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Subramanian Swamy, Mary Kom take oath in Rajya Sabha

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Congress

Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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Health

Congress alleges govt procuring Covid vaccine at inflated prices

The Congress leader said the price of such a vaccine must be cheaper than AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Congress on Sunday questioned the procurement of Covid vaccines, alleging that the government has procured the vaccines at inflated prices despite the manufacturers claiming they would supply the vaccines without seeking profit.

Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, addressing a press conference, said, “Why should the Modi government pay Rs 95 per dose more to Bharat Biotech for a vaccine that has been developed with the expertise and experience of scientists of government-run ICMR and pay more for a vaccine that has only been tested on 755 individuals and is yet to be cleared after phase-3 trials?”

The Congress leader said the price of such a vaccine must be cheaper than AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.

“Why is the price of the vaccine at Rs 1,000 per dose in the open market?” he asked.

Surjewala said, “‘Covishield’ is an AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India. Serum Institute is supplying this vaccine at Rs 200/dose to government. AstraZeneca has committed to supplying the vaccine at no profit while ‘Covaxin’, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, is being supplied at Rs 295/dose. Admittedly, Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).”

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had said stated that his company will sell Covishield for Rs 1,000 per dose in open market, that is Rs 2,000 for 2 doses required for every individual.

Surjewala said, “Why should export of vaccine be permitted without immunisation of India’s population? ‘Corona Vaccine For All’ should be the stated policy of Modi government.”

“However, the government’s approach on free vaccination or cost of vaccination, cost to exchequer, profit margins of companies, etc, for India’s 130 crore people is completely opaque and shrouded in secrecy,” he said.

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Politics

No one was consulted, govt must agree to start on ‘clean slate’: Chidambaram on farm laws impasse

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday hit out at the Centre over the impasse on the farm laws, alleging that no one was consulted for the legislations, and asserted that the only way out for the government was to agree to start on a clean slate.

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi: His remarks came a day after the Centre asked protesting farmers to form an informal group to prepare a concrete proposal about their objections and suggestions on the farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting on January 19 to end the long-running protest at various Delhi borders.

The protesting farmer unions, however, stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three legislations.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said that as expected, another round of talks between the farmers and government has failed.

The fault lies with the government because it will not agree to get rid of the disputed laws, the former Union minister said.

”RTI responses have exposed as a lie the government’s claim that there were extensive consultations before the Farm Laws Ordinances were promulgated. The truth is that no one was consulted. In particular, state governments were not consulted,” he alleged.

The only way out of the impasse is for the government to admit its mistake and agree to start on a clean slate, Chidambaram said.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Haryana and Punjab, have been protesting at several border points of Delhi since November 28 last year, demanding a repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) system for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the ”mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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