HD Kumaraswamy
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy during Assembly Session at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru | PTI Photo | Shailendra Bhojak
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The prolonged political crisis in Karnataka ended Tuesday after the Congress-JD(S) coalition government “crumbled”, losing a trust vote by six votes. Newspapers report the matter with a sense of finality, and Hindustan Times’s headline captures it well: “Curtains for HDK govt as coalition loses floor.”

HT writes that the loss is “setting the stage for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stake claim to power in the only southern state it has ruled”. The Times of India writes that the “turbulent tenure” of the coalition came to an end “exactly 14 months after it assumed office”.

In “Number game lost, exit Cong-JD(S)”, The Indian Express writes that the BJP “finally tasted success” by “defeating a confidence motion”.

The Hindu writes that “the return of (BJP) State president B.S. Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister is imminent” after “99 MLAs expressed confidence in the government, 105 opposed the motion”.

“Two Congress, two independents and one BSP legislator stayed away from the vote, as did 15 rebel legislators,” details HT.

TOI reminds that this “becomes the fifth coalition government to go before its term in Karnataka, upholding the state’s record of entertaining no coalition for a full tenure”.

Jaishankar on Trump’s mediation

The Express highlighted the continuing diplomatic tiff from Monday after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Parliament Tuesday that “he would like to categorically assure that the PM has made no such requests”.

TOI views Jaishankar’s statement as a “major damage-limitation effort” followed by Trump’s “outrageous” claim. “In Washington, the US government too sought to contain the damage”, it writes, quoting a source who said, “Obviously, President Trump was mistaken. The administration has since been scrambling to set the record straight without denouncing him”.

HT says that India “doubled down on its dismissal” of US President’s remarks which “triggered a storm in New Delhi”.

The Hindu detailed Jaishankar’s statement: “Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism. Let me conclude by emphasising that the Shimla agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis for resolving all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally.”

Extension of NRC deadline

Also making news on front pages is the Supreme Court’s extension of the National Register of Citizens deadline from 31 July to 31 August. However, the apex court “rejected” the central and Assam government’s “pleas to conduct 20% sample re-verification of the draft NRC in areas bordering Bangladesh”, reports HT.

It features the statement from the judges: “The court doesn’t feel the need for re-verification of the draft NRC list; we are more than satisfied with the work done in the state. Re-verification of 27% has already been done.”

The judges said this in reference to coordinator Hajela’s report on re-verification exercise according to which, “8 million people have even automatically re-verified”.

The Hindu mentions that both the governments said “many names had been wrongly included and excluded”, and that a “sample re-verification” was necessary to “quell the growing perception” that “lakhs of illegal immigrants” may have made it to the list.

Opinion

In “Sound and Fury”, the Express states that India should take US President Donald Trump’s remarks about Kashmir “with more than a pinch of salt”. Trump is known for flouting rules of diplomacy and making bizarre claims. According to Express, if Trump is “careless with words”, India and Pakistan are “too obsessed with them, especially when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir”.

It argues that the Indian foreign ministry was right to “make a quick and unambiguous rebuttal” to Trump’s remarks. This was followed by the US State Department issuing a clarification, without saying Trump was wrong, “to mollify Indian sentiments”. The outrage over Trump’s remarks also deviates from the larger issue of Afghanistan. Trump is eager to end the war in Afghanistan and will reward Pakistan if it is able to table a peace treaty with the Taliban. This will have “profound consequences in the Indian neighbourhood”, writes the Express.

HT writes in “Why institutional accountability matter”, that while the Modi government enjoys an absolute majority and rules twelve states, “a functioning democracy rests on checks and balances”. Independent institutions provide these checks and the recent bills passed by this government appear to compromise this balance.

These bills include the expansion of National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s power and a wider security brief to forces in Kashmir. Even if certain experts can argue for these two, the amendments to the Right To Information Act have been criticised as many believe it “will curtail the autonomy of the Central Information Commission”. HT identifies a pattern to these moves as the government has increased the “investigative powers of the State” while not being keen about the checks on executive power. The Modi government needs to “rethink its priorities” and “the opposition and civil society must keep a careful watch on its actions”.

Prime Time

Donald Trump’s uninformed remark on Kashmir and the Karnataka assembly trust vote dominated prime time news debates Tuesday.

Zee News Hindi: Between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is lying? ‘Taal Thok Ke’ discusses at length.

International relations expert Ravindra Sachdev said Modi should be discreet and “not give a statement” on the issue. “If he does, it will result in a Modi vs Trump face off. Which will reveal that Trump is lying. This should not happen as the two leaders have a longer relationship to think about.”

Advocate Shabnam Lone pointed out, “All he said was that US will assist. Trump understands that the Kashmir issue is very complicated.”

Anchor Aman Chopra highlighted, “Even the White House has no record of this meeting between Modi and Trump. They have no proof.”

ABP News: Anchor Romana Isar Khan asked if Trump is a friend to India or an enemy.

BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Our views don’t always align with his. When it comes to Pakistan and the issue of Kashmir, the people of this country have faith in their prime minister.”

He added, “The opposition perhaps has more faith in Trump than Modi.”

Ashutosh Mishra from the Economic Times speculated, “How much truth there is to the meeting between the two leaders can only be confirmed by Narendra Modi. Trump has said what he had to.”

News Mobile editor-in-chief Saurabh Shukla said, “Demanding a statement from Modi is very childish”, referring to the Opposition’s demands.

NDTV 24X7: On anchor Nidhi Razdan’s show, Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor called Trump’s remark “a fairly rushed statement”.

“If it was just an offer to mediate, he already did that 3 years ago, and we rebuffed it,” said Tharoor.

“How should India deal with Trump?” Razdan asked.

Tharoor replied, “We don’t have any choice, it’s a very important relationship. It is an awkward one, but we must show our skills towards dealing with their representatives.”

Navtej Sarna, former Indian ambassador to the United States, said, “I think the statement was ill-advised, if at all advised… You could see Imran Khan sort of leading Trump on, he was playing to his vanity. And Trump does see himself as the ultimate dealmaker.”

Mirror Now: Anchor Tanvi Shukhla discussed the fall of the JD(S)-Congress coalition in Karnataka.

Senior journalist Kingshuk Nag said the BJP wouldn’t stake claim just yet. “The house will go under President’s rule for 2-3 months” or more because “Yeddyurappa is not the favourite candidate. This house will go into suspended animation.”

BJP’s Sadananda Gowda retorted, “We will stake the claim 100% because we have the majority.”

Social activist Tara Krishnaswamy said, “The fact is, we didn’t elect many of these MLAs to the party that’s going to form the govt. So there’s a constitutional issue here.”

Times Now: Anchor Rahul Shivshankar discussed H.D. Kumaraswamy’s off colour ‘Wholesale – Retail trading’ remark in a bid to save the coalition.

BJP national spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said, “Karnataka MLAs jumped shipped because they know Congress-JDS has no future because of corruption under HDK government.”

Political analyst Nishant Verma recounted the numerous politicians who have been poached over the years.

However, state Congress legal cell member C.M. Dhananjaya said, “We aren’t interested in horse-trading. Wholesale and retail trade are done by BJP.”

With inputs from Rachel John.

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