THIRUVANANTHAPURAM l friday l march 05, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE city EDITION Kerala bjp pitches ‘metro man’ sreedharan as cm face The technocrat will be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, senior party leader and Union Minister V Muraleedharan said Final decision not taken: Muraleedharan The minister’s social media post on E Sreedharan’s leadership in the upcoming Assembly polls came hours after the party’s state chief K Surendran said he has requested the national leadership to announce the ‘Metro Man’ as NDA’s chief ministerial candidate. Muraleedharan later clarified that the BJP has not taken a final decision on it. P4 ■ April 6 End of 24-year association with dmrc ■ Meanwhile, Sreedharan’s 24-year long career with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation ended on Thursday as he quit his advisory role The 88-year-old said age has not affected his health. “Mentally I am very strong. I will not be working like a normal politician. I will still be working like a technocrat,” Sreedharan added When elections to the 140-seat Kerala assembly will he held 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 Tough CPM call: Drop Isaac, Balan and Jayarajan, field fresh faces BIG 5 ON WAY OUT? THOMAS ISAAC (68 yrs) Finance Minister Terms as MLA: 4 (2001, 2006, 2011, 2016) Sitting seat: Alappuzha PM Narendra Modi along with Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president JP Nadda and others during the election committee meeting for West Bengal Assembly polls at BJP Headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday | PTI Defectors to get Bengal BJP ticket; thrust on skill-sets M A N IS H A N A N D @ New Delhi With the BJP on Thursday getting down to the business of finalising candidates for all poll bound states, the thrust was on high skill-sets and qualifications along with the ability to resonate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for “innovative leadership to execute the vision of the party and t h e g ove r n m e n t o n t h e ground.” While the BJP is likely to draft in fresh blood in Assam to beat anti-incumbency, professionals who are achievers are being favoured in West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The BJP’s central election committee meeting convened by party chief J P Nadda, was attended by Modi and senior Union ministers like Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Singh Tomar. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and leaders from the West Bengal party’s unit were among those who attended the meeting. The party is likely to release its list of candidates in the next few days in a phased manner in line with the staggered poll schedule. “Special focus during screening of candidates is on their educational qualifications and innovative leadership skills to execute the vision of the prime minister to connect the initiatives of the government with the people,” said a senior BJP functionary . Also, potential candidates who have the ability to take the party forward in the next dec- professionals in Kerala, Tamil nadu “In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP will give ample scope to professionals with credible public achievements besides the committed cadre in the candidate selection, while the turncoats from the Congress will get the ticket in Puducherry,” sources stated. With the former “Metro Man” E Sreedharan in the saddle, the BJP is likely to experiment in candidate selection to gain popular attention in Kerala to further its aim to emerge as the third force in the state ade, too, will get picked, the functionary added, In line with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is leaning towards fielding a large number of turncoats, including sitting legislators, who joined the party from the ranks of the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, with sources saying that the star powers of actors and actresses, too, will be factored in, in tune with the electoral flavour of the state. While a few sitting MPs have evinced interest to contest Assembly elections in Assam, sources said the party isn’t in favour of fielding members of Parliament in West Bengal, as they would be tasked with help ing build the poll campaign. The West Bengal unit has recommended Trinamool Congress defector and former state minister Suvendu Adhikari from the Nandigram constituency against incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Now, renew DL online driving licence Want your driving licence renewed? No need to bribe RTO sharks, you can do it online through Aadhaar-based authentication from now. A look at some of the DL-related services you can avail online Learner’s Licence Renewal of driving licence for which test of competence to drive is not required Duplicate DL Change of address in DL and certificate of registration Issuing international driving permit Surrender of class of vehicle from licence Application for temporary registration of motor vehicle Application for registration of motor vehicle with fully built body Application for issue of duplicate certificate of registration Application for NOC for certificate of registration Notice of transfer of ownership of motor vehicle Application for transfer of ownership of motor vehicle Intimation of change of address in certificate of registration Endorsement or termination of hire-purchase agreement Party secretariat takes cue from partner CPI, decides to enforce 2-term norm for MLAs; state committee to take final decision today E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ T’Puram In an election expected to be too tight to call, can any party afford to go into the fray without some of the heavyweights who have served as its popular faces? The CPM secretariat which met here on Thursday has decided to do test uncharted waters, recommending not to field ministers T M Thomas Isaac, E P Jayarajan, G Sudhakaran and A K Balan, bes i d e s S p e a ke r P S re e r a makrishnan, in the assembly polls. The state secretariat arrived at the decision to enforce the two-term norm for MLAs strictly taking cue from the CPI which decided to bypass those who had contested thrice. But a final decision on whether to E P JAYARAJAN (70) Industries Minister Terms as MLA: 3 (1991, 2011, 2016) Sitting seat: Mattannur G SUDHAKARAN (74) Public Works Minister Terms as MLA: 4 (1996, 2006, 2011, 2016) Sitting seat: Ambalappuzha A K BALAN (73) Law & Culture Minister Terms as MLA: 4 (2001, 2006, 2011, 2016) Sitting seat: Tarur C RAVEENDRANATH (65) General Education Minister Terms as MLA: 3 (2006, 2011, 2016) Sitting seat: Puthukkad give exemptions would be taken at the state committee meet on Friday . “Usually, considering the winnability factor in each constituency some leaders are giv, en exemption. This time, the secretariat decided not to give exemption to anyone as the Left government’s achievements are what the party is banking on. The secretariat will present its report before the state committee recommending strict enforcement of the two-term norm,” said a party source. Going by the party decision, a number of senior leaders who have completed two consecutive terms would not contest this elections. This includes five-time MLA Raju Abraham, six-timer S Sarma, A Pradeep Kumar, James Mathew, Aisha Potty and K V Abdul Khader. Though minister K T Jaleel had contested three times, he being a Left independent, the party norm will not be applicable to him. Minister C Raveendranath had already expressed his willingness to stay away . “The decision comes as part of a bold and exemplary move to bring in new faces,” said CPM Politburo member M A Baby . Health Minister K K Shailaja is likely to contest from Mattannur, the sitting seat of E P ● More on P4 Jayarajan. The CPM state committee has decided to abide by the two-term norm for MLAs as part of a bold and exemplary move to bring in new faces — M A Baby, CPM politburo member centre vs state KIIFB official skips ED’s ‘intimidating’ interrogation E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi A DAY after Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said the state government would not allow the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to threaten its officers as part of its probe against KIIFB, the investment board seemed to toe his line with Deputy Managing Director Vikramjit Singh skipping interrogation on Thursday . While Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had questioned the very identity of KIIFB during her visit to the state earlier this week before ED launched the probe, Isaac has maintained that the BJP-led Centre was using the agency for political gains. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vi- jayan too objected to ED’s probe into the masala bonds issue. Adopting an aggressive stance against the agency, Pinarayi reminded it not to conduct the investigation in a manner that satisfies the BJP or the Congress. “The ED might be familiar with Congress leaders who can be intimidated. But such tactics will not work here,” he said. The ED had said the bonds sold outside India but denominated in rupees violated the Foreign Exchange Management Act, and subsequently served a notice on Singh to appear for interrogation. On Thursday KIIFB shot off , a letter to the ED stating its officials will not appear for questioning. ED shifts focus to Lavalin case, preliminary probe on E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Kochi The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has turned its attention to the SNC Lavalin case, in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is under the scanner. As part of this, a notice issued by ED deputy director in Kochi, Vikas C Mehta, was served on the chief editor of a vernacular fortnightly — who is a complainant in the Lavalin case — to appear with related evidence before the agency on Friday The complaint . was lodged with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in 2006 regarding tax evasion and anti-national activities behind the scam. Meanwhile, dismissing the ED’s move as a mere ‘bullying tactic’, Pinarayi on Thursday said the agency should understand that the people here are quite unlike those it is familiar with. Wondering what kind of inquiry it would conduct into a case already probed by another agency (CBI), he pointed out the CBI was not subordinate to the ED in any way The peo. ple of the state are well aware of the intentions behind such moves, he added. The Lavalin case pertains to a pact inked by the Kerala State Electricity Board and Canadian firm SNC Lavalin for repair and renovation of three hydel projects in 19961997 during Pinarayi’s tenure as then power minister. The project cost around `236 crore and several clauses in the contract were not met. 8.5% EPFO keeps interest rate for FY21 same as last year E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi THE Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has fixed the interest rate on provident fund deposits at 8.5% for 202021 — the same as last year. The decision was taken at the 228th meeting of the Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO, held in Srinagar under the chairmanship of Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Minister of State for Labour & Employment. “The Central Board recommended 8.50% annual rate of interest to be credited on EPF accumulations in members’ accounts for the financial year 2020-21. The interest rate would be officially notified in the government gazette following which EPFO would credit the rate of interest into the subscribers’ accounts,” the board said in a statement. The decision came on the back of large withdrawals and fewer contributions throughout last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. There were apprehension that the rate might be further reduced. Sources said the EPFO will be left with a surplus of `300 crore after crediting an interest rate of 8.5% for FY21 to its six-crore subscribers. In March 2020, EPFO had reduced the interest rate to 8.5% for 2019-20 — a seven-year low — from 8.65% in 2018-19. Net new enrolments with the retirement fund body grew 24% to 1.25 million in December, indicating a return to the pre-Covid levels of subscriber growth for the EPFO, according to the payroll data released last Saturday . express read Govt grants four acres to Sri M’s foundation Stay on regularisation of temporary postings T’Puram: A day after spiritual leader Sri M’s Satsang Foundation claimed it had not received any intimation from the state government on allotting four acres in the capital district, the revenue department has come out with a government order sanctioning it. While the land’s market value comes to I17.48 crore, the annual lease has been fixed at I34.96 lakh. P5 Kochi: The High Court has directed the state to defer all actions on the orders regularising temporary staff in 10 government undertakings. Directing the state to maintain status quo as on Thursday regarding the regularisation of temporary employees till March 12, it further asked the state to inform the court of its view on the petition. P5 Bengaluru tops list of cities in ease of living New Delhi: Among Indian cities with a population of more than a million, Bengaluru has emerged as the best city on ease of living parameters in 2020. The IT capital has pushed the earlier topper Pune to No.2 . Among cities with a population of less than a million, Thiruvananthapuram has come 21st and Kochi 39th. P7 16 pages, including 4 pages of THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Express This will reduce the compliance burden on citizens, helping them avail these services in a hassle free, contactless manner It will also reduce the footfall in RTO offices Aadhaar authentication mandatory for these contactless services Scare at taj mahal Security personnel check for bomb on the premises of Taj Mahal in Agra on Thursday. The Taj Mahal complex was vacated in the morning following a hoax bomb call | pti u n b r id l e d s t r e a mi n g OTT platforms need screening, some of them show porn: SC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi EXPRESSING concern over the unbridled streaming of content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, the Supreme Court on Thursday said a few platforms even show “pornographic materials” and that there should be a mechanism to screen such programmes. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to submit by Friday the government’s recent guidelines to regulate social media, messaging and streaming platforms. The observation came while the bench was hearing the plea of Amazon Prime Video’s India head Aparna Purohit challenging the Allahabad High Court order rejecting her anticipatory bail in connection with FIRs lodged against her over the controversial Tandav web series. “A balance has to be struck as some OTT platforms are also showing pornographic materials on their platforms,” said the bench, also comprising Justice R S Reddy . Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit, termed the case against her ‘shocking’. Purohit is just an employee of Amazon, Rohatgi said, adding she is neither a producer nor an actor but still has been made an accused in around 10 cases related to the web series across the country .
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05-03-2021 of The New Indian Express-Thiruvananthapuram