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Amit Shah reaches Kolkata for two-day visit, TMC rebels likely to joins his mega rally today


‘Reached Kolkata! I bow to this revered land of greats like Gurudev Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar & Syama Prasad Mookerjee,’ he said in a tweet.

Amid the heated politics in West Bengal, which will go to polls early next year, the Home Minister Amit Shah has reached Kolkata around 1:30 am on Saturday for a two-day visit.

“Reached Kolkata! I bow to this revered land of greats like Gurudev Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar & Syama Prasad Mookerjee,” he said in a tweet.


As per the reports, Amit Shah is expected to welcome Suvendu Adhikari to the BJP. Adhikari first resigned from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet on November 27 and then from the party on December 16.

While resigning, Adhikari had urged Banerjee to accept his resignation immediately. Like his earlier leave letters, the latest one also doesn’t specify a reason for his departure.

“I am writing to tender my resignation as a member of All India Trinamool Congress as well as from all other positions held by me in the party and its associate organs with immediate effect,” Adhikari wrote.

Yesterday, with Trinamool Congress leader Kabirul Islam resignation from the post of the general secretary of the party’s minority cell, it was the fourth exit in the last 24 hours from TMC.

Trinamool Congress MLA Shilbhadra Dutta has tendered his resignation from the party on Friday morning. The MLA from Barrackpore had openly resented due to the ‘interference’ by poll strategist Prashant Kishor in the choice of candidates for the state election.

On Thursday, Suvendu Adhikari and Jitendra Tiwari, MLA from Pandabeswar had tendered resignation from the party.

Cop Diptanshu Chowdhury (retd) has also resigned from the post of South Bengal State Transport Corporation and head of the state’s grievance monitoring cell and sent his letter to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor on Thursday,

These back-to-back exit has reinforced worries for the ruling TMC government in Bengal ahead of the state assembly polls which is just five months away.




Coronavirus cases in India cross 1 crore mark, Rahul Gandhi slams govt over failed lockdown citing numbers


‘The unplanned lockdown did not manage to ‘win the battle in 21 days’ as the PM claimed, but it surely destroyed millions of lives in the country,’ Rahul Gandhi said.

India, this morning, passed the one crore coronavirus cases mark becoming second after USA to cross the grim mark in terms of caseload.

Since the virus has entered the country, nearly 1.45 lakh deaths have been reported in the country. However, the United States have double count as compared to India’s with 3,13,588 deaths.

On a positive side, as per the government’s records, India’s recovery rate of 95 per cent is the highest globally.

In the last 24 hours, 25,152 fresh infections took India’s Covid tally to 1,00,04,599, the government data showed this morning.

347 single-day deaths due to Covid were recorded, taking the tally to 1,45,136.

Launching a sharp attack over the surge in cases, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said, “1 Crore covid infections with almost 1.5 lakh deaths! The unplanned lockdown did not manage to ‘win the battle in 21 days’ as the PM claimed, but it surely destroyed millions of lives in the country.”

 




Congress’ series of meetings to begin today, name of new chief expected


However, the Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala maintained that “99.9 per cent” leaders are in favour of Rahul Gandhi’s return to the top post.

A new chapter in the history of Congress is likely to begin as the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will flag off a series of meetings today which will be held over the next 10 days and the key takeaway from these meets is likely to be the name of a new party president.

However, the Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala maintained that “99.9 per cent” leaders are in favour of Rahul Gandhi’s return to the top post.

Today’s meeting is significant as it will be attended by the 23 dissenters who seek change in party leadership few months ago, including Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In yesterday’s press conference, Surjewala had said, “We are one family and we will sort it out.”

“The party will soon start the procedure to elect a new party president. An electoral college of Congress, AICC (All India Congress Committee) members, Congress workers and members will choose who’s best suited,” he said.

At the crucial CWC meet held in August after the letter by 23 dissenters was presented to the party chief, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi requested the party to relieve her from her current role and asked the CWC members “to begin deliberations toward the process of transition to relieve her from the duty of party president”.

“A year has lapsed now. In the interest of the party, I ask CWC to begin deliberations to put in a place of process of transition to relieve me from my duties,” said Sonia Gandhi.

The meeting came weeks after the Congress saw a stormy meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs wherein certain leaders sought introspection on the 2019 poll debacle. Thereafter, around 23 top Congress leaders, including former Chief Ministers, MPs, former Union Ministers and CWC members wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the issue of leadership change and elections in the CWC.

The letter called for an urgent need for “full time and effective leadership”, which is both “visible’’ and “active’’ and an “urgent establishment of an institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively guide the party’s revival’’.

It also asked for decentralisation of power, elections in the party at all levels and empowerment of its state units.

The letter is reportedly signed by many senior leaders of the party including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Renuka Chaudhary, and Milind Deora.




AUS vs IND, 1st Test: India sink to lowest total ever as Australia take complete control


Starting the innings with a 53-run lead, India lost nine wickets in just 27 runs in the first session on Day 3 of the pink-ball Test.

India on Saturday sank to their lowest ever total in an innings of a Test match when Australia bundled them for a meager total of 36 runs in the second innings of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Starting the innings with a 53-run lead, India lost nine wickets in just 27 runs in the first session on Day 3 of the pink-ball Test. Mohammed Shami, the No. 11 batsman, retired hurt and could not bat.

Josh Hazlewood (5/8) and Pat Cummins (4/21) with their fiery spells have now given Australia a complete control over the Day-Night fixture. The hosts need to chase 90 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

India, who began at the overnight score of nine for one, had a nightmarish start when they lost four wickets at the team total of 15 and then four runs later at 19 lost their sixth wicket in the form of skipper Virat Kohli.

They then lost Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin on successive deliveries to be 26 for eight. Hanuma Vihari then scored a four and got a single to get India clear of the three lowest scores in Test history, 26 by New Zealand and 30 twice by South Africa.

However, Vihari fell as the ninth batsman at the team score of 31.

Earlier, India lost four wickets fell on 15. Overnight batsman Jasprit Bumrah, who had walked in as nightwatchman on Friday was caught and bowled by Pat Cummins off a change of pace. Then Cheteshwar Pujara was caught behind off Cummins’s delivery that moved just a bit as the India No. 3 fell for an eight-ball duck.

Josh Hazlewood then got two wickets in one over as he removed opener Mayank Agarwal, getting him caught behind off his first ball and followed it up with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane, who was also caught behind for a four-ball duck.

Skipper Virat Kohli got a four towards third man but was soon after caught at gully by Cameron Green off Cummins.

The carnage by Aussies saw India lose five wickets for four runs in 5.4 overs.

They were 26 for eight at the drinks break.

At the score of 26, they lost Wriddhiman Saha, caught at short midwicket and R Ashwin who was caught behind to be eight down for 26.

Pat Cummins (4/21 in 10.2) and Josh Hazlewood (5/8 in five) shared the wickets.

The Indian innings lasted just 21.2 overs.

This was also joint fourth lowest total in Test cricket history behind 26 by New Zealand, 30 (twice) by South Africa, 35 also by South Africa.

Australia and South Africa also have scored 36 before. However, barring New Zealand’s 26, that happened in 1955, the rest of the lowest totals mentioned above happened prior to the second World War.

India’s lowest totals in Tests:
36/9 vs Australia at Adelaide Oval in 2020
42 vs England at Lord’s in 1974
58 vs Australia at Brisbane in 1947
58 vs England at Manchester in 1952
66 vs South Africa at Durban in 1996
67 vs Australia at Melbourne in 1948
75 vs West Indies at Delhi in 1987
76 vs South Africa at Ahmedabad in 2008

With IANS inputs




United States authorises Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use


The US is the first nation to authorize the two-dose regimen from Moderna, now the second vaccine to be deployed in a Western country after the first, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The United States on Friday authorized Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, paving the way for six million doses of a second vaccine to soon begin shipping across the hardest-hit country in the world.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Stephen Hahn said: “With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of Covid-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic.”

“Congratulations, the Moderna vaccine is now available!” tweeted President Donald Trump.

The US is the first nation to authorize the two-dose regimen from Moderna, now the second vaccine to be deployed in a Western country after the first, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by Britain on December 2, followed by several other countries including the US last week. Less-vetted shots have also been rolled out in China and Russia.

Meharry Medical College President James Hildreth, who was part of a panel of experts convened by the FDA to discuss approval matters, said Thursday it was a “remarkable achievement” to have developed and authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines within the space of a year.

Together, they offer a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic’s long tunnel.

The United States alone has seen more than 310,000 people die from coronavirus infections and is in the midst of a brutal winter surge, with nearly 115,000 people hospitalized, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Millions of doses will now start shipping out as early as this weekend from cold-storage sites outside Memphis and Louisville, overseen by logistics firm McKesson.

From there they will be delivered to sites around the country via partnerships with FedEx and UPS.

– Cutting-edge technology –

Moderna has several other drugs under development, but has never before seen any authorized.

The decade-old, Massachusetts-based biotech company received $2.5 billion in federal funding for its efforts and co-developed the vaccine with scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on cutting-edge mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, and both have been shown to be highly effective, protecting about 95 percent of people against Covid-19 compared to a placebo.

They have also been found to have no serious safety issues in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people each.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting, and fever.

But there have now been a handful of people around the world who developed significant allergic reactions after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, and the FDA has said it will remain vigilant in its monitoring.

Both vaccines come with warnings for people who have histories of allergic reactions to their ingredients to avoid having them.

The FDA will also be on the lookout to see whether both vaccines may in extremely rare cases be linked to Bell’s Palsy, a relatively mild and temporary facial paralysis condition.

There were a handful of such cases in the clinical trials, but not enough to attribute causality.

The FDA said immunocompromised people may have diminished immune reaction, and said there was not enough data to say whether there were any particular risks associated to giving the vaccine to pregnant people.

– Placebo dilemma –

Both of the vaccines work by giving human cells the instructions to make a surface protein of the coronavirus, which simulates an infection and trains the immune system for when it encounters the real virus.

They each differ in the formulation of the fatty particles used to deliver the mRNA, which allows Moderna’s vaccine to be kept in long term storage at -20 degrees Celsius, unlike Pfizer’s, which must be stored at -90 degrees Celsius.

Moderna carried out a clinical trial of more than 30,000 people, roughly half of whom were given the product and the other half a placebo, with neither recipients nor their health care providers knowing who was in each group.

It has proposed to “unblind” the whole study and offer placebo recipients the vaccine, a plan criticized by some experts who say scientists will be deprived of valuable data, and some people will end up getting the vaccine ahead of others in their priority group.

The US has paid for 200 million doses, enough to vaccinate 100 million people.

Moderna proposes to ship 20 million this month and 80 million more in the first quarter of 2021, with the remaining 100 million in the second quarter.




Mamata Banerjee government again refuses to send three IPS officers to New Delhi


In reply, the state government has suggested a video conference due to the pandemic. Centre’s response is still awaited.

The centre-state tussle in West Bengal has been escalated day by day as in a fresh development, the Mamata Banerjee government has again refused to send the three IPS officials for central deputation.

Last evening, the Union Home Secretary has written to the Bengal government asking the state’s Chief Secretary and police chief to attend a meeting at 5.30 pm today.

However, in reply, the state government has suggested a video conference due to the pandemic. Centre’s response is still awaited.

The three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, who were incharge JP Nadda’s security during his recent trip to West Bengal, were transferred outside the state.

The three officers – Bholanath Pandey (SP, Diamond Harbour), Praveen Tripathi (DIG, Presidency Range) and Rajeev Mishra (ADG, South Bengal) – had already come under the heat of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after Nadda’s convoy came under violent attack.

The MHA had directed the three IPS officials to report for deputation in New Delhi. However, the West Bengal government had refused to release the officers, firing an intense State-Centre tussle.

In a latest letter to the State Government yesterday, the Centre notified about the IPS officials’ transfers and asked them to report to their new roles at an immediate effect within 24 hours.

Mamata Banerjee had called the centre’s action as a brazen attempt to control her state by proxy ahead of elections due next year.

“The government’s order of central deputation for the three serving IPS officers of West Bengal despite the state’s objection is a colourable exercise of power and blatant misuse of emergency provision of IPS Cadre Rule 1954,” she tweeted.

“This act is nothing but a deliberate attempt to encroach upon State’s jurisdiction and demoralize the serving officers in West Bengal. This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It’s unconstitutional and completely unacceptable,” she wrote.

“We wouldn’t allow this brazen attempt by the centre to control the state machinery by proxy! West Bengal is not going to cow down in front of expansionist and undemocratic forces,” she added.

On his way to Diamond Harbour to attend a party event, Nadda’s motorcade was subjected to stone pelting on December 10. The BJP national president was on a two-day tour of the poll-bound state on Wednesday and Thursday last week.




Farmers in UP get Rs 50 lakh notice over protests, sum revised to 50,000


‘The farmers said the amount was too much, following which the police station in-charge gave another report and they were asked to submit personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each,’ according to Subdivisional Magistrate Deependra Yadav.

The Sambhal district administration in Uttar Pradesh has issued notices to six farmer leaders asking them to submit personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each, as a police report warned of breach of peace during the protest against the new farm laws, an official said on Thursday.

The six farmers, who were served notices, include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asli) district president Rajpal Singh Yadav and farmer leaders Jaiveer Singh, Brahmachari Yadav, Satendra Yadav, Raudas and Veer Singh. They have been organising protests in the district over the Centre’s three contentious farm legislations.

“We’ve got a report from the Hayatnagar police station that some persons are inciting farmers and there can be breach of peace, and they should be asked to fill personal bonds of ₹ 50 lakh each,” Subdivisional Magistrate Deependra Yadav said.

The farmers said the amount was too much, following which the police station in-charge gave another report and they were asked to submit personal bonds of ₹ 50,000 each, according to Mr Yadav.

The notices have been issued under Section 111 (magistrate order against any person who is likely to commit breach of peace) of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the basis of a report submitted by police, the official said.




Chandrababu Naidu dares Jagan Reddy for referendum over capital, vows to quit politics if people voted


He demanded that the Chief Minister apologise to the people and withdraw the move to relocate the state capital in deference to the wishes of six crore people of the state.

Opposition Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday challenged the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government to conduct a referendum on the three capitals for the state plan and vowed to quit politics if people voted for it.

He demanded that the Chief Minister apologise to the people and withdraw the move to relocate the state capital in deference to the wishes of six crore people of the state.

Mr Naidu addressed a massive rally to mark the first anniversary of the farmers struggle for retaining Amaravati as the state capital.

It was on this day last year that the Chief Minister came up with the idea of having three capitals for the state, on the lines of executive system of functioning from South Africa.

Subsequently, his government passed a legislation naming Visakhapatnam as the Executive Capital and Kurnool as the Judicial Capital while retaining Amaravati as the Legislative Capital.

The matter is now sub-judice as the farmers who had given up over 33,000 acres of their fertile lands for the development of Amaravati city, moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court opposing the relocation of the state capital.

Since December last year, the local farmers, with the support of political parties and other organisations, have been conducting a peaceful agitation demanding that Amaravati be retained as the state capital.

“Barring the ruling YSR Congress, all political parties and people organisations extended support to the agitation and took part in the rally that was held amid severe restrictions by the police.

No sane person will shift the (state) capital. In case, are you ready for a referendum on the issue? I will permanently quit politics if people back your move,” Mr Naidu told Jagan Reddy.

He called the YSRC chief “one time Chief Minister”, saying that the latter will “bite the dust at the hustings next time.”

“People voted Jagan to power after he sought just one chance. But this would be his last chance as he completely betrayed the people. He can’t escape the curse of the women,” the leader of opposition in the assembly said.

BJP state president Somu Veerraju, who extended solidarity with the agitating farmers, asserted in a statement that his party stood for Amaravati as the state capital.

BJP will undertake a movement for Amaravati as the capital city.

We will exert pressure on the state government.

The Central government is committed to do everything that’s beneficial to the state, Mr Veerraju said.

The Congress, which too extended support to the farmers’ agitation, said that Jagan Reddy had voted for Amaravati as the capital city.

“Even people of Rayalaseema, the region to which Jagan belongs, are opposed to the three capitals idea. He should give it up,” Congress working president N Thulasi Reddy said.

The Left parties, Jana Sena and other outfits extended support to the Amaravati agitation.




Chipko movement leader Sundarlal Bahuguna extends support to protesting farmers


Sundarlal Bahuguna said, “I support the demands of the ‘annadatas’ “.

Chipko movement leader Sundarlal Bahuguna has extended his support to farmers protesting against the three farm laws on Friday.

Sundarlal Bahuguna said, “I support the demands of the ‘annadatas’ “.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the farmers who are protesting at the Delhi borders can protest and recognised it as a fundamental right but said that the roads can’t be blocked.

The Supreme Court was hearing a series of petitions on the issue and said it would refer the matter to a vacation bench. The court suggested that the government put the implementation of the laws on hold till the court takes a final decision on the issue. The centre argued that the if the law is put on hold the farmers will not come forward for negotiations.

Chief justice SA Bobde said, “We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone’s life or property.”

Yesterday, another death has been reported from the protesters camp as a farmer protesting near the Delhi-Haryana border died allegedly due to cold.

Day before that, a 65-year-old farmer has been identified as Baba Ram Singh of Singhra village in Nissing area of Haryana’s Karnal district, committed suicide by shooting himself..

Baba Ram Singh left a suicide note which states that he couldn’t see the ordeal of farmers who are sitting on the outskirts of the national capital protesting against the recently-passed farm laws.

Twenty farmers have died since the protest started outside Delhi and the farmer leaders on Tuesday had said that the government is responsible for this and will have to pay.

The farmers have set forth their demands with the government regarding the minimum support price (MSP) system which they feel would leave them to be exploited by corporates. Farmers are agitating against the farm laws passed by the government at the borders of Delhi and have braved tear gas and water cannons.




PM Modi makes emotional appeal to farmers, urges them to read letter written by Agriculture Minister Tomar


“I request all the farmers to read the letter and urge fellow Indians to share it as much as possible,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, urged the protesting farmers to read a letter written by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, addressed to them. He also urged the people to share it further.

In a tweet PM Modi said, “कृषि मंत्री @nstomar  जी ने किसान भाई-बहनों को पत्र लिखकर अपनी भावनाएं प्रकट की हैं, एक विनम्र संवाद करने का प्रयास किया है। सभी अन्नदाताओं से मेरा आग्रह है कि वे इसे जरूर पढ़ें। देशवासियों से भी आग्रह है कि वे इसे ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों तक पहुंचाएं। (Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Ji has expressed his feelings in a letter towards farmer brothers and sisters in which he has made an effort to hold a courteous dialogue. I request all the farmers to read the letter and urge fellow Indians to share it as much as possible).

कृषि मंत्री @nstomar जी ने किसान भाई-बहनों को पत्र लिखकर अपनी भावनाएं प्रकट की हैं, एक विनम्र संवाद करने का प्रयास किया है। सभी अन्नदाताओं से मेरा आग्रह है कि वे इसे जरूर पढ़ें। देशवासियों से भी आग्रह है कि वे इसे ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों तक पहुंचाएं। https://t.co/9B4d5pyUF1





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