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Congress open to ally with JD-S in Karnataka again

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Rahul Gandhi Kumaraswamy

Bengaluru, Dec 2 : Buoyed by the dramatic return to power in Maharashtra with the NCP and the Shiv Sena, the Congress is open to ally again with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) to form a coalition government in Karnataka if it wins more seats in the 15 Assembly bye-elections on December 5, a party leader said on Monday.

“We are open to tie-up again with the JD-S if we win majority seats in the Thursday Assembly bye-elections in the state, as our sole aim is to keep the BJP out of power as we did in Maharashtra despite ideological differences with the Sena,” senior Congress leader V.S. Ugrappa told IANS here.

The bye-elections have been necessitated due to the disqualification of the 14 Congress and 3 JD-S) rebel Legislators after they resigned from their Assembly seats in July in protest against the former coalition government’s poor functioning.

Bye-elections in two Assembly segments — Muski (Raichur district) and R. R. Nagar (Bengaluru) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 stare Assembly elections.

“Though our parties are contesting in the bye-elections separately to retain the seats we lost after the rebels resigned, we are confident of winning as many of them to ensure both the parties have enough numbers to form a coalition government again if the BJP fails to have a simple majority and its Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa resigns again,” asserted Ugrappa.

After vote count on December 9, the ruling BJP needs at least seven seats to have a simple majority, with 112 as the halfway mark in the 223-member Assembly, as it has 105, including one independent but excluding the speaker. Two seats remain vacant pending bye-elections in them.

The Congress, which had 80 members, including former speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar, has 66 after losing 14 members and JD-S, which had 37, has 34 after losing 3 members. Both the parties have a combined strength of 100 and need 12 more seats to stake claim for power again in the southern state.

“If we win even 9 seats in the bye-elections and tie up with the JD-S, our combined strength in the Assembly will go up to 109. With the support of one BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), one independent and one nominated member, we will touch the halfway mark to prove majority on the floor of the House in a trial of strength,” reiterated Ugrappa.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which have been allies over the last two decades in the neighbouring Maharashtra, joined hands with the Shiv Sena to form a coalition government after the latter (Sena) parted ways with its pre-poll alliance partner the BJP in Maharashtra.

“As anything or everything is possible in democratic politics, our party high command will talk to JD-S supremo H. D. Deve Gowda to extend support to us to form a coalition government again as none of the political parties is in favour of a mid-term election in the state with the 5-year term of the present Assembly having more than 3 years to last,” pointed out Ugrappa.

A split verdict in the May 2018 Assembly elections threw up a hung House of 225 members, including one nominated, resulting in the Congress and JD-S forming a coalition government on May 23, 2018 as post-poll allies. Yediurappa had resigned on May 19, 2018 instead of taking the floor test as his 3-day government was short of eight seats, excluding speaker to prove majority in the House.

“We are confident of winning 10-12 seats that we lost due to the rebels resigning from them and contesting as the BJP candidates. The electorate is angry with them because they were voted on our Hand symbol on a Congress ticket. The Supreme Court on November 13 also upheld their disqualification by former Assembly speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar though it allowed them to re-contest,” recalled Ugrappa.

In a triangular contest, the JD-S also fielded candidates in all the 15 Assembly constituencies against the Congress and the BJP, including the three it lost due to its rebels resigning. Their resignation led to the fall of the 14-month-old coalition government on July 23 when H. D. Kumaraswamy failed to win the confidence motion he had moved on July 18 on the floor of the House.

(Fakir Balaji can be reached at [email protected])

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Covid-19 corollaries on the dairy sector: CRISIL

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

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dairy industry

New Delhi, May 26 : Supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the nationwide lockdown, and bread-and-butter issues for hotels, restaurants and cafes, have materially reduced demand for dairy products.

This is despite supply of most dairy products continuing during the lockdown, since they are categorised as essentials.

The shuttering of hotels and dine-ins has also dried up off-take of skimmed milk powder and khoya.

According to report by CRISIL Research on the state of dairy industry and supply chains, products that can’t be made at home easily – such as cheese, flavoured milk and also khoya – haven’t found their way back to the dining table in the same quantities as before the lockdown.

Demand for ice creams, which usually peaks in summer (accounting for 40 per cent of annual sales) has just melted away. Rural areas, which are feeling the income pinch more, seem to be staying off butter and ghee, the report by global analytics firm has said.

To be sure, since the third week of April, supply chains have turned smoother, so demand for staples such as milk, curd, paneer and yogurt are expected to see a quick rebound, leading to on-year expansion in sales, CRISIL said.

The pandemic, however, may sour the business for unorganised dairies because of pervasive contamination fears.

Conversely, as consumers shift, revenues of organised dairies and packaged products should fatten.

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

Large brands such as Amul and Mother Dairy had already hiked retail milk prices by 4-5 per cent last fiscal. They may not serve an encore.

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445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Arogya Setu App

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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Rising urbanization likely cause of heavy rainfall in South: Research

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

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IMD heavy rains predict

Hyderabad, May 26 : A team of researchers at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have discovered a link between heavy rainfall in several parts of south India and a growing urbanisation in the region.

A team led by Prof. Karumuri Ashok from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad, examined whether a common factor, the changing ‘land use land cover’ (LULC) in these states, has any implications for the heavy rainfall events.

Over the past few years, many heavy rainfall events have been reported in cities of south India. Prominent among them are the extreme rainfall that created havoc in Chennai and nearby areas of Tamil Nadu in December 2015, the heavy rainfall over Hyderabad and adjoining regions in Telangana in September 2016, and the extreme rainfall event in Kerala in August 2018.

Notably, these three states differ in their geographical locations, and also the season in which they receive rainfall. Kerala, located on the southwest Indian coast off the Arabian Sea receives heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon from June-September.

Tamil Nadu, off the Bay of Bengal, receives rainfall mainly during the northeast monsoon (October-December). The land-locked state Telangana receives the bulk of its annual rainfall during the summer monsoon season.

A UoH statement stated that their study showed the precipitation during heavy rainfall events in these states has significantly increased from 2000 to 2017. Using the LULC data from ISRO, and by conducting 2 km resolution simulation experiments of twelve heavy rainfall events over the states, the researchers found distinct LULC changes in these three states, which led to higher surface temperatures and a deeper and moist boundary layer. These in turn caused a relatively higher convective available potential energy and, consequently, heavier rainfall.

The study also suggests that increasing urbanization in Telangana and Tamil Nadu is likely to enhance the rainfall during the heavy rainfall events by 20%-25%. Prof. Ashok feels that improving the density of observational rainfall and other weather parameters may help in forecasting extreme rainfalls at city level.

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

Prof. K. Ashok and his Ph.D. student Mr. A. Boyaj who is the first author, are both from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad. The work was done in collaboration with Prof. Ibrahim Hoteit and Dr Hari Prasad Dasari of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia.

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