Daily Bulletin: Voting begins in 15 seats vacated by Congress, JD(S) rebels in Karnataka; RBI MPC likely to slash repo rate for sixth time in a row; day's top stories

Karnataka bypolls on 15 seats today; contest ego battle for opposition, survival test for BJP

Bypolls are being held in 15 assembly constituencies across Karnataka on Thursday with the ruling BJP government hoping to win at least six to remain in power. Polling began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. As many as 37.78 lakh people are expected to cast their votes.

The by-elections are being held to fill the vacancies caused due to the disqualification of 17 rebel Congress and Janata Dal Secular MLAs, whose rebellion led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July and paved the way for the BJP to take over in its stead.

 Daily Bulletin: Voting begins in 15 seats vacated by Congress, JD(S) rebels in Karnataka; RBI MPC likely to slash repo rate for sixth time in a row; days top stories

Representational image. PTI

Currently, the BJP government led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa enjoys a slim majority in the Karnataka Assembly and has the support of 106 MLAs in the 224-member House, while the Congress-JDS Opposition has the support of 101 MLAs. This means the ruling party will need to win at least six of the 15 seats being contested to retain its majority.

BJP has rewarded the Congress, JD(S) rebels by fielding 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators who joined the party as its candidates from their respective constituencies.

The constituencies where bypolls are set to be held are Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijayanagar, Chikballapur, KR Puram, Yeshwanthpur, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagar, Hoskote, KR Pet and Hunsur. The Janata Dal Secular and the Congress are contesting the polls separately, their alliance lying in tatters after its collapse on the floor of the house. While the BJP and the Congress have fielded candidates on all 15 seats, the Janata Dal Secular is contesting from 12.

RBI MPC likely to slash repo rate for sixth time in a row today

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das-headed Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to cut the key policy rate today (Thursday) in a bid to revive the sagging economy.

If the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cuts the repo rate on Thursday, it would be the sixth reduction in the short-term lending rate in 2019.

"The MPC will meet from 3 to 5 December 2019 for the fifth bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2019-20," a release by the central bank said.

The resolution of the MPC will be placed on the website of the RBI at 11.45 am on Thursday.

P Chidambaram to hold presser at 12:30 pm, likely to attend Parliament today after bail in INX Media case 

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram's wife Nalini on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's order granting him bail in the INX Media money laundering case and said he will attend Parliament's Winter Session. He is likely to be released from the Tihar Jail in the evening, she told PTI over the phone.

Nalini, who is a senior lawyer, said she was happy that her husband got the bail. He will start attending Rajya Sabha proceedings after taking care of his health, she said. The Winter Session of Parliament will end on 13 December.

Former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday said that he was happy to have stepped out of jail after 106 days.

"I am happy that I have stepped out and breathing the air of freedom after 106 days," said Chidambaram on Wednesday after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence. "I will address a press conference tomorrow (Thursday). I am happy that the Supreme Court passed the order granting bail," added Chidambaram. He is expected to hold a presser at 12:30 pm at All India Congress Committee headquarters in Delhi.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss bills on corporate tax today in both Houses 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will move in Lok Sabha the International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 which seeks to provide for the establishment of an authority to develop and regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres in India. Meanwhile the finance minister is also likely to further discuss the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha today.

According to PRS Legislative, The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill provides for the reduction in rates of corporate income tax as an additional fiscal stimulus to attract investment, generate employment and boost growth. provides for the establishment of an authority to develop and regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres set up in Special Economic Zones in India. The bill was introduced in Upper House by the Piyush Goyal, on 12 February 2019. This bill was slated to be introduced in the Lok Sabha only after its withdrawal from the Rajya Sabha. Approval for the same was granted by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill provides for a reduction in rates of corporate income tax as an additional fiscal stimulus to attract investment, generate employment and boost growth.

Narendra Modi expresses grief over death of Indian workers in Sudan factory blast

At least 18 Indians were among 23 people killed in an LPG tanker blast that destroyed a ceramic factory in Sudan, the Indian mission said on Wednesday. Over 130 were injured.

Sixteen Indians were missing after the incident at the Seela Ceramic Factory in Bahri area in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Tuesday. “As per latest reports, but so far not confirmed officially, 18 are dead,” the Indian Embassy said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressed anguish at the death of workers, including Indians, in a Sudan factory.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also tweeted about the incident. “A 24-hour emergency hotline +249-921917471 has been set up by @EoI_Khartoum. Our prayers are with the workers and their families,” he said.

He said 60 Indians were employed in the factory and 53 of them were said to have been present at the site. Seven Indians have been hospitalised, with four in critical condition. Thirty-four Indians survived the blast, as per the details released by the Indian Embassy on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the Sudanese government, the blast triggered fire in an industrial area because of which 23 people were killed.

Google starts rolling out Focus Mode

Announced at I/O 2019 in May this year, Google is now rolling out the latest Digital Wellbeing feature – Focus Mode – after being tested in beta for months. Google says “Focus mode” lets you “pause distracting apps when you need to focus.” While users can currently set app timers to limit an app's usage, the Focus Mode can be wielded with precision. Focus mode is available on new devices launching with Android 9 and Android 10.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 07, 2019 17:59:34 IST