring country backed off from their promise — made during a June 30 flag meeting — to take them back, he said.

The Assam Rifles is deployed in Mizoram to guard the border along Myanmar.

“As directed by the Centre, we repatriated the Myanmar nationals who illegally entered India,” Mizoram Home Secretary Lalbiakzama told The Hindu.

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