chennai l thursday l March 04, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION final step to wtc final Will it be a turner? Who will India bring in? Will hosts make it to the summit clash? Questions aplenty as 4th Test begins | P13 lots at stake Rohit watch pitch talk Even if the last two Tests were poor for most batsmen, Rohit Sharma will beg to disagree. With a 161 and 66 in the last two Tests, the opener has led the way for India in the batting department With the last two Tests favouring spin excessively, there will be a lot of attention on the 22 yards. If initial reports coming out of Ahmedabad are to be believed, it is going to turn again rather early Hosts will be pressed into at least one forced change. And that could be pace bowler Umesh Yadav, who has recovered from his calf injury. But expect them to play three spinners 28 Umesh likely India have proved that the first Test loss was a blip. Having recovered in convincing fashion, now the onus is to finish the job. If they avoid defeat, they will advance to WTC Final in June Members of the England team inspect the surface | BCCI | P13 The number of wickets spinners of both team took in 3rd test 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 Advantage aiadmk? sasi to stay away from politics The decision comes as a boost for the ruling party, and is likely to give impetus to seat-sharing talks with its allies T Muruganandham & Sushmitha Ramakrishnan @ Chennai IN a significant development that comes as a boost to the ruling AIADMK ahead of Assembly elections, VK Sasikala, the one-time confidante of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, has announced that she is “staying away” from politics. The dramatic announcement, made late on Wednesday evening, puts an end to speculation about her role in the State’s politics in the run up to Assembly elections. Around 9.30 pm, a statement was issued to journalists waiting outside her T Nagar residence. In it, Sasikala appealed to all loyalists of Amma (former CM J Jayalalithaa) to unite Vocal celebs Anurag and Taapsee face I-T dept heat E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ Mumbai/New Delhi In what was seen as a vindictive action against vocal celebs criticising the government, the Income Tax department on Wednesday raided 30 properties linked to actor Taapsee Pannu, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and his co-promoters in the now-dissolved Phantom Films in Pune and Mumbai. Both were questioned in Pune over alleged tax evasion, IT officials said. Searches were conducted on the premises linked to the Phantom Films, a production house co-promoted by Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena. Exceed Entertainment, a talent house that manages actor Saif Ali Khan was also raided. Also, some executives of Kwan Talent Management, which handles actor Deepika Padukone’s account, were questioned. “The search will continue for the next couple of days to check the veracity of the submitted documents and actual income. Interlinked transactions are also being probed,” IT department sources said. The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi slammed the raids, saying the Centre was suppressing dissenting voices. Anurag and Taapsee are known critics of the BJP-led Centre. Taapsee had recently lashed out at a section of celebrities supporting the government after a Twitter post by pop singer Rihanna on the farmers’ agitation. against “the evil force that is the DMK”. She said she would pray for “Amma government to return to power in the State.” AIADMK leaders have welcomed the statement, and analysts predict the decision could substantially favour the ruling party in the elections. While Sasikala did not make a public appearance, in stark contrast to her processional return to the city from Bangalore prison a month back, her nephew TTV Dhinakaran addressed the media. Dhinakaran said he had tried his best to persuade Sasikala to reconsider the decision. “I met her earlier in the day to discuss her position on the upcoming elections. Later, she told me she was going to break the news about her stepping down on Jaya TV he said. “Sasikala be,” lieves her stepping down would unite Jayalalithaa’s supporters in the election and avoid chasms.” KP Munusamy Deputy Coor, dinator of the AIADMK welcomed the decision. Talking to Express, he said: “Though the decision to quit politics is the personal decision of Sasikala, she has expressed her wish for the establishment of Amma (Jayalalithaa) government even after the Assembly elections. She was with Amma for a long time. Now, Sasikala might have made this announcement out of her affection for Amma. So, we are happy about her decision.” Her decision, Munusamy said, “shows that souls of MGR and Amma are still protecting AIADMK.” continued on: p2 Covaxin anxiety ends with phase 3 efficacy at 81% S u m i S u k a n ya D u tta @ New Delhi India’s first homegrown Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin has been found to be nearly 81% effective in preventing infection, an interim analysis of the data from the vaccine’s phase 3 clinical trial in 25,800 volunteers has shown. The first interim analysis is based on 43 cases of Covid-19, of which 36 were observed in the placebo group and seven in the vaccine group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 80.6%, said Bharat Biotech, the company that developed the vaccine along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The phase 3 study enrolled 25,800 participants between 1898 years of age, including 2,433 over the age of 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities. This is a significant result considering Covaxin is already being used in the country’s massive Covid-19 vaccination drive, which in addition to healthcare and frontline workers, now also covers senior citizens and people above 45 with serious ailments. According to sources, the data safety monitoring board of the trial unblinded the study only on Wednesday afternoon and details such as how many severe cases of the disease were reported in the two groups are now being analysed. Covaxin had received the restricted use authorisation, along with Serum Institute of Additional analysis Bharat Biotech is planning an additional interim analysis for 87 cases, and the final analysis is planned for 130 cases. All data from the analyses will be shared via pre-publication servers as well as submitted to a peer-reviewed journal India’s Covishield in January after which the first phase of the vaccination was started. The permission granted by the country’s apex drug regulator without efficacy data had triggered massive criticism and resulted in slow acceptance of the vaccine in many states. Krishna Ella, CMD of Bharat Biotech said the vaccine, in addition to demonstrating high clinical efficacy has also shown , significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants of Covid-19. Analysis from the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology has indicated that vaccine-induced antibodies can neutralise the UK variant strains and other heterologous strains. decision welcomed by aiadmk, bjp Chennai: KP Munusamy, Deputy Coordinator of the AIADMK, welcomed the decision. Talking to Express, he said: “Though the decision to quit politics is the personal decision of Sasikala, she has expressed her wish for the establishment of Amma (Jayalalithaa) government even after the Assembly elections. We are happy about her decision.” Her decision, Munusamy said, “shows that souls of MGR and Amma are still protecting AIADMK.” Meanwhile, wholeheartedly welcoming her decision, BJP State president L Murugan said, “Sasikala has handed out a big disappointment to those dreaming to catch power by creating a confusion using her.” Allies unhappy over DMK wanting lion’s share of seats e x p r ess n e w s se r v i c e @ Chennai NEGOTIATIONS between DMK and its allies continued on Wednesday, with no solution being reached, much to the disappointment of the ticket aspirants in the smaller parties. According to party sources, tension was palpable among partners as the dates for nominations and release of candidates list draw nearer. So far, the DMK has managed to strike deals only with IUML and MMK, though talks are going on with the Congress, MDMK, VCK, CPI, and CPM. “We were voiceless when the price rise likely as Lorry owners hike freight fare B AN B U S E LV AN @ Chennai SO far, it had just been shallots, curry leaves and a few other vegetables. Soon, the price of all essential commodities is set to witness a spike as the Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners’ Federation has hiked freight charges by 30 per cent from Thursday The . move comes amid spiralling fuel prices in the country . The federation’s general body meeting in Chennai on Wednesday passed a resolution in this regard. As per its minutes, per tonne transportation fare has been increased by `150 for distance below 100 km, and by `250 to travel above 100 km. The Chennaibased federation’s president, Murugan Venkatachalam, said: “The truckers’ businesses are on the verge of collapse and it is impossible to ferry commodities going by the old rates.” According to him, the freight charge was last in- creased in 2006, and then was reduced by `100 per tonne in 2017, with the implementation of GST. “In the past 15 years, the prices of all commodities have increased up to 20 times, but we are forced to collect old prices,” he said. Explaining the new charges, Venkatachalam said, “To ferry goods from Chennai to Madurai, `1,300 was collected per tonne, so far. It will now become `1,550 per tonne.” The federation has over 300 members, representing associations of all light commercial vehicles, mini trucks, water tanker lorries, sand lorries, and the ones used to transport vegetables. Truckers rued that the Centre had not made any efforts to control fuel prices, and they were forced to transfer the financial burden on people. “We want fuel prices to be brought under GST,” he said. A lorry owner recalled that in 2018, the Centre’s decision to increase the gross vehicle weight of trucks in order to increase the carrying capacity up to 25 per cent had created a havoc. “The move was initially hailed as it would substantially reduce the logistics cost. However, without making any change in the vehicle’s body, the decision to increase carrying capacity has damaged vehicles. The tyres often burst and the maintenance cost rose by 25 per cent since 2018,” said a truck owner. Meanwhile, the South India Motor Transport Association and TN Lorry Owners’ Federation have scheduled general body meetings on March 9 and 11, respectively A decision on an indefinite . strike from March 15 will be taken during the meeting, an officer-bearer of the truckers’ association said. Covaxin to pvt hospitals on request Chennai: The Director of Public Health T S Selvavinayagam has instructed all Deputy Directors of Health Services to issue Covaxin in minimum doses to private hospitals. The Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech has been offered in selective government vaccination centres till now. In a letter dated March 2, Selvavinayagam instructed to start with minimum one vial to the private hospitals | P5 bloodbath on myanmar streets Pro-democracy agitators hunkering down as plumes of tear gas hurled by the police envelop a protest site on the bloodiest day of crackdown in Myanmar. At least 38 people were reported killed in the junta’s crackdown on Wednesday | AFP | full coverage: p9 DMK posed some logical points during the talks,” said a leader of one of the national allies. “The party has been pointing out that it has invested heavily in campaigning over the last six months, and hence will decide the dynamics.” Meanwhile, sources said with Kamal Haasan’s MNM leaving its doors open to disgruntled DMK allies, the possibility of a third front taking shape is closer to reality The . Congress, it’s understood, is dissatisfied and is exploring its options. On Wednesday the , MNM-AISMK-IJK combine announced Kamal as its chief ministerial candidate. P4 Insurance brokers now under ambit of ombudsman E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ New Delhi If your insurance policy broker’s service is not satisfactory , you can now approach an ombudsman to seek redressal. For, the insurance ombudsman rules have just been throughly amended to bring brokers under its ambit. You can lodge your complaint against your insurance broker online. They can now be penalised for deficiency in service. The amended rules have enlarged the scope of complaints to the ombudsman to include disputes pertaining to deficiencies in service on the part of insurers, agents, brokers and other intermediaries. “Insurance brokers have been brought within the ambit of the ombudsman mechanism, by empowering the ombudsman to pass awards against insurance brokers,” the Union finance ministry said in its statement on Wednesday . A complaints management system will be created to enable policyholders to track the status of their complaints online. The ombudsman can use video conferencing for hearings. The government notified the amendments to the Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017 on March 2. “A number of amendments have been made for securing the independence and integrity of the ombudsman selection process, while also building in safeguards to secure the independence and impartiality of the appointed persons while serving as ombudsmen,” the finance ministry said in its statement. Stung by sleazegate, Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi puts in his papers B a n s y K a l a p pa @ Bengaluru A day after purported sleaze videos of Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi surf a c e d , h e re s i g n e d f ro m the council of ministers on Wednesday, owning moral responsibility . In a four-line resignation letter, addressed to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Jarkiholi said: “The allegations against me are far from the truth. It has to be investigated at the earliest. Though I’m confident about my innocence, taking moral responsibility I’m resigning from , my position as cabinet Minister. I request you to accept it.” He also sought an immediate inquiry into the episode. The chief minister forwarded the resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala who “accepted the recommendation under Section 164 (1) of the Constitution’’. Soon after the scandal broke out, BJP national general secretary in charge of Karnataka, Arun Singh, is said to have communicated the party’s decision to the state leadership, keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly polls in five states, and also the Assembly and Lok Sabha bypolls and panchayat elections in the state. The allegation, just ahead of the Budget session of the state legislature session starting Thursday, had come as a huge embarrassment for the BJP government. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah said, “An FIR should be registered and the matter investigated.” `100 crore defamation suit threat Ramesh’s brother and BJP MLA Balachandra threatened to file `100 crore defamation case against those who released the ‘fake CD’ Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was one of the main architects in propping up the BJP government by resigning from the Congress along with 17 other MLAs, had on Tuesday maintained that he was innocent and would not resign. He was accused of sexually exploiting a woman, who had approached him seeking a job, multiple times. An RTI activist, Dinesh Kallahalli, had even com- plained to Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant that her life was in danger. It is believed that the woman had met Jarkiholi seeking permission to fly drones over reservoirs in Karnataka for a documentary on the achievements of the department and the minister. Later on, he had reportedly promised her a job in Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd.
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