Karnataka CM tussle heats up: After Vokkaliga seer’s demand, Veerashaiva-Lingayat pontiff seeks top post for community

News Network
June 28, 2024

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A day after a Vokkaliga seer publicly urged Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step down in favour of his deputy D K Shivakumar, a prominent seer from the dominant Veerashaiva-Lingayat community on Friday called for ministers from his community to be considered if there is a change in the CM post.

Channasiddharam Swamiji of Srishail Peetham stated that if the Congress decides to change the state chief minister or create additional deputy chief minister positions, preference should be given to legislators from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community.

Speaking to reporters at Yadur village in Chikkodi taluk, the seer emphasized that people from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community have voted for Congress in large numbers.

"If the Congress wants to change the chief minister or create more deputy chief minister posts, community members like M B Patil, Ishwar Khandre, S S Mallikarjun, and veteran Shamnur Shivashankarappa should be considered. During the government formation, Veerashaiva-Lingayat votes were decisive. Therefore, Veerashaiva-Lingayat ministers should be given priority and their experience utilized. I urge that they be given an opportunity," he said.

Talks in this regard have been held with Kashi, Ujjani, and other seers of Panchapeethas, and there is an understanding about the chief minister's post within the Congress. The grand old party should walk the talk, he added.

On Thursday, Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamastana Math seer Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swamiji had raised the pitch for Shivakumar as CM during the Kempegowda Jayanti event, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Bengaluru's founder, in the presence of both Siddaramaiah and the deputy chief minister on the dais.

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News Network
July 7,2024

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Henley & Partners Passport Index revealed India's passport strength improved by three position in 2024. The Indian passport is currently ranked 80th place as it has weakened during the past ten years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule. It has dropped from 76th position to 80th. 

The Index is based on exclusive International Air Transport Authority (Iata) data. In addition, publicly available and reliable online sources were also used to cross-check each passport against all 227 possible travel destinations.

List of countries Indian nationals can visit visa-free or get visa-on-arrival in 2024:

Africa: Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde islands, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zimbabwe

Asia: Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao (SAR China), Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines (valid or unexpired American, Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Schengen, Singapore or UK visa, or permanent residence permit from these states) Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste

Americas: Bolivia, El Salvador

Caribbean: Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago

Oceania: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Niue, Palau Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Middle East: Jordan, Oman, Qatar

NOTE for UAE: As of December 6, 2023, Indian nationals with a normal passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date, holding a visit visa or green card issued by the US which is valid for a minimum of six months or a UK or EU residence ID which is valid for a minimum of six months, can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days for a charge of Dh191 (subject to change). They can apply to extend their stay for an additional 14 days for Dh250 (subject to change) through Amer offices in Dubai.

Indian nationals holding an extension letter for US residency are not eligible for a visa on arrival. (According to a note published on Emirates airline website).

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News Network
July 15,2024

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New Delhi: The BJP's strength in the Rajya Sabha fell by four Saturday after as many nominated members - Rakesh Sinha, Ram Shakal, Sonal Mansingh, and Mahesh Jethmalani - completed their term.

All four were chosen - as non-aligned members - by President Droupadi Murmu on the advice of the ruling party, and formally allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government afterwards.

Their retirement brings the BJP's strength down to 86 and that of the party-led National Democratic Alliance to 101, which is below the current majority mark of 113 in the 245-member House.

The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 225.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc has 87, of which the Congress has 26, Bengal's ruling Trinamool 13, and the Aam Aadmi Party and the DMK, in power in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have 10 each.

Parties not aligned with either the BJP or the Congress - such as ex-Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's BRS - nominated MPs and independents hold the rest.

What Do BJP's Reduced Numbers Mean?

It means the government is now reliant on non-NDA parties - such as ex-ally AIADMK of Tamil Nadu and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party - to pass bills in the Upper House. As of now, assuming the BJP can count on the 15 votes from NDA parties' MPs, it will need a minimum of 13 additional 'aye's cast in its favour to push through bills.

The YSRCP (11) and the AIADMK (4) are the BJP's two most obvious 'allies', even if its relationship with the latter has been fractious since they split in December last year, months before the election.

Jagan Reddy's YSRCP has lent issue-based support to the BJP in the past, so at least 11 votes seem assured for Mr Modi's party. Former Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's BJD lent similar support too but, since it was beaten by the BJP in the May-June state election, has said it will not do so now.

The BJD has nine Rajya Sabha MPs.

If the AIADMK is unwilling to offer support, and the BJD of Naveen Patnaik has turned away, the BJP will then turn to votes from nominated members.

There are a total of 12 nominated members in the Rajya Sabha. Although non-aligned when brought in, since they are chosen by the government, in practice they tend to support the ruling party.

Non-aligned parties like the BRS, which has four MPs, and independents may also come into play.

Vacant Seats

There are a total of 20 seats vacant at this time, including 11 held by elected members for which polls are expected this year. Of these, there are two seats each in Maharashtra, Assam, and Bihar, and one each in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Tripura.

The BJP-led alliance has the numbers to win seven - from Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura. And if it can keep its flock together in Maharashtra, it will win two more from there.

This could give the BJP as many as nine extra seats. If it wins those, and with the nominated members' votes, as well as the YSRCP's, it will have more than enough to cross the majority mark.

There are also four seats vacant from Jammu and Kashmir, which is expected to hold an Assembly election by September 30, in line with a Supreme Court order.

The Telangana seat is likely to be won by the Congress, which swept to power last year.

This is crucial because it will give the party enough votes to claim the Leader of the Opposition post in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress will then hold the LoP seat in both Houses.

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News Network
July 12,2024

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New Delhi: In a relief to a Kannada news channel which extensively telecast the sex abuse case involving former JDS MP Prajwal Revanna and his family, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Karnataka High Court, stopping broadcast of Power TV on the ground of lack of proper licence.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said this was nothing but sheer political vendetta.

"We are inclined to protect the freedom of speech and expression. It looks like a plain case of political vendetta and this court would be failing in its duty if it does not protect the petitioner," the bench said.

The court issued notice to the Union government and others on a petition filed by Power TV and others.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, contended it was not borne out from record.

He said the show cause notice of February 9 was related to the channel subletting its uplink and downlinking licence.

The apex court, however, stayed the High Court order till Monday.

It also fixed the matter for hearing on Monday.

The Karnataka High Court had restrained Power TV from carrying out any broadcasting activity till July 9.

Justice S R Krishna Kumar had passed the interim order on June 25, after hearing two petitions filed by senior serving IPS officer Dr B R Ravikanthegowda, and JDS leader and MLC HM Ramesh Gowda and his wife Dr A Ramya Ramesh.

The petitioners claimed despite proceedings already initiated by the central government against the television channel and other private respondents, they continued to broadcast without arranging for the necessary licence renewal.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated a show cause notice was issued on a complaint, that the permission for Power TV was valid till October 12, 2021, and its renewal application dated December 30, 2022, was under examination.

The channel and its director Rakesh Shetty have reportedly been at the forefront of campaigns against Janata Dal (Secular) leaders like Prajwal Revanna and Suraj Revanna, who have been accused of sexual assault.

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