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 ■ ■ KANNUR l friday l march 12, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Maharashtra The state recorded 14,317 new cases on Thursday, the highest one-day spike this year. The active case tally stood at 1,06,070, thrice the number in Kerala, which came second with 33,785. As many as 57 deaths were reported, three more than Wednesday Harsh lockdown measures back as Covid climbs States like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat and MP could be at tipping point Madhya Pradesh A health worker collecting the swab samples of a woman in Mumbai | PTI tamil nadu Gujarat Four deaths and 530 new cases were reported on Thursday. The active case tally stood at 4,094. No fresh case was reported in nine of the total 52 districts in the state during the day E x press N e w s S ervi c e @ Mumbai/New Delhi/Chennai With the fresh Covid case count continuing to climb in Maharashtra, worried Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday announced total lockdown in some districts of North Maharashtra and Vidarbha, including Nagpur. Stricter measures will be taken if the situation does not improve, he said. Senior officials at the Centre shared his concern, as Ma- The State added 710 cases to its active tally, taking the number to 4,788 while 451 recovered. No death was reported in 24 hours. Its recovery rate was down to 97.03% from 97.36% last week harashtra is witnessing the most intense second wave of infections. Also, states like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh could be at the tipping point, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan warned. “We are very worried about Maharashtra,” said V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force. “This is a serious matter. It has two lessons — don’t take the virus for granted; and if ■ ■ The State reported 685 fresh cases and five deaths on Thursday, taking the case tally to 8,57,602 and the death toll to 12,535 Preventive measures have been strengthened, with flying squads mounting vigil. The Nilgiris has warned of six-month jail to those not wearing masks; 12,06,164 people have been vaccinated so far we have to remain Covid free, then, we need to follow Covid appropriate behaviour, containment strategy and vaccination,” Paul said. ICMR director general Balram Bhargava, while ruling out the role of mutant virus in the surge in the cases, put the blame on slackness on the part of the administration and the people. “Maharashtra has shown a worrisome trend. The mutant strain has not been found incriminating in this surge in cases. It is just related Groupism, rebellion remain huge challenges for UDF as it prepares to announce candidates Elsewhere CPM area committees back Kuttiyadi move Kunnummal and Vadakara CPM area committee meetings on Thursday decided to stick to the party’s state committee decision to give the seat to Kerala Congress (M). The meetings were held in the backdrop of massive protests by party cadre who wanted a CPM candidate to be fielded in the constituency. CPM activist turns KC(M) candidate The KC (M) announced Dr Sindhumol Jacob, vicepresident of Uzhavoor Block panchayat, as its candidate for Piravom. But her selection comes even as she held a CPM membership. The development led to an allegation that Sindhumol’s candidature was decided as per an unholy understanding between CPM and KC (M). CPM fields Rameshan in Manjeshwar The CPM sprung a surprise by fielding Kanhangad’s influential councillor V V Rameshan (56) as its candidate in the Manjeshwar assembly constituency. Rameshan, who is a member of the CPM’s district committee, was the chairman of Kanhangad municipality in the previous term and is a councillor now. Congress wants Chandy in Nemom, grapples with candidate selection E x press N e w s S ervi c e Even as uncertainty prevails over the candidate list of Congress for the assembly elections, speculation is rife that the AICC leadership has asked former chief minister Oommen Chandy to contest from Nemom, the only sitting seat of BJP in the state. Though reports from New Delhi indicated that the AICC leadership has convinced Chandy to take up the challenge, the 77-year-old has denied any such development. Reports said if Chandy contests from Nemom, his son Chandy Oommen may be given the Puthuppally seat, which the veteran leader had represented for the past 50 years. “I don’t understand the question itself on whether I would contest from Nemom or not. I have not held any talks with the AICC leadership, other than the screening committtee chairman and its two members. I will be contesting from Puthupally itself,” Chandy told reporters. When TNIE contacted Chandy Oommen, he ruled out contesting from Puthuppally. “I came to know from television news that my name may be con- Surendran wishes for Konni, Muraleedharan may not enter fray S O V I V I D YA D H A R A N @T’Puram The BJP state election committee that met in Thrissur on Thursday has shortlisted the candidates for the assembly election. The list will be vetted by the BJP Central Election Committee in Delhi on Friday afternoon and a final announcement is expected later that day or on Saturday . According to sources, Union Minister V Muraleedharan is unlikely to enter the fray this time. In the previous assembly election, he had finished second in Kazhakkoottam. BJP state president K Surendran’s name has been proposed from many A+ constituencies but he wishes to contest from Konni. Meanwhile, there is also pressure on Surendran to contest from Kazhakkoottam as the party needs a strong Ezhava candidate in the constituency in case Muraleedharan opts out. Sobha Surendran has already indicated her unwillingness to contest this time. Senior leader Kummanam Rajasekharan’s name is unanimous from Nemom which is the most prestigious seat of the party Former state president C . CANDIDATE LIST TODAY @ T’Puram E Sreedharan may contest from Palakkad While E Sreedharan’s name figures on top in Palakkad, retired DGP Jacob Thomas will be fielded fom Irinjalakuda. Former state president P K Krishnadas will contest from Kattakkada K Padmanabhan is the top contender to take on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadom. Another former state president P K Krishnadas will contest from Kattakkada. While E Sreedharan’s name figures on top in Palakkad, retired DGP Jacob Thomas will be fielded fom Irinjalakuda. Suresh Gopi has been proposed as candidate from Thrissur. The actor-MP’s name has been proposed from Vattiyoorkavu and Thiruvananthapruam assembly segments as well, but it is not clear whether he will enter the fray . Sources say the finalisation of candidates has become a tough task in several constituencies, including Chengannur, Thrissur, Manjeshwar and ● More on P4 Vattiyoorkavu. Congress candidate list for 92 constituencies to be released after the Central Election Committee meeting on Friday evening. The Congress camp has exuded confidence that the list will get appreciation from the public as they have earmarked 60% seats to youths, women and new faces I have not held any talks with the AICC leadership, other than the screening committtee chairman and its two members. I will contest from Puthuppally itself Oommen Chandy ‘A’ group camp disappointed with the way their nominees like K C Joseph MLA, UDF convener M M Hassan, former MLAs K Babu and Palode Ravi and Mahila Cong state chief Lathika Subhash have been sidelined in the list. Kerala sidered for Puthupally. I have not been consulted on this. There is no question of contesting from Puthuppally said ,” Chandy Oommen. Meanwhile, Chennithala exuded confidence that an impressive candidate list will be released on Friday evening. It is learnt that the AICC’s screening committee was unhappy with the panel of candidates put forth by the KPCC leadership in Nemom and Vattiyoorkavu. This reportedly prompted them to pose a challenge before Oommen Chandy and Chennithala to leave their “comfort zones” of Puthupally and Haripad and to put in “formidable fights” in Nemom and Vattiyoorkavu. The BJP state leadership is yet to announce the candidature of Kummanam from Nemom, where they are awaiting the final candidate list of the Congress. “We have not taken a decision on Nemom. The UDF will take all steps to ensure that the candidate wins there. The final candidate list will be announced on Friday evening after the central election committee meeting. Our aim is to ensure that all 140 candidates win,” said ● More on P4 Chennithala. Rebellion simmering within UDF EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @T’Puram/Palakkad Even as the UDF’s main constituents — the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) — are set to announce their candidates’ list on Friday the two parties , are facing an uproar from within in several constituencies following indications that some leaders may not get the nod. In Palakkad, former Congress MLA A V Gopinath has fallen out with the district leadership saying local party workers have been cold-shouldered and that ‘groupism’ in Congress is destroying the grand old party. Gopinath wants an organisational reshuffle in the district leadership as V K Srikandan, who was elected MP also holds the , post of Palakkad DCC president. He said he will wait till Friday evening for a response from the Congress leadership on his demands before announcing his future course of ● More on P4 action. to reduced testing, tracking and tracing and Covid inappropriate behaviour and large congregations,” he said. Rajesh Bhushan pointed out that while the active Covid-19 cases have almost halved in Kerala, they have more than doubled in Maharashtra. After taking his first jab at J J Hospital in Mumbai, Thackeray sought to dispel apprehension in people’s minds, saying it has no after-effects. “Since the vaccine is available now, everyone should take it. 2,56,85,011 People vaccinated across india as on Thursday Equally important is the need to wear a mask, wash hands from time to time and maintaining social distance,” Thackeray said. Tamil Nadu too ramped up its measures to contain the new wave, by deciding to post flying squads at all public places, including railway stations, to enforce Covid-appropriate discipline. Strict monitoring would happen at election meetings and rallies as well, state health secretary J Radhakrishnan said. Sabarimala incident saddening, shouldn’t have happened: Min E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @T’Puram Voices Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said on Thursday the incidents that happened at the Sabarimala temple in 2018 had saddened everyone. “The issue at Sabarimala in 2018 is a closed chapter for Kerala. That incident was painful and saddening to all of us. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said, referring to the controversy surrounding women’s entry to the Lord Ayyappa temple and a slew of protests there. Kadakampally’s comments ahead of the assembly elections are viewed as an attempt by the LDF to prevent a repeat of the backlash it faced in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The minister said his government’s future course of action on the issue will be decided in consultation with believers. “The government has stated its stance. The case is under the consideration of a larger bench of the Supreme Court. I repeat, whatever be the verdict, the government will take a decision on it after consultations with devotees, believers’ community political parties and the , general public,” he told reporters. Kadakampally said several festivals were conducted at the shrine thereafter. “Devotees who are regulars at the shrine had opined that these festivals were much better than those before the 2018 pilgrimage season,” he said. After the controversial entry of two women to the shrine, Kadakampally had responded that Sabarimala was no place for activism. The minister had to change his stance after he faced criticism from the party But after the defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha . election, the LDF and the state government have softened their stand in an apparent bid to regain the confidence of devotees. Will the CM openly admit to the fact that the stand taken by him was wrong and that he felt saddened by the decision? Ramesh Chennithala Devaswom Minister is shedding crocodile tears over the Sabarimala issue with an eye on the coming assembly polls K Surendran If the minister is sincere about his words, he should expedite steps to file a fresh affidavit in SC against entry of young women G Sukumaran Nair, NSS SSLC, Plus-II examinations postponed, to start on April 8 E x press N e w s S ervi c e @T’Puram The SSLC and Higher Secondary examinations have been postponed and will be held from April 8 to April 30. The state government’s request to postpone the exams, initially scheduled from March 17 to 30, was approved by the Election Commission on Thursday . Though the state government had written to the EC last week, a decision on the postponement was awaited. In the wake of the poll panel asking for the revised exam timetable, it was sent by the state government through the CEO, following which the EC gave its nod on Thursday . The government’s move came in the wake of Left-affiliated teachers’ unions exerting pressure for postponement of the exam. The unions pointed out that a large number of teachers would be deployed for election-related duties and their training will also start after mid-March. Besides, the difficulty of students to prepare for the crucial examinations amidst the poll campaign was also highlighted. IN MEMORIAM A devotee performs bali tharpanam (obeisance to ancestors) on the banks of the Periyar at Aluva on the eve of Sivarathri. The Covid protocol meant lower participation this year at the Shiva temple which normally sees a huge gathering | Albin Mathew Mamata drops conspiracy angle, says crowd push caused accident P rona b M onda l @ Kolkata I was greeting people from the car and the crowd moved forward. The entire pressure was on me and I got sandwiched. I was given medicine that was with me and taken to Kolkata Mamata Banerjee, CM West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s left leg in a plaster of paris cast at the SSKM hospital in Kolkata on Wednesday | PTI A day after alleging attack by political opponents in Nandigram, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said her leg injury was caused by an accident. In a video message from SSKM Hospital, where she is under treatment, Mamata said she was waving supporters from the footboard of her car and got sandwiched between the door and the front seat due to pressure from the crowd. Urging TMC workers to stay calm and not do anything that will inconvenience the public, Mamata said she would use a wheelchair and resume her activities in two-three days. Mamata’s medical examination at the hospital revealed cracks on her feet and ankle and injuries on her elbow and shoulder. She complained of chest pain and headache but ECG and MRI reports found no injury She also underwent CT . scan on Thursday The doctors . treating the CM advised her rest for 10 days. “It is a fact that I was badly hurt. I received injuries on my leg, elbow and shoulder. There were bone and ligament injuries. I suffered chest pain. I was greeting people from the car and the crowd moved forward. The entire pressure was on me and I got sandwiched. I was given medicine that was with me and taken to Kolkata,” she said in her video message. Preliminary investigation by the police, too, revealed the incident was an accident.
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