NEW DELHI 06 DECEMBER 2020 SUNDAY `9 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in Minding the Mind Healers Touch of Glass PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE A Call from the Coast EXCLUSIVE VOICES Prabhu Chawla TJS George Shankkar Aiyar Anirban Ganguly Primary Character Sathya Saran Anuja Chandramouli Anand Neelakantan Amar Bhushan A Canvas of Colours Twin View of a Sacred Scripture Govt gets message loud & clear after silent protest Another round of talks on December 9 after farmers reject proposal to amend laws, govt seeks time to consider their demands Cinema Comes Home AMMA SPEAKS True Goal of Human Birth BENGAL TWIST Roy named in MLA’s murder case months before elections E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Kolkata Representatives of farmer unions on a ‘maun vrat’ (silent protest) during the fifth round of talks with the government on Saturday; children of farmers take online classes while their parents are out on protest at the Singhu border | PTI & SHEKHAR YADAV DILJIT DOSANJH MEETS FARMERS AT SINGHU EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Chandigarh Actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh met the farmers at Singhu border and extended support to them in their protest. The actor requested the Centre to accept the demand of farmers. He also urged the media fraternity to highlight how the farmers are protesting peacefully. THE government on Saturday seemed to hold on to the negotiations with the agitating farmers by the skin of their teeth after farmers threatened to walk out of the talks, saying it was time for the Centre to take concrete decisions on their demands. But, the government seemed to have pacified them saying an intra-government deliberation was required to consider their demands. Both the sides eventually agreed to meet for the sixth time on December 9 at 11 am. According to sources, the government delegation comprising agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, railway minister Piyush Goyal and minister of state for industries Som Prakash provided the farmers the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday . Sources said the minutes of the meeting contained the government’s plans on the ways they planned to bring changes in the laws in accordance with the farmers’ demands. “The farmers took the document and deliberated on it during the 15-minute tea break,” the sources said. But the farmers rejected the amendments and stuck to their demand of repealing all the three laws. Sources said in the last segment of Saturday’s meeting the farmers held a silent protest and went on a ‘maun vrat’ to convey to the government their disappointment. They had come prepared with placards that said “yes or no.” They insisted that the government should reply to their demand in yes or no. “After we flashed placards, Tomar huddled with other ministers inside a room for discussions and came out to brief us that the Act involves a lot of ministries and they need to discuss with other cabinet ministers. They sought two days time and proposed a meeting on December 6 or 7. We told them that December 8 was Bharat Bandh GROWING BATTERY Voices of protest in BJP with 9 new spokesmen PA R V E Z S U LTA N @New Delhi THE Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi on Friday appointed nine more spokespersons, all of them being young and belonging to diverse professional backgrounds, including a lawyer, social activist and an infor mational technology specialist. The development surprised many in the party as the local unit of the saffron outfit already has a posse of experienced and senior spokesp e r s o n s t o communicate or present its stance on different platforms. With the nine new inductions, the Delhi BJP has now 21 spokespersons, equal to the strength of its team of office-bearers. In October, Delhi BJP Adesh Kumar Gupta announced a team of 12 spokespersons with Laxmi Nagar MLA Abhay Kumar Verma as its chief. A section of Delhi BJP leaders said the fresh appointments were apparently an att e m p t t o “ ap p e a s e ” a l l fractions and accommodate names recommended by senior leaders. “For the first time, the party in Delhi has got a huge team, which is not required actually . The national team has 23 members and in Delhi, Gupta has appointed 21 spokespersons. It shows that the state leadership has tried to oblige a few senior leaders. We were hoping for two-three appointments but didn’t expect nine new spokespersons,” a senior party functionary said. Another leader said many office-bearers were not even aware about the appointments till late on Friday evening. “Most of them are considered closed to former party vice president Shyam Jaju and general secretary (organisation) Siddharthan,” he said. The new spokespersons are Virender Babbar, Puja Suri, Khemchand Sharma, Brajesh Rai, Sarika Jain, Neha Shalini Dua, Nighat Abbas, Ajay Sehrawat and Shubendra Shekhar Awasti. Gupta didn’t respond to calls and messages. But party general secretary Harshdeep Malhotra said the appointments should not be seen “differently .” so we can meet on December 9,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Buta Singh said. After the meeting, Tomar yet again appealed to the farmers to end the agitation. “I would like to urge farmers and unions to leave the path of agitation. The government has had several rounds of talks with them and is ready for further discussion for a solution,” he said and also thanked the farmer unions for their discipline during the protests. “The ministers told us that they will table a solution in the meeting of December 9 and asked for some more time to present a concrete proposal. They told us that after the amendments nothing will be left in the three laws. But we told them clearly to repeal these laws,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab (Lakhowal Group), general secretary Har, vinder Singh Lakhowal. Another farm leader, Balbir Singh Rajewal, said the government wanted a discussion on the Act but “we told them they are wasting their time and they should tell us what points of our proposal they agree to. They talk only about amendments but we will not accept anything less than a repeal. P7 Modi’s sternest test yet with farmers showing no signs of ending agitation M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi BEARING his signature reform zeal with an eye on posterity, the three agrarian laws are also the biggest test for Narendra Modi in his six years as the Prime Minister, The scale of the protests has seemingly surpassed the previous agitations against the Ordinances to amend the Land Acquisition Act, the Citizenship Amendment Act and even the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In the previous agitations, the response seemingly had been aligned to the perceived threat to the BJP’s political capital. In the ongoing farmers’ agitations, the government appears to have drawn a clear line beyond which there is a limited scope to yield the ground. It can look into aspects to give level playing fields to the APMC Mandis and the private players along with improving upon mechanism for grievance redressal. “The soul of the farm laws, which is to free the agrarian trading and make it seamless, cannot be touched,” said a key government advisor. The challenge, however, is much serious than the previous agitations. “Farmers of Punjab overwhelmingly are up in arms against the laws. The BJP has little electoral hope from the state. The border state is far more sensitive than any. The PM may need to show tactfulness to save the soul of the laws while ensuring the farmers go back homes with their honour intact,” said another advisor on agriculture. Modi had allowed the lapse of the Land Ordinance after three promulgations, while ordering strengthening of the SC/ST Act. The political stake was quite high, as farmers in a number of states were up in arms against the Ordinance and the BJP didn’t want to lose the gains among the Dalits made in 2014. As the Citizenship Amendment Act bore the PM’s signature assertions, the government remained firm despite the Shaheen Bagh protests gaining international attention. “The BJP and the government both have been on a learning curve about protests, which had been many since Modi assumed the PMO. The experiences gained in the past will be seen in action in the next few days as the government seeks to protect the farm laws,” said a senior BJP functionary “That . the BJP leadership isn’t looking at the next Punjab elections with great hopes may guide the government’s approach.” The BJP and the government both have been on a learning curve about protests... The experiences gained in the past will be seen in action in the next few days — A BJP functionary ‘Vaccinated’ minister gets Covid, triggers debate S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA & HARPREET BAJWA @ New Delhi/Chandigarh HARYANA health minister Anil Vij’s tweet on Saturday that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and a statement by the union health ministry that in effect identified Vij as a recipient of the Covid-19 vaccine kicked up a major controversy as experts pointed out that they constitute either irresponsible statements or a breach of research integrity . “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” Vij wrote on Twitter. Nearly two weeks back Vij had declared that he would be administered the first dose of Covaxin as part of the experimental vaccine’s phase 3 trial. Covaxin is an indigenously developed potential Covid-19 vac- cine developed by Bharat Biotech and the ICMR and is currently being tested on nearly 26,000 volunteers in the final stage of the trial. “I will be administered trial dose of Coronavirus vaccine Covaxin, a Bharat Biotech product Tomorrow at 11 am at Civil Hospital, Ambala Cantt under the expert supervision of a team of Doctors from PGI Rohtak and Health Department. I have volunteered to take the trial dose,” he had tweeted on November 19, a day before the highly publicised event in which he was administered the jab. Saturday’s announcement by Vij triggered a flurry of criti- cism at the ham-handedness of the sponsors of the trial as many saw it as breach of the trial terms. The terms make it that the doses are double blinded and a randomised trial, suggesting that neither the participants nor investigators know whether they are receiving the actual vaccine or dummy shots. The union ministry of health and family welfare appeared to make situation worse when it said “the anti- bodies against the infection build up in a human being only after a specific number of days pass after the second dose of the vaccine is taken, since this is a two-dose CONTINUED ON P7 vaccine.” MONTHS before the assembly election in West Bengal next month, the Criminal Investigation Department on Saturday mentioned BJP national vice president Mukul Roy’s name in the supplementary chargesheet in connection with the murder of a Trinamool Congress MLA in Nadia district though his name was not mentioned among the suspects in the original FIR. The investigating agency mentioned Roy’s name as one of the conspirators involved in the murder. The CID had also mentioned name of BJP MP from Ranaghat, Jagannath Sarkar, in another supplementary chargesheet submitted in September this year. The Bengal BJP alleged that the inclusion of Roy’s name in the supplementary chargesheet was politically motivated. “The police found his involvement 22 months after the murder took place. The BJP emerged as the ruling party’s principal opposition in last year’s general elections. The TMC realised our party is going to be a threat in the upcoming election. Since Roy was a key functionary of the TMC and now he is a prominent leader of our party, the ruling party directed the CID to include his name as an accused,” a BJP leader said. The Bengal BJP is expecting an exodus before the Assembly elections from the Trinamool Congress and most of them are known as Roy’s followers. TMC MLA from Krishnaganj constituency, Satyajeet Biswas, was shot dead while attending a public programme in his constituency in February last year. “During the course of the investigation, Roy’s name emerged as one of the conspirators involved in the murd e r. We s u b m i t t e d t h e chargesheet in a Ranaghat Court on Saturday,” said a CID officer. MENTOR GOING BEYOND KHAKI DUTIES In Unnao, a GRP constable runs a school for the poor children with some help from NGOs PAGE 5 New Parl model unveiled, PM to lay foundation stone on Dec 10 E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi As many as 1,224 MPs can sit together once the building comes up | EXPRESS PRIME Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for a new Parliament building on December 10, said Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday . The new 64,500 sqm building proposed to be designed in a triangle shape will be constructed close to the existing complex under the ambitious Central Vista project and is expected to be completed within two years. It will be constructed by Tata Projects Limited at a cost of `861.90 crore. Birla said the ceremony will begin with a ‘bhumi pujan’ by the PM. The new Parliament building, which will have separate offices for all MPs, will be equipped with the latest digital interfaces as a step towards creating paperless offices. It will also have a grand Constitution Hall to showcase India’s democratic heritage, a lounge for members of Parliament, a li- brary, multiple committee rooms, dining areas and ample parking space. He said as many as 1,224 MPs can sit together in the building. Earlier, construction company Larsen and Toubro, which had submitted a bid of `865 crore, had lost the bid to the Tatas for the building. The project also includes a common central secretariat and revamping of the 3-km-long Rajpath — from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
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