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Mamata 3.0: New faces may get Cabinet berths

Sources said Bhattacharya won’t be able to attend the ceremony due to his failing health.

Mamata Banerjee will be sworn in as West Bengal chief minister for the third time likely at 11 am tomorrow.

Party sources revealed new faces will be inducted into the Cabinet. But as the Trinamul Congress chief, Miss Banerjee’s edict over choosing her Cabinet colleagues will be final. Some who had been ministers in the last Cabinet may lose their portfolios.

Among the new entrants, Madan Mitra and Dr Manas Bhuinya, winners from Kamarhati and Sabong, respectively, are likely to become ministers.

Earlier, Mitra was the state transport minister and Bhuinya, the state irrigation minister when Congress was in alliance with Trinamul Congress in 2011. Party sources revealed that there are demands from Budge Budge to make Ashoke Deb a minister since he has been winning the election since 2001.

Moreover, TMC this time has given a stunning performances in South 24 Parganas where it won 30 out of 31 seats. Biman Banerjee, who was elected from Baruipur (west) would be made the Speaker of the state Assembly for the third time. The existing ministers like Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Aroop Biswas, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Dr Sashi Panja, Shovandeb Chattopadhyay, Bratya Basu, Ashish Banerjee, Chandranath Sinha are most likely to retain their portfolios. Partha Bhowmik, Nirmal Ghosh and Tapash Chatterjee may have a ministerial berth this time.

The existing food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mullick may not have his earlier portfolio. In this Cabinet, there may be two education ministers. Meanwhile, Akhil Giri of Ramnagar and Soumen Mahapatra who finally managed to win from Tamluk with a margin of 1,000 votes, are arch enemies of the Adhikari family and are likely to be inducted into the Cabinet.

The Cabinet may have sports personalities like Bidesh Bose and Manoj Tiwari along with Aroop Roy from Howrah. For the first time, TMC got 17 seats from Murshidabad and nine from Malda, North and South Dinajpurs and some of the MLAs from these districts should be inducted as ministers in Miss Banerjee’s cabinet.

Already there is a demand from Murshidabad to have more ministers this time. The list of invitees for the swearing-in ceremony includes former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Left Front chairman Biman Bose, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, BJP’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh and BJP’s legislative leader Manoj Tigga.

TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee, party’s state president Subrata Bakshi, MP Sudip Bandopadhyay, Saugata Roy, Abhishek Banerjee,Subrata Mukherjee and MP Satabdi Roy and actor Deepak Adhikari (Dev) will be present at the occassion. Sources said Bhattacharya won’t be able to attend the ceremony due to his failing health.

Nadda arrives in Bengal; blames TMC for violence

On CM’s oath-taking ceremony, elected BJP MLAs will opt for a sit-in demonstration.

The BJP’s national leader, Sambit Patra, today claimed that the glory of winning the Bengal Assembly polls by Trinamul Congress has fizzled out due to the alleged state-sponsored violence post-elections while the party’s newly elected MLAs will opt for a sitin demonstration tomorrow when Mamata Banerjee will take oath as the chief minister.

Addressing the press, Patra likened the TMC with Nazis and dubbed the incumbent government as “fascists”.

He said it was embarrassing that amidst the ongoing Covid crisis in the country, reports of violence are surfacing in which houses, business establishments and properties of BJP leaders are either looted or set on fire by TMC goons under the watch of police. After results, post-poll violence broke out in West Bengal in which 9 BJP workers lost their lives. TMC, however, has denied the charges. ”

Patra said 2.28 crore Bengalis voted for the BJP and questioned, “Mamata Ji you won and everyone congratulated you for it. You are a woman and a daughter of Bengal. Aren’t these women who are being killed and raped also daughters of Bengal? Do they deserve this?” Meanwhile, BJP’s national president JP Nadda arrived today in Kolkata to meet the victims’ families at Kheyada, Narendrapur and Sonarpur.

He met the family members of the slain BJP leader Avijit Sarkar, who was allegedly beaten to death at Beliaghata.

Nadda said, “Each killing of our karyakarta (workers)will be avenged, inch by inch, legally and democratically. BJP leader, Swapan Dasgupta alleged that 1000 Hindu families were attacked who fled away to escape death. They took shelter in an open field, BJP headquarters and nearby meeting room at Maheswari Bhavan. BJP’s newly-elected MLAs will also start dharna on 5 May when Mamata Banerjee will take the oath, party sources said. BJP created a Whatsapp group

“Torture After the Election WB”, in which BJP supporters shared incidents with details, party sources said. On Monday, Union home minister Amit Shah had sought a report on large-scale violence in Bengal after the poll result was declared.

India records 3.82 lakh COVID-19 cases, 3780 deaths in last 24 hours

India recorded 3,82,315 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours taking the overall caseload to 2,06,65,148, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.

The country’s active COVID-19 cases stand at 34,87,229.

With 3,780 deaths in the last 24 hours, the death toll is at 2,26,188. In the last 24 hours, 3,38,439 recovered, taking the number of recoveries to 1,69,51,731.

Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh remain the worst affected states by the pandemic.

29,48,52,078 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to May 4 2021. Of these 15,41,299 samples were tested yesterday.

According to government data, as many as 16,04,94,188 people have been vaccinated.

Consider lockdown: Top court to Centre, states

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and states to inform their chief secretaries and police chiefs that any clampdown on information on social media or harassment to individuals seeking help on any platform in relation to Covid-19 would result in coercive action.

Concerned over surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, the Supreme Court said the Centre and state governments may consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare.

However, the apex court put a caveat before them saying if they decide to go for lockdown then arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of the poor people.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, in its order passed in the suo motu case for ensuring essential supplies and services during the Covid-19 pandemic, also asked the Centre and state governments to put on record the efforts taken and to be taken by them in future to ensure the virus does not spread further.

In a 64-page order uploaded on the apex court’s website late Sunday night, the bench, also comprising justices L Nagesara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said, “In light of the continuing surge of infections in the second wave of the pandemic, we direct the Central Government and State Governments to put on record the efforts taken to curb the spread of the virus and the measures that they plan on taking in the near future.

At the same time, we would seriously urge the Central and State Governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events.

They may also consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare, Justice Chandrachud, writing the order for the bench, said.

The apex court said that it was cognizant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown, specifically, on the marginalized communities.

Thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities, it said.

The bench on 22 April had taken note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in Covid cases and said it expected the Centre to come out with a national plan to deal with the distribution of essential services and supplies.

(With input from PTI)

India clocks 3.68L new cases; PM reviews Covid staff strength

– To postpone NEETPG for at least 4 months. This will make a large number of qualified doctors available for Covid duties.
– To allow deployment of Medical Interns in Covid Management duties under the supervision of their faculty.

In a significant move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced a slew of measures aimed at ramping up availability of doctors and medical staff to deal with surging number of Covid 19 cases in the country.

The decision came during a review meeting held to assess the requirement of ‘adequate human resources for responding to the Covid19 pandemic.’

The daily Covid-19 cases in India showed a slight dip with 3,68,147 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, taking the total tally of cases to1,99,25,604, according to the Union Health Ministry data on Monday.

“It was decided to postpone NEET-PG for at least 4 months and the exam will not be held before 31 August 2021. Students will also be given atleast one month of time after announcement of exam before it is conducted. This will make a large number of qualified doctors available for Covid duties,” a note from Prime Minister Office stated here.

Accordingly, it was also decided to allow deployment of Medical Interns in Covid Management duties under the supervision of their faculty, as part of the Internship rotation.

“The services of Final Year MBBS students can be utilised for providing services like tele-consultation and monitoring of mild Covid cases after due orientation by and under supervision of Faculty. This will reduce the workload on existing doctors engaged in Covid duty and provide boost to efforts of triaging,” the PMO note further added.

The services of Final Year PG Students (broad as well as super-specialities) as residents is also proposed to be utilised until fresh batches of PG Students joined. B.Sc./ GNM Qualified Nurses is also to be utilised for full-time Covid nursing duties under the supervision of Senior Doctors and Nurses.

Accordingly, “individuals providing services in Covid management will be given priority in forthcoming regular Government recruitments after they complete minimum of 100 days of Covid duty.”

To ensure safety, the medical students/professionals sought to be engaged in Covid related work will be suitably vaccinated. “All health professionals thus engaged will be covered under the Insurance Scheme of Government and be given the Prime Minister’s Distinguished Covid National Service Samman from Government of India,” the note further added.

Bengal cases: West Bengal registered 17,501 fresh Covid cases and 98 deaths today. Kolkata recorded 3,990 cases and 21 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total Covid case count is 8,80,894 and death toll is 11,637 in the state till now while there are 1,19,961 active cases.

Mamata Banerjee to take oath as WB CM on 5 May

Banerjee called on the Governor and said oath-taking ceremony for her third consecutive term as CM would be a low-key affair.

Mamata Banerjee will be sworn in as the chief minister of West Bengal for the third time on 5 May, her party announced on Monday.

The newly-elected MLAs of the Trinamul Congress unanimously elected Banerjee as the legislative party leader at a meeting here, its secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.

The TMC legislators elected the speaker in the outgoing House, Biman Banerjee, as the pro-tem speaker in the new Assembly.

“The newly-elected members will take oath in the Assembly from 6 May,” Chatterjee told reporters at the party headquarters here after the meeting of the legislators.

Miss Banerjee today declared that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the oath-taking ceremony would be a low-key affair in keeping with Covid protocols.

She also said her party would arrange a grand celebration after the pandemic is over and would organise the meeting at Brigade Parade ground where other chief ministers and Opposition leaders of different states would be invited.

Mentioning that all the national leaders, including Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Akhilesh Yadav called her to congratulate her on the electoral success, Banerjee said, “There is a lot of time to think on this. This is a time when we should fight Covid and I am only focused on that. The Prime Minister didn’t call me. That doesn’t matter though. He might be busy, but he had called me before.”

“At the same time, I would like to remind the BJP that what it is doing is not correct. One of the supporters has been killed in East Burdwan. They are torturing our supporters in Cooch Behar,” she said, adding, “I also want to tell the police that some of them have worked in favour of the BJP. But this is the time when we should work together to save people from Covid.”

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee met West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhavan today evening and tendered her resignation as chief minister of the present government staking claim to form the government.

Party’s secretary-general Partha Chatterjee and Trinamul Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee accompanied her to Raj Bhavan.

India logs 2.95 lakh fresh Covid cases, 2,023 deaths in 24 hours

India recorded 2,95,041 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, setting yet another one-day grim one-day record, taking the overall caseload to 1,53,21,089, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.

The country’s active COVID-19 cases stands at 20,31,977. This is the seventh straight day that the country has recorded over 2 lakh cases.

With 2,023 deaths in the last 24 hours, the death toll is at 1,82,553, the highest single-day record. In the last 24 hours, 1,67,457 patients recovered, taking the number of recoveries to 1,32,76,039.

The Central government on Monday said that all citizens above 18 years of age will be eligible to get vaccinated from 1 May. Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of doses to the centre and the rest t the state and open market at a pre-declared price the government said.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh remain the worst affected states by the pandemic.

Maharashtra, which remains the worst affected state by the pandemic, recorded 58,924 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the state’s total to 38,98,262 cases and 351 deaths  pushed the death count to 60,824.

Delhi which has announced a six-day lockdown from 10 pm on April 19 night till 5 am on April 26 due to the surge in Covid cases recorded 23,686 new Covid-19 cases taking the state’s total to 8,77,146 cases. In the last 24 hours,240 deaths which is the highest-ever deaths reported in a single day in Delhi.

Kerala will also impose a night curfew for two weeks from Tuesday onwards. The state recorded 13,644 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours.

According to government data, as many as 13,01,19,310 people have been vaccinated.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 27,10,53,392 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to April 20, 2021. Of these, 16,39,357 samples were tested yesterday.

Ban industrial use of oxygen now to ease scarcity: HC

The court asked the Centre why it was waiting till 22 April to ban industrial use of oxygen.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that economic interests can not override human lives and suggested some reduction in steel and petroleum production to divert oxygen to Covid-19 patients.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said if the lockdown continues then everything would come to a halt and therefore, what would be the need for steel, petrol and diesel during such a situation.

The court asked the Centre why it was waiting till 22 April to ban industrial use of oxygen. “Shortage is now. You have to do it (ban) now. Look into taking some oxygen from steel and petroleum industries. They have big pockets and big lobbies, but tell them if they have to cut production, then they can cut production. Lives have to be saved,” the bench said.

The court cited the example of a central government counsel whose father was admitted in hospital and was on oxygen support, but due its scarcity, oxygen was being provided at a reduced pressure to him to conserve it.

“Can you ask him to hold on till 22 April,” the court asked. It said if nothing was done, then “we are heading for a bigger disaster”. “We might end up losing nearly a crore of people. Are we willing to accept that,” the bench said.

The observations by the bench came after perusing the Centre’s affidavit which said there was presently no gap in oxygen supply to Delhi and that industrial use of oxygen was banned with effect from 22 April.

Leaders’ consensus to maintain peace at borders can’t be ‘swept under carpet’, India tells China

Misri said both India and China agree that they should stick to the consensus between the top leaders of the two countries.

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said that the tendency to sweep the situation at the Sino-Indian border under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective was inadvisable.

Such a tendency could only take the two countries further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate. It would tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of a closer development partnership lay, Misra said at an online event between the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) which was also addressed by Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, among others.

“Maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is an essential basis for the development of the bilateral relationship. There is a need for respecting each others’ concerns and sensitivities,” he said.

Misri said both India and China agree that they should stick to the consensus between the top leaders of the two countries. However, he pointed out that equally significant consensus has been reached between the two leaders in the past as well, on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility, and it was important to stick to that consensus as well.

He said the impact on public opinion in India has been particularly strong due to the violation of peace and tranquility at the LAC. In a multipolar world, no country could set the agenda by itself without prior agreement and consultation, and then expect everyone else to come on board. No single country could expect a discussion to focus only on issues of its own interest while ignoring those raised or reflected by others. And no country should imagine that it has sole control over the narrative about a relationship or its actual course, he said.

“The sooner this is understood, the sooner we can move towards a real and reformed multilateralism,” he added.

ICSE cancels class 10 board exams, class 12 stays ‘deferred’

Last week, the board had postponed both class 10 and 12 exams.

The ICSE class 10 board exams have been cancelled in view of the worsening Covid-19 situation and the option for students to appear later has been withdrawn, board secretary Gerry Arathoon said on Tuesday.

Last week, the board had postponed both class 10 and 12 exams. The Council for The Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) had announced that class 10 students will get an option to either write the exams later or get evaluated on the basis of an alternative criteria.

“Given the present worsening situation of the Covid19 pandemic in the country,
the CICSE has decided to cancel the class 10 examination. The option for students announced earlier, stands withdrawn. The safety and well-being of our students and teaching faculty is of topmost priority and paramount importance,” said Arathoon.

“We are committed to devise a fair and unbiased criterion for declaring class 10 results. The criterion as well as the date of declaration for results will be announced later,” he said.

The CISCE has advised schools to begin the admission process for class 11, if not already started. “In addition, schools should prepare a schedule to begin online classes for the class 11 students at the earliest,” Arathoon said, adding
that the status of class 12 exams remains same.

Last week, the CBSE had cancelled its class 10 board exams and deferred the class 12 board exams.