22:45 Congress to oust BJP in Karnataka: Exit polls:
CNN-IBN reports: Karnataka has voted and the fate of 2,940 candidates in 223 assembly constituencies of the state have been sealed in the electronic voting machines which will be opened at 8 AM on May 8.
While the finals results will be known only a few hours after the counting begins, the trends indicate that the Congress is likely to make a comeback even though its victory march has hit a few roadblocks.
A pre-poll survey conducted in April by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies revealed that Congress is all set to decimate the Bharatiya Janata Party and storm the Vidhana Soudha with a clear majority.Read the full report here
20:56 No action against Bansal, Ashwani Kumar: Cong :
The Congress core committee meet has ended. Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said that there is no action against Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal till the probe is completed.
He also said that no action will be taken against Law Minister Ashwani Kumar as the matter is sub judice. The case is still on the the court, said Tewaro.
20:27 China withdraws its troops from Ladakh:
reports: China withdraws its troops from Ladakh. Chinese and Indian troops have pulled back from the Daulat Beg Oldie sector of Ladakh simultaneously, say sources.
An agreement was reached after negotiations at a higher level from both sides.
On April 15, China intruded 19 km deep on the Indian side of Line of Actual Control pitching five tents and bringing in some 50 soldiers besides military vehicles and dogs.
19:57 Congress appoints new spokespersons :
Congress today appointed new spokespersons for the party. Raj Babbar, Shakeel Ahmed, Mohan Prakash and Bhakta Charan Das were among eight appointed Congress spokespersons today. Renuka Chowdhury, P C Chacko and Sandeep Dikshit were retained as spokespersons. Meem Afzal has also been made a spokesperson.
19:10 Protests outside rail minister Bansal's house in Chandigarh:
Tension prevailed outside the residence of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal as Chandigarh police used lathicharge to disperse protesting Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists and rounded two of them.
The ABVP activists were marching towards the residence of Bansal when police used mild force to disperse them, officials said. The police and the Government Railway Police personnel have deployed in strength around the Minister's residence in the city.
18:21 Will Chidambaram replace Bansal as railway minister? :
correspondent reports: It is expected that at 7 pm, once voting is over in Karnataka, Pawan Kumar Bansal may step down as railway minister in the wake of his nephew's arrest for allegedly taking a bribe to fix plum position in the Railway Board
An unconfirmed report says that Finance Minister P Chidambaram may be given additional charge of Railways.
A meeting of the Congress core group is currently underway to discuss the bribery scam.
18:20 Pak envoy to visit injured prisoner Sanaullah: CNN-IBN
reports: Indian has granted Pakistan High Commissioner to visited injured prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay.
The prisoner is on ventilator and in deep coma, hospital sources said.
Sanaullah was airlifted from Jammu to PGIMER on Friday evening.
17:40 Cong meet on railway bribery scam begins:
The Congress's core group meeting over the railway board bribery case has begun at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence. At the meet, a decision will be made on Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's fate.
Bansal has been under fire after his nephew's arrest for allegedly taking a bribe to fix plum position in the railway board.
17:27 Salman Khurshid likely to cancel China visit :
The Congress core group will meet this evening and may have to take some hard decisions. The buzz is that the core group is likely to decide on the fate of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. The party will accept their resignations if they decide to quit, sources tell rediff.com correspondent in New Delhi.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is likely to cancel his visit to China on May 9 in wake of the incursion of Chinese troops in Ladakh. Parliament may adjourn sine die on Tuesday, say insiders.
Sonia Gandhi gave a long rope to the PM to get the government in order. But since he has failed, Gandhi has decided to take major decisions herself. Both Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Bansal were PM's choice for the coveted portfolios and now both have courted controversy. The PM had a difficult time to convince the two to step down, say sources.
The announcement about these major decisions is expected to come at 7 pm today, say highly-placed sources.
16:53 Defence Minister A K Antony meets Congress President Sonia Gandhi ahead of the Congress core group meet this evening.
16:47 Ashwani meets President Pranab :
Reports our correspondent from New Delhi: Law Minister Ashwani Kumar met President Pranab Mukherjee for 10 minutes in his presidential aircraft while he was about to head to Kolkata from New Delhi.
16:13 Ashwani may quit as law minister, Sibal likely to take over :
The fate of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar hangs in balance. And if he steps down Telecom Minister Kabil Sibal may be given the additional portfolio.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has reportedly made it clear in its affidavit that the status report on the coal scam was shown to Ashwani and he had ordered removal of a paragraph which was critical of the Prime Minister's Office.
15:58 Saradha group manager arrested in West Bengal:
A group manager of the Saradha group has been arrested from Raniganj in Burdhwan, West Bengal.
Rs 23,000, certificates and bonds of Saradha group have been seized.
The arerst comes after the collapse of Saradha group's chit fund business in April, which affected thousands of depositors.
14:48 Sajjan Kumar acquittal: Sikh groups march to 7 RCR:
Sikh groups protest at Janata Mantar over the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 riots case. Key witnesses in the case have gone on a hunger strike.
Protestors are marching towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence at & Racecourse.
13:57 Coal-gate: Law minister changed report, CBI to tell SC:
The Central Bureau of Investigation is likely to tell the Supreme Court on Monday that the agency's status report on coal scam was changed by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
The details of the CBI affidavit, which it will submit in the Supreme Court on Monday in connection with the coal scam, has been accessed by CNN-IBN
.Read the full report here
13:34 Protests in Punjab over Sajjan Kumar's acquittal :
Various Sikh outfits today blocked rail traffic on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway section for an hour to protest the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in anti-Sikh riots case.
The protesters jointly led by SGPC member Gurinder Pal Singh Gora and Sikh Student Federation (Mehta) district president Surinder Pal Sandhu blocked Ravi Express at Batala Railway Station for an hour, officials said.
Members of the Sikh community have been holding protest demonstrations in Delhi, Jammu and Punjab against the acquittal of Sajjan by a court in Delhi.
13:21 Cong to meet at 5.30 pm to decide Bansal's fate:
CNN-IBN reports: Sources said the Congress core group is likely to meet on at 5.30 pm today to take a decision on the Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's offer to resign.
Bansal had offered to step down after the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested his nephew Vijay Singla on Friday evening for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh to ensure a plum posting for Railway Board Member Mahesh Kumar.Read full report here
12:43 Spies of Punjab, 'shown steps of gold':
For one Sarabjit Singh, whose death brought politicians to his funeral and financial assistance for his family, the Punjab countryside is dotted with scores of men knocking on the doors of courts seeking compensation for the years many of them spent in Pakistani jails, and recognition of their services as spies for India, writes Chander Suta Dogra in The Hindu.Read the full story here
12:19 Pak prisoner's condition remains critical:
Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay, who was injured in a scuffle with another inmate in a Jammu jail, remained critical at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh.
The prisoner is on ventilator and in deep coma, hospital sources said. Sanaullah was airlifted from Jammu to PGIMER on Friday evening.
11:59 K'taka polls: Clashes take place in Kolar:
Congress workers and supporters of independent candidate and minister Varthur Prakash clash in Kolar as polling continued in Karnataka, reports CNN-IBN
Karnataka recorded 19.5 per cent voter turnout till 11 am.
11:14 K'taka polls: 15 to 20 pc polling in first 3 hours :
Polling for the Karnataka Assembly elections began on a strong note today with a voter turnout of an estimated 15 to 20 per cent in the first three hours.
106-year-old seer of the Tumkur-based famed Siddaganga Mutt, Shivakumar Swamy, was among the early voters.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Ministers M Mallikarjuna Kharge and M Veerappa Moily, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwara, BJP State unit President Prahlad Joshi, and Karnataka Janatha Paksha supremo B S Yeddyurappa were among those who voted in the initial hours.
Barring a tiff between a voter and an on-duty policeman in a Bellary booth with the former sustaining minor injuries leading to protests by a section of electorate there, polling was so far peaceful, sources said.
09:28 Here's what YOU must know about Karnataka election!:
The Karnataka assembly elections are being watched with a great deal of interest.
At the moment, it appears to be a straight fight between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party with the Janata Dal-Secular ending up playing king maker.
Here is a short FAQ on the elections, polling for which began at 7am today.Click HERE to read
09:01 Confident Yeddyurappa among early voters in Karnataka:
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was among the early voters in Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa quit BJP last year and is contesting the election under the banner of his new party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP).
He said after voting, "We will have absolute majority. I am going to win the elections. KJP will be the single largest party, the atmosphere for the polls in the state is good."
08:52 Karnataka votes to elect a new government:
Polling began on Sunday morning for the assembly polls in Karnataka in which the Congress has pulled out all the stops to return to power in a complex battle after more than an eight year long gap.
As many as 1.35 lakh police personnel -- 60,000 from the state, 20,000 home guards and rest from central paramilitary and neighbouring states -- have been deployed for the single phase poll in which more than 4.36 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Polling which commenced at 7 am would continue till 6 pm with the timing extended by an hour in 223 Assembly segments of the total 224.
Election in Periyapatna was countermanded to May 28 following the death of BJP candidate.
08:50 SA: Gupta family apologises over wedding jet scandal:
The Gupta family, with close ties to South African President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress party, has apologised for a diplomatic scandal over the use of a military air base to land a private jet flying their guests to a wedding this week.
The wealthy Indian family on Tuesday landed a chartered plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria without permits, prompting a national condemnation.
"In light of what happened... the family would like to issue a general apology to all affected, including the South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests," said Atul Gupta in a statement.
A senior South African diplomat and several police officers have been suspended for their role in allowing the aircraft to land at the restricted base.
Some 200 passengers, including Bollywood stars and politicians, were attending the lavish wedding of Vega Gupta, a niece of the powerful Gupta businessmen who own several companies including Sahara Computers and the pro-government New Age newspaper.
They received a full police escort to the Sun City resort for the four-day affair billed as "the wedding of the year".
In a bid to save face, South African authorities had earlier announced a full scale seven-day probe into the controversial landing, which has been described as an embarrassment and as undermining the country's laws.
08:41 Israel launches second airstrike in Syria:
Israeli forces have carried out an airstrike against a shipment of sophisticated missiles bound for the Lebanese political and military organization Hezbollah, officials in Washington, Lebanon and Israel told reporters Saturday.
The strike took place about 4 am Friday local time at an air defense facility on the periphery of Damascus International Airport, according to a Lebanese security official who was in the Syrian capital at the time.
The airport is known to be the destination for weapons flown in from Iran both for the Syrian government and for its ally Hezbollah.
There had previously been reports of a huge blaze at Damascus airport, with a video showing two locations on fire after what was described as rebel shelling. But the Lebanese official said the blasts were bigger than those caused by mortar or shellfire.
08:40 Andhra Pradesh bans women from pubs after 10 pm:
In the wake of increasing rapes and other crime against women across the country, Andhra Pradesh has reportedly barred women from clubs, pubs and bars after 10 pm.
The State government has also banned those under 21 from these places at any hour, despite the legal age for drinking in the country being 18.
The state government on May 3 issued a notification telling clubs, pubs and bars to ask women customers to leave after 10 pm or face cancellation of their liquor licences, daily The Telegraph reported.
According to The Telegraph, a senior police officer said the step was prompted by several incidents of drunken women quarrelling with auto drivers outside bars and clubs at night. He didn't explain why the ban targeted only women although men get involved in drunken brawls too. Women's organisations criticised the notification as "male chauvinistic".
Metros such as Calcutta and Mumbai, for instance, have no gender-based restrictions about drinking in bars or nightclubs.
00:14 Pakistani hackers target Rajasthan govt website:
The official website of Rajasthan Public Service Commission was found to be hacked with the message 'Pakistan Zindabad' flashing on its news segment.
The website was, however, restored within hours after the officials of the commission received information about the hacking on Saturday morning.
"One of our two websites was hacked this morning and the message 'Pakistan Zindabad' was being flashed on its news segment. The website was shortly freed from hacking by admin team," the RPSC Secretary K K Pathak told PTI.
RPSC, whose office is located at Ajmer, has two websites. One for online application for candidates and the other is used for providing information, notification, news etc.
An FIR in this connection has been lodged at a local police station in Ajmer, Pathak said.
RPSC is the commission of the Rajasthan government for organising recruitment exams and procedures for recruiting employees for various state departments.
00:13 4 killed as bombs expode near MQM office:
At least four people were killed and 30 others injured when two bomb went off near an office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, the latest in a string of attacks by the Taliban targeting liberal political parties ahead of the May 11 polls.
The blasts occurred in Aziz Abad area of Karachi and near the MQM office close to the central headquarters of the party.
Police and Rescue officials said that the blasts had left four people dead and around 30 were injured who were being rushed to hospital.
"The intensity of the first blast was stronger than the second one which took place few minutes later," SSP Imran Shaukat said.
He said that the election office of the party was the apparent target of the two separate blasts which took place near Lal Qila ground where the party holds frequent rallies. This is the sixth time in the last two weeks that bomb attacks have been carried out close to MQM election/sector offices in Pakistan's biggest city.