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Quitting active politics to fight DMK: Sasikala

Move aims at ensuring Jayalalithaa’s golden rule is established in Tamil Nadu

VK Sasikala aka Chinnamma’s sudden decision to exit politics surprised many in Tamil Nadu and national politics arena.

In a two-page statement to the media late night on Wednesday, Sasikala, closest aid of late J Jayalalithaa, said she was quitting active politics and urged all Amma followers to unite and fight against the one and only enemy DMK and bring hundred years of Amma rule in Tamil Nadu as Jayalalithaa wished.

She did not give any reason for her sudden reversal of her earlier decision to participate in active politics, which she took just after her release from Bengaluru Jail, where she served four years’ conviction in a disproportionate asset case.

If the unexpected exit of Rajinikanth from politics due to health reason was an early blow to BJP in the state, Sasikala’s exit makes sense for them, as political observers point out, because the BJP was trying hard to make a truce among warring factions of AIADMK led by EPS-OPS duo and Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran.

Though they could not bring the unity among these two factions formed after Jayalalithaa’s death due to an adamant attitude of chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswam that Sasikala could not be inducted into AIADMK again, they are now delighted in Tamil Nadu because they think Sasikala’s exit will immensely benefit the AIADMK front in the Assembly elections by avoiding the split of votes.

While Sasikala announced her decision to step aside from politics in a statement released last night, in which she merely stated that she has never had any post or power and encouraged her followers to support Jayalalithaa’s vision and ensure the defeat of DMK, her brother Dhivakaran alleged that her sudden announcement is a result of conniving by AMMK founder and siblings’ nephew TTV Dhinakaran.

Dhivarakan alleges the claims made by Dhinakaran that he will be the chief minister candidate even if AMMK joins an alliance with AIADMK, indirectly puts pressure on Sasikala. But Dhinakaran told media that he tried to persuade her but her decision was final.

BJP hails decision

BJP on Thursday hailed the decision of expelled AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala to quit politics and said her exit will help fulfil late chief minister J Jayalalaithaa’s dream of a progressive and prosperous Tamil Nadu, adds PTI.

Pointing out that it was entirely Sasikala’s decision to relinquish politics, BJP national secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu C T Ravi said “our party welcomes her decision.Her decision will fulfil Amma’s dreams”. “The BJP’s aim is to strengthen the NDA in Tamil Nadu and strive for victory in all the 234 constituencies” he added.

‘Porn content on OTT platforms’

The SC bench said there should be prior screening of content on web platforms while hearing a plea filed by Amazon Prime India’s head regarding the FIRs against her over web series Tandav

The Supreme Court on Thursday objected to streaming of films on web platforms without any prior screening of the content and also cited some films having pornographic content.

The observation by the top court came during the hearing of a plea by Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit against an Allahabad High Court order, which declined to entertain her anticipatory bail in connection with the FIRs lodged against her over the web series Tandav.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said: “There should be some screening (of content on web platforms). There is pornography in some films.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, said some programmes feature filthy abuse.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit, contended this was “a matter of free speech” and cited that his client is not the producer of the show, instead an employee of the company which is streaming the web series Tandav.

The top court indicated that there should be a censor board-like body which screens the films. It scheduled the matter for further hearing on Friday.

In January, the top court refused to grant interim protection to the Tandav crew from any coercive action and had asked them to move the concerned courts to seek bail in the matter.

Purohit has been accused of inappropriate depiction of Hindu deities, UP Police personnel and for adverse portrayal of a character in the role of prime minister in the web series.

On 25 February, Allahabad High Court declined to grant her anticipatory bail in the matter.

Ayesha is not made for battles’: 23-year-old records heart wrenching video before suicide

Ahmedabad: “I don’t want to do it anymore. Ayesha is not made for battles,” said 23-year-old Ayesha Khan, in a video she recorded before died by jumping into Sabarmati River. The video, which was sent to her estranged husband and father, is now going viral across social media platforms.

Her body was recovered from the Riverfront west side by a team of police and fire safety department officials Thursday evening.

In the two-minute video, Ayesha recorded in Hindi, she says: “Whatever I am going to do is my decision and nobody has pressured me for this. Just understand that the life given by Allah was only this long and I found this short life very peaceful.”

No description available.

Throughout the video, Ayesha has a big smile on her face.

She continues: “Dad, how long will you fight? Withdraw the case. Ayesha is not made for battles. I love Arif, so why will we bother him? If he wants freedom, then he should be free. I am happy that I will meet Allah. I will ask him where did I make a mistake?”

In the video, she further says that her parents and friends are very good and that she might be unlucky for lacking something. “I want pass on peacefully. I pray to Allah to not show me the faces of humans ever again,” Ayesha said.

Ayesha goes emotional and says, “But I have learnt one thing. If you want to love, it should be two sided. There’s nothing in one-sided love. Some love stories remain incomplete even after Nikah (marriage).”

In her last words, Ayesha shows the Sabarmati River and says: “Yeh pyari si nadi… Pray karte hai ki yeh mujhe apne aap main sama le. (This lovely river, I pray that it takes me in it.)

“I am like the winds, I want to flow…And just want to keep flowing,” she ends the video, with an alvida.

Ayesha Banu Makrani, a resident of Almina Park in Vatva of Ahmedabad, had married Arif Khan Gafurji from Jalore in Rajasthan in July 2018 and was recently estranged from him and was staying with her parents. She is known to have committed suicide allegedly due to harassment by her husband and in-laws.

Police lodged a case under IPC section 306 for abetment to suicide against Arif at Sabarmati Riverfront West police station.


Dalit Labour activist Shiv Kumar granted bail in all three cases




Labour activist Shiv Kumar, who is an associate of Dalit Labour Activist Nodeep Kaur has got bail from a Local Court in Sonepat District (Haryana) in all three cases registered against him.

While in two cases, he was granted Bail on Wednesday (03rd March), in the third case, he has been granted Bail today.

Shiv Kumar is the president of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, and he was arrested on 16th January, days after the arrest of Nodeep Kaur.

Both Shiv Kumar and Nodeep kaur were arrested after their protest against the alleged harassment of factory workers in the Kundli Industrial Area in Sonepat turned violent on 12 January.

The Police has named both of them in three FIRs filed in connection with the January 12th incident, which includes charges of attempt to murder, theft and extortion.

Advocate Jatinder Kumar appeared on behalf of Kumar who filed his Bail Plea in all the three cases, once Nodeep Kaur was granted on bail in all three cases.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted Bail To Dalit Labour Activist Nodeep Kaur in the third FIR Registered against her on February 26.

The Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan granted her bail while hearing her Bail Plea and a Suo Moto registered in connection with her matter (both matters heard together). However, with regard to allegations of her illegal detention, the matter will continue to be heard by the Court.

Significantly, the Bench observed,

“It would be appropriate to say that the right to peaceful protest is circumscribed by a thin line. The crossing of line may change the colour of protest. It would be subject matter of trial as to whether the line for the peaceful protest was crossed in the alleged incident or not.“

Source: Live Law

Amit Shah, JP Nadda meet West Bengal leaders to shortlist candidates

Initial discussion to shortlist names of the party candidates for the upcoming West Bengal Assembly polls started at BJP chief J.P. Nadda’ residence on Thursday.

Senior leaders from the state, party in-charge and co-in-charge for West Bengal were attending the meeting. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also reached Nadda’s residence.

BJP national vice president Mukul Roy, national general secretary and state in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya, co-in-charge Arvind Menon, state unit president Dilip Ghosh, and former close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former minister Suvendu Adhikari were present in the meeting.

BJP sources said that on wednesday core committee of the West Bengal party unit shortlisted the names of the probable candidates recommended by district units.

“In the meeting going at Nadda’s residence, list of probable names will further shorten before being submitted in the BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC) which will select the candidates for the West Bengal polls,” he said.

The BJP’s CEC meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend.

Sources said that in the party CEC meeting the first list of the BJP candidates for 60 Assembly constituencies will be finalised. Polling in these seats will be held in the first two phases on March 27 and April 1.

Left, Congress, ISF finalise seat-sharing deal for Bengal polls

The Left Front, Congress and Indian Secular Front on Thursday have finally reached a solution over their seat-sharing deal for the upcoming West Bengal state assembly elections.

Following marathon talks, spanning over a month, the three stakeholders finalised the number of seats each would contest. With 165 seats, the Left parties have taken the largest chunk, followed by Congress with 92 and ISF with 37. However, the seat-wise distribution is yet to be revealed.

Among the Left Front, CPIM would alone give candidates in 130 constitutencies. Forward Block will field 15 and RSP 11 candidates. CPI will contest in 9 seats.

After the seat-sharing deal between the Left Front and Congress was finalised, talks between the Left and ISF were also sealed soon.

The problem remained over the seat-sharing between the Congress and the ISF, as the negotiations between two parties were still underway and Congress didn’t want to concede seats that it had won in the last election.

The Congress last time had contested 92 seats and won 44 in which about 20 MLAs crossed to the ruling TMC. The Congress is the second-largest party in the outgoing Assembly holding the Leader of Opposition post.

The Congress-Left-ISF alliance wants to make the Assembly polls a triangular contest and not only between TMC and BJP. The saffron party has also placed itself as the main Opposition after winning 18 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

The TMC is eyeing a third term in West Bengal, however, many leaders including close aides of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have switched sides to the BJP, even as the saffron party is upbeat about the polls and central leaders of the party are visiting the state frequently.

‘Covaxin 81 pc efficient in Phase 3 trials’

Bharat Biotech said the study enrolled participants between 18-98 years, 2,433 over the age of 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine has demonstrated 81 per cent efficacy in preventing Covid-19 in those without prior infection after the second dose during its phase III clinical trials and also offers significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants, including the UK strain, the company said on Wednesday.

The company issued a statement at the end of phase III trials of the vaccine involving 25,800 subjects, the largest ever conducted in the country in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Covaxin had been dragged into a controversy after it was granted emergency authorisation in the country before it completed phase III clinical trials.

On Monday, while flagging off the country’s vaccination drive for the general public Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opted for the indigenously developed Covaxin.

According to Bharat Biotech, Covaxin is based on an established manufacturing platform with a better safety profile when compared to other vaccine platforms and also offers long term protection.

Chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella, said: “With today’s results from our phase III clinical trials we have now reported data on our Covid-19 vaccine from Phase I, II and III trials involving around 27,000 participants. Covaxin demonstrates high clinical efficacy trend against Covid-19 but also significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants.”

Analysis from the National Institute of Virology indicated that the vaccine- induced anti-bodies can neutralize the UK variant strains and other heterologous strains.

The phase III trial held at 25 centres across the country had enrolled 25,800 participants between the ages of 18 and 98 including 2433 over the age of 60 and 4500 with co-morbidities. The interim analysis included a preliminary review of the safety database which showed that severe, serious and medically attended adverse events occurred at low levels. The trial was conducted by a third party, a multinational company IQVIA, said Dr Ella, and ethical committee members monitored each of the 25 test centres adhering to Good Clinical Practice guidelines.

Dr Ella said the rest of the data will be shared in public domain through submission to a peer reviewed journal for publication. More than 40 countries in the world have expressed their interest in Covaxin, said the company.

The vaccine is stable between 2 and 8 degree C when refrigerated and is shipped in a ready to use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels. Moreover it has 28 days open vial policy thereby reducing vaccine wastage approximately by 10-30 per cent, the company said.

Omar welcomes renewed bilateral engagement between India & Pakistan

He said the evolving situation has made it pretty clear that the outlook of both the countries has undergone a big change and has been replaced with a policy of peaceful engagement.

The National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday welcomed the renewed bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan after a long hiatus saying the changed understanding of both the neighbouring countries vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir will act as forerunner of peace and prosperity in the region.

Commenting on a series of initiatives being taken by the government of India, Omar said the renewed outlook of both the countries give an inkling of a changed mindset towards Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the evolving situation has made it pretty clear that the outlook of both the countries has undergone a big change and has been replaced with a policy of peaceful engagement.

He said it was a welcoming step that must be carried forward positively.

Talking to party delegations in Srinagar, Omar while remarking on the development, said, “We have been pleading with the government of India to restore 4G services in J&K over a period of time, but all of a sudden the service was restored. The letup to the woes of people wasn’t confined to that measure only. Over the period of time we saw how both the neighbouring countries came up with a DGMO level talk on the cessation of violence on the LOC and international border.”

Jaishankar to visit Dhaka today ahead of Modi’s trip

During his visit, Jaishankar will do the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Bangladesh later this month.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar will visit Dhaka tomorrow at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart A K Abdul Momen, it was officially announced here today.

During the visit, Jaishankar will hold extensive talks with Momen and also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“The visit of the external affairs minister to Bangladesh follows the virtual summit held between the Prime Ministers of the two countries on 17 December and will also provide an opportunity to the two sides to take stock of the progress in bilateral relations, the ministry of external affairs said. During his visit, Jaishankar will do the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Bangladesh later this month.

It is learnt that among other events, Modi will take part in a function on 26 March to mark the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the golden jubilee of the country’s independence and 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh.

A number of key accords are expected to be signed between the two countries during Modi’s visit, including those on energy and communication. Relations between India and Bangladesh have witnessed an unprecedented upswing over the last few years.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Modi and Sheikh Hasina had a virtual summit i during which they pledged to further consolidate bilateral ties and jointly tackle the challenge posed by the pandemic. The Bangladesh prime minister had also paid rich tributes to the Indian armed forces and thanked India for the liberation of her country from Pakistan in 1971.

India has gifted nearly two million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to Bangladesh. Lately, Bangladesh has again been nudging India to quickly settle the Teesta water-sharing issue in the larger interest of the bilateral relations.

However, the Modi government has clearly told Dhaka that the water-sharing deal could only be signed once there was domestic political consensus over it in India. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has still not given her approval to the proposed deal.

Karnataka minister quits over sex scandal

In his brief letter to the chief minister, Mr Jarkiholi contested the allegation but said he was resigning on moral grounds even though there was no truth in the charge against him.“ I believe that I am innocent but am resigning on moral grounds,“ he wrote, while seeking a probe into the affair.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, water resources minister in the B S Yediyurappa government, resigned today following the release of a controversial compact disc allegedly involving him and a woman in a “sex for job” scandal.

The resignation, which was forced on the minister by the BJP’s central leadership following the accompanying furore and embarrassment, comes a day before the monthlong Budget session of the state Assembly commences.

An embarrassed Mr Yediyurappa is learnt to have assured Jarkiholi while seeking his resignation that he would be re-inducted once his name was cleared. BJP national general secretary B L Santosh too spent time in convincing him to resign to spare the government a major discomfort.

The party is learnt to have moved fast in this case prompted by the ensuing Assembly polls in major states.

In his brief letter to the chief minister, Mr Jarkiholi contested the allegation but said he was resigning on moral grounds even though there was no truth in the charge against him.“ I believe that I am innocent but am resigning on moral grounds,“ he wrote, while seeking a probe into the affair.

The controversy erupted after an RTI activist, Dinesh Kallahalli, met the Bengaluru police commissioner, Kamal Pant, and sought protection for the unidentified woman concerned.

Urging the police to institute an enquiry into the incident, he alleged that the minister had taken advantage of the woman who went to seek help in getting a government job. According to Mr Kallahalli, the woman had contacted him as she feared for her life while maintaining that the question of going public did not arise in view of the influence that the powerful minister wielded.

Minutes after the details went public, political parties and other organisations went on the offensive. While the BJP minister, who has won six consecutive elections from Gokak, had called the allegations a “honey trap”, his supporters claimed that the whole issue was an attempt to undermine him. A former Congressman, he was instrumental in breaking the JDS-Congress combine under H D Kumaraswamy’s chief ministership in 2019 by taking a group of his partymen and JDS legislators to the BJP. Subsequently, he won the bypoll on a BJP ticket.

Previously, in 2016, Congress minister HY Meti was forced to resign from the K Siddaramaiah cabinet after a sex tape went public. In the past three BJP ministers also had to resign after allegedly watching porn in the Assembly.