CMYK WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 16 DECEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR NO PROPOSAL FROM BJP FOR CABINET EXPANSION TIME TO TURN THE PAGE, SAYS BIDEN AFTER EC CONFIRMS HIS WIN P10 WEATHER Fog/Mist in the morning. Mainly Clear sky later. Temperature will be in the range of 27-18 degrees Celsius.. THE REASON WHY PANT CAN’T BE LEFT OUT FOGBOUND HILLS P5 P6 Conspiracy afoot to confuse farmers: PM RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY SNS & AGENCIES NURSES PROTEST Modi laid foundation stone for a slew of developmental projects in Kutch Max.99% P12 TEMPERATURE Min. 46% Max: 27.3°C (N) Min: 17.2°C (2) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:09 hrs 16:55 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 07:41 hrs 18:38 hrs Moon first quarter on 22 December THUMBNAILS Farmers during a protest against newly passed farm laws at Singhu Border, in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS Bengal undertrial dies: An undertrial was thrashed to death inside the central correctional Home in Burdwan late this afternoon when two under trials clashed over food, the police said this evening. Babu Sheikh (30), an undertrial accused of trafficking narcotics substances from Ketugram in Burdwan (E) succumbed to his wounds after he was shifted to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. Ex-Bengal CM Buddhadeb discharged: Former B West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was discharged from hospital on Tuesday, nearly a week after being admitted for breathing troubles.Bhattacharjee, however, will have to remain on non- invasive ventilation (BIPAP) support, undergo physiotherapy and follow restrictions on movement at home, besides sticking to a prescribed diet, doctors P3 said. Farmers say will ‘make’ govt repeal agri laws NEW DELHI/GANDHINAGAR, 15 DECEMBER ith the farmers’ agitation against the three new agriculture reform laws entering the third week and no end in sight to the deadlock in talks with the Centre, prime minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the government would keep assuring farmers and address their concerns even as he blamed the Opposition parties of misguiding them. PM Modi said farmers gathered near Delhi were being misled as part of a conspiracy. Hitting out at the Opposition parties, PM Modi said they were themselves in favour of these farm sector reforms when they were in power. “Opposition is misleading farmers, shooting from their shoulders. They also wanted these reforms but they couldn’t when they were in power. But now that we have managed to do it, they are misleading farmers. I want to reiterate that my government is ready 24 hours to resolve all your doubts,” he said. PM Modi had spelt out the government's line last month in his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat, expressing support for the laws three days after the farmers started their “Delhi Chalo” protest. Since then, the government had held several rounds of talks with the farmers, one was even attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. But no resolution has been in sight with the farmers firmly W NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays foundation stone of multiple development projects in Kutch, Gujarat. AGENCIES spurning the government’s offer of bringing amendments in the laws. Last week, the BJP had claimed that Congress was contradicting its own plans to incite farmers and oppose the government. During the UPA rule, the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party supported what are now key provisions of the farm laws, the party said. PM Modi also laid the foundation stone for a slew of developmental projects in Kutch. Farmers, largely from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping on borders of Delhi for over 20 days, demanding the repeal of farm laws enacted recently. The government said that it was willing to continue talks but won’t take back the laws. Earlier on Tuesday Modi laid foundation stones of a desalination plant, a hybrid renewable energy park, and a fully automated milk processing and packing plant in his home state Gujarat. Harnessing its vast coastline, Gujarat is taking a significant step towards transforming seawater to potable drinking water with the upcoming desalination plant at Mandvi in Kutch district, an official said. This desalination plant, with 10 crore litre per day capacity (100 MLD), will strengthen water security in Gujarat by complementing Narmada Grid, Sauni network and treated wastewater infrastructure, he said. It will be an important milestone for sustainable and affordable water resource harvesting in the country. Nearly 8 lakh people across the regions of Mundra, Lakhpat, Abdasa and Nakhatrana talukas will receive desalinated water from this plant, which will also help in sharing the surplus to upstream districts of Bhachau, Rapar and Gandhidham. It is one of the five upcoming desalination plants in Gujarat besides those at Dahej (100 MLD), Govt says no winter session due to Covid PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER The winter session of Parliament will not be held this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Budget session will be convened in January 2021, the government has conveyed to the opposition, a move slammed by the Congress as the “decimation of parliamentary democracy”. In a letter to leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, “Winter months are very crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi. At present, we are in the middle of December and a covid vaccine is expected very soon.” The minister said he had informally contacted floor leaders of various political parties and “they have expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with winter session”. “Government is willing to have the next session of Parliament at the earliest; it would be appropriate to have the Budget Session, 2021 in January, 2021 keeping in mind the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19 pandemic,” Joshi wrote. Talking about the monsoon session which was delayed due to the pandemic, he appreciated cooperation from all political parties for a productive session held under extraordinary circumstances by making special logistical arrangements. Senior Congress leader and the Party's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, was not consulted on the cancelling the winter session. Hitting out at the government, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the “Decimation of Parliamentary Democracy is complete” with this decision. “Competitive exams can be held during COVID. Schools can be opened, universities can hold exams. Rallies can be held in Bihar-Bengal. But Winter Session of Parliament can't be held,” Surjewala said. “Any semblance of democracy left?” he asked. The winter session of Parliament normally starts in the last week of November or in the first week of December. The Constitution broadly stipulates one major rule that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament. However, it has been a convention to hold three sessions of Parliament - budget, monsoon and winter - in a year. Hardening their stance on the three new agri laws, farmer leaders Tuesday said they will “make” government repeal these legislations, and asserted their fight has reached a stage where they are “determined” to win it no matter what. They said they will completely block the Chilla Border between Delhi and Noida on Wednesday to press for their demands. Addressing a press conference at Singhu Border here, farmer leader Jagjeet Dallewal said, “The government is saying 'we won't repeal these laws', we are saying we will make you do it.” “The fight has reached a stage where we are determined to win no matter what,” he said. He also said, “We are not running away from negotiation, but the government has to pay heed to our demands and come forward with concrete SNS proposals.” Dwarka (70 MLD), Ghogha Bhavnagar (70 MLD) and Gir Somnath (30 MLD). The Hybrid Renewable Energy Park near Vighakot village in the district will be the country’s largest renewable energy generation park. It will lead to the generation of renewable energy to the tune of 30 GW. Bengal records 2,289 fresh cases, 45 deaths KOLKATA, 15 DECEMBER Despite Covid norms being flouted with impunity, the number of fresh cases is showing a downward trend. There were fears that over-crowding would lead to a fresh wave. However, those fears have been belied. West Bengal today registered 2,289 fresh cases while 2,965 patients were discharged and 45 died due to the infection. Kolkata recorded 503 fresh cases and 14 deaths and North 24 Parganas recorded 523 cases and 13 deaths. Currently, the total Covid case count is 5,25,918 and death toll is 9,145 in the state till now while there are 20,663 active cases. Till now, 4,96,110 Covid patients SNS have recovered in the state. Pranab’s son and daughter spar over publication of memoir PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER The late Pranab Mukherjee’s son and daughter are at loggerheads with each other over his memoir The Presidential Years, one saying it should not be published without his consent and the other “requesting” her brother to not create unnecessary hurdles in the publication of his last book. The book, which was in the news recently for Pranab Mukherjee’s critical comments on the Congress, including his observation that the party lost political focus after his elevation as president, is set to be launched next month by Rupa, which published the two earlier volumes of his memoirs. The late president’s son Abhijit Mukherjee, a former Congress MP said on Twitter that , he has written to the publishers asking them not to publish the book until he gives his nod. His sister Sharmistha Mukherjee, national spokesperson of the party, shot back saying no one should try and stop it for cheap publicity and doing so would be a great disservice to the late leader. “I, the Son of the author of the Memoir The Presidential Memoirs’ request you to kindly stop the publication of the memoir as well as motivated excerpts which is already float- ing in certain media platforms without my written consent,” Abhijit Mukherjee said on Twitter. “Since my father is no more, I being his son want to go through the contents of the final copy of the book before it’s publication as I believe, had my father been alive today, he too would have done the same.” Being the son, he said he requested the publishers to immediately stop the publication. I have already sent you a detailed letter in this regard which will reach You soon. Regards - Abhijit Mukherjee,” the tweet read. His sister responded, also on Twitter. “I, daughter of the author of the memoir ‘The Presidential Years’, request my brother Abhijit Mukherjee not to create any unnecessary hurdles in publication of the last book written by our father. He completed the manuscript before he fell sick.” The final draft, she said, contains her father’s handwritten notes and comments that have been strictly adhered to. Stating that views expressed by him are his own and no one should try to stop it from being published for any cheap publicity, she said, That would be the greatest disservice to our departed father. “Btw bro, the title of the book is ‘The Presidential Years’, not ‘The Presidential Memoirs’,” she said. Abhijit Mukherjee corrected the title of the book in another tweet after his sister pointed out the mistake. The former president and long-time Congress leader died on August 31 at the age of 84, CMYK following COVID-19 complications. His comments on the Congress come at a time of intense internal turmoil in the party. The Congress’ chief troubleshooter through the decades wrote that the party lost political focus after his elevation as the president and some party members believed the 2014 Lok Sabha poll debacle could have been averted had he become prime minister in 2004. Though I don’t subscribe to this view, I do believe that the party’s leadership lost political focus after my elevation as president. While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle the affairs of the party, Dr (Manmohan) Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs,” Pranab Mukherjee is quoted as saying in his book. Members of AIIMS nurses’ union during their indefinite strike for their demands, at the AIIMS premises in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS Five-month low: Covid case count below 23k SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER India’s daily Covid-19 case count fell below 23,000 after a little over five months, while the national recovery rate stood at over 95 per cent, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday. The daily new coronavirus cases stand at 22,065 after 161 days, the ministry said. The daily case count was 22,252 on July 7. India’s coronavirus caseload mounted to 99,06,165 with 22,065 infections being reported in a day, while the death toll rose to 1,43,709 with 354 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am on Tuesday showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 94,22,636 pushing the national recovery rate to95.12 per cent, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stood at 1.45 per cent. The active COVID-19 caseload remained below four lakh for the eighth consecutive day on Tuesday. There are 3,39,820 active coronavirus infections in the country which constitute 3.43per cent of the total caseload, the data stated. According to ICMR, 15,55,60,655 samples have been tested up to December 14, of which 9,93,665 were conducted on Monday. The 354 new fatalities include 60 each from Delhi and Maharashtra, 43 from West Bengal, 24from Kerala and 21 from Punjab. Total 1,43,709 deaths reported so far in the country include 48,269from Maharashtra, 11,954 from Karnataka, 11,909from Tamil Nadu, 10,074 from Delhi, 9,100 from West Bengal, 8,083 from Uttar Pradesh, 7,059 fromAndhra Pradesh, and 5,098 from Punjab. The Health Ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities. 99,06,165 3,39,820 22,065 34,477 1,43,709 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 15 DECEMBER 2020 “Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation. Vice-Admiral British PM to be Srikant dies of R-Day chief guest Covid-related complication STATESMANNEWSERVICE NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER NEW DELHI, 15 DECEMBER British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India in January to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on Tuesday after holding talks with his Indian counterpart external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Addressing a joint press conference after the talks, Jaishankar said the two sides held four hours of discussion on a wide range of issues and focus has been on how to take the bilateral ties to a higher level. “In recent years as you know, there have been very big changes in global politics and we both believe that our interests are better served by working together more effectively,” he said and added that important issues, including the situation in Afghanistan as also developments in Gulf and evolution of the Indo-Pacific region were discussed. Jaishankar said challenges posed by terrorism and radicalism which are shared concerns were also discussed during the talks. “Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the UK-hosted G7 summit next year. The UK PM has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend India's Republic Day celebrations (as chief guest) in January which is a great honour,” Raab said. On his part, Jaishankar said Johnson accepting the invitation for the Republic Day was, in a way, symbolic of a new era in Indo-UK ties. Raab’s three-day visit to India from December 14-17 comes at a time the UK is holding complex negotiations with the European Union on reaching a post Brexit trade deal. In the wake of Brexit, the UK has been looking at ramping up trade with leading economies like India. There have been apprehensions that its separation from the EUwithout a trade deal could severely cripple its financial markets and may have longterm implications for its economy. Vice Admiral Srikant died on Tuesday morning at the base hospital here due to COVID-19related complications, officials said. The vice admiral, the Navy’s senior-most submariner, was due to retire on December 31. Expressing his condolences, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Deeply pained at the untimely and sudden demise of Director General Seabird, Vice Admiral Srikant.” The Ministry of Defence and the Indian Navy will always remember his stellar contributions and remarkable service to the nation, Singh said. “My deepest condolences to his bereaved family and friends. Om Shanti!” the minister stated. Srikant was admitted at the base hospital in Delhi after he contracted COVID-19, said a junior Navy officer who had worked under him. Subsequently, the viceadmiral tested negative for COVID-19 on Sunday morning, but developed breathing difficulties by evening, the officer said. “He was shifted to ICU and was subsequently put on a ventilator,” the officer mentioned. Officials said the vice-admiral, who was the Navy’s seniormost submariner, died on Tuesday morning. Previously, he had held charge as Inspector General of Nuclear Safety and Commandant of the National Defence PTI College, officials said.
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