DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES SINCE 1932 `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SEVERAL STATES ANNOUNCE CURBS ON MOVEMENT, NIGHT CURFEW States start moving to contain surge, Centre says 11 States/ UTs are of ‘grave concern’ Maharashtra situation worrying, Uddhav warns of lockdown if it gets worse NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, APRIL 2 ON THE day the Centre categorised11States/UTsas“Statesof grave concern” on account of their high and rising daily cases anddeaths,severalstatesmoved Friday to take measures and imposecurbsonmovementtocontain the surge in Covid-19 cases. Stating that these States/UTs — Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana—havecontributed90% of Covid cases and 90.5% of deaths (as on March 31) in the last 14 days, and have crossed or are close to crossing their peaks reported last year, the Centre said the situation was particularly worrying in Maharashtra. In Mumbai, Chief Minister UddhavThackeray,inanaddress to the state, stopped short of announcing a lockdown, but warnedthatadecisionmayhave to be taken in the next two days after consultations with experts and political leaders. E E X P L A I NE D EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE A video grab of the EVM, vehicle in which it was found EVM in car of Assam BJP leader, EC orders repoll, suspends four The worry: Rural and ● semi-rural WHAT IS of particular concern is that Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns, along with peri-urban areas, are reporting a surge in Covid-19 cases. Health officials are warning that the spread of infection to rural areas with weak health infrastructure could overwhelm the entire health system. AIIMS CHIEF: NEED TO GRADUALLY OPEN UP VACCINATION PAGE 10 On Friday, Maharashtra counted 47,827 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since the pandemic began last year. The Maharashtra caseload now stands at 29.04 lakh, of which 3.89 lakh cases are active. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Passengers queue up for random testing at the Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi on Friday. The Delhi government is carrying out tests across railway stations, bus terminals and the airport to contain the spread of Covid-19. Praveen Khanna Cases surge, rural Nashik moves to city for beds TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA NASHIK, APRIL 2 WITH PACKED food, bedsheets and bottles of water, they camp outside Nashik Civil General Hospital. They are relatives and close contacts of Covid cases admitted there. There is Digambar Kad, who lives10kmawayinMungsaravil- Outside the Civil Hospital in Nashik. Tabassum Barnagarwala lage. He hired a vehicle and went to three hospitals with sister Poonam Bhoir (27), a blood cancerpatientwhoisnowCovid-positive, before finding a bed here. Yogesh Barve lives 65 km away in Chandwad village but this compound has been his home for the past two days. Inside,his wife Meenal (38) is on oxygen support. Nyaneshwar Mahajan travelled 40 km from CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Polls on, I-T dept In Kerala, Modi raises Sabarimala chant, searches premises says LDF ‘destabilising sacred places’ of Stalin daughter VISHNU VARMA KOCHI, APRIL 2 Other DMK leaders also face I-T action; not scared, won’t surrender TN: Stalin ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, APRIL 2 THE INCOME Tax department Friday launched a series of search operations in Tamil Nadu targetingDMKleadersincluding DMK chief M K Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai.Of the28premises searched, four belonged to Senthamarai and her husband Sabareesan, considered one of themostpowerfulpersonshelping Stalin in the elections. The I-T action commenced at Senthamarai’s residence in TeynampetandNeelankaraiinthe morning.Subsequently,premises of Lotus Bala, a friend and businessman close to Sabareesan, DMK’s Tiruvannamalai MP C N Annadurai, DMK MLA MK Mohan’s son Karthick Mohan in Anna Nagar in Chennai, and Senthil Balaji, one of the most powerful DMK leaders in central TamilNadu,werealsosearchedby theI-Tdepartment. Mohan is also the state deputy secretary of DMK’s IT wing, a team that had been workingovertimetoamplifyrallies and speeches of Stalin and his son Udhayanidhi across social media platforms. Stalin who was campaigning at Ariyalur and Perambalur districtssaidtheraidswillnotaffect him. “I have seen MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and Emergency. I would like to tell one thing to (PrimeMinister Narendra)Modi — this is DMK… do not forget that. I am Kalaignar’s son. You cannot scare us with such raids, we will not surrender the entire stateto youlikeAIADMKleaders CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 WITH THE BJP keen to keep the spotlight on the Sabarimala issue in the final run-up to the Kerala polls on April 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lent his weight to the push by starting his rally Friday in Pathanamthitta with a call for the large gathering to repeat after him an iconic chant from the hill shrine: “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa (I seek refuge in you, lord Ayyappa)”. Not once, but five times. Modi's unusual call was also WORLD U.S., IRAN SAY WILL BEGIN INDIRECT TALKS ON NUCLEAR PROGRAMME 50 KILLED IN TAIWAN TRAIN CRASH PAGE 12 PM Narendra Modi in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. PTI BJPHOPESTOPULLOFFACAPITALSURPRISE,PAGE6 significant because it was issued in Konni, which is close to the hill shrine and is one of the two seats — apart from Manjeswaram in Kasaragod — from where the party's state chief K Surendran is contesting. Surendran was jailed in 2018 forhisinvolvementintheheated protests against the Supreme Court ruling that overturned a traditional ban and allowed womenof allagegroupstoenter the temple. The ruling CPI(M)led LDF backed the court ruling andpaidaheavypoliticalpricein the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning just one of 20 seats. “Being here in this holy land blessed by Swami Ayyappa is special,” said Modi. “Millions of devotees come hereafterobservingastrict41-day vratham (vow). That discipline CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In Assam last leg, poll panel bars Himanta from campaigning EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, APRIL 2 THEELECTIONCommission(EC) Friday banned Assam Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours in Assam ahead of the third and final phase of the Assembly elections. He was penalised for his remark against Bodoland People's Front ChairpersonHagramaMohilary. TheECimposedthebanwith immediate effect, which means thatSarma,astarcampaignerfor the BJP, can no longer seek votes for his party in the state. Campaigning in Assam ends on April 4. The decision was taken on a complaint filed by the Congress, Farm labourers given drugs to work longer, Centre tells Punjab; bid to malign image, says farmer leader that migrant bonded labourers from Bihar and UP were being employed in the state's farms and administered drugs to extract long hours of work. In the letter senton March 17 tothePunjabChief Secretaryand DGP, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that in 201920,theBSFapprehended58such labourers from the border districts of Punjab. DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & RAAKHI JAGGA NEW DELHI, LUDHIANA, APRIL 2 IN A letter that could trigger a new flashpoint in its ongoing five-month-long face-off with protesting farmers from Punjab, the Centre has asked the state government to take action on thefindingsof aprobebytheBSF Theletterdrewsharpreactions from farm leaders protesting against the Centre's new agriculture laws. Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda and member of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee(AIKSCC),accusedthe Centreoftryingto“maligntheimageof farmers”. AseniorPunjabPoliceofficer, speaking on condition of Himanta Biswa Sarma which had alleged that Sarma had“openly threatened” to send Bodoland People's Front (BPF) chief Hagrama Mohilary to jail by “misusing” the National Investigation Agency. BPF is part of the Congress-led alliance. Inhisspeechatarallyheldon March 28, Sarma had said, “If HagramaMohilarydoesextremism with Batha he will go to jail. This is a straight talk... Already got a lot of evidence. This case is being given to NIA (National CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY anonymity, confirmed the contents of the letter but described the findings as “far-fetched”. Former NDA ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said theletterwasbasedona“ridiculousassumptionaimedpurelyat defaming farmers of the state”. Referring to the 58 people “apprehended”bytheBSF“from the border areas of Gurdaspur, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Behind the politics battle, West Bengal’s slowdown economics AS WEST Bengal Chief Minister MamataBanerjeefightsperhaps her most significant electoral battle, framing her contest is not just BJP vs Trinamool politics — butthestate’seconomicsaswell. The anti-incumbency Banerjee faces is as much about 0 2015-16 FISCAL DEFICIT 2019-20 Actual 2020-21 RE 2021-22 BE 2016-17 2017-18 WEST BENGAL 2.94% 3.86% 2.94% 2018-19 4 7.26 6.5 6.41 5 ■ India(GDP%) 6.8 ■ WestBengal (GSDP%) 8.3 10 6.36 NEW DELHI, APRIL 2 lowerthanthenationalfigure. RBI data shows that West Bengal is one of the poorest performers on bank credit growth. Between the fourth quarters of 2018 and 2020, while aggregatecreditofscheduledcommercialbanksgrewby20percentfor the whole of India, West Bengal saw just about half of that — a weak 10.6 per cent growth. Only Goa and Punjab registered a lower growth than West Bengal. 7.2 SANDEEP SINGH & SUNNY VERMA local-level corruption and competing ideologies as it is about stalled industrialisation, weak credit growth, a near-freeze in new jobs, low infrastructure developmentandagriculturespend. In 2019-20, West Bengal’s GSDPgrowthat7.26percentwas higher than the 4.0 per cent nationalGDPrecordedthesame year but for four of the five years between 2015-16 to 2019-20, West Bengal’s GSDP growth has been STATE OF ECONOMY 8 Low daily wage and per capita income, credit growth half of national average frame anti-incumbency 6.13 PAGE 1 ANCHOR ‘This is DMK... I am Kalaignar’s son’ wasa“violationof transportprotocol,” the EC issued a showNEWDELHI,GUWAHATI,APRIL2 cause notice to the presiding officer and also suspended him THEELECTIONCommission(EC) along with three other polling Friday ordered fresh voting in a officers for the lapse. The transpolling station in portprotocolstatesthat Assam’s Ratabari undernocircumstances Assembly seat followshould a person take an ing a controversy over EVM in private custody officers transporting an or to a private place. Electronic Voting Later in the day, on Machine (EVM) in a veDECISION therecommendationof hicle owned by a BJP its special general ob2021 candidate. server, the Commission ASSAM The date of repoll also suspended two will be announced armed escort officers soon. responsible for ensuring the Acknowledging that there CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 2019-20 INDIA 4.6% 9.5% 6.8% Source: MOSPI, Union Finance Ministry, West Bengal Budget Documents Notonlyonbankcredit,West Bengal had one of the slowest growth rates for bank deposits during this two-year period, too. While deposits expanded by 19.8 per cent across the country in this period, that for West Bengal grew 14.1 per cent. SaidTrinamool'sleaderinthe Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien: "Modi-Shah and their Tourist Gang can’t compete with us on real parameters of good governance and genuine development…So what do they do? The usualdesperatedistractionspreelections: Pakistan, polarisation and puffy promises that will never be fulfilled.” But for a state fourth largest by population, high unemployment rates can be an issue. CMIE data for February 2021 shows West Bengal had an unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent, which though better than the national 6.9percent,washigherthanthat in many states — the state was at 17th spot among 27 states. The state also records low dailywageandpercapitaincome. While the national average daily wage for non-agriculture labour for FY 2020 was Rs 294, a report byCareRatingpointsoutthatthe wage rate in West Bengal was lower by almost 8.5 per cent. For Kerala and Tamil Nadu, also pollbound states, it stood at Rs 670 and Rs 438 respectively. On per capita income, too, West Bengal’s figure of Rs 1.16 lakh was 16% lower than the national average. OnMSMEs,avitalindicatorof local industry and employment, there are glaring gaps in West Bengal.AspertheNSS73rdround survey, the state had 88.67 lakh MSMEs as of 2015-16, second CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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