NEW DELHI 28 MARCH 2021 SUNDAY `9 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in PLUS: 12 PAGES Chasing the Truth MAGAZINE Beyond the Wasteland EXCLUSIVE VOICES Prabhu Chawla TJS George Shankkar Aiyar Ravi Shankar Modi and Hasina launch train, talk about nuclear cooperation 1.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine given to Bangladesh Pushpesh Pant Madhulika Liddle Anand Neelakantan Neil McCallum Flavours of Sindhustan All Out and Audacious PM visits Matua shrine, promises school with help of local officials MoUs and projects of camaraderie on Day 2 P U S H K A R BA N A K A R @ New Delhi INDIA and Bangladesh signed five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in various sectors like commerce, disaster management, resilience and mitigation, information technology and inaugurated a host of projects in Dhaka on the second day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. Modi and Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, following restricted and delegation-level talks, inaugurated the New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka passenger train, Mitali Express and virtually held the ground-breaking ceremony for power evacuation facilities of the Rooppur nuclear power plant. The leaders agreed to implement the proposal of the ‘Shadhinata Sorok’, a road to connect Kolkata and Mujibnagar, the birthplace of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said a significant portion of the third line of credit will be used to increase civil nuclear cooperation by developing five of the eight packages at the Rooppur plant. Shringla said both PMs took stock of the areas of coopera- Both countries want stability, love and peace in place of instability, terror and unrest in the world. The same values were given to us by Hari Chand Thakur Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Bangabandhu chair at Delhi University Some of the agreements signed include an MoU between the National Cadet Corps of the two countries and an MoU on the establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures. The PM also agreed to set up a Bangabandhu Chair at Delhi University PM Narendra Modi offers prayers at Orakandi Thakubari, a Matua temple, in Bangladesh on Saturday | PTI tion and discussed possible cooperation in newer areas like artificial intelligence and space. “Modi proposed holding a business exhibition which he termed as Best of India, Best of Bangladesh,” he said and added that the prime minister wanted ‘Nayi Urja, Nayi Gati’ in IndoBangladesh ties. Hasina and Modi released a commemorative stamp in hon- our of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary. Modi also gave Bangladesh 1.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine and gifted 109 ambulances. Hasina presented him a gold and silver coin. Modi visited the mausoleum of Bangabandhu in Tungipara, accompanied by Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana. He is the first foreign high dignitary to visit the mausoleum. The PM then proceeded to Orakandi where he interacted with members of the Matua community He announced up. gradation of a middle school and setting up a primary school in Orakandi with the help of local authorities. “India and Bangladesh want to see the progress of the whole world, through their development and Stray incidents of violence in Bengal polls E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Kolkata/Guwahati AMID stray incidents of violence and trading of barbs over electoral malpractices, nearly 80 per cent polling was reported in the 30 constituencies of West Bengal that voted in the first phase of the eight-phase assembly election on Saturday . In Assam 72.14 per cent turnout was recorded for 47 of the total 126 seats that went to polls. The voting percentage in Bengal is around 3 per cent less than the previous assembly elections. The 30 constituencies that went to polls on Saturday included all the 18 constituencies that had voted in the first phase in 2016, too. The rising cases of Covid-19 and absence of a large number of migrant workers, who had left the state following the lockdown, are believed to be the reason behind the slight drop in turnout. Polling was held under tight security blanket with 730 companies of central forces guarding 10,288 polling booths in Jun- WEST BENGAL CONSTITUENCIES: 294 First phase polling in 30 seats 5 districts. All seats in Purulia and Jhargram districts, parts of West Midnapore, Bankura, East Midnapore 2016 results in seats where polling was held on Saturday: TMC 27, Congress 2, Left Front 1 POLLING % 79.8 CONSTITUENCIES: 126 First phase polling in 47 seats in 12 districts, spread across upper Assam and parts of northern and central Assam 2016 results in seats POLLING % where polling was held on Saturday: BJP 27, AGP 8, Congress 9, AIUDF 2, Independent 1 72.1 glemahal’s Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura districts. However, violence was reported from pockets in Midnapore. Two police officers were injured in Bhagawanpur in East Midnapore when goons hurled crude bombs. Attack on political rivals also took place in West and East ASSAM Midnapore districts. CPM candidate in Junglemahal’s Shalboni, Sushanta Ghosh, was manhandled when he was visiting a polling booth. He was pushed, allegedly by the Trinamool Congress supporters and his vehicle was vandalised. Soumendu Adhikari, brother of Chief Minister Mamata Ban- erjee’s challenger in Nandigram constituency Suvendu Sdhikari, was attacked, booth allegedly by TMC supporters, when he was on his way to a polling in Contai South constituency Windshields of his vehi. cle were smashed. Three persons were ar rested in connection with the attack. “I came to know the TMC supporters were casting bogus votes at a booth and was heading there. A group of TMC men waylaid me and attacked my car,’’ alleged Soumendu, who joined the BJP recently. The TMC, however, denied the allegation and said the incident was a fall out of common people’s anger as Soumendu was roaming with outsiders. In Assam, the polling was largely peaceful. Unlike the three-phase elections this time, the 2016 polls were held in two phases with 65 constituencies voting in the first phase, which had recorded 82.41 per cent turnout. An election official died as his health deteriorated at a polling station in Sonari. AGP candidate Keshab Mahanta & his wife after casting votes in Assam’s Nagaon district, (right) a queue to cast votes in West Bengal’s Midnapore | PTI progress. Both countries want stability love and peace in place , of instability, terror and unrest. The same values were given to us by Hari Chand Thakur,” he said. Modi’s interaction with the Matuas, a significant part of who migrated to India during the war, comes at a time when members of the community participate in the Assembly election in West Bengal. I N T E RV I E W Jay Panda, BJP national vice-president and election in-charge in Assam BANKING ON DEVELOPMENT Good governance and the commitment of national leaders to treat Assam as priority are among the factors the BJP is banking on to retain power in the state. According to Jay Panda, there are other reasons also, why he thinks the people of Assam would vote for the saffron party | P7 Golden Trailblazer SADHGURU SPEAKS Enter the Champion NANDIGRAM TORN BETWEEN DADA AND DIDI I F this is a war of ideas, and not a mere electoral mud-wrestling match of the usual sort, then Nandigram is the epicentre. It’s a placename that has already seared itself into the pages of Indian political history But that . was a decade ago, when it was an outlier. In 2021, Nandigram offers a different picture — a small, sharpfocused microcosmic picture of West Bengal politics as it’s being played right now. The people of Nandigram are divided. Along voting lines — which can be a euphemism for ‘along religious lines’. They are also pulled by contrasting loyalties: their allegiance to ‘Dada’ and ‘Didi’. The latter needs no explanation. Mamata Banerjee is Didi for not just Nandigram — which votes in the second phase of a long-drawn poll process — but for all of West Bengal, even India to some extent. Dada is Suvendu Adhikari, her Nandigram custodian-turned-challenger. Suvendu may not yet have attained the eminence of a ‘Dada’ for the larger Bengal polity, but there’s no doubting his stature here. Anything that has happened or not happened in Nandigram has his stamp on it. That’s not counting his cutouts, popping out from amidst cropland, smiling at passing vehicles with a chutzpah that’s almost breathtaking, bordering on arrogance in a qualitative way. Suvendu and the Adhikari family have a close relation with these farmlands of Nandigram. He is credited with spearheading the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee — now, that one committee not only ensured the chemical hub planned by the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government never ma- @ New Delhi US President Joe Biden has invited 40 leaders from across the world, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the Leaders Climate Summit to be held virtually on April 22 and 23. The summit to be telecast live is being convened to under- line the urgency and the economic benefits of climate action, the White House said. Interestingly, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has not been invited to the summit. “It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow,” the White House said. Chinese President Xi Jinp i n g , Ru s s i a n P re s i d e n t Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and o t h e r s a re a m o n g t h o s e invited. According to the White House, a key objective of the Leaders’ Summit and COP26 will be to catalyse efforts to keep limiting global warming to the 1.5 degree Celsius goal within reach. “The terialised, it virtually led to the ‘uchhed’ (uprooting) of the 34-year-long Left Front government in Bengal. In that election and in the years that followed, Suvendu became the Dada, replacing the Left’s Laxman Seth. It’s as if he has now come to claim ownership of the very croplands he once struggled to save. Ownership, that is, on behalf of the BJP He’s a . mascot of sorts for the saffron party, making its first bid for power in the state. Suvendu, in a way, represents the very audacity of that bid — he’s challenging the sitting chief minister. Suvendu embraces the BJP BENGAL POLLS S A N T W A N A B H AT TA C H A R YA @ Nandigram (West Bengal) as much as the BJP embraces him. His youth brigade, conspicuously decked up in saffron kurtas, rend the air with the by-now-familiar Jai Sri Ram chorus. It’s not so much a greeting as an assertive war cry . Do the commoners of Nandigram join in? ‘Boudi’, or Pratima Jena to give her formal name, runs a small eatery and watches such cavalcades pass by with studied indifference. “We’ll vote who we need to vote for. No one is revealing anything this time. Dada has done work no doubt, but Didi is also our pride!” As a woman, she empathises with Mamata. Will that count, or will she just press the button the rest of the family may press? She’s mum. CONTINUED ON PAGE 7 Centre lays down five-fold strategy to contain alarming spread of Covid-19 EXPRESS NEWS S ERVI CE @ New Delhi ON a day India reported its sharpest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases this year with 62,258 new infections, the Centre advised 12 states and Union Territories driving the surge to significantly increase testing and ensure strict adherence to safety protocols. At a high-level review meeting he chaired with additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and secretaries (Health and Family Welfare) of 12 states/UTs and municipal commissioners and collectors of 46 worst-affected districts, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan laid out a five-fold strategy for effective containment and management of the pandemic — exponential in- crease in testing, effective isolation and contact tracing, reinvigoration of healthcare workers, ensuring the public follows protocol and targeted approach to vaccination. States that participated in the meeting included Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Modi invited to Biden’s Climate Summit, no Imran in list of 40 global leaders EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Kailash Manasarovar: Journey of a Lifetime summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts,” it added. By the time of the summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally De- termined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, the White House said. Biden urged leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries will contribute to stronger climate ambition. A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the summit, the White House said. Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. Stressing the importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour and strictly enforcing guidelines, the ministry presented statistics to underline that one infected person could spread the infection to an average of 406 individuals in a 30-day window without restrictions. The figure could be reduced to just 15 if physical exposure is decreased by 50 per cent and to a further 2.5 (average) if the exposure is decreased by 75 per cent. The Centre asserted that the second wave reflected laxity on part of people in following guidelines and on part of government authorities in virus containment and management strategy at the ground level. ASPIRE DISABLED BY BULLET, BUT ACTIVE IN SPIRIT Confined to bed for four years after being injured in militant attack, J&K youth teaches others how to overcome physical obstacles and face challenges of life | P5
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