Polls done and dusted, fuel gets pricey Fuel prices are creeping up though economic activity is sliding due to Covid second wave 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 ■ 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 Kochi kochi l wednesday l may 05, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l late city EDITION 96.95 (+0.12) 92.55 (+0.12) 90.55 (+0.15) 90.74 (+0.16) Diesel (K) 87.98 (+0.17) 85.90 (+0.15) 80.91 (+0.18) 85.31 (+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 for the defeat and 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 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 Only emergency surgery can save cong T’Puram: The Congress’ shocking defeat in the assembly polls has rekindled memories of the political scenario in 1967 when it was reduced to a 9-member parliamentary party. The argument that it has more than double the tally of 1967 now won’t hold ground. The party’s failure to improve its tally from the 21 seats it got in 2016 shows it needs extraordinary measures to tackle the crisis. Experts say only an “emergency surgery” can save the party. 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 in Kerala. 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 . The meetings will decide the structure of the cabinet. The 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 by at least one more week as the test positivity rate remains very ● More on P4 high. Vote trade allegations: BJP hits back at LDF 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 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, as they feel it should have been done during the onset of the wave India lockdown chorus gets louder Rohit Poddar, MD, Poddar Housing and Development Ltd the government should strike a A day after CII president Uday balance between a full lockKotak called for a national down and allowing business lockdown to break the chain of operations. transmission of coronavirus, Ashish Mishra, CEO of advimany corporate leaders came sory firm, Unnault, said the forward to support the idea Centre should take steps and saying it is all right to take an push people to stay at home. 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, recently said India Many CII members includ- must impose a nationwide ing Tata Consultancy Services, lockdown for a few weeks. Infosys, Maruti Suzuki, Hero However, experts in India MotoCorp, Mahindra & Mahi- are not convinced of the need ndra, JCB and Kotak Mahindra for lockdown when the infecBank have already taken ac- tion is already rampant. tion on their own Dr Oommen John keeping the safety of Maha cases of the George Instiemployees in mind. tute for Global Health coming While services sector India pointed out that down organisations have it will be difficult to India’s worst moved to the work ensure that people Covid-hit state from home model, s t ay w i t h i n t h e i r Maharashtra manufacturing firms homes in densely popreported 51,880 ulated urban contexts. have halted production and advanced cases on Tuesday. “At the current stage The state has their maintenance of the pandemic, unbeen able to schedules. restricted access to di“Saving lives is bring down fresh agnostic tests is criticases to a more important than cal,” he said. manageable producing steel. ProA senior virologist range after it duction can suffer as based in Delhi said imposed a state- lockdown is most eflong as the country is wide lockdown in need of any refective when enforced last month source available with just when the infecthe company,” said tions begin to surge. Sajjan Jindal, managing direc- “Scientifically speaking, I am tor of JSW Group, which sup- not sure how much can be p l i e s l i q u i d o x y g e n t o achieved by a widespread nahospitals. tional lockdown considering Another corporate leader, the unique challenges we have who did not wish to be named, in our country, especially in said India’s healthcare system h i g h d e n s i t y p o p u l at i o n is stretched to its limits. “Sus- areas such as slums where peopending non-essential business ple share toilets and water activities and a complete lock- taps.” down for two weeks is the only Having faced widespread way out,” he said. criticism last year for imposHowever, real estate tycoon ing a nationwide lockdown Niranjan Hiranandani called without warning, the Centre for a balanced approach. “A this time is not in favour of complete economic lockdown shutting down the economy On . will cast a dark shadow on April 8, Prime Minister Nareneconomy and lead to more fa- dra Modi told states to manage talities due to increased unem- the Covid situation without imP7 ployment,” he said. posing a 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 3,62,649 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 dead 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 P10 . 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 here — 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 All 600 allotted Covid beds get occupied in Govt MCH, Kozhikode; authorities set up another 200-bed unit at its super speciality 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 all 600 allotted Covid beds got fully occupied in the Govt MCH, Kozhikode, authorities set up another 200-bed unit at its super speciality 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 spotted 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. 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express Will not 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 Supreme 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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