CHENNAI FRIDAY MARCH 05, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 32 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 ■ 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 BE 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 8.5% Defectors to get Bengal BJP ticket Party to field fresh faces in Assam to shake off anti-incumbency; list to be out in a few days EPFO keeps interest rate for FY21 same as last year M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has fixed the interest rate on provident fund deposits at 8.5% for 2020-21 — 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 . 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 PARTY TO FIELD PROFESSIONALS IN KERALA, TN “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 THE BJP on Thursday is learnt to have finalised candidates for the first few phases of Assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal, with fresh faces in the former and turncoats in the latter getting preference. The central election committee (CEC) of the BJP met on Thursday to approve the list of candidates, screened by the respective poll-bound state units of the party The final lists are . likely to be released in the next few days. Apparently to ward off faction fighting, the BJP is not likely to field any of the Lok Sabha MPs, as also West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh, in the @ 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 In- EXPRESS READ Imran Khan to seek trust vote on Saturday Islamabad: After an embarrassing defeat of his party’s candidate in the Senate, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he will seek a vote of confidence on Saturday. He also ranted against money power in politics | P13 WITH THIS ISSUE CHENNAI’S BEST WEEKEND GUIDE 32 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF INDULGE (TABLOID) larly looking to draft in fresh blood to beat anti-incumbency against the Sarbanada Sonowal-led NDA government, with special thrust on educational qualifications and “innovative leadership” skill sets. 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. “Special focus in the choice of candidates is on the educa- tional 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 decade, too, will get picked, the functionary added, The West Bengal unit has recommended Trinamool defector Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. For Tamil Nadu, the party is likely to wait for the formal announcement of seat adjustments with allies before it releases its list of candidates. SEAT-SHARING TALKS: DMK TAKES ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO BACK Now, renew DL online ‘DMK-CPI pact to be inked today’ 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 Chennai: A delegation of the Communist Party of India, led by MP Subbarayan and State secretary R Mutharasan, met the DMK seat-sharing panel on Thursday. “Our talks went smoothly. The poll pact will be inked on Friday after getting consent from our State committee,” said Mutharasan | P4 BJP partyman found murdered in Madurai Madurai: A BJP member, who had recently joined the party’s minority wing, was found murdered at Jinna Thidal in SS Colony police station limit here on Thursday early morning. The deceased has been identified as K Batsha (45), aka Fridge Batsha, of Kovil Pillai Colony in Ellis Nagar of Mahaboopalayam in the district | P4 COUNTDOWN Why did TN Seshan appreciate Modakurichi contestants in 1996? What can the present-day voters and ticket aspirants learn from a 25-year-old event? 32 DAYS BIHAR 2020 Is the cap on cash creating a hassle for TN’s small traders? EXPRESS GIVES YOU A LOW-DOWN: P2 S K U M A R E S A N @ Chennai IT was a game half-won for the DMK on Thursday, as it managed to convince one ally, while issues flared up with another. The day began on a pleasant note at the DMK camp, with VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan sealing the deal with six seats. Though the party was not entirely satisfied with the numbers allotted to it, the agreement to allow it contest on its own election symbol finalised the deal. The DMK, however, was not as lucky with its other partner — MDMK, which openly expressed disgruntlement with the way the talks were going. This development has sparked tension in DMK circles as twice before, MDMK has ditched the DMK alliance on the eleventh hour due to disagreements over seat sharing. Till 8 pm on Thursday, according to sources, MDMK had not decided on the offer made by DMK. As the MDMK high-level committee meeting is scheduled to be held on Saturday evening, an announcement is likely before that. So far, after four days of mara- Online streaming services need screening, says SC EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Assembly elections. The possibility of naming a chief ministerial candidate for West bengal, too, is remote. But the BJP CEC is learnt to have given the go-ahead to the party’s bid to reward the defectors from the ranks of the ruling Trinamool Congress, which includes the likes of Suvendu Adhikari, Rajeeb Banerjee, Dipak Kumar Haldar. The BJP will also be fielding actors and actresses in the state, sources said, adding that since it had won just three Assembly seats in the 2016 polls, there’s ample scope to strike a fine balance between the new entrants from other parties and their own cadre. In Assam, the BJP is particu- dia 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 . @ Chennai INCOME Tax officials seized `3 crore and detected unaccounted cash to the tune of `175 crore from a group of civil contractors in southern TN on Wednesday The seizure followed after . search operations in 18 premises, mainly in Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts, based on inputs that the cash is likely to be distributed for election CONTINUED ON: P4 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 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 Searches on Pannu, Kashyap still on; I-T dept claims `650-cr manipulation E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi BOMB SCARE AT TAJ Security personnel check for bomb in the premises of Taj Mahal in Agra on Thursday. The Taj Mahal complex was vacated in the morning following a hoax bomb call | PTI `175 cr unaccounted cash detected in I-T raids in TN EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE thon talks, DMK has only been able to finalise seat-sharing agreements with three of its nine allies. DMK is using the pressure applied by Congress to convince its smaller allies to be happy with fewer seats, said sources. “They are being told that if more seats are allocated to them, then DMK will be forced to cede further more to Congress,” said a source. “While VCK, MDMK, and Left party aspirants are seen as DMK-leaning, Congress counterparts, from the DMK point of view, seem to be weak choices.” The DMK leaders said that going by the national political scenario it is Congress cadre who are weak in facing an ideological war with the BJP as it lost two State governments — Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry — following the defection of its own MLAs due intraparty politics. DRIVING LICENCE purposes, said a release. During the searches, the officials found that the contractors had entered bogus expenses under various heads to reduce the profits. The declared profits were less than 2 per cent of the turnover, when it actually exceeded 20 per cent, said an I-T department spokesperson. The release added, over 100 subcontractors were also engaged to register expenses to meet illegal payments. AMID ongoing searches on Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu, the Income Tax department on Thursday claimed to have found out financial irregularities to the tune of `650 crore at a few film production houses and talent management companies. “Evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions of the production house among the film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about `350 crore has been found and is being further investigated,” a statement from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said without naming anyone. The I-T department, since Wednesday, has been conducting searches at 30 locations in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, in connection with alleged tax evasion by the now-shut Phantom Films linked to Anurag Kashyap and his partners, and Taapsee Pannu. The searches caused a huge backlash on social media as both the director and actor have been critical of the BJPled Central government. The raid was termed by many as an act of “vendetta”. “Many discrepancies were detected. Also, there was huge suppression of income compared to the actual box office collections. We had worked on our findings and it is improper to link it with their political views,” a senior I-T department official, who is involved in the probe, claimed. The official said the production house was not able to explain discrepancy of around `300 crore. Apart from that there is a case of under-valuation of share transactions of Phantom Films between the film director and shareholders, having tax implication of about `350 crore. Hence, the officials suspected total evasion to the tune of `650 crore. The CBDT also claimed Pannu received `5 crore fee in cash for which no record was kept. High Court relief for local train accident victims EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai THE Madras High Court admonished the railways for denying compensation to families of passengers who died in accidents involving Electric Multiple Units (EMUs). Hearing a compensation plea of the family of a 38-year-old woman, who died after falling from an EMU train in Chennai in 2014, the court overruled the railway tribunal’s order. It directed the railways to give `8 lakh compensation along with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum from the date of the passing of the award and fixed a time of 12 weeks to deposit the amount. The court stressed that the deceased alone cannot be charged with negligence as the railways equally contributes to it by not ensuring safety of EMU passengers, par ticularly working women, who are solely dependent on such trains. Justice SM Subramanian, who heard the plea, said: “It is painful to state that the higher officials of the Indian Railways are receiving very decent salary from the tax payers’ money Therefore, they are . expected to perform their public duties with high responsibility and accountability Pub. lic authorities are expected to consider the plight of poor citizens.” Censuring the railways for not replacing old coaches and being lax on safety measures for passengers, the court said, “Large number of women employees are travelling in Metro cities, including Chennai, in EMU trains. After duty hours, they are forced to rush to board these trains to reach homes within a reasonable travel time. They also take care of their children and family and a delay , in reaching home would cause hardship to them as to their family With this pressure, more . women travellers are forced to stand and travel in EMU trains,” the judge added.
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