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Stakes high for CPI-M in Aroor Assembly by-election

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CPIM

Alappuzha, Oct 6 For the ruling CPI-M in Kerala stakes are high in the Aroor Assembly by-election as the party had won the seat by 38,000 votes in 2016. Of the five by-elections on October 21, the rest four were held by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

A.M. Ariff had won the Aroor constituency in the 2016 Assembly poll. He quit the seat after getting elected to the Lok Sabha by defeating Shanimol Usman, a veteran Congress woman leader.

However, Usman led by 648 votes in the Aroor Assembly constituency, which is part of the Alappuzha Lok Sabha seat, and Ariff could win the parliamentary poll by only 10,474 votes.

This time too, the contest is mainly between the CPI-M and the Congress. While the Congress has fielded Usman, the CPI-M has nominated Manu C. Pulickal, vice-president of the CPI-M’s youth organisation DYFI, who began his political career in the campus in the Alappuzha district.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Prakash Babu, who hails from Kozhikode in north Kerala.

For the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in 2016 this seat was contested by the BJDS, its ally, which garnered over 27,000 votes. But this time, it’s said to be upset with the BJP’s big brother attitude.

Pulickal’s strength stems from the manner Ariff nurtured this constituency for the past 13 years and the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government’s performance for the past three years.

“It’s easy for us to relate to voters because of numerous development projects initiated by Ariff. The performance of the Vijayan government is an advantage for us. We have no doubts about the outcome,” said Pulickal.

Usman is treating this as her last chance in electoral politics as she has failed to win the seat despite getting a few opportunities. The Congress too is geared up. It asked senior legislator P.T. Thomas to work in the constituency, much before the by-election was announced.

“We are confident that this time Usman will win. She is a popular figure in the area and needs no introduction. Also, few months back she was campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections here,” said Thomas.

The CPI-M was unlikely to win, as despite winning the seat for the past three elections and they had failed to deliver on their promises, Thomas added.

A tongue in cheek remark by State Public Works Department Minister G. Sudhakaran calling Usman a demoness has not gone down well with the electorate. Her supporters have also organised protests.

Realising the folly, Sudhakaran, known for his razor sharp tongue, made amends by saying he and Usman were good friends and her husband was a very old friend of his.

But the CPI-M, known for the systematic campaigns, is leaving nothing to chance. They very well know losing Aroor would mean curtains for Vijayan.

India

Trade Strike Shuts Down Some States, Partial In Others

25 crore join strike against Centre’s new farm and labour laws

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nationwide strike

Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Assam and Telangana witnessed complete shut down on Thursday and normal life was partially affected in many other states as more than 25 crore workers participated in the nationwide strike, according to central trade unions.

The day-long countrywide strike has been called by a joint platform of ten central trade unions to protest against the central government’s new farm and labour laws, among other workers-related issues, as well as to raise various demands.

Various independent federations and associations are also part of the joint platform.

“The states of Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Assam and Telangana have reported complete shutdown. Tamil Nadu reported complete shut down in 13 districts, while the industrial strike continues in the rest of the districts. Punjab and Haryana have reported that the state road transport buses have not left their depots in the morning,” a joint statement issued by the trade unions said.

Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh reported 100 per cent strike, including at BALCO, the statement said.

Normal life was affected in West Bengal and Tripura, and sporadic incidents of clashes were reported in West Bengal, according to reports.

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) and Self-Employed Women”s Association (SEWA) are part of the joint platform.

Others are All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).

BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is not participating in the strike.

Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Sidhu told PTI that the number of workers who joined the nationwide agitation on Thursday exceeded the expected number of 25 crores.

He also said that coal mine workers along with those from defence, railways and other public sectors are also supported the strike.

Scheme workers, electricity employees, domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self-employed in rural and urban India are holding demonstrations at various places, even defying police restrictions, the statement said.

At many places, the auto and taxi drivers have remained off the roads. Railway and defence employees have held demonstrations in support of the strike at their respective places of work.

As per the statement, operations of financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies have also been affected.

Besides state government and central government employees, those from the Income Tax Department and other PSU workers are participating in the strike in a big way, the unions claimed.

“Reports of successful strike in coal and copper mines, including other mineral resource mines, have been received. The employees of postal, telecom and steel sector were also in action and gramin dak sevaks observed 100 per cent strike,” the statement said.

In several places, oil sector unions also observed the strike. Workers also resorted to picketing in some parts of the country.

Further, the statement said that the total number of workers who have joined the strike at over 25 crores exceeds the number of those who participated in a similar strike on January 8.

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Delhi records over 2,300 COVID-19 deaths in less than a month: Official data

The city reported 98 deaths on November 19, 118 on November 20, 111 on November 21, 121 each on November 22 and 23, and 109 fatalities on November 24, according to official data.

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Cremation ground Graveyards

New Delhi, Nov 26: The national capital has witnessed 2,364 deaths due to coronavirus since October 28, when the daily rise in infections breached the mark of 5,000 cases for the first time, according to official data.

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, 99 more fatalities on Wednesday pushed the city”s total death toll due to the disease to 8,720. It was after five days that Delhi recorded single-day deaths below 100.

The city reported 98 deaths on November 19, 118 on November 20, 111 on November 21, 121 each on November 22 and 23, and 109 fatalities on November 24, according to official data.

While 131 COVID-related deaths were recorded on November 18, the highest till date, Delhi registered its highest single-day spike of 8,593 cases on November 11.

On Thursday, Delhi had recorded 7,546 cases, followed by 6,608 on Friday, 5,879 on Saturday, 6,746 on Sunday, 4,454 on Monday, 6,224 on Tuesday and 5,246 on Wednesday, according to the government data.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Delhi climbed to 5,45,787 on Wednesday, of which 4,98,780 have recovered from the virus, the data shows.

Late hospital admissions leading to COVID-19 cases turning critical, shortage of ICU beds, unfavourable weather and rising pollution are among the factors experts attribute to the spike in COVID-19 deaths in Delhi, health experts have said.

Going by the epidemiological trend, the severity of the disease is more in this phase of the pandemic compared to the last one and several factors, including weather and pollution, are contributing to it, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Amid a spurt in the infection tally in the city, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had Wednesday requested experts to audit COVID-19 death cases and suggest measures to reduce fatalities in the national capital.

Health Minister Satyender Jain on Wednesday claimed the national capital reported the “least fatality per million” population amongst all four metro cities in the country.

The National Centre for Disease Control in a report drafted recently had warned that Delhi needs to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 per day taking into account the upcoming winter season-related respiratory problems, large influx of patients from outside and festive gatherings.

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Delhi ‘actively considering’ night curfew. ‘As active as Covid-19 cases,’ asks high court

Delhi high court on Thursday rapped the AAP government and asked it how the government is ensuring that the new wedding restrictions are not being flouted.

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Delhi High Court

The AAP government has informed the Delhi High Court that it is actively considering whether to impose night curfew or weekend restrictions to contain the Covid-19 situation of the Capital as a bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the government whether it will be take any specific measure like other states.

The court was hearing a plea seeking to ramp up Covid-19 testing facilities in Delhi.

Though the Capital is grappling with a resurgence of Covid-19 cases since the last week of October, the AAP government has not imposed movement restrictions. It has curtailed the number of guests allowed at weeding events from 200 to 50 and increased the penalty for not wearing masks from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has reiterated that lockdown is not a solution; as it only delays the spread of the infection. However, during Thursday’s hearing, the government told the court that it was actively considering imposing night curfew. “As active as Covid-19 cases?” the bench asked.

On being asked how it is spreading awareness about Covid-19-appropriate behaviour, the government said it held group meering with resident welfare associations (RWA). “Some viral videos suggest that thousands of people turned up for such meetings, please look at them and respond. These meetings can become Covid-19 spreaders. Also, you need to tell us how many market associations and RWAs you’ve reached out to and what’s the plan of engaging them in your Covid management strategy,” the court said.

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