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‘After May 17, what and how?’ Congress questions Govt strategy on COVID-19 lockdown

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The Congress on Wednesday questioned the Central government over the criteria it adopted to judge how long the lockdown imposed to curb Coronavirus will continue and also accused it of non-cooperation in dealing with the pandemic, taking decisions arbitrarily without consulting them, and not providing them funds.

The Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states were deliberating on the extended lockdown situation with interim President Sonia Gandhi.

At the meeting, held via video conferencing, Sonia Gandhi questioned the exit strategy of the Centre post May 17 when lockdown 3.0 ends.

“After May 17th, what? and after May 17th, how? What criteria is the Government of India using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue,” she asked at the meeting which was also attended by Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Chief Ministers need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of the Government of India to get the country out of lockdown” Singh said. “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after lockdown 3.0?”

The third phase of the lockdown imposed although with some relaxations ends on May 17.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who spoke first, raised the demand of the stimulus package. “Until extensive stimulus package is given, how will states and country run? We have lost 10,000 crore of revenue. States have repeatedly requested Prime Minister for a package, but we are yet to hear from GOI,” Gehlot said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who has set up two committees — one to strategise on how to come out of the lockdown and the other on economic revival — said, “Concern is people sitting in Delhi are deciding on classification of zones without knowing what’s happening on the ground.”

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, “The States are facing dire economic crisis. They need to be provided immediate assistance.”

He said in his state 80 per cent of the Small Industries have restarted and nearly 85,000 workers have returned to work.

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayansamy also accused the Centre of taking one sided decisions. “The Government of India is deciding on zones without consulting the states and this is creating an anomalous situation. People sitting in Delhi can’t tell the states. No State or CM is consulted. Why?” asked the Chief Minister.

“PM isn’t saying a word on the economic package for states,” he added.

In the meeting, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi suggested that the “central piece of strategy to fight COVID-19 is to protect the elderly as also those who are diabetic and with heart condition.”

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram stated, “States are bleeding in terms of finances, but no money is being allocated by GOI. A number of newspapers have brought out the unavailability of finances with states.”

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Politics

Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away at 71

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Congress leader Ahmed Patel passed away this morning at 3.30 a.m. at the age of 71 years after Covid-19 complication in Gurugram Hospital.

His son Faisal Patel tweeted ,”With profound grief I regret to announce that sad and untimely demise of my father on 25/11 at 3.30a.m.”

More than month after testing positive for Covid-19 infection, Patel was under treatment at a Gurugram-based hospital. He was being monitored by a team of doctors.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram tweeted, “Deeply shocked and saddened to learn that my dear friend Ahmed Patel passed away in the early hours of today…For two decades, he was one of the staunchest pillars of the Congress party and a trusted counsellor. He will be profoundly missed…I offer my tribute to his memory and convey my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family.”

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‘Mend ways or get arms and legs broken or may even be killed’: Bengal BJP chief’s warning to TMC

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In a shocking incident, the Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Sunday issued a controversial warning to supporters of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He said that they should mend their ways or they risk having their arms and legs broken and may even be killed.

“Didi’s brothers who are creating trouble should change their habits in the next six months otherwise you will have your arms, leg, ribs and head broken. You’ll have to take a trip to the hospital. And if you do more than that, then you will have to go the crematorium,” Ghosh said at a rally in Haldia, reported NDTV.

The BJP leader claimed that the days of the Mamata Banerjee government are numbered. He said central forces will ensure free and fair assembly elections in the state.

“When there was Lalu Raj in Bihar, there used to be Jungle Raj, violence was a daily affair but we drove out the goons – this is called BJP Raj. We changed Jungle Raj to democracy and we want to restore democracy in West Bengal too,” Ghosh said.

“I want to make an announcement that the upcoming assembly elections will not be done under Didi’s police but by Dada’s police. Police wearing khaki dress will stay a hundred metres away from booths under the mango tree, sitting on a chair, chewing khaini and watch the vote,” he said.

Ghosh’s comments come just two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Bengal. His visit was significant as the election in the Didi’s dominated state is due for next year.

During his visit, Home Minister had said that Banerjee was scared to see the rise of BJP in West Bengal and was, thus, deliberately restricting the Central Government’s welfare scheme in the state.

“The death knell for Mamata Banerjee’s government has been sounded. With two-thirds majority in the next Assembly Elections, BJP will form the government in West Bengal in 2021,” Shah was quoted as saying by Bengali portal The Wall.

“Mamata Banerjee is scared. She is scared that’s why she is restricting the implementation of Central Government’s welfare schemes in Bengal. Farmers in Bengal is not getting the 6000 rupees that the centre is paying.

“The poor families are not receiving the medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh. People from marginalised communities are being denied grants for building proper homes and toilets for themselves. The State Government has restricted funds of at least 80 Central Government schemes,” Shah added.

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‘This is my last election’: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during an election rally on Thursday said that this is his last election.

“This is the last day of election. The day after this election will end and this is my last election. Ant bhala to sab bhala (All’s well that ends well),” Nitish Kumar said.

Bihar Chief Minister was campaigning for a candidate of his Janata Dal United in Purnia.

Nitish Kumar has been vocal in attacking the opposition leaders Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Chirag Paswan as he had said that those who have ‘inherited everything’ have no idea about his work and dedication towards Bihar.

Nitish Kumar in a tweet had said, “What did those who inherited everything know about the tenacity of the workmen. We have dedicated ourselves to this sacred land of Bihar. To serve is my religion.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his first rally in Bihar for the election praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar government for his “quick response” to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“If Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government had not acted fast, there would have been many more coronavirus deaths and unimaginable mayhem,” PM had said.

The second phase of polls in Bihar for 94 seats begins on Tuesday.

This election in Bihar is a tripartite contest between NDA – comprising BJP and JDU – while the the second and third fronts are led by Tejashwi Yadav’s JDU, supported by Congress, and Chhirag Paswan’s LJP.

However, LJP’s Paswan has maintained that he is against Nitish by has no grudges with BJP.

In a separate development, Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner said, “We had to reduce voters from 1500 to 1000 per booth in Bihar polls & increase polling booths by 33,000 which meant increasing manpower deployment. But elections in India are virtual festivals of democracy in which people love to take part.”

Bihar elections are being held in three phases  October 28, November 3 and 7 November and the results will be declared on November 10.

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