KOCHI l wednesday l march 17, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE city EDITION sreeshankar takes giant leap to book olympic berth Long jumper M Sreeshankar clears 8.26m for the Games cut, TN’s Dhanalakshmi stuns Dutee Chand dhanalakshmi too hogs limelight new nat’l record en route to tokyo Tamil Nadu’s S Dhanalakshmi stunned the Asian Games medallist and national record holder Dutee Chand to win the 100m event at the Federation Cup. It was also the 22-year-old’s maiden title at the nationals. In the much-anticipated sprint final, Hima Das was shown the red card for a false start ■ ■ The 21-year-old from Kerala bettered his own national record in Patiala. Not a part of the jumps national camp, Sreeshankar is training separately under his father S Murali in Palakkad. Five race walkers, two javelin throwers and the mixed 4x400m relay team have earlier qualified for the Olympics | P11 8.26 sreeshankar improved on his own National mark of 8.20m 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 Double mutation variant detected in Maharashtra Trends and the big picture n MP govt to impose night curfew in Bhopal and Indore from Wednesday (10 pm to 6 am). Also, shops ordered to close at 10 pm in eight other cities n 5.86 cr doses of Made in India Covid vaccines provided to 71 countries both as grant and commercial sales as of Monday n Gujarat to increase night curfew timings by two hours in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot from 10 pm to 6 am n Amid concern over adverse effects of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the European regulator said there was no indication the shot was responsible for blood clots n India recorded 24,492 new cases, going past 20,000 for the sixth day in a row. Total cases in the country stood at 1,14,09,831 n China makes it mandatory for people from India and 19 other nations to get Chinese-made vaccines if they want to visit S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Scientific institutes tasked with genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in the country have alerted the Centre on a virus variant with double mutation in Maharashtra, whose possible role in the surge in cases is being probed, this newspaper has gathered. The institutes working on a project under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have alerted the Union health ministry to label the variant with the double mutation as a likely variant of concern (VOC). VOCs have potential public health implications like the ones in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Sources working on the project said so far 7,000 virus samples have been sequenced, of which 200 were lifted from parts of Maharashtra, which has been hit the hardest with the fresh rise in cases. “Of the samples from Maharashtra, about 20% have two mutations, E484Q and L452R,” said a source. “While it is difficult to conclusively say that the variant is behind the surge, it has been established elsewhere that E484Q can escape antibody neutralisation and L452R is known to increase infectivity and has been linked to large pockets in the US.” The Centre in December had formed a genomic surveillance consortium — INSACOG — of 10 institutes under the NCDC to work on genome sequencing of virus samples from various parts of the country amid concern over detection of the UK variant in India. Cabinet gives NOD FOR d.f.i. TO FUND INFRA PROJECTS RSS ideologue deals state BJP big blow, alleges tacit pact with CPM E x p r ess n e w s se r v i c e @ New Delhi Says agreement to ensure Surendran’s victory; Congress cries foul; CM says baseless charge E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ Kochi QUOTES DEALING the Kerala BJP unit a body blow, RSS ideologue and former editor of its mouthpiece Organiser, R Balashankar, alleged on Tuesday that the party’s state leadership has reached a tacit understanding with R Balashankar the CPM to ensure the victory of party state president K S u r e n d r a n i n Ko n n i a s s e m b l y constituency . Balashankar, whose name featured prominently among those considered by the BJP for Chengannur, told TNIE that he was sure of winning the seat as he had the support of all leading communities including Christians, Ezhavas and Nairs. “I maintain a good relationship with prominent communities that constitute 75% of the electorate in Chengannur. The BJP national leadership had favoured my candidature and I had conveyed my willingness to Surendran well ahead of the declaration of elections. He had encouraged me and assured all support to my candidature. The Orthodox faction had openly supported me and acknowledged my intervention to declare Cheppad St George Church as an archaeological monument. The SNDP Yogam and NSS leadership had also assured their support,” he said. Balashankar alleged the BJP has fielded weak candidates in Chengannur and Aranmula despite being A plus constituencies of the BJP . “I doubt the state leadership has entered into a deal with the CPM to ensure Surendran’s victory in Konni. The decision to field weak candidates in Chengannur and Aranmula will ensure the victory of CPM ● More on P4 in these seats,” he said. He (Balashankar) does not deserve an answer. I was not even aware that he was an aspirant for the Chengannur seat K Surendran, BJP state chief I just cannot understand on what grounds he has raised such an allegation. His allegation that BJP leadership is a mafia could be true Pinarayi Vijayan, CM We’ve always said that there is an understanding between the CPM and BJP. But we never thought that it would be exposed so soon. Oommen Chandy, former chief minister One woman in six new Cong names, Dharmadom pending E XPR E S S N E W S S E RVIC E @T’Puram KNOW THE SIX IN FRAY Youth Congress state secretary Veena S Nair — slated to contest in Vattiyoorkavu — is the lone woman in the candidates’ list released on Tuesday by the Congress’ central leadership for six contentious Kerala assembly seats. State vice-presidents T Siddique and P C Vishnunadh got the nod to enter the fray in Kalpetta and Kundara, respectively Malappuram . district president V V Prakash will seek people’s mandate in Nilambur while Youth Congress state vice-president Riyas Mukkoli is the candidate in Pattambi. Social worker Firoz Kunnumparambil also found favour with the party in Tavanur. However, the Congress has not named a candidate in Dharmadom, where CM Pinarayi Vijayan is contesting. The party has now announced candidates for 92 constituencies in the assembly elections scheduled to be held on April 6. This will be second electoral battle for the 32-year-old Veena who had unsuccessfully contested the 2015 civic body election from the women’s reservation ward of Sasthamangalam, in which the Congress’ state headquarters — Indira Bhavan P C Vishnunadh Kundara T Siddique Kalpetta Riyas Mukkoli Pattambi Firoz Kunnumparambil Tavanur Veena S Nair Vattiyoorkavu V V Prakash Nilambur — also situates. The norm that those who had lost in local body elections will not be considered was ELECTIONS waived in Veena’s case as her defeat had happened in 2015. A practising lawyer at the Vanchiyoor court, with an LLM degree, Veena has also been a popular television anchor. She is the daughter-inlaw of former Udma MLA and Congress state general secretary K P Kunhikannan. “My candidature is a recognition for the state Youth Congress. I am a resident of Vattiyoorkavu and I know the people’s pulse well,” Veena told TNIE. Congress state secretary Jyothi Vijayakumar, noted as the translator for Rahul Gandhi, was in the race for a ticket in ● More on P4 Vattiyoorkavu. KERALA ASSEMBLY 2021 around the state P J Joseph-P C Thomas merger in the offing? Kottayam: With the SC dismissing appeal filed by P J Joseph in the dispute of over the title and symbol of the KC(M), the Joseph faction is planning to revive its merger move with the Kerala Congress party led by P C Thomas, sources said. P4 Mumbai Police chief faces axe over Waze Mumbai: After the embarrassing arrest of police officer Sachin Waze by the NIA, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh is likely to be replaced soon. A senior minister said it has now come to light that Waze had stage-managed the bomb scare on the instructions of Singh. P7 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala submits his nomination papers to the Haripad block development officer on Tuesday | Express cryptocurrency E X PRE S S RE A D RBI wants Bitcoin ban, FinMin not sure A n u r a d h a S h u k l a @ New Delhi The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry are at loggerheads over cryptocurrency While the . RBI is pushing for a blanket ban on cryptocurrency, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prefers to keep all options open, sources said. “RBI has strongly communicat- ed its reservation against cryptocurrency and has recommended a blanket ban,” said a senior finane ministry official, adding that this was communicated to the government during an informal meeting last week. “From our side, we are not shutting all options off,” Sitharaman said recently This had giv. en some hope to the cryptocurrecy industry which was fighting for ac, Amaravati land scam: CID asks Naidu to appear on March 23 @ Vijayawada T’Puram: The suspense over Sobha Surendran’s candidature finally ended with the BJP’s central leadership deciding to field the firebrand leader from Kazhakoottam in Thiruvananthapuran, which is one of the high-profile constituencies of the party. According to her, the central leadership asked her to be ready. P4 Thrissur: The mother of the two Walayar sisters, who were sexually assaulted and were found hanging in their makeshift house in 2017, will contest against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadom as an independent candidate backed by the Walayar Samara Samiti. P2 — Nirmala Sitharaman E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e Sobha BJP candidate in Kazhakoottam Walayar girls’ mother to take on Pinarayi in Dharmadom Centre is also planning to issue some securities to Development Finance Institution, by which cost of funds will come down The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared the proposal to set up a Development Finance Institution (DFI), which seeks to fix the financing problem of long-ter m infrastructure projects. As announced in the Budget, the government will initially infuse `20,000 crore in the DFI and raise up to `3 lakh crore in the next few years. While DFI will start off as ceptance in the country However, . if RBI and the government are not on the same page, then the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, slated to be taken up in Parliament in the current session, could be delayed. Sources say RBI’s strong position in last week’s meeting has forced the ministry to soften its stance. 100% government owned, the Centre will bring down its stake gradually to 26%. “Past attempts to have alternative investment funds were taken up, but for various reasons, we ended up with no bank which could take up long-term risk and fund development. Following this, Union Cabinet has cleared the setting up of a DFI,” Finance Minister Sitharaman told reporters. The DFI will get tax benefits for 10 years. In Mangalagiri alone, 500 acres of assigned land were taken away. Farmers were threatened that they will not get any financial package and their lands would be taken away for the capital Amaravati. Alla Ramakrishna Reddy The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID), which filed an FIR against former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the alleged Amaravati land scam, served a notice on him at his Jubilee Hills residence in Hyderabad on Tuesday Naidu has been direct. ed to appear in person before the Investigating Officer at the CID regional office in Vijayawada on March 23. “Failure to attend or comply with the terms of the notice, you will be liable for arrest under Section 41 (3) and (4) of CrPC,” the notice warned. On Tuesday TNIE broke the , story of the CID’s FIR against Naidu for allegedly facilitating alienation of assigned lands in violation of the law. The notice served by investigating of ficer A Lakshmi Narayana Rao identified Naidu as Accused No.1 and said it was necessary to examine him to “ascertain facts which are within your exclusive knowledge.” A similar notice was served on TDP leader Ponguru Narayana Rao, who was the minister for municipal administration and urban development during the TDP regime. The notices were served under Section 41 (A) of the CrPC. More on P5
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