kollam l Sunday l december 06, 2020 l `8.00 l PAGES 24 l city edition joe Biden secures enough electors to win presidency With California certifying him as the winner of the November 3 election, Joe Biden now officially has 279 electors backing him ‘it’s the first step towards white House’ Although it has been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, experts say officially securing 270-plus electors is the first step toward the White House. “It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status. Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections,” said Edward B Foley, an American law professor ■ 30 Electors due to vote on December 14 ■ The electors are expected to meet on December 14 to officially elect the next president. Results of their vote are due to be received and approved by Congress on January 6 Three states that Biden won — Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey — are yet to certify results. Once they do, Biden will have 306 electors of the roughly 50 election lawsuits filed by trump have been rejected CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Round five ends in stalemate, next meeting on Wednesday Farm unions reject govt’s proposal to amend laws, say nothing short of repeal will do Golwalkar’s name for bio-tech campus triggers controversy E xpress N ews S ervice What they said @ T’Puram E xpress news service @ New Delhi / Chandigarh the government on Saturday seemed to hold on to the negotiations with the agitating farmers by the skin of their teeth after the union leaders threatened to walk out of the talks, saying it was time for the Centre to take concrete decisions on their demands. According to sources, the government managed to pacify them saying an intra-government deliberation was required to consider their demands. Both the sides eventually agreed to meet for the sixth time on Wednesday December 9 at 11 am. Sources said 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. The minutes contained the government’s plans on changing 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 far mers 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 went on a ‘maun vrat’ to express their disappointment. They had come prepared with placards that said “yes or no”, insisting the government must reply to their demands in yes or no. “After we flashed placards, Tomar huddled with other ministers inside a room and came out to tell us the Act involves a lot of ministries. They sought two days time and proposed a meeting on December 6 or 7. We told them December 8 is Bharat Bandh so we can meet on December 9,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Buta Singh said. “The ministers said nothing will be left in the three laws after the amendments. But we told them clearly to repeal these laws,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab (Lakhowal Group), general secretary, Harvinder 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.” After the meeting, Tomar appealed to the farmers again to end the agitation and also thanked them for their disci- Farmers staging a protest against the Centre’s agricultural reforms at Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border on Saturday; (below) Representatives of farmer unions on a ‘maun vrat’ during their meeting with govt | Shekhar Yadav, PTI pline during the protests. He also appealed to them to send back the senior citizens and children from the protest site. Before the meeting, the agriculture minister accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah and Goyal briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation. “We are trying to double farmers’ income. With further dialogue we will try to clear their remaining issues,” said junior agriculture Kailash P7 Choudhary . modi facing biggest test of his tenure New Delhi: The three agrarian laws have become the biggest test for Narendra Modi in his six years as Prime Minister. The scale of protests has surpassed the agitations against the Ordinances to amend the Land Acquisition Act, the CAA and even the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “The border state is far more sensitive than any. The PM may need to show tactfulness,” an agriculture advisor said | P7 The Centre’s decision to name the second campus of the Thiruvananthapuram-based Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) after RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar has kicked up a major row, with Left parties and the Congress alleging it to be a move aimed at creating communal polarisation. While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to the Centre urging it to name the campus after an eminent Indian scientist of international repute, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sought to name the second campus also after Rajiv Gandhi. Reacting to the developments, the BJP asked the Left and the Congress to refrain from giving communal colour to everything. “Golwalkar is a nationalist,” said BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan, adding that he should not be viewed with a narrow mindset. Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan had on Friday announced that the research facility — which is ready for dedication to the nation — will be named as ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection.’ In his letter to Harsh Vardhan, Pinarayi said: “RGCB is a premier research institution and has been above political divides.” He requested the Centre to “reconsider the decision, if it has already been taken, or not to contemplate such a decision, if it’s not yet taken.” “Naming the campus after an Naming the campus after an eminent Indian scientist will keep up the reputation of the institution and help avoid controversies in public domaine Pinarayi Vijayan will be administered trial dose of vaccine Covaxin, a Bharat @ New Delhi/Chandigarh Biotech product Tomorrow at 11 am at Civil Hospital, AmHaryana health minister bala Cantt. I have volunteered Anil Vij’s tweet on Saturday to take the trial dose,” he had that he had tested positive for tweeted on November 19, a day Covid-19 and a statebefore he was adment by the union ministered the jab. health ministry that Saturday’s anin effect identified nouncement by Vij Vij as a recipient of triggered a flurry of the Covid-19 vaccine criticism at the hamkicked up a major handedness of the controversy. Exsponsors of the trial perts pointed out as many saw it as a that they constitute breach of the trial Bharat either irresponsible terms. biotech s t at e m e n t s o r a The terms make it clarifies breach of research. that the doses are “I have been tested double-blinded and a Bharat Biotech Corona positive. I took to Twitter to randomised trial, am admitted to Civil allay any concerns, suggesting that neiHospital Ambala ther the participants saying clinical Cantt. All those who trials are based on nor investigators have come in close know whether they a two-dose contact with me are schedule, given 28 are receiving the acadvised to get themtual vaccine or dumdays apart. The selves tested for comy shots. vaccine efficacy rona,” Vij wrote on will be determined The health minisTwitter. try appeared to make two weeks after Nearly two weeks the second dose,it the situation worse back, Vij had dewhen it said “the ansaid clared that he would ti-bodies against the be administered the first dose infection build up in a human of Covaxin as part of the ex- being only after a specific perimental vaccine’s phase 3 number of days pass after the trial. Covaxin is an indige- second dose of the vaccine is nously developed potential taken since this is a two-dose Covid vaccine developed by vaccine.”This clarification Bharat Biotech and the ICMR implied the ministry knew and is currently being tested that Vij had indeed received on nearly 26,000 volunteers in the vaccine and also made it Continued on: p7 the final stage of the trial. “I public. S u mi S u k a n ya D u t ta & H a rpree t B a j w a The enthusiasm shown by the state government in devising innovative measures like ‘salary challenge’ to mobilise money to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF), however, has failed to reflect in the management of the collected sum. The fund is incurring losses, revealed an RTI response, apparently due to mismanagement of its deposits with the State Treasuries Department. The CMDRF had opened 14 fixed deposit accounts in the Thiruvananthapuram District Treasury since June 2019, according to the reply TNIE received for a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, four among DACA reinstatement gets U.S. court’s sanction A US court has ordered reinstatement of a programme that protects illegal immigrants, brought to US as minors, from deportation. The ruling is expected to help many Indian migrants P9 E79.75-lakh loss The CMDRF has opened 14 FDs in the Thiruvananthapuram District Treasury since June 2019. However, four accounts that matured this year did not get the eligible interest, causing a loss of J79.75 lakh to the fund those accounts that matured this year did not get the eligible interest, causing a loss of `79.75 lakh to the fund. One was a de posit worth `250 crore — a portion of the flood relief collection invested on July 3, 2019, for six months at seven per cent interest rate (Account No: 799011600000413). As per the reply, the interest credited to the flood relief account was only `8.40 crore (as against the entitled amount of `8.82 Ramesh Chennithala The Congress and the CPM are trying to whip up communal sentiments among Muslims. Their game-plan will not succeed K Surendran, BJP state president eminent Indian scientist will keep up the reputation of the institution and help avoid controversies in public domain,” said Pinarayi. “The RGCB — initially run by the state government — was handed over to the Government of India with the aim to develop it into a centre with international standards in research and development,” the CM stated. Chennithala said naming the campus after Golwalkar cannot be tolerated as the RSS is known to create religious hatred, fascism and intolerance. “It’s total irony that the name of former Sarsanghchalak of the RSS is being suggested for a prestigious institute like RGCB. I wonder what’s Golwalkar’s contribution towards India’s science and technology sector,” said ● More on P4 Chennithala. Ethics debate as Mismanagement of deposits causing minister gets Covid losses to CM’s distress relief fund after ‘vaccination’ M S V i d ya n a n d a n @ T’Puram I wonder what’s Golwalkar’s contribution towards India’s science and technology sector. The Centre should revoke the decision crore). Though the date of maturity was January 2, 2020, the account was closed on January 13, 2020. But the deposit was denied the eligible savings bank (SB) interest rate for the period — `27.39 lakh. The three other FD deposits, including another tranche of `258 crore from the flood relief collection, were closed beyond the maturity date. The eligible SB interest was denied in all these cases. The non-renewal of FDs in time is also a cause for worry An FD worth . `250 crore was closed 31 days after the maturity date. If it was renewed in time the fund would have got an additional interest of `1.48 crore as against the `74.31 lakh it actually received. Treasuries Director Jafar A M said he would respond after examining the ● More on P5 matter. EXPRESS READ Kerala to move SC against farm bills T’Puram: As the farmers’ stir rages on in New Delhi, the Kerala government will move the Supreme Court against the farm bills this week. After CM Pinarayi Vijayan gave his nod for the proposal moved by Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar, the state directed the Advocate General to file the petition on Monday or Tuesday. P4 Pocso case against child rights official Kannur: The Thalasserry police have registered a case against Child Welfare Committee district chairman E D Joseph under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, based on a 17-year-old sexual assault survivor’s statement that he misbehaved with her during a counselling session. Joseph has refuted the allegation. P5 Open campaign in 5 districts ends today T’Puram: Open campaign will come to a close at 6pm on Sunday in five districts, where the first phase of local body polls will be held. Only silent campaign will be allowed on Monday. As many as 88,26,620 voters in five districts — Idukki, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram — will cast their votes on Tuesday. P4 Woman critical after fall from building Kochi: A 55-year-old woman employed as a domestic help was grievously injured on Saturday, after she fell down while trying to climb down from the sixth floor of the apartment complex with the help of a chain of sarees tied on to the balcony railing. “She is currently in critical condition. We are yet to find out why she took such a risk,” the police said. P5 W ITH THIS ISSUE Primary Character PLUS 12 PAGES ED seeks details of ULCCS’ projects, financial dealings E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Kochi THE Enforcement Directorate (ED) has directed the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS) to submit details of its financial transactions and ongoing or completed projects over the past five years. The ED had conducted an inspection at the ULCCS headquarters in Madapally, Kozhikode, on November 30. The move comes as part of a preliminary investigation the ED has launched into the ULCCS under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The central agency will register a case against the cooperative society, if it finds any discrepancy while verifying the records. The ULCCS came under the ED scanner after investigations revealed that C M Raveendran, additional private secretary to the chief minister, allegedly violated rules to allocate several government projects to the firm. Welcome to enter churches for prayers: Orthodox E xpress N ews S ervice @Kochi THE Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church has welcomed the members of the Jacobites faction to enter churches for prayers. The move comes in the wake of Jacobites reiterating their plans to “reenter the churches taken over by the Orthodox faction on December 13” and also go ahead with their protests. Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Diascoros, synod secretary of the Orthodox Church, at a press conference here on Saturday said they have not forced anyone out of their parishes. “The Church never banned or refused any believers from entering their parishes as well. We never took a stand against the believers coming for prayers,” said the metropolitan. However, he cautioned that the Orthodox faction will seek legal action if any ruckus is created to disrupt the peace. “Violating the court orders and disrupting the existing peaceful scenario at the parishes cannot be accepted. We welcome those who come to pray. However, when this series of protests are conducted, it would be wise to check whether is it genuine. All the courts have ruled in favour of the Church and we are only following them,” said the Metropolitan. The Orthodox faction has also urged the state government and authorities concerned to take necessary actions if protests take a violent ● More on P5 turn.
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