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LIVE! Signatures of several Congress MLAs in letter to Guv forged: BJP

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May 17, 2018

23:31  2 J&K cops detained for questioning after report of terrorist attack:  Two Jammu and Kashmir policemen were detained for questioning tonight after they reported to the authority that terrorists had attacked their guard post and took away their rifles, police said.

The incident happened at a guard post of a hotel in the city this evening.

The policemen reported to the police headquarters that a group of terrorists had barged into their post and snatched their rifles.

Preliminary investigation, however, revealed that there was no eyewitness to the incident that took place at a crowded place and there was no resistance from the policemen.

The two policemen attached with the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police were immediately taken into custody and a hunt was on for the third cop.

The incident set alarm bells ringing within the security establishment as Prime Minister Narendra will be visiting Kashmir Valley on May 19.  -- PTI
23:12  Signatures of several Congress MLAs in letter to Guv forged: BJP:  The Bharatiya Janata Party today alleged that the Congress has forged the signatures of many of its legislators while submitting the party's list of MLAs to the governor claiming it had the numbers to form the government.

Addressing reporters in Bengaluru, Union Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar said one was at a loss to understand how Congress could collect the signatures of all the MLAs even before they arrived in Bengaluru and attended the Congress Legislature Party meeting.

He said forging signatures and other documents wasnot something new to the Congress.

When the polls in Manipur threw up a hung assembly, the Congress submitted a forged letter of support of the Manipur People's Party.

However, it was found that the grand old party had forged it, he said.

In Karnataka also,the Congress had resorted to theirage old practice, Javadekar said, adding the party hasbecome synonymous with the word forgery.

Defending Governor Vajubhai Vala's action in inviting BJP to form the government, Javadekar said he had onlyfollowed the rule book as there was no pre-poll alliance in Karnataka and Congress and Janata Dal-Secular were bitter foes before the poll, where the parties' leaders called each other names.

"During his election campaign in Karnataka, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had termed JDS as the 'B' team of BJP. Hehad said that JD(S) means nothing but Janata Dal Sangh Parivar. Now they are trying to cobble together analliance, which is nothing but a sheer opportunistic move," he said.

The governor did the right thing by inviting the single largest party toform the government and prove the majority on the floor of the House, he added.

Javadekar said it was sad that Congress has held its MLAs captive in 'isolated resorts', severing contacts with their families and not even being allowed to watch news channels.

Referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi's remark at Raipur today that the judiciary hadbeen suppressed, Javadekar reminded him of the dark days ofthe Emergency in 1975.

"The grand old party had not only overturned the judicialsystem, but also suppressed the freedom of the press. Instead ofseeking pardon for their sins, the Congress leader is tryingto create a false perception," he said.

IMAGE: JD-S MLAs inside a bus as they leave after sitting on a dharna in front of Gandhi Statue near Vidhan Soudha to protest against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's invitation to BJP to form the government, in Bengaluru on Thursday. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo
22:36  Dynasty politics has ended, people rewarding hardwork: Modi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted today that dynasty politics has 'ended' and voters are rewarding hardworking leaders, as he set the tone for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, saying it is not the time to look back but to move ahead and work for a win in the next polls.

In his address to a meeting of all Bharatiya Janata Party 'morchas', which focus on groups like farmers, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women and youths, Modi said people can differentiate between his government and the ones before it and claimed that there is no allegation against the current dispensation, sources said.

While for other parties self and family come first, for the BJP government the nation and people hold utmost priority, Modi said, according to party general secretary Bhupender Yadav who briefed reporters on the PM's speech.

The first such meeting of all wings of the party is seen as an attempt by its top brass to galvanise its rank and file in preparation for the general elections, which are less than a year away.

"Dynasty politics has ended and leaders trying to win over the masses with their hard work are being rewarded. Our aim is not family first, which may be the goal of other parties, but nation first," the prime minister said, distinguishing between 'parivarwaad' (dynasty) and 'parishramwaad' (hardwork).

Modi described these 'morchas' as the party's front organisations and recalled that Amit Shah, now the BJP president, worked in Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) as he rose from the ranks.

He asked them to connect people, especially first-time voters, to the party's ideology and inform them about his government's schemes centred on women, farmers and the poor among others ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.

"Now is not the time to look back. We have to march on," he said, according to a leader present in the meeting said.

In his speech, BJP president Amit Shah said the party should aim to get over 50 per cent of votes in the coming elections and this will make alliance of opposition parties against it inconsequential. Even the Congress in its heyday could never get half of the total votes, he said.

He said over 22 crore families had benefitted from the Modi government's schemes and asked the all seven 'morchas' to reach out to them in their target segments. He asked them to focus especially on youths as they work for the next elections.

Yadav said the recent 'gram swaraj' campaign launched by the central government and the BJP to bring over 21,000 villages, which have a large Dalit and tribal population, under various welfare measures of the government had fully succeeded.  -- PTI
22:13  Congress MLA says BJP people visited resort to 'offer money':  Senior Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy has alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party people had come to the resort to offer money to Congress MLAs.

"After the police was withdrawn (from outside Eagleton Resort), they (BJP) came inside and offered money. Constantly they have been calling people on phone," Reddy said.

He also said that the MLAs will be shifted out of Eagleton Resort tonight.

"We will be shifted today. We will tell you more later. JD-S MLAs are not coming along. The place has not been decided yet," he said.

JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy said, "We have not yet decided where to go. Today late night we will decide where we have to go. There were several suggestions, one of them is to hold a protest in front of the Rashtrapati Bhavan."

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, said, "All MLAs are in Bengaluru. The BJP is accusing us of forgery while they are the ones who have done it. We have full faith in the Supreme Court. It will not repeat the same mistake as the Governor."

"The BJP can't use two rules for one game. The BJP, the central government and their governors have been exposed in front of the nation. It should be the duty of central govt to protect the constitution and democracy but it's unfortunate that we have to protect these from the central government," he said.  -- ANI

IMAGE: JD-S Supremo H D Deve Gowda, Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad, former CM Siddaramaiah, JD-S leader H. D. Kumaraswamy with JD-S and Congress party supporters and MLAs stage dharna in front of Gandhi Statue near Vidhan Soudha to protest against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's invitation to BJP to form the government, in Bengaluru on Thursday. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo
21:21  Indian economy projected to grow 7.6% in 2018-19: UN:  India's economy is projected to grow 7.6 per cent in fiscal year 2018-19, remaining the fastest growing economy in the world, as robust private consumption and benefits from past reforms help the country's GDP gain momentum but sustained recovery in private investment remains a crucial challenge, according to a UN report.

The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) as of mid-2018, launched today, said GDP growth in India is expected to climb to 7.5 and 7.6 per cent in fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively.

This is a substantial recovery from the 6.7 per cent growth India registered in fiscal year 2017.

"Among the major economies, growth in India is gaining momentum, underpinned by robust private consumption, a slightly more supportive fiscal stance and benefits from past reforms," the report said.

It added that although capital spending has shown signs of revival, a more widespread and sustained recovery in private investment remains a crucial challenge in India.

In China, growth is expected to remain solid, supported by robust consumer spending and supportive fiscal policies.

Amid ongoing structural reforms, growth in the Chinese economy is projected to gradually moderate from 6.9 per cent in 2017 to 6.5 per cent in 2018 and 6.3 per cent in 2019.

While ongoing efforts to address financial vulnerabilities will contribute to more sustainable medium-term growth, the authorities face the policy challenge of ensuring that associated deleveraging does not derail growth in the short term.

The report added that growth in the world economy is surpassing expectations and global GDP is now expected to expand by more than three per cent this year and in 2019, reflecting strong growth in developed countries and broadly favourable investment conditions.

However rising trade tensions, heightened uncertainty over monetary policy, increasing debt levels and greater geopolitical tensions can potentially thwart progress, according to the report.

World economic growth is now forecast to reach 3.2 per cent both in 2018 and 2019, an upward revision by 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points, respectively.

This revised outlook reflects further improvement in the growth forecast for developed economies due to accelerating wage growth, broadly favourable investment conditions, and the short-term impact of a fiscal stimulus package in the US.  -- PTI
20:59  Senior IAS, IPS officers changed as Yeddyurappa takes charge:  Hours after B S Yeddyurappa assumed office as chief minister, several IAS and IPS officers were today transferred in a top level reshuffle.

The government appointed M Lakshminarayana, additional chief secretary, public works department, as the additional chief secretary to the chief minister.

It also notified that his position will be equivalent to the additional chief secretary in home department.

Senior IPS officer Amar Kumar Pandey, serving as Additional Director General of Police, Railways, has been made ADGP, Intelligence, according to a government notification. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Karnataka State Reserve Police Sandeep Patil will be the DIG, Intelligence.

Bidar Superintendent of Police D Devaraja has been transferred to Bengaluru Central division as the deputy commissioner of police. Superintendent of police in anti-corruption bureau S Girish has been transferred as DCP of Bengaluru North East Division.  -- PTI
19:38  Met office issues fresh warning of thunderstorm in UP:  Thunderstorm and squall are 'very likely' to hit some areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh tomorrow, the meteorological office has warned.

It said the districts that could be affected are Siddhartnagar, Kushinagar and Maharajganj.

In its forecast, the MeT office said rain and thunderstorm are very likely at isolated places over east Uttar Pradesh and weather is likely to remain dry over western part of the state.

Several parts of the state were hit by severe storm last week leaving 18 dead and 27 others injured.

Last Wednesday, five people died in Etawah district, three each in Mathura, Aligarh and Agra, two in Firozabad and one each in Hathras and Kanpur Dehat.

On May 2-3, storm had killed 134 people and injured over 400 in five states. Uttar Pradesh was the worst affected, accounting for 80 deaths, most of them in Agra district in western part.  -- PTI
18:57  Meghan Markle's father will not attend royal wedding:  After days of speculation, Royal bride-to-be Meghan Markle today confirmed that her ailing father will not attend her wedding with Prince Harry in Windsor Castle on Saturday.

The 36-year-old former American actress said Thomas Markle Sr needed to focus on his health, confirming media reports that he had to undergo a heart procedure.

He is understood to be in Mexico.

'Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,' Markle said in a statement issued by Kensington Palace today.

'I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday,' the statement added.

There had been widespread speculation over Thomas' attendance at the wedding ceremony after allegedly staged paparazzi photographs sold for a reported 1,00,000 pounds -- in a breach of royal etiquette ahead of the meticulously planned big day.

The former Hollywood lighting director was quoted as saying that he hated the idea of missing 'one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle'.

Markle's half-sister, Samantha Markle, recently said she was the 'culprit' who urged their father to stage the photos in a bid to improve his image. She said her father had 'suffered at the hands of the media' and had decided 'enough is enough' but the entire incident had affected his health.

Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, who divorced her father many years ago, is now expected to step into the role of walking her daughter down the aisle.  -- PTI
18:45  Yeddyurappa 'one-day' CM, lacks numbers: Congress:  Stepping up its attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party after its leader B S Yeddyurappa was sworn-in as Karnataka Chief Minister today, the Congress claimed he will turn out to be a 'one-day chief minister' as he lacks majority and challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to prove the numbers by tomorrow.

The Congress also attacked Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, accusing him of encountering Constitution twice, first by inviting the BJP to form government yesterday and allowing Yeddyurappa to take oath today while a matter in this connection is set to be heard tomorrow by the Supreme Court.

The Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular had yesterday night jointly petitioned before the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the oath-taking ceremony, as communicated by the governor to the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa.

The court did not stay the swearing-in ceremony and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for tomorrow.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also announced that his party will protest the Governor's decision tomorrow by holding dharnas across the country.

"Yeddyurappa will turn out one-day Chief Minister' His fate as CM is dependent on the court hearing," he told reporters in New Delhi.

"How come the Governor invite them to form government when the BJP does not have numbers to do so' the Governor has encountered the Constitution twice' he has murdered democracy," Surjewala said, alleging that the governor was working at the behest of the BJP's central leadership.

Hitting back at Shah over his 'Congress murdered democracy' barb, Surjewala dared him and Modi to prove the BJP's majority tomorrow itself on the floor of the Karnataka legislative assembly.

"If you (Modi and Shah) have courage of conviction, have belief in the Constitution, have faith in democracy, we dare you to prove your majority tomorrow itself on the floor of Karnataka legislative assembly and the truth will win and democracy shall win for you will be decisively decimated and defeated," the Congress leader said.

Attacking the Congress earlier in the day, Shah said that democracy was murdered the moment a 'desperate' Congress made an 'opportunist' offer to the JD-S to form the government in Karnataka for 'petty political gains'.

'The 'Murder of Democracy' happens the minute a desperate Congress made an 'opportunist' offer to the JD-S, not for Karnataka's welfare but for their petty political gains. Shameful!' he said in a tweet.   -- PTI

IMAGE: Newly sworn-in Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa flashes the victory sign after his swearing-in ceremony, at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo
17:42  Cong, opposition to hold dharnas against K'taka decision :  All India Congress Committee General Secretary Ashok Gehlot issues a letter requesting all Pradesh Congress Committees, leaders and workers to organise state-wide dharnas at state capitals and district HQ tomorrow to protest against the Karnataka governor's decision for inviting BS Yeddyurappa to form government in Karnataka.

The note asks every Congress leader and worker to reach out to 'democratic forces, civil society, in all walks of life who will lend their support to the cause'.

Other opposition parties are also determined to organise a major movement across the country in defence of democracy, if parliamentary democratic norms are not followed in Karnataka, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said today.

The Congress, JD(S), the Left, and other regional ones, who are in touch with each other, are likely to meet either in Bengaluru or Delhi to chalk out their plan for the movement, PTI reported.

After being sworn in, BS Yeddyurappa said, "I am sure of winning the vote of confidence and my government completing five years." He has been given a 15-day window by the governor to prove his majority, but he said he would not wait so long and was keen to do it as soon as possible.

Image: Karnataka CM at the BJP office in Bengaluru
17:11  In Rohingya refugee camps, 48,000 women will give birth:  Nine months after Myanmar forces unleashed 'frenzy of sexual violence', those who were raped will be delivering imminently, mostly in secret and without medical care on the floors of bamboo shacks overlooking the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Read more
17:08  K'taka RSS Governor' subverting Constitution: Amarinder:  Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today slammed Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala for "subverting' the Constitution by inviting the BJP to form the government in the southern state. Labelling Vala an "RSS Governor', the chief minister said democratic polity of India had been "massacred to serve the desire and will' of Vala's "political masters' in the BJP.

"It was shocking the way the Governor had given time to the BJP to break the opposition and resort to horsetrading. (But) What else do you expect from an RSS Governor," he told the media. He described the entire episode as "unfortunate", and said the developments in the last 24 hours were extremely dangerous for the country.

"We do not want India to become like Pakistan, where democracy is subverted by dictators and the Army every step of the way," he said. Citing the examples of Goa and Manipur where governments were formed by majority post-poll alliances due to hung verdicts, Singh said the entire nation wanted an answer from the Karnataka Governor.
16:58  Now, RJD to stake claim to form govt in Bihar :   A domino effect evident now that the RJD has also staked claim to form government in Bihar.

Seeking adoption of the Karnataka example in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, the former deputy CM of the state said the party would be holding a one-day dharna tomorrow against the "murder of democracy in Karnataka".

Yadav said the party has also requested the Bihar Governor to dissolve the state government. "Like in Karnataka the governor should invite the single largest party, which in Bihar is the RJD.  I will meet Honourable Governor of Bihar along with MLAs as we are single largest party of Bihar," he said.

Yadav was taking a cue from the Congress which today decided to stake claim to form government in Goa where it had emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly polls held last year.

Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD had emerged as the single largest party in the 2015 Bihar assembly polls with 80 seats as against JDU's 70 seats. But the JDU allied with the BJP (53 seats) to form government.
16:31  Opposition reacts :  Capt. Amarinder Singh, Punjab CM: The Governor is going against the Constitution. The role of Governor is being dictated by the govt. He was a RSS member and a Cabinet Minister under Modi Saheb in Gujarat. It is obvious that he will listen to the Centre.

MK Stalin, DMK: All of us saw how PM Modi misused the office of Governor in Tamil Nadu. The same has been done in Karnataka. This is totally against democracy and rule of law. We condemn it.

Tejashwi Yadav, RJD: We would be holding a 1-day dharna tomorrow against the murder of democracy in Karnataka. We also request the Bihar Governor to dissolve the state government and like in Karnataka invite the single largest party, which in Bihar is the RJD.  I will meet Honourable Governor of Bihar along with MLAs as we are single largest party of Bihar.
16:06  Cong to stake claim to form govt in Goa :  Seeking adoption of the Karnataka example in Goa, the Congress today decided to stake claim to form government in the state where it had emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly polls held last year.

Congress Legislature Party chief Chandrakant Kavlekar said the party will stake claim tomorrow by submitting to Governor Mridula Sinha a formal letter containing signatures of all the 16 party MLAs.

In the Assembly elections held in March last year, the Congress had bagged 17 seats in the 40-member House, falling short of the majority figure by four seats.

The BJP, which got 14 seats, formed the government in alliance with Goa Forward Party and MGP, both of which had secured three seats each. Three Independents also went with the BJP.

Kavlekar said the Goa Governor should follow the precedent set by her Karnataka counterpart and invite the single largest party to form the government "correcting her mistake of March 12, 2017".

He was referring to the decision of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala to invite the BJP to form the government after the Assembly election results declared on Wednesday.

The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats in the 222-member Karnataka Assembly, was invited by the governor despite the JD(S)-Congress combine staking claim by citing the support of 117 MLAs. The majority mark is 112 seats.

"We have 16 legislators with us and with that strength we are the single largest party in the (Goa) Assembly. The governor should invite us to form the government in Goa as per the precedent set by her Karnataka counterpart, said Kavlekar, the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly.

When pointed out that the Congress needs support of at least 21 legislators to stake the claim, he said that once the governor swears in the Congress chief minister, he will be able to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

"The numbers will have to be proven on the floor of the House and we have that with us," he said. However, he did not specify how the party would muster the majority.

Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar said that the governors can't have two different set of rules. "While in Karnataka the governor has invited single largest party, in Goa too, the same precedent should be followed, he said.

"The Congress is giving an "opportunity to Goa governor to rectify the mistake which she did last year", Chodankar said. The BJP-led government in Goa is headed by Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment in the US for his pancreatic ailment.

Kavlekar said that in absence of the chief minister in the state since last two months, there is no government in place. "The Congress will be able to provide a stable government in Goa," the CLP leader added. PTI

Image: Goa CM Manohar Parrikar
15:15  Yeddyurappa's fate sealed in his letter to Guv: Chidambaram:  Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today said the fate of Karnataka's new Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa is sealed in his letter given to Governor Vajubhai Vala as it makes no mention of a number bigger than the 104 MLAs of the BJP.

His comment came after the Supreme Court said government formation in the state would be subject to the final outcome of the case before it.

"Mr Yedyurappa's letter to the Governor will seal his fate. There is no mention of a number bigger than 104. The Governor's invitation does not mention any number at all!," he tweeted.

The Union former finance and home minister said had he been in Yeddyurappa's place, he would not have taken the oath till the apex court took a decision on the petition filed by the Congress-JD(S) combine challenging the Governor's decision to invite him to take oath.

"I salute the Supreme Court. If I were Mr Yeddyurappa, I will not take oath until the hearing at 10.30 am on Friday, 18th May," Chidambaram said.

The Supreme Court today refused to stay Yeddyurappa's swearing-in as the chief minister after a rare pre-dawn hearing which saw the Congress-JD (S) combine making a last-ditch attempt to stall the saffron party's surge in the southern state.

The apex court, which commenced the hearing at 2.11 am and ended at 5.28 am, however, made it clear that the swearing-in and government formation in the state would be subject to the final outcome of the case before it.

The petition said the Congress-JD (S) combine has the majority in the House with 117 MLAs while the BJP has only 104 seats which was below the majority mark of 112 at present. The court will hear matter the matter again on Friday.

Yeddyurappa took oath as chief minister this morning. PTI
14:58  Karnataka governor is right: Former AG :  Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who defended Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R Vala's decision to invite the BJP to form the next government in the state, said on Thrusday that now the matter is before the Supreme Court for the final decision.

Rohatgi, criticised the urgency of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to place the matter before the Supreme Court.

He said the top court has the power to undo if anything goes wrong and hence, to list the matter in such urgency was not needed.

"It was up to the Governor to take a decision on the same and he has rightly exercised his right," Rohatgi said.

"There was no urgency according to me. The matter need not have been listed at night. SC has the power to undo if any wrong is done. We did not even have proper papers," he added.

When asked about the decision of Governor Vala to call the BJP to form the government, Rohatgi said the decision was solely up to the former, which have rightly exercised. -- ANI
14:53  BSF jawan among two injured in Pak shelling :  A BSF jawan was among two persons injured when Pakistan Rangers opened fire and lobbed mortars at over 15 Border Out Posts and some civilian areas along the International Border in Samba and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir, an official said today.

The firing and mortar shelling along the IB in Samba district started around 2 am, while it started at around 10 pm last night in Kathua's Hiranagar sector, a senior BSF officer told PTI.

BSF troops guarding the borderline retaliated and the exchange of fire was going on when reports last came in, the officer said. Schools in five km area along the IB have been closed by authorities in the wake of the shelling, officials said.

Giving details, the officer said, "Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire and resorted to heavy and unprovoked mortar shelling and firing along the IB on 10 to 15 BoPs in Samba and Kathua districts since last night'. In the exchanges, a BSF jawan suffered injuries and has been hospitalised. -- PTI
14:17  Cong, JDS MLAs return to resort :  After protesting outside the Vidhan Soudha till around 1 pm, the Congress and JDS MLAs have returned to Eagleton Resorts where they have been cloistered since yesterday.
14:11  Our MLA in clutches of PM Modi: Cong MP :  Amid the ongoing protest against the swearing-in of BS Yeddyurappa as the chief minister of Karnataka, Congress Party MP DK Suresh alleged that his fellow Congressman, Anand Singh, was in the "clutches" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "All MLAs are here except Anand Singh. He is in the clutches of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi," Suresh told ANI.

Image: Congress Party MP DK Suresh

13:53  Democracy was murdered when Cong-JD(S) allied for power: Shah:  BJP chief Amit Shah on Thursday hit back at Congress president Rahul Gandhi after the latter accused the BJP of murdering democracy. Shah tearing into Gandhi said that democracy was murdered by the Congress the minute it decided to ally with the Janata Dal (Secular) for political gains.

Shah continuing his tirade against the grand old party chief said that it was at the time of emergency imposed by the latter party that the constitution of democracy was heavily damaged.

"The 'Murder of Democracy' happens the minute a desperate Congress made an 'opportunist' offer to the JD(S), not for Karnataka's welfare but for their petty political gains. Shameful!," Shah tweeted.
13:44  15 days to BSY is licence to poach: Cong, JDS lawyer Singhvi:  Arguing on behalf of the JD(S) and his party last night, Congress senior leader Abhishek Singhvi told the Surpreme Court bench, constituted by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to hear the matter of the governor calling the BJP to form government in Karnataka, that the governor has negated democracy by not calling the alliance commanding majority in Karnataka.

"It is the biggest license to poaching if the governor gives 15 days to BJP to prove majority as in earlier such cases 48 hours were given by SC," Singhvi said. He said the BJP has 104 MLAs and Governor invited BS Yeddyurappa to form govt in "unconstitutional manner," even as JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy along with the Congress has 116 MLAs supporting him.

In a series of tweets, Singhvi said, "Ever heard of 15 days to prove majority to a 104 MLA strength party when opposers gave lists totalling 116!"

Citing instance where the apex court had reduced the floor test duration, he said in the Jagdambika Pal UP case, Anil Jha Jharkhand case and the Kevalker Goa case he said majority had to be proved between 48 hours to seven days in the cases.

He said there was no reason for the Supreme Court to differ this time. The governor has given the BS Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority.

He said Governor Vala could not have given written permission and  license to poach more effectively than by the letter giving BSY 15 days to prove his majority.

"Elementary commonsense tells that no one with 104 can cross 112 without massive horse trading," he said.

He added that BSY had in fact asked for seven days time to prove his majority, but the governor gave him 15 days. "This by itself is enough to prove that Constitutional norms have been discarded & (the governor was) acting virtually as a partisan agent of the central Govt."

He also said it was very gracious of the Supreme Court to fix the hearing at 1:45 am and showed that justice never sleeps and accessibility is 24x7, where merits so demands. "Which apex court in world allows such accessibility? SC deserves immeasurable kudos for sitting three-and-a-half hours from 2am. Patient hearing par excellence. Though no stay, bench made swearing fully subject to further orders. In a sense BSYs oath is provisional."

Image: Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi who represented his party and the JDS in the Supreme Court last night. He tweeted this picture, writing, "Seems eerie to be at 2 am at same place where u spend whole days, indeed a whole lifetime! In sc with juniors at 2 am on 17/5/18."
12:46  Rahul compares RSS impact in India to Pakistan:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi today lashed out at the BJP-led government at the Centre, saying Constitution was under "severe attack" in the country where an atmosphere of fear prevailed.

Addressing a 'Jan Swaraj Sammelan' in Raipur on the occasion of the silver jubilee of 73rd and 74th amendment in the Constitution related to local self-governance, Gandhi accused the BJP and the RSS of capturing every democratic institution in country.

Referring to the press conference called by Supreme Court judges on various issues relating to the apex court judiciary earlier this year, Gandhi said, "The judiciary is under fear, the press is under fear and even the BJP's members of Parliament are under the same fear as they cannot speak a single word before the prime minister (Narendra Modi)."

"The Constitution is under severe attack in the country. In Karnataka, the MLAs are on one side and the governor on the other," he alleged, adding, "One after another, you can see every democratic institution in the country, like the MPs, MLAs, the press and the Planning Commission...the RSS is trying to induct its people."

"RSS is making its way into all the institutions in the country. Aisa Pakistan ya tanashahi mein hota ha. This happens in Pakistan or in conflict," the Congress president said.

The comments came against the backdrop of the dramatic developments that took place in Karnataka after the Assembly election there threw up a hung verdict. BJP legislature party leader B S Yeddyurappa was today sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka for a second time, after an overnight high-voltage legal battle in the Supreme Court which refused to stay his swearing-in. -- PTI
12:17  Jethmalani moves SC against Karnataka Guv's decision :  Update: Senior lawyer and jurist Ram Jethmalani today moved the Supreme Court in his personal capacity against the Karnataka governor's decision to invite the BJP to form government in the state, saying it was a "gross abuse of constitutional power".

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the submission of Jethmalani seeking urgent hearing and said that a three-judge special bench, which had heard the matter in the early hours, would re-assemble tomorrow.

The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the veteran lawyer to make his submission before the three-judge bench led by Justice A K Sikri on May 18 when the petitions filed by the Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) would be taken up for further hearing.

"The governor's order is a gross abuse of the constitutional power and this has brought disrepute to the constitutional office he has been holding," Jethmalani submitted while seeking nod to submit his views in the case.

He said that he has not come before the court in favour or against any party but has been hurt over the unconstitutional decision taken by the Governor.

The Supreme Court bench, which also comprised Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, today in a pre-dawn hearing refused to stay Yeddyurappa's swearing-in as Karnataka chief minister after the Congress-JD (S) combine made a last-ditch attempt to stall the saffron party's surge in the southern state.

The Congress alleged that the BJP, which has 104 MLAs, was invited by the Governor to form the government "in an unconstitutional manner" even as JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy along with Congress has the support of 116 MLAs. In the May 12 polls, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 members, while the Congress secured 78, the JD(S) 37 and others three. -- PTI
12:05  WB Panchayat Polls: Counting of votes underway:  Counting of votes for the Panchayat Election in West Bengal has started in North Bengal's Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Malda. Counting has also resumed in the counting centre in North 24 Parganas, where it got delayed.

The Panchayat Polls witnessed massive violence which claimed at least 12 lives.

After the state witnessed violence in a number of places during the panchayat polls held on May 14, re-polling was held on Wednesday in 568 panchayat election booths spread across 19 districts of the state.

The booths, where re-polling took place, include 63 in Murshidabad, 52 in Coochbehar, 28 in West Midnapore and 10 in Hooghly among others.

The State Election Commission had ordered the re-poll, following complaints of violence during the polls on Monday.

The voting took place for 621 zilla parishads, over six thousand panchayat samitis, and nearly 31 thousand gram panchayats.  -- ANI
11:55  After he was sworn in as Karnataka CM, BS Yeddyurappa stopped for breakfast.
11:52  Yeddyurappa promises farm loan waivers in 1st presser as CM:  Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa's first press briefing after being sworn in.

"I express my gratitude to the people of the state. I'm 100% confident I will succeed in this mission.  The Congress and JD(S) have done an immoral coalition. But people's support is in my favour, my party's favour. As per my promise I am waiving off farm loans. We are confident we have the people's mandate. I am 101% confident we can prove our majority," Yeddyurappa said.

Yeddyurappa was on Thursday sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka for a second time, after an overnight high-voltage legal battle in the Supreme Court.

The 75-year-old Lingayat strongman was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Vajubhai Vala at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan amid loud cheering by his supporters.
11:34  Jethmalani says guv's order gross abuse of Constitutional power :  Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani tells the Supreme Court that Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's order is a "gross abuse" of Constitutional power.

A bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra asks Jethmalani to mention his plea tomorrow before the bench concerned.

Yesterday, the governor invited the BJPs BS Yeddyurappa to form the government, following which the Congress moved the Supreme Court.

The court has said that it will not stay the swearing-in, but will make it subject to the outcome of the case.

The SC has also asked the Attorney-General to produce the May 15 and May 16 letters given to the Governor by Yeddyurappa staking his claim to form the government. The case will now be taken up at 10.30 a.m. on Friday.
11:22  Congress, JDS MLAs protest outside the Vidhan Soudha in Karnataka.
11:17  Will ask father to talk to regional parties: Kumaraswamy:   Show of strength at the Karnataka Vidhan Soudha with both JDS and Congress MLAs protesting BS Yeddyurappa's swearing in as the CM.

JD(S)'s HD Kumaraswamy says he will request his father (HD Deve Gowda) to take the lead and talk to all regional parties and see how BJP is destroying democratic systems. "We have to come together to protect interests of the country," he said.

"The Modi govt is misusing the institutions of the central govt. I know they are threatening MLAs. Anand Singh (Cong MLA) said they are using ED. He said he had a case in ED & they are going to use it against me. He said he has to protect his interest," Kumaraswamy added.

Several senior Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjuna Kharge, party's General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal, sat at the foot of the statue, staging the protest.

The newly elected Congress legislators, who are staying at a resort on the city outskirts, also joined the protest. Janata Dal (Secular) legislators and leaders will also be joining the agitation soon, party sources said.

Speaking to reporters, Siddaramaiah termed as "unprecedented" Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to grant 15 days time to Yeddyurappa for proving majority in the assembly. He said Yeddyurappa would now have to furnish the list of MLA's supporting him immediately. 
10:56  Will tell people how BJP is going against Constitution: Siddaramaiah:  As BS Yeddyurappa took oath as Karnataka Chief Minister, former state chief Siddaramaiah on Thursday said that the BJP is going against the Constitution.

"The matter is pending before the Court. We will tell people how the BJP is going against the Constitution," Siddaramaiah told ANI.

The Congress on Wednesday hit out at Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and said that he shamed his office by inviting Yeddyurappa to form the government in the state.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Governor has shamed his office.

"Yeddyurappa on Thursday for the third time took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka at the Raj Bhavan.Yeddyurappa took oath as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka after the Supreme Court early today morning decided not to put a stay on the swearing-in while conducting a post-midnight hearing, wherein Congress and JD(S) pleaded for the same citing BJP's inadequate strength in the assembly to stake claim at forming the state government.

The three-judge bench of Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice SA Bobde, however, did not dismiss the petition filed by the two parties and said: "This petition is a subject of hearing later on".The next hearing will take place on later today at 10:30 am. -- ANI
10:30  Paper tigers :  Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal and Siddaramaiah catch up on the news while protesting at the Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru against BS Yeddyurappa's swearing in as CM of Karnataka. 
10:19  Yeddyurappa: From govt clerk to CM:  He has been controversy's favourite child. And controversy did not leave him alone even during his ascent to the throne of Karnataka amid a murky legal battle in the country's top-most court.

From the humdrum existence as a government clerk and a hardware store owner to becoming the chief minister of Karnataka for a second time, BS Yeddyurappa has navigated the choppy waters of politics with the consummate ease of a seasoned oarsman, defying tidal waves of adversity.

A hardboiled RSS Swayamsevak, 75-year-old Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa, joined the Hindu right organisation when he was barely 15, and cut his political teeth in the Jana Sangh, the BJP's forerunner, in his hometown Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He became the Jana Sangh's Shikaripura taluka chief in the early 1970s.

Currently a Lok Sabha member from Shivamogga, he was first elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win it five more times.

The Lingayat strongman is known to have espoused the cause of farmers, something which was repeately referred to by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election speeches.

A Bachelor of Arts, Yeddurappa, who was jailed during Emergency, worked as a clerk in the social welfare department before taking up a similar job at a rice mill in his native Shikaripura. Later, he set up his own hardware shop in Shivamogga.

Yeddyurappa may have landed in the hot seat in 2004 itself when the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but the Congress and JD(S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda cobbled together an alliance, and a government was formed under Dharam Singh.

Known for his political sagacity, Yeddyurappa joined hands with H D Kumaraswamy, Deve Gowda's son, in 2006 and brought down the Dharam Singh government after the chief minister was indicted by Lokayukta in an alleged mining scam.

Under a rotational chief ministership arrangement, Kumaraswamy became the chief minister and Yeddyurappa his deputy. However, the coalition government collapsed as the JD (S) reneged on the power sharing deal after 20 months, paving the way for elections.

In the 2008 polls, the Lingayat heavyweight led the party to victory, and the first BJP government in the south was formed under him. Soon controversies swirled around Yeddyurappa over alleged abuse of office to favour his sons in allotment of land in Bengaluru.

The indictment by Lokayukta in an illegal mining scam was the last straw that broke the camel's back, and he was forced to resign on July 31, 2011. On October 15 that year, he surrendered before the Lokayukta court, after it issued a warrant against him in connection with alleged land scams, and was in jail for a week, dealing a body blow to the BJP's claim of being a party with a difference.

Sulking after having been made to quit, Yeddyurappa broke his decades-long association with the saffron party and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha.

However, ploughing a lonely furrow, he failed to make the KJP a force to reckon with in Karnataka politics but wrecked the BJP's chances of retaining power in the 2013 polls, winning six seats and polling about 10 per cent votes.

As Yeddyurppa faced an uncertain future and the BJP looked for a leader with a formidable reputation to lend its campaign the required heft ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two cosied up to each other.

On January 9, 2014, Yeddyurappa merged his KJP with the BJP. In the Lok Sabha elections that followed, the BJP won 19 of the state's 28 seats, a remarkable turnaround for the party which had secured a measly 19.9 per cent votes in the Assembly polls just a year ago leading to the fall of its first government.

Notwithstanding the taint of corruption, Yeddyurappa's status and clout grew in the BJP. On October 26, 2016, he got a huge relief when a special CBI court acquitted him, his two sons and son-in-law in a Rs 40 crore illegal mining case, which had cost him the chief ministership in 2011.

In January 2016, the Karnataka High Court quashed all 15 FIRs against Yeddyurappa lodged by the Lokayukta police under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In April that year, he was appointed the state BJP chief for the fourth time.

The Lingayat leader, however, continued to be dogged by controversies, with the anti-corruption bureau launching proceedings against him in an alleged illegal land denotification case. He petitioned the high court, which stayed the ACB proceedings against him. The taint of alleged corruption notwithstanding, the BJP declared him its chief ministerial candidate, ignoring the taunts by the Congress. PTI
09:51  @RahulGandhi tweets: The BJPs irrational insistence that it will form a Govt. in Karnataka, even though it clearly doesnt have the numbers, is to make a mockery of our Constitution. This morning, while the BJP celebrates its hollow victory, India will mourn the defeat of democracy.
09:49  Congress protests outside K'taka assembly :  Mallikarjuna Kharge, Ashok Gehlot, Ghulam Nabi Azad and pensive Siddaramaiah at the steps of the Vidhan Soudha 
09:43  Congress MLAs protest outside K'taka assembly :  Congress and JD(S) MLAs leave the Eagleton Resort where they have been holed up since yesterday, to hold protests outside the Vidhana Soudha.

Yeddyurappa was the only lawmaker to be sworn-in today. No cabinet post has been allotted yet, neither has any minister been sworn-in by the Governor.

The Governor has asked Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence in the House and prove a majority within 15 days from assuming office.

This is the third time BS Yeddyurappa has become Karnatakas chief minister. His first term was from November 12, 2007 to November 19, 2007, while the second was from May 30, 2008 to July 31, 2011.

Image: Congress and JDS MLAs leave Eagleton Resort to hold protests outside Vidhan Soudha against the governor's decision to invite the BJP to form government.
09:39  Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa with Governor Vajubhai Vala. Reason enough to smile after a 48 hours of nail biting indecision. 
09:32  Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka CM:   B S Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka chief minister. After the midnight drama over the formation of government in Karnataka ended, though not entirely, in the Supreme Court, the swearing-in of Bharatiya Janata Party's Yeddyurappa finally took place at Raj Bhavan on Thursday at 9 am.

Yeddyurappa took oath as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka after the Supreme Court early this morning decided not to put a stay on the swearing-in while conducting a post-midnight hearing, wherein Congress and JD(S) pleaded for the same citing BJP's inadequate strength in the assembly to stake claim at forming the state government.

The three-judge bench of Justice AK Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice SA Bobde, however, did not dismiss the petition filed by the two parties and said: "This petition is a subject of hearing later on".

The next hearing will take place on Friday at 10:30 am.

Late last night, Congress and JD(S) challenged Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R Vala's decision in the top court to invite BJP to form the government even when the saffron party, with 105 MLAs, including one Independent MLA, is seven short of the halfway mark of 112.

They contended that they, with a total strength of 115 MLAs, are in a better position to form the government.Though Vala has invited the BJP to form the government, he has given 15 days to the saffron party to prove its majority in the state assembly.In the hearing, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Bharatiya Janata Party, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta for the Union government, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the Congress-JD(S) alliance.

The hearing commenced at 2.20 a.m. and concluded with the court passing order at 5.30 in the morning. This will be the third time when Yeddyurappa will take oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
09:01  BS Yeddyurappa arrives at Raj Bhavan, to take oath as Karnataka chief minister shortly.
08:44  Decks cleared for swearing-in ceremony of BS Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
08:32  BS Yeddyurappa to take oath as chief minister today:  
After a high midnight drama, Bharatiya Janata Party legislature party leader B S Yeddyurappa will take oath as Karnataka Chief Minister at 9 am today after his party was invited to form government.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala has asked 75-year-old Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence within 15 days of assuming office as the chief minister.

Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are unlikely to attend the swearing in ceremony.

In a rare pre-dawn hearing, the Supreme Court refused to stay Yeddyurappa's swearing-in after the Congress-JDS combine moved the apex court to stall the saffron party's surge in the southern state.

The apex court, which commenced the hearing at 2.11 AM and ended at 5.28 AM, however made it clear that the swearing-in and the government formation in the state would be subject to the final outcome of the case before it.
05:54  Trump: US hasn't been notified about threat to cancel N Korea summit:   President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the United States has not been notified about North Korea's threat to cancel his historic summit with Kim Jong Un next month.

North Korea has threatened to abandon planned talks between Kim and Trump in June if Washington insists on pushing it 'into a corner' on nuclear disarmament.

"No decision. We haven't been notified at all (about the threat). We'll have to see," Trump told reporters at the White House.

"We haven't seen anything. We haven't heard anything. We will see what happens, whatever is," Trump told reporters as he welcomed the president of Uzbekistan to the White House.

Asked if Kim is bluffing, he replied, "We'll see what happens."

Asked if he will still insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, Trump said, "Yes".

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear programme.

In the meeting on June 12 in Singapore, the two countries were expected to discuss ways to implement their leaders' recent agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve their overall ties.

Reacting to the reports from Pyongyang, the White House earlier said it was "still hopeful" the summit will proceed despite North Korea's threat to cancel it.

The State Department also said it was going ahead with preparations for the summit as planned earlier.  -- PTI
04:54  As the three-judge bench of the SC continues to hear plea of Congress and Janata Dal-Secular challenging Karnataka Governor's decision, Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleads the swearing-in ceremony to be deferred by 4.30 pm today while Bharatiya Janata Party's lawyer Mukul Rohatgi continues his argument.
04:28  Congress petition not dismissed, will be heared later:  Supreme Court did not dismiss the petition filed by Congress and JD-S, said, "This petition is a subject of hearing later on".

The SC also issued a notice to respondents including BJP's BS Yeddyurappa, asking to file a reply.
04:24  SC refuses to stay Yeddyurappa's swearing-in today:  JUST IN: Supreme Court refuses to stay swearing-in of B S Yeddyurappa as Karnataka chief minister today at 9 am.  -- ANI
04:17  Prez, Guv not answerable to any court: BJP's lawyer Rohatgi:  Attorney General K K venugopal, appearing for the Centre, argues, "This petition should not have been filed. The Congress and JD-S should have waited for the floor test to be conducted."

While BJP's lawyer Mukul Rohatgi demands, "Please dismiss this petition. They want an injunction to stop discharging function of one of the highest constitutional functionary. Larger questions is that can it be stalled?"

"The governor's job to invite to oath. The President and Governor are not answerable to any court. The court should not stop a constitutional functionary in functioning of his official duties," says Rohatgi.  -- ANI
03:46  Can't speculate unless we see Yeddyurappa's letter to Guv, says SC:  Hearing on the petition filed by the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular challenging Karnataka Governor's decision to invite B S Yeddyurappa to form government continues:

Justice S A Bobde says, "We do not know what kind of majority B S Yeddyurappa has claimed. Unless we see that letter of support, we cannot speculate."

Bharatiya Janata Party's lawyer Mukul Rohatgi says, "The matter shouldn't be heard in the night. Heavens won't fall if someone is sworn in. Last time SC heard in night, the case related to hanging of Yakub Memon." -- ANI
03:29  "Swearing-in ceremony can be held day after tomorrow," says Singhvi.
03:20  "Where is the letter of the Governor in which he invited BJP to form the government," the three-judge bench asks petitioner's lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi.  -- ANI
02:37  Giving 15 days time to prove majority is unheard of: Singhvi to SC:  Abhishek Manu Singhvi continues argument:

It's unheard that a party is given 15 days time to prove its majority from 104 to the magical number (112).

Giving permission to form the government to someone who is having 104 seats as compared to the other group that is having 116, is adding insult to injury.

The BJP has just 104 MLAs in support and the governor has invited the Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yeddyurappa to form the government. It is completely unconstitutional.

Yesterday, Congress  legislature party passed a resolution supporting JD-S. H D Kumaraswamy submitted 37 MLAs' signatures to the Governor, supporting the Congress.   -- ANI
02:26  Singhvi seeks quashing of K'taka Guv's order, direction to invite Congress-JD(S):  SC hearing on Congress-JD(S) plea against Karnataka governor's order:

Attorney General K K Venugopal also reaches SC.

Former A-G Mukul Rohatgi representing the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Singhvi argues for the Congress-JD(S), "Court may pass an order declaring order of Governor inviting B S Yeddyurappa to form the government as unconstitutional and quash the same, or, pass direction to the governor to invite alliance of Congress and JD-S which has support of more than 112 MLAs to form the government."

Rohatgi said earlier, "The governor has discretion to call largest party and he has done so. If the single largest party won't be able to form the government, other party will be called. In case of Goa elections,single largest party Congress had not presented its side, that's the difference."  -- with ANI inputs
01:57  SC hears Congress-JD(S) plea against Karnataka Guv's invite to BJP:  The Supreme Court begins hearing on petition of Congress and Janata Dal-Secular challenging Karnataka governor's decision to invite Bharatiya Janata Party's B S Yeddyurappa to form the government in the state and giving 15 days time to prove majority.

A three-judge bench of Justice A K Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S A Bobde hear the petition.

Hearing conducted in Courtroom no. 6. Congress's Abhishek Manu Singhvi argues for the Congress and JD-S.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argues for the government.
01:44  SC to hear Cong plea against Yeddy swearing-in at 1.45 am:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday night agreed  to hear at 1.45 am the petition filed by the Congress challenging Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to invite the BJP to form the government in the southern state. 

The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has constituted a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan to hear the matter in court number six. 

The petition has sought a stay on the oath-taking ceremony, as communicated by the governor to the BJP's chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, scheduled for 9.30 am on Thursday. 

In a midnight legal push, the Congress had approached the Supreme Court seeking an immediate intervention by the chief justice to stay the move, which it termed as an "encounter of the Constitution".  

The Congress urged Chief Justice Dipak Misra to hold an urgent hearing on Wednesday night itself since Yeddyurappa is slated to take oath as chief minister at 9.30 am.  

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said the party sought a hearing on its petition challenging the governor's decision in the night. The party termed the governor's decision as "murder of democracy and trampling of the Constitution". 

Earlier in the evening, Vala invited Yeddyurappa to form the government and take oath as chief minister on Thursday. He also asked Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence within 15 days of assuming office.  

Singhvi, who has been assigned the task to lead Congress's legal challenge against Vala's decision, had met the Supreme Court registrar to take forward the process to hear the "urgent petition". 

The petition prepared by advocate Dev Dutt Kamath contended that despite presenting the list of 116 MLAs, governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP which has 104 MLAs to form the government and has given relatively longer time of 15 days to prove the majority on the floor of the House.  

The petition, it is learnt, has also stated that an order should be passed for inviting the Congress to form the government. Kamath and other advocates earlier met the registrar for putting the petition before CJI Misra for constituting the bench.  

Sources said the BJP has also kept a team of senior advocates, including C S Vaidyanathan, ready to represent the party. The Congress has also said that granting 15 days' time to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority on the floor of the House will promote horse trading, alleging that BJP will resort to poaching of MLAs of Congress and JD-S. 

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the southern state winning 104 seats, but is short of a simple majority.  

On the other hand, the Congress and JD-S, which have already announced a post-poll tie-up, have won 78 and 37 seats respectively and claimed before Vala to have numbers to form government in the state.

00:06  Jinnah painting row: AMU students call off protest:  The students of the Aligarh Muslim University on Wednesday ended their protest over a portrait of Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, an official said.

According to AMU spokesman Omar Peerzada, at around 8 pm this evening the vice chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor accompanied by his wife Dr Hameeda Tariq visited the dharna site and offered juice to student protestors who were sitting on a hunger strike since past three days.

The Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union leaders sat on an indefinite hunger strike demanding a judicial enquiry into the violence on the campus over the portrait of Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  -- PTI

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