KOttayAM l tuesday l december 15, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Tata sons among multiple bidders for ailing Air India The company has put in an expression of interest for buying the government’s stake in the loss-making national carrier us-based interups inc also in the fray Tata Sons has not decided yet as to whether it will go solo or bid through a partner, sources said. There were reports, however, that it bid through Air Asia India, in which it holds the majority share. Apart from Tata Sons, a group of 219 Air India employees has also submitted its expression of interest for the carrier in partnership with US-based Interups Inc | P10 ■ Dec 28 airline’s net debt at E58,255 crore ■ The government had sweetened the deal this time by giving freedom to potential buyers to decide how much of the airline’s debt they want to take on as part of the deal Air India had a net debt of `58,255 crore on March 31, 2019. About J29,500 crore of this was moved to Air India Assets Holdings Ltd when qualified bidders will be invited to start final bidding 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 No retrograde step, promises Rajnath Singh 78.64% THIRD PHASE SEES BIGGEST TURNOUT The final phase of the local body polls in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod districts witnessed the biggest turnout as Covid protocol went for a toss in several places. Violence erupted in many areas, with police officers too bearing the brunt near Nadapuram, Kozhikode, forcing them to use tear gas. E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi Crack appears in farmers’ unity; thousands observe day-long fast; deadlock persists E xpress N ews S ervice @ New Delhi/Jaipur Thousands of farmers observed a day-long token fast and others continued their protest, but there was no meeting ground yet to resolve the standoff on the new farm sector laws, which entered the nineteenth day on Monday. However, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh appeared to reach out to the farmers, saying the Modi government will never take any anti-farmer steps. “There is no question of taking retrograde steps against our agricultural sector ever. The recent reforms have been undertaken with the best interests of India’s far mers in mind,” Rajnath said. Meanwhile, cracks appeared among the protesting farmers as the National Working Group of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSSC) chucked its national convener V M Singh after he announced his willingness for talks with the governnment. “The National Working Group of the AIKSCC decides to do away with the post of convenor. Henceforth, all decisions shall be taken only by the working group,” it said in a statement. V M Singh, who heads a union of cane and paddy farmers in UP, said he is ready for talks and drop the demand for repealing the three laws, if the Centre brings another law to guarantee the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism for all farm produce. In Rajasthan, farmers continued to block the Delhi-Jaipur highway at Shahjahanpur and the number of protestors grew by about a thousand despite the dipping temperature. Observing that agriculture was the mother sector, Rajnath said the government was always open to discussion and dialogue. He pointed out that agriculture was the one sector that avoided the adverse effects of the pandemic and managed to come out stronger. Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar met home minister Amit Shah and discussed the way forward. A Covid patient clad in PPE kit arriving at GVHSS Payyanakkal in Kozhikode for casting her vote | Manu R Mavelil 70,27,534 highest 79% cast their votes in the final phase of elections in Kozhikode voters collapsed and died (one each in Kozhikode and Kasaragod) Talks will definitely happen: Tomar Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Centre was ready to discuss the laws threadbare clause by clause, adding the next round of talks with the farmers “will definitely happen”. Farmer leaders have to decide and convey when they are ready, he said Tomar also met a delegation of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee, which extended support to the farm laws. This is the fourth group of farmers that has extended support to the laws in last two weeks. express read HC rejects Ebrahim Kunju’s bail petition Maid’s death: Women’s panel seeks fresh probe Kochi: The High Court on Monday dismissed the bail petition of former public works minister V K Ebrahim Kunju, the fifth accused in Palarivattom flyover case. “The probe is on and very serious allegations are raised against a former minister of the state. Therefore, the petitioner is not entitled to bail on merit at this stage,” the court observed. The court also asked the need to release him on bail since Kunju is under hospital care. P5 Kochi: The Kerala Women’s Commission sought a fresh probe into the incident in which a Tamil Nadu native woman died after falling from an apartment complex in Kochi. Commission chairperson M C Josephine said the role of the flat owner, Imthiyaz Ahamed, should be probed in detail as there was an earlier case against him for physically assaulting a 14-yearold girl who was employed as a maid at his house. P5 In Muzhappilangad, Kannur, a UDF supporter could not cast his vote Bogus as it was already polled voting by someone else lowest 77.14% in Kasaragod Bombs were hurled at the house of BJP candidate Velikkal Suresh who contested against the CPM candidate in ward number 21 at Anthur municipality, which recorded 89% voter turnout BJP candidate Vasu Kunjan suffers a wild boar attack while coming to the booth S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Though the Centre on Monday advised states to be ready for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the next 10 days, India’s drug regulator is unlikely to green-light the vaccine makers who sought emergency use authorisation (EUA) by then, officials told this newspaper. For, submitting the additional data requested by the subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Covid-19 last Wednesday, on the vaccine candidates will take time. The committee had sought more information on the safety and immunogenicity of two coronavirus vaccines that were evaluated — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII), developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University These companies, . along with US-based Pfizer, whose application has not been reviewed so far, have applied for emergency approval in India so far. Sources in the CDSCO said no date for the panel’s next meeting has been fixed so far. “Given the details that have been asked for it is possible that the companies will come back to us only after 2-3 weeks as the availability of data depends on the status of clinical trials,” said an official. However, SII might be quicker in coming back. Its bridging trial in India on 1,600 volunteers is in advanced stage, he said. Meanwhile. authorities in all states were were instructed to keep the required infrastructure and manpower ready by December P7 25 for a possible rollout of the vaccine. Creative genius who gave grandeur to history P Krishnamoorthy, whose magical powers of creativity helped create a worthy space for art directors in South Indian cinema, passed away in Chennai on Monday He was 77. . It was not merely aesthetics and precocious talent which set Krishnamoorthy apart from his peers. His thorough grasp of epics as well his familiarity with legends and folklore was also instrumental in making him a go-to man which manifested itself in the evergreen Swathi Thirunal (1987), ‘Vaishali’ (1988), ‘Oru Vadakkan P Krishnamoorthy Veeragadha’ (1989) and ‘Perumthachan’ (1991) to name just a few. Ace filmmaker Hariharan, who helmed the memorable ‘Oru Vadakkkan Veeragadha’ and ‘Parinayam’, reminisced Dec 16 Day of counting A REPOLL in the violencemarred booths in Kizhakkambalam panchayat is unlikely. The district administration seems to be less keen on it as the collector has only given the details of the action taken against those who resorted to violence, in the report submitted before the State Election Commission. “We have given a report on the action taken by the police against those who resorted to violence at the polling booths in the panchayat,” said District Collector Suhas S. Twenty20, the non-political organisation which has been ruling the panchayat since 2015, had filed a petition before the collector seeking repoll in booth no.1 and no.2 in ward no 7 of Kizhakkambalam panchayat. A group of people had attacked a couple of voters at the booths, saying they would not be allowed to vote as they did not belong to the panchayat and did not possess valid docu- ments prescribed by the Election Commission. The voters exercised their franchise under police protection later in the day . Sabu M Jacob, president of Twenty20 said those who attacked the voters on the polling day belonged to the CPM and the Congress. “Majority of those who attacked the voters were CPM activists while a few belonged to the Congress. It’s unfortunate that the report filed by the district collector didn’t recommend a repoll. None of the officials had even bothered to collect statements from those voters who were injured in the attack. We have all the evidence on the violence and the attack unleashed by the hooligans on the voters,” he added. According to Twenty20, 250 voters were also threatened by a group of local people allegedly belonging to mainstream political parties and the voters had to stay away from the polls fearing attack for supporting the organisation. Jab approval may Journalist killed in hit-and-run case, take more time police form special investigation team 1943-2020 S h i b u B S @ Kochi In Kadannapally, UDF supporter Mufeed, 18, was held for trying to cast the vote of his brother who is in Gulf Bombs hurled at BJP man’s home 2 Farmers at the Singhu border during their protest against the farm reform laws, in New Delhi on Monday | PTI Dist admn not keen, repolling less likely in Kizhakkambalam about his long association with Moorthy . “By birth, he was not a Malayali. But Moorthy was our first choice whenever we planned movies based on Kerala’s folklore and myths. Mainly because, after narrating the details and telling him of our requirements, he would keep on researching. Back then, there was no internet. But he did painstaking research using books and reference guides. Moorthy’s genius was such that the sets he used to come up with were in sync with what the director had in mind,” said ● More on P4 Hariharan. inimitable talent Born in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu 5-time State (Kerala) Film Award winner. Also chosen for National Award several times Notable works include ‘Swathi Thirunal’, ‘Vaishali’ and ‘Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha Family alleges foul play The family of S V Pradeep has alleged that the road accident could be staged and sought a detailed probe. Pradeep’s mother and sister gave statements that he was being threatened on social media platforms regularly EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @T’Puram In a mysterious hit-and-run case, Thiruvananthapurambased visual and digital journalist S V Pradeep, 48, was killed in an accident near Karakkamandapam here on Monday evening. The vehicle that hit him did not stop but sped away With the UDF and . the BJP demanding a high-level investigation into the accident, the state government has constituted a special team led by the Fort Assistant Commissioner to investigate the matter. The Nemom police said the accident occurred close to Haji Masthan restaurant around 3pm. The police said Pradeep The Nemom police said the was travelling on a two-wheel- accident site was under CCTV er when he was hit by another coverage and that they have vehicle that was heading in recovered visuals of the the same direction. incident. “According to onAll aspects of the lookers, it was a incident are being inSwaraj Mazda lorry vestigated with the that hit the journalist. immediate focus on There are no direct tracing the vehicle eye-witnesses to the that caused the acciincident. Those who dent, the police said. rushed to the spot afThis is the second ter hearing the crash case of accident death S V Pradeep sound said the scribe involving a journalist was knocked down by within city limits. In . August 2019, K M Basheer -- a a lorry Visuals show that two scribe with Malayalam daily other vehicles were moving Siraj -- was killed in a road ac- close to the lorry. We need to cident in which the main ac- conduct a detailed probe to ascused is IAS officer Sriram certain which vehicle caused ● More on P5 the accident. Venkitaraman. Nath preps for retired life, to step into Patel’s shoes? Move after poll setback Nath’s govt fell in March after rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia Congress suffered badly in the recent bypolls, as it won just 9 of the 28 seats I am ready to take some rest. I have no ambitions or any greed for any post. I have achieved a lot already. I am ready to stay at home Kamal Nath, former MP chief minister, at a rally in Chhindwara E xpress N ews S ervice @ New Delhi W ith fo r m e r M a d hya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath’s name doing the rounds to replace late party veteran Ahmed Patel as the bridge between the Congress high command and the party he on Monday , hinted at retiring from active politics. His comments came at a time when the party is already wracked by dissidence, call for introspection and settling of leadership issues. Last week, Nath met some senior party leaders at his residence and also called on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi following her return from Goa, after a health break. Before meeting her, he interacted with some of the group of 23 letter writers, who had created a furore in the party in August this year by articulating the need to expedite internal polls. “The party is looking for someone who can take over the work of Patel, who was Congress president’s confidante, and treasurer. Nath also has the ability to generate funds for the party and can negotiate with party leaders,” said sources. The name of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was also doing rounds but a top party functionary said he is unlikely to shift base to Delhi. Nath’s government fell in March after rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia. The party suffered badly in the recent bypolls, as the Congress won just nine of the 28 seats, leading to demands that he resign as the state unit chief taking responsibility for the debacle. Confession in Church: SC issues notices E xpress news S ervice @New Delhi The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, Kerala government and 11 Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church bodies on a petition challenging the practice of mandatory confession in the Church in the state. A bench headed by CJI S A Bobde issued the notices after senior advocate Sanjay Parikh submitted that the top court had earlier restrained the Kerala High Court from passing orders on issues related to the Church. Petitioners Mathew T Matgachan, Shaj PJ and Jose V J, members of the Church, alleged that the practice was leading to several issues, including sexual exploitation of women and blackmailing of both men and women followers. They also challenged the practice of mandatory payment of money to the parish.
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