Over 100 Karnataka lawmakers of the BJP will return to Bengaluru soon after their three-day stake-out at a luxury resort near Delhi. “Hearty welcome,” sneered the state Congress, which accuses the BJP of a failed attempt to topple its coalition government with the Janata Dal Secular.

“We extend a hearty welcome to all Karnataka BJP MLAs who are returning home after an extended holiday at a luxury resort near Delhi. Now that they are sufficiently rejuvenated let us hope they will attend to the work of their constituencies which they have neglected for long,” tweeted Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao.

In a rare stab at political astrology, Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said the BJP would not get more that 125 seats in the 2019 general elections and regional parties and not the Congress would be the decision-makers on who governs the country. That Ms Banerjee wants regional parties to have a greater role on the national stage is known. But today, she stated emphatically that the regional parties could end up winning more seats than the BJP or the Congress. It would give them the leverage to decide on the top post, she hinted.

“I don’t think the BJP will get more than 125 (seats), Congress – I don’t know. The federal parties would be the decision factor this time,” Ms Banerjee told reporters during an examination of the Brigade Parade, the Ground Zero of Saturday’s mega rally.

Rakesh Asthana, number 2 to former CBI chief Alok Verma, was moved out of the premier investigating agency today, just a week after the removal of his boss. The unprecedented public rivalry between the officers — involving tit-for-tat corruption allegations and a bribery case against Mr Asthana — had engulfed the country’s premier investigating agency in a huge controversy over the last months.

Several other members of Mr Verma’s team, including AK Sharma and Manish Sinha, have also been moved out. Sources said the churn is meant to clear the decks for the appointment of a new chief. A special panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on January 24 to pick Mr Verma’s successor.

The termination of Mr Asthana’s tenure came years ahead of time — the usual stint at CBI is of seven years. Mr Asthana, who was elevated to the CBI amid controversial circumstances after the NDA came to power, has been moved to the high-profile Bureau of Civil Aviation Security despite a criminal case against him.

The special CBI court on Thursday sentenced the Sirsa based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Ramchander Chhatrapati.

The CBI court judge Jagdeep Singh, who pronounced the sentence had last week convicted all the four accused including Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Nirmal Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Krishan Lal in the murder case.

The case pertains to the murder of journalist Ramchander Chhatrapati in the year 2002 after he published an anonymous letter in his evening newspaper “Poora Sach” by a female Dera follower who accused Gurmeet Ram Rahim of rape. Chhatrapati was shot five times outside his house. He succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

The third death anniversary of Rohith Vemula was organised at the University of Hyderabad amidst high security, with State police deploying personnel, including paramilitary forces. In a first in three years, the police allowed Radhika Vemula and Raja Vemula, Rohith’s mother and brother, entry to the campus to pay respects.

Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar in the university, had committed suicide on January 17, 2016. His death had triggered nationwide protests demanding social justice for Dalit and other marginalised students in educational institutions.

Navy divers on Thursday found a body in an illegal rathole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills where 15 miners are trapped since December 13, officials said.

“One body detected by naval divers using underwater ROV [remotely operated vehicle] at a depth of approximately 160 feet and 210 feet inside a rathole mine,” a Navy spokesperson said in a statement.

The body has been brought up to the mouth of the mine and will be extracted out of it under the supervision of doctors, the officials said, adding that rescue operations were on.

In a relief to dance bar owners and employees, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed some of the stringent rules prescribed by the Maharasthra government that led to the virtual shutdown of the establishments in Maximum City.

A Bench led by Justice A.K. Sikri did away with some mandatory conditions imposed by a 2016 State law like the installation of CCTV cameras at the dance area as a violation of privacy.

The court set aside the condition that only persons of good character would be allowed to run dance bars, saying the term “good character” is too vague.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 17 said the constitutional amendment to provide 10% reservation to the poor in the general category was achieved due to the political will of his government and it would be implemented from this academic year. “The new reservation will be implemented in 40,000 colleges across 900 universities in the country from this academic year. The number of seats will be increased by 10%,” he said.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating the 1,500-bed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Science and Research in Ahmedabad, Mr. Modi said the economic reservation had been given without impacting the existing social reservation.

It was at the Kochi airport that they got the first hint, something’s not right. They were a group of 19 then, 18 of them from Anchuthengu and one from Kollam, all going to try their luck in Malaysia, trusting one man’s word. At the airport, they realised the visa they held were visiting visas, not work visas. But they left that day – October 24, 2018 – still hoping life would change for the better. It didn’t. It was a trap, they were cheated – victims of the familiar visa fraud story that Kerala has seen quite a bit of through the decades. After two and a half months, with the help of the Indian embassy in Malaysia, NORKA (The Non Resident Keralites Affairs Department of Kerala government) and some kind hearts on the way, the 19 men have come back home to Kerala.

“We are all fishermen. And when we can’t go fishing, we ride auto rickshaws for an income,” says Justin, one of the 19 men, when they came to the NORKA Roots office in Thiruvananthapuram and told the media their story.

In a shocking case of moral policing, a 21-year-college student was murdered on Monday by a gang of four men after he was found in a secluded spot with his girlfriend near Siruganur in Trichy district, according to police. While initial reports suggested that the 20-year-old woman with him had been sexually harassed, the police maintain that the gang, who belongedto the local area, had only warned her before leaving the spot.

According to the police, the victim, Tamilvanan, was a student at K Ramakrishnan college of engineering in Trichy. He and his girlfriend had previously studied together. She is currently a nursing student while he was pursuing engineering. On Monday evening around 7 pm, they had both gone to a forested area about 20 kilometres from his college to spend some time together when the murder took place.