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Trinamool Congress set to take on poll panel



New Delhi, June 8 : Still rankling against the poll panel over its restrictions during the West Bengal elections, the Trinamool Congress at a parliamentary panel meeting here questioned how the Election Commission ordered transfer of 68 police and civil officials during the state polls.

Deliberating at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy raised issues concerning the functioning of the Election Commission (EC), especially in the context of the recently held assembly polls in West Bengal, party sources said on Wednesday.

Roy, a Trinamool member of the Rajya Sabha, complained against the EC’s discretionary orders like transferring civil and police officials during electioneering and also asked why were the elections in West Bengal held in a multi-phase manner unlike in other states.

Meanwhile, sources in the BJP and the Left parties told that the Trinamool MP is only toeing the line set by party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has hinted at questioning discretionary powers of the poll panel.

“We do not want to talk about issues raised in a standing committee, but it seems the Trinamool MP is only following the diktat,” a CPI source said.

In what is largely seen as a veiled attack on the Election Commission, which had earned brickbats from Mamata even in the run up to the polls, TMC supremo had on June 1 said the “festival of democracy or election cannot be achieved by imposing curfew”.

In the run up to the polls spread across April and May, the EC had imposed several restrictions and also directed IPS officer Bharati Ghosh, a blue-eyed girl of the Chief Minister, not to visit Cooch Behar and East Medinipur districts where polling was held in the last phase.

In April, the poll panel had removed Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar after complaints were levelled against him.

However, at the Tuesday meeting, Congress member from the Lok Sabha Abu Haseem Khan Chowdhury (Malda Dakshin) protested against certain remarks of Roy and hailed the role played by the EC in conducting the state polls.

The heated debate occurred in the presence of EC officials who were called to attend the Standing Committee meeting.

The 31-member panel of members from both houses of parliament and headed by Congress member E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan is at present examining the subject, “Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Election to House”.

This meeting is being held after reference from the department of Personnel and Training, sources said.

At the meeting, the TMC member pointed out that while independence of the EC is appreciable even a constitutional body should be made to adhere to the rule of law and good precedence and should be accountable.

Trinamool sources said that the party would raise the bogey of “often-misused discretionary” powers of poll officials and could press for electoral reforms urgently during the monsoon session of parliament expected to be convened from July.

It is worth mentioning that in December 2015, Chief Election Commissioner Naseen Zaidi did not quite favour immediate introduction of state funding of elections without reforms in other areas.

Zaidi had said, the state funding “could even become one more additional tool, one more additional source of funds without reduction of use of illegal money in election campaign”.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the standing committee also reportedly took cognizance of a complaint from PMK leader R. Ramdoss about alleged misuse of money by the AIADMK during the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

The Standing Committee has among other members Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Congress), Majeed Memon (Nationalist Congress Party), K.T.S. Tulsi (Nominated), Bhupender Yadav (BJP) and Bhagwant Mann (AAP).


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.



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.



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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Cyclone Nivar: Andhra CM orders state machinery to be ready

By dusk on Tuesday, no rainfall was recorded in all the 16 monitored places in Andhra Pradesh while Kurnool recorded a maximum temperature of 33 degrees Celsius.




Cyclone Storm Nisarga

Amaravati: In the light of severe cyclonic storm Nivar poised to strike Tamil Nadu and parts of his state, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy sounded an alert on Tuesday and instructed the state machinery to be prepared.

In a review meeting with District Collectors and Superintendents of Police, he asked them to be on high alert especially when Nivar makes landfall.

“Though the cyclone is not going to touch Andhra Pradesh directly, it would have an impact in areas closer to Tamil Nadu…. inclement weather would prevail on Tuesday and Wednesday and preparedness should be in place,” he said.

Reddy said parts of Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur districts and coastal areas of Prakasam are likely to receive 11-20 cm rainfall, while winds with up to speeds of 65 to 75 km per hour are expected.

He also instructed officials to set up relief and rehabilitation camps wherever required in Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasam.

The Chief Minister also said crop protection measures should be taken, along with disemminating crucial information through the ‘rythu bharosa kendras’ (RBKs).

Officials have been directed to ensure that there is no loss of life in coastal areas, and fishermen do not venture into the sea.

“Utilise the services of village secretariat employees and volunteers and prepare NDRF and SDRF teams to be ready keep ready power poles for immediate restoration in case of power outage,” he said. Officials were also instructed to keep tools and equipment ready to remove uprooted trees.

Reddy also told officials to set up 24×7 control rooms at each district Collectorate, along with control rooms at mandal centres.

Noting that a booklet outlining the steps to be taken during a cyclone has been made available at all village secretariats, he asked them to make sure that information is shared with staff and the public.

Meanwhile, a Met Department official said Nivar is expected to cross the Tamil Nadu Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram as a very severe cyclonic storm on late Wednesday evening.

By dusk on Tuesday, no rainfall was recorded in all the 16 monitored places in Andhra Pradesh while Kurnool recorded a maximum temperature of 33 degrees Celsius.

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