CMYK TUESDAY www.thestatesman.com 06 APRIL 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR RAPID COVID TESTS TWICE WEEKLY FOR ALL IN ENGLAND NETANYAHU BACK IN COURT AS PARTIES WEIGH IN ON HIS FATE P9 Partly cloudy sky Maximum and minimum temperature most likely to be around 36 °C and 24 °C respectively. RAINFALL: 32.8 mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY TEMPERATURE Max: 35.1°C (N) SUN RISES 05:25 hrs MOON RISES 00:58 hrs New moon on 12 P10 P8 P12 Poll frenzy to grip Bengal, 4 other states WEATHER Max.92% WHY PANT MEANS SO MUCH TO DELHI CAPITALS BYJU’S ACQUIRES AAKASH FOR $1 BILLION Min. 38% Min: 22.6°C (-2) SUN SETS 17:53 hrs MOON SETS 11:53 hrs April THUMBNAILS Dancers perform on the eve of Rongali Bihu, in Dibrugarh on Monday. AGENCIES Govt amends insolvency law: The government has amended the insolvency law to provide for a pre-packaged resolution process for micro, small and medium enterprises. An ordinance was promulgated to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code on 4 April. The latest move comes after the suspension of certain IBC provisions ended. The suspension, wherein fresh insolvency proceedings were not allowed for a year from 25 March, 2020, was implemented amid pandemic. SC appoints 2 judges in trials of coal scam cases: The Supreme Court on Monday appointed two judicial officers, Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal, as special judges to conduct trials in the sensational coal scam cases pending since 2014 here. Earlier special judge Bharat Parashar was conducting trials in around 40 coal scam cases. 5.4 magnitude quake near Sikkim-Nepal border: N An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 on the Richter Scale occurred near the Sikkim-Nepal border at 8.49 p.m. on Monday, according to the National Center for Seismology. Voting in Bengal for phase three of eight-phases ; single-phase polling in Tamil Nadu, Kerala,Puducherry; last leg in Assam SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 5 APRIL he stage is set for the busiest day of the ongoing election season with all the five states/union territories~ West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry ~ going to polls on 6 April. The polling will be held in a single-phase in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry while Assam will witness its third and final round of voting on Tuesday. In Bengal, this will be the third round in the eight-phase elections ending 29 April. The counting for all Assembly elections will take place on 2 May. A three-cornered battle is on the cards in 31 Assembly seats~ 16 in South 24 Parganas (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I)~ that are set to go to polls on Tuesday in the third phase. The polling follows an angry showdown of the second phase on 1 April, which was dominated by the high-profile contest between chief minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram. On 6 April, the BJP will seek to storm TMC fortresses while the Left FrontISF-Congress alliance would hope to make inroads in areas where identity politics has come to the fore. More than 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 205 candidates ~ prominent among them being BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and CPM leader Kanti Ganguly~ in three districts~ Howrah, Hooghly and South 24 Parganas. BATTLING ANTI-INCUMBENCY? KERALA GAME ON IN BENGAL T The BJP is fielding its senior leader CK Padmanabhan to take on chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the latter’s home turf Dharmadam ASSAM TAMIL NADU Palaniswami has won from Edappadi four times: 1989, 1991, 2011 and 2016. He is up against Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s pick, a youngster and 37-year-old T Sampathkumar. MK Stalin-led DMK, which is out of power since 2011 in the state, is in a head-to-head battle with ruling party AIADMK led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in nearly 130 constituencies TMC activists hold a ‘Khela Hobey’(game on) poster during filing of nomination papers by a party candidate for the State Assembly polls. In Kolkata, Monday. AGENCIES THREE-CORNERED BATTLE ON THE CARDS IN 31 ASSEMBLY SEGMENTS SECURITY BEEFED UP AT “SENSITIVE” BOOTHS Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, with 618 companies of CAPF deployed to guard 10,871 “sensitive” booths. ECI imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, an official said. 16 in South 24 Parganas (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I)~ that are set to go to polls today in the third phase More than 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 205 candidates KEY CONTESTANTS SWAPAN DASGUPTA BJP leader Hooghly Ashima Patra TMC minister Howrah Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, with 618 companies of CAPF deployed to guard 10,871 polling stations, all of which have been marked “sensitive” by the Election KANTI GANGULY CPM leader South 24 Parganas Commission. State police forces will also be deputed at strategic locations to aid the CAPF. The TMC had won all but one seat of the 31 segments in the 2016 Assembly elec- CM Mamata Banerjee throws a football during an election campaign rally, at Bhangur in South 24 Parganas. 2016 PERFORMANCE The TMC had won all but one seat of the 31 segments in the 2016 Assembly elections. The Congress had managed to bag Amta constituency in Howrah district tions. The Congress had managed to bag Amta constituency in Howrah district. The saffron party, however, outpassed the Left and the Congress to emerge as the main contender of the Mamata Banerjee-led party after the 2019 general election. The Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency, held by political heavyweight and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, will be keenly watched, as four of its seven Assembly segments will go to polls in the third phase, and the rest will follow suit in the fourth phase on 10 April. The Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated by Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui, has turned out to be a thorn in the flesh for TMC, as the outfit holds sway in several parts of South 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, having sensed the ISF’s potential to eat into her party’s minority vote base, had been hitting out at Siddiqui, alleging that he has been propped up by the BJP a charge dismissed by , the cleric, who is taking on the ruling party with vigour. Adding to the ruling camp’s woes, the BJP has Assam will witness the final leg of its three-phased elections on Tuesday. This phase will decide the fate of 337 candidates across 40 constituencies of 12 districts in the state CM Sarbananda Sonowal to contest from Majuli and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seeks re-election from Jalukbari fielded sitting MLA and TMC turncoat Dipak Halder, who has considerable clout in the area. Tamil Nadu:After an intense poll campaign that saw the two main political parties - the ruling AIADMK and the Opposition DMK taking each other headon, all eyes are now on the voters as Tamil Nadu gears up for the single-phase polls today. MK Stalin-led DMK, which is out of power since 2011 in the state, is in a headto-head battle with ruling party AIADMK led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in nearly 130 constituencies. This is also the first Assembly elections being held without two veterans of Tamil Nadu politics - M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. Kerala: Kerala is all set to witness a high-profile battle between the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF as all 140 seats will go to polls New Covid cases breach grim 1-lakh mark Scamsters corner vaccines meant STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 5 APRIL Surpassing Brazil and the US in daily Covid-19 tally, India now stands first in the list recording over One lakh cases in the last 24 hours, according to Union Health Ministry. During the past one day, Brazil recorded 31,359 new Covid-19 cases, while US logged 34,282. Besides this, India, which now recorded an all time high of 1,03,558 new cases, has also surpassed Brazil’s average tally of 64,324 and the US’s 64,019 to become the biggest hotspot. India recorded over 1 lakh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day rise since the Coronavirus outbreak. India’s active caseload has now crossed 7.41 lakh, whereas the death toll has now increased to 1.65 lakh. The total for frontline Covid-19 warriors PM to interact with CMs on 8 Apr NEW DELHI, 5 APRIL Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting on 8 April with chief ministers of all the states and Union Territories to discuss the current status of the Covid19 pandemic in the nation along with issues related to number of Covid cases in India has now soared to 1.25 crore, of which, 1.16 crore are recoveries. The 10 high burden states and UTs are contributing 91.4% of total cases and 90.9% of total deaths in India, the Ministry data showed. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 57,074 (55.11 per cent). It is vaccination via video conferencing, the Prime Minister’s Office said. This will be the second time in five days that the Prime Minister is going to chair a meeting to assess the current situation with connection to the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases. followed by Chhattisgarh with 5,250 while Karnataka reported 4,553 new cases. Bengal numbers: Bengal registered 1,961 fresh Covid cases and 4 deaths today. The total Covid case count is 5,95,576 and death toll is 10,348 in the state till now while there are 11,446 active cases. Kolkata recorded 606 cases and 1 death in the last 24 hours. GAURAV CHANDRA BHOPAL, 5 APRIL 1,25,89,067 7,41,830 1,03,558 52,847 1,65,101 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. MONDAY 05 APRIL 2021 Serious irregularities have possibly occurred across India in the Covid-19 vaccination drive for Health Care Workers (HCW) and Front Line Workers (FLW) compelling the Union Health Ministry to immediately stop any fresh registrations for the first doses of HCWs and FLWs, because the Ministry received inputs that imposters have fraudulently got vaccinated at many vaccination centres of the country. The Health Ministry also detected an unexplained sudden spike of 24 per cent in the national database of HCWs since the vaccination drive began. This abrupt increase in the number of HCWs in the country raises the suspicion that some sort of Covid-19 vaccination scam has indeed taken place. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan shot a letter on 3 April to top health officials of all states and UTs directing them to not allow any new registrations of HCWs and FLWs for the first doses of vaccines. The CoWIN portal has also stopped accepting any fresh registrations for the two categories since then. “Various inputs have been received from different sources that in some of the CVC’s (Covid-19 Vaccination Centres), some ineligible beneficiaries are being registered as HCWs and FLWs and are getting vaccinated in complete violation of the 118-year-old gets Covid jab A 118-year-old woman received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, becoming the oldest person to be vaccinated in India, and possibly the oldest in the world too. Tulsa Bai, belongs to the Sadarpur village in SNS Sagar district. prescribed guidelines,” Rajesh Bhushan’s letter points out. “There has been 24 % increase in HCW database in the past few days,” the letter notes. The issue came to light at the meeting of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC) for Covid-19 held on 3 April. on April 6. Since the 1980s, the LDF and UDF have alternatively formed the government with neither able to gain back-to-back victories in Kerala. If the ruling front can manage to buck the trend in the state this time, it will be history. If not, then the Left rule will become history as Kerala is the last Red bastion in the country. Assam: Assam will witness the final leg of its three-phased elections on Tuesday. This phase will decide the fate of 337 candidates across 40 constituencies of 12 districts in the state, including the senior minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Jalukbari constituency. Puducherry: In Puducherry, the election in the 30-member Assembly will witness a keen contest between the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance and the AINRC-led NDA. See inside pages Convene meeting for CBI director’s appointment before 2 May: SC NEW DELHI, 5 APRIL The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to consider convening before 2 May the meeting of a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister and others for appointment of CBI director observing that in-charge arrangements for the post cannot go on. The top court bench was informed by the Centre that meeting of the committee will be convened after 2 May. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, claimed before the bench that the Centre is delaying the meeting of the panel as it wants to bypass the present CJI S A Bobde who is PTI retiring on 23 April. Rafale deal report: Cong, BJP in ugly sparring match ‘Letter-bomb’ blast: Post HC ruling, SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 5 APRIL The Congress on Monday sought a thorough probe in the Rafale defence deal and demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after a French media report claimed that 1.1 million was paid to a “middleman” by the aircraft manufacturer. Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told a press conference here that the French news portal’s report has proved that Rahul Gandhi’s oft-repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were correct. While there was no immediate response from the BJP or the government on the charges, they have in the past denied any irregularities in the A French media report claimed €1.1m was paid to a “middleman” by the aircraft manufacturer country’s biggest defence deal. Surjewala said as per the French portal’s report, an investigation conducted by the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) has revealed that after signing of the deal in 2016, Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault allegedly paid 1.1 million to a middleman~ Defsys Solutions ~ which is an Indian company. “Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India’s biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government,” he asked at a press conference. “Will Prime Minister Modi answer to the nation now?” he asked. Surjewala said this amount was shown as expenditure by Dassault as “gifts to clients”. Surjewala said that as per the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), any evidence of middleman or commission or bribery has serious penal consequences including the banning of the supplier, cancellation of contract, registration of an FIR and imposition of heavy financial penalties on the company. “Has it not vitiated the Rafale deal entailing imposition of heavy financial penalties on Dassault, banning of the company, registration of an FIR and other penal con- sequences,” he asked. He asked whether the payment of 1.1 million shown by Dassault as 'Gifts to Clients' in reality a commission paid to the middleman for the Rafale deal. BJP rubbishes charges: The BJP on Monday dismissed as “completely baseless” the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal, stressing that the Supreme Court had rejected a demand for a probe in the purchase of the fighter aircraft and the CAG also found nothing wrong. He said the allegations were “baseless” and suggested that a report in the French media about the alleged financial irregularity in the deal may be due to “corporate rivalry” in that country. CMYK Deshmukh voluntarily quits as HM SNS & AGENCIES MUMBAI, 5 APRIL Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has resigned from his post, hours after the Bombay High Court asked the CBI to probe the corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, a top Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said here on Monday. “Soon after the high court directives, Deshmukh met NCP president Sharad Pawar and offered to resign to ensure an impartial probe. After the nod, Deshmukh has gone to meet chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to submit his resignation,” NCP National Spokesperson and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik told mediapersons. In a terse resignation letter addressed to the CM, Deshmukh said: "In the wake of the HC ruling, I feel it would be improper for me to continue in the post on ethical grounds. Hence I have decided to voluntarily keep away from the post. Kindly relieve me from this responsibility." Sharad-aide Walse Patil to take charge as HM: Veteran NCP leader Dilip Walse Patil is tipped to take over as Maharashtra’s new Home Minister after the resignation of Deshmukh. Patil, a seventime MLA, began his political career as personal assistant to NCP chief Sharad Pawar. ‘CM, where is your morality’ NEW DELHI, 5 MARCH The BJP on Monday hit out against Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray after state Home minister Anil Deshmukh resigned on ‘moral grounds’ in the wake of graft charges. “Deshmukh resigned citing moral grounds. Chief Minister, where is your morality? I think Uddhav Thackeray has forfeited the moral authority to govern,’ Union minister Ravishankar Prasad said. SNS See P4
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