Polls done and dusted, fuel gets pricey Fuel prices are creeping up though economic activity is sliding due to Covid second wave 18 days since the last price revision. ■ Oil companies froze rate revisions during electioneering possibly to soften the blow in poll-bound states like West Bengal City Petrol (K) Mumbai Chennai New Delhi Kolkata kollam l wednesday l may 05, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION 96.95 (+0.12) 92.55 (+0.12) 90.55 (+0.15) 90.76 (+0.14) 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 ■ Diesel (K) 87.98 (+0.17) 85.90 (+0.15) 80.91 (+0.18) 83.78 (+0.17) Pressure on Mullappally to quit, AICC sends feelers R A J E S H A B R A H A M @ Kochi The writing on the wall is clear for KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran -- to exit gracefully now or wait till the party leadership asks him to step down. AICC sources told TNIE that they expected Mullappally, who led the party to one of its worst defeats in the assembly polls, to submit his resignation immediately, as w a s d o n e by h i s A s s a m counterpart. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ripun Bora resigned from his post on Sunday evening itself though the Congress fared much better in the northeastern state. “Mullappally Ramachandran’s resignation is expected by the high command and it has informally communicated to him to step down. In two days, if there is no resignation, official routes will be explored. It is left to him to exit gracefully . The Assam PCC president took the moral responsibility Mullappally’s resignation is expected by the high command and it has informally communicated to him to step down. In two days, if there is no resignation, official routes will be explored — A party source for the defeat and resigned. The same was expected of Mullappally said a party source. ,” “We thought he would send his resignation immediately after the results came out. But that did not happen,” the source said. However, senior local leaders said a final decision on the future course of action will be taken only at the KPCC's political affairs committee meeting, scheduled for Friday “It won't . do any good for the party if immediate decisions are made, without any discussions,” said a senior leader. But, not everyone holds the same view. Veteran Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan fired the first salvo by proposing K Sudhakaran’s name as the next KPCC chief. Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden posted on his Facebook page: “Why Cong needs to take extraordinary steps T’Puram: The Congress’ shocking defeat in the assembly polls has rekindled memories of the scenario in 1967 when it was reduced to a 9-member parliamentary party. The technical argument that it has more than double the tally of 1967 now won’t hold ground. The tally of 21 was the same as in 2016 and the party’s failure to improve it despite being in opposition for five years indicates that it needs to initiate extraordinary measures to tackle the crisis. P4 do we still need a sleeping president?” Following his post, several Congress workers came up with their comments against Mullappally, demanding a change of guard. A newly-elected MLA told TNIE that a consensus was building among the Congress trio of Ramesh Chennithala, Oommen Chandy and Mullappally to maintain the status quo for the time being. But sources in the central leadership said the local leaders are playing a waiting game as they are facing “irrelevance” and hence they are “protecting each other.” The names of Sudhakaran and K Muraleedharan are doing the rounds as replacement for Mullapally Though the par. ty won 19 of 20 seats in the Lok Sabha polls under Mullappally , it was a downhill journey for him since then, losing the local body elections last year and the assembly polls now. ● More on P4 Swearing-in deferred to 3rd week of May E xpress N ews S ervice @ T’Puram THE CPM state secretariat which met here on Tuesday decided to defer the formation of new cabinet till the third week of May, in view of the serious Covid situation. The secretariat, which conducted a preliminary review of the assembly poll results, decided to convene the LDF meeting and CPM state committee meeting on May 17 and 18, respectively . These meetings will decide the structure of the cabinet. Swearing-in ceremony will be organised soon after that. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the secretariat that the strict restrictions imposed as part of Covid control till May 9 may have to be extended at least for more week as the test positivity rate remains very ● More on P4 high. BJP hits back at vote trade allegations A day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that BJP votes were purchased by the UDF in several constituencies, the saffron party launched a two-pronged counter attack. Speaking to reporters in Kozhikode, BJP state president K Surendran asked Pinarayi whether the huge dip in CPM’s votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha election indicated that the Marxist party had sold its votes. Meanwhile, in the state capital, NDA convener P K Krishnadas accused the CPM of entering into a unholy alliance with the Congress to ensure the BJP’s defeat. P4 India Inc largely in favour of complete national shutdown but health experts are divided, they feel it should have been done during the onset of the wave Chorus for lockdown grows louder that businesses and jobs can be revived but the same cannot be said for human lives. “The CenA day after CII president Uday tral government should take Kotak called for a national stringent steps and push peolockdown to break the chain of ple to stay at home. This will transmission of coronavirus, also bring some relief to the many corporate leaders came healthcare system and allow forward to support the idea them to treat people in dire saying it is alright to take an need,” he said. economic hit to save lives. HowAmerica’s top public health ever, health experts are divided expert and White House Chief over the effectiveness of such a Medical Adviser Dr Anthony move at this stage. Fauci, too, feels India must im“Saving lives is more impor- pose a nationwide lockdown tant than producing steel. Pro- for a few weeks. duction can suffer as long as “It is quite obvious to everythe country is in need of any one that the situation in India resource available with the is extremely serious,” he said company,” said Sajjan Jindal, in a recent interview to a news managing director of agency, adding India JSW Group, which Maha cases must focus on mass supplies liquid oxygen vaccination and setcoming to hospitals. ting up a large number down Another corporate of makeshift hospitals India’s worst leader, who did not on a war footing. Covid-hit state wish to be named, said However, healthcare Maharashtra India’s healthcare sysexperts in India are reported 51,880 not convinced of the tem is stretched to its cases on Tuesday. need for lockdown limits. The state has “At this point in when the infection is been able to time, saving lives is already rampant and more important than bring down fresh considering the fact cases to a economic activities. that the new variant manageable Suspending non-esof coronavirus is airrange after it sential business activborne, making it more imposed a state- transmissible than ities and a complete wide lockdown l o ck d ow n fo r t wo the earlier one. last month weeks is the only way Dr Oommen John out,” he said. of the George InstiCalling for a balanced ap- tute for Global Health India proach, real estate tycoon pointed out that it will be difNiranjan Hiranandani said, “A ficult to ensure that people stay complete economic lockdown within their homes in densely will cast a dark shadow on populated urban contexts. economy and lead to more fa“At the current stage of the talities due to increased pandemic, unrestricted access unemployment.” to diagnostic tests is critical,” Rohit Poddar, MD, Poddar he said. Housing and Development Ltd, Having faced widespread too feels a lockdown will have criticism last year for imposa drastic impact on the econo- ing a nationwide lockdown my “The need of the hour is to without warning, the Centre . strike a balance between a full this time is not in favour of lockdown and allowing busi- shutting down the economy . ness operations to prevent a On April 8, Prime Minister downward trajectory of the Narendra Modi told states economy,” he said. to manage the Covid Ashish Mishra, CEO of advi- situation without imposing a P7 sory firm, Unnault, explained lockdown. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NATIONWIDE @ New Delhi Hours after trends showed Trinamool Congress’ landslide victory in West Bengal on Sunday, the state convulsed under post-poll violence wave — from Sitalkuchi in the north to Sonarpur in South 24 Parganas — that left at least 14 people dead, including two women. While the BJP claimed seven of the victims were its supporters, the Trinamool counted six of the diseased as its workers. Prime Minister Narendra BJP national president J P Nadda meets kin of victims in Sonarpur | PTI Modi called Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and inquired about the situation. BJP president J P MAY 4 Fresh cases 3,68,147 3,57,229 Recoveries 3,00,732 3,20,289 3,417 3,449 Deaths STATEWIDE may 3 MAY 4 Fresh cases 26,011 37,190 Recoveries 19,519 26,148 45 57 Deaths Jab-o-meter People waiting to refill oxygen at Babbar Gas Plant in Kanpur, UP on Tuesday | PTI May 3 Take your shot May 4 16.5 lakh doses 11,49,009 doses Total: 16,04,18,105 100 CSI priests contract Covid after Munnar retreat, 2 die K rishnachan d K @ T’Puram MORE than 100 Church of South India (CSI) priests were reportedly infected with Covid-19 after they attended the annual retreat at Munnar last month. Sadly two of the priests , have died and five others are said to be in a serious condition. Among the infected is CSI moderator and bishop of South Kerala diocese Rev A Dharmaraj Rasalam, who is in home quarantine. Sources in the church said the pandemic protocol was violated during the retreat. The annual retreat, a conference of priests and community members, was held from April 13 to 17 at CSI Christ Church in Munnar. As many as 350 priests from various churches attended the meet. Sources said the retreat was held despite requests to postpone the event, and the priests were warned of disciplinary action if they failed to attend. The priests had travelled to Munnar from LMS Church in Thiruvanan- Priests at the retreat without facemasks and not maintaining social distancing. thapuram in a bus, sources said. The deceased priests are Rev Bijumon, 52, and Rev Shine B Raj, 43. Bijumon, who was the vicar of CSI church, Kazhukode, near Vattappara, died last Thursday Shine B Raj, who was . the vicar of CSI church, Punnakkamugal, near Thirumala, breathed his last on Tuesday. His funeral was held later in the day . Many of the infected priests are under treatment at Dr 14 killed in turf fight after Bengal verdict P ranab M o n d a l @ Kolkata may 3 Nadda met the families of the victims to express solidarity . BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that houses over 4,000 houses were ransacked and at least 100 shops were looted. The party also alleged that two of its booth agents were gang-raped, but there was no confirmation from the police. Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said in most of the cases, the deaths were a result of the BJP’s factionalism between old workers and turncoats. “In some places, the BJP’s provocation triggered public anger,” he claimed. A worker of the Indian Secular Force, a partner of the Left Front, was killed in Bhangar, South 24 Parganas. In Kolkata’s Kankurgachi, slain BJP worker Abhijit Sarkar’s mother alleged her son was beaten to death by Trinamool supporters. Shovarani Mondal, a woman in her mid-60s, was allegedly killed at Jagaddal in North 24 Parganas, when she tried to protect her BJP worker son from being dragged away . Somervell CSI Medical College Hospital at Karakonam and some are in home treatment. Hospital authorities refused to comment when contacted but a senior doctor, on condition of anonymity said none of , the infected priests are in a critical condition. “There were a few serious cases and they are recovered now,” he said. Jacob Mathew, secretary of Church of South India Trust Association and member of the Joint Christian Council, alleged that the retreat was organised ignoring the directions of the government and council. “The annual retreats of Central Kerala diocese and Kochi diocese were also scheduled last month and they were postponed due to a surge in Covid cases. But CSI South Kerala held the retreat secretly at Munnar without informing the government. As per the government instructions, only 50 people are allowed in a conference. But here all safety guidelines went for a toss,” he al● More on P2 leged. Covid beds full, T’Puram MCH stops admission S hain u M o han @T’Puram WITH Covid cases surging, the Government Medical College Hospital — the tertiary care hospital in the district catering to Category C Covid patients — has stopped taking new admissions with its capacity reaching the threshold. It is learnt that an average of 10 to 20 patients with severe symptoms under home isolation is on the waiting list every day to get medical care in the district. Sources said the MCH is unable to admit new patients as there are scores of critically ill patients at the hospital waiting for ICU beds and ventilators. As on Monday 176 of the total , 183 ICU beds at public healthcare institutions in the district are occupied while 128 out of the total 149 ICU beds at private hospitals are occupied. The situation is more or less same in other districts as ICU beds are almost fully occupied. As many as 37 out of the 40 ICU beds were occupied at Govt MCH, Ernakulam, on Tuesday SITUATION ELSEWHERE 37 out of the 40 ICU beds were occupied at Govt MCH, Ernakulam, on Tuesday 600 allotted Covid beds get fully occupied in Govt MCH, Kozhikode; authorities set up another 200-bed unit at its super specialty block In Malabar MCH, Kozhikode, only three of the 73 critical care beds are free while 493 out of 500 ICU beds were occupied at Govt MCH, Thrissur. After the 600 allotted Covid beds having got fully occupied in the Govt MCH, Kozhikode, authorities have set up another 200-bed unit at its super specialty block. On Tuesday , all beds on both the blocks were occupied. In Malabar MCH, Kozhikode, only three of the 73 critical care beds were free. Thirvanananthapuram MCH has also started to feel the heat of Oxygen shortage as there is not enough life-saving gas to cover all 200 ICU beds. ● More on P2 IPL suspended after Covid-19 cases in bubble E xpress N ews S ervice @ Chennai The inevitable has happened. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) postponed the Indian Premier League indefinitely after Covid cases were reported in bubble. Just over a week ago, this newspaper had suspended its coverage of the IPL due to the pandemic and the devastation it has been causing in the country It had said, the timing of the tournament was . not right. And over the past week, ever since the teams moved from Chennai and Mumbai, there has been anxiety among players and support staff. It even led to players’ pullout. Won’t do an O2 ostrich: Delhi HC K an u S ar d a @ New Delhi The Delhi High Court on Tuesday put the Centre on notice over hauling it up for contempt of court for failing to comply with its May 1 order to provide Delhi 490 MT oxygen immediately for Covid patients and a subsequent apex court order to bridge the city’s deficit. In sharp comments, a bench comprising justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the Centre, “You can bury your head in the sand like ostrich, we won’t.” Criticising the Centre for poor execution, the bench suggested: “You should hand over the distribution of oxygen tankers to an IIT or an IIM. They will do a much better job... The point is Supreme Court has said Delhi must get 700 MT, so it m u s t g e t i t . I t ’s yo u r responsibility .” While the Centre raised its supply to 433 MT on Monday night, the Delhi government said it is not enough. “Even with 420 MT people are dying,” the Delhi government represented by senior advocate Rahul Mehra said. But when the Centre tried to dismiss it as rhetoric, the bench shot back: “How can you be so insensitive? Is this merely rhetoric? How can you say this? It’s highly unfortunate.” The Centre also informed the court that 12 oxygen tankers are on their way to Delhi.
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