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Tuesday,25-January-2022

National News

BJP Kerala chief K. Surendran faces volley of criticism in core committee meet

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K. Surendran.

BJP’s Kerala President K. Surendran faced a barrage of criticism at the core committee meet on Sunday – the first after the party’s washout in the April 6 Assembly elections and as it faces heat over the Thrissur “money heist”.

The core committee has all the four state General Secretaries as members, along with all former state chiefs. With the state party is divided into factions headed by Union Minister V. Muraleedharan, and former state chief P.K. Krishnadas, the meeting was stormy.

BJP sources said that in the meeting, Krishnadas, state General Secretaries A.N. Radhakrishnan and M.T. Ramesh came out heavily against Muraleedharan and Surendran, saying the state leadership failed in arriving at a consensus with all and this was the main reason for the drubbing the party had faced in the elections.

Another charge was that the candidate selection process was opaque and the state leadership failed to field proper candidates, leading to the wipeout. The BJP had drawn a blank in the 2021 Assembly elections, even losing the Nemom seat it had won in 2016.

The rival faction raised the allegations levelled by BSP candidate K. Sundara, who had withdrawn his nominations from Manjeswar Assembly constituency from where Surendran contested, telling the media that he was given Rs 2.5 lakh and a smartphone to pull back. He said that he was also offered Rs 15 lakh, a home, and a wine parlour in Karnataka if Surendran wins.

Surendran and Muraleedharan, however, contended that the party candidates were finalised in the best interests of the party.

They also said Surendran was in no way involved in the money heist.

The state BJP is under pressure after RSS worker Dharmarajan registered a complaint at Kodakara police station that a group of people had attacked him after blocking his car on April 3 — days before polling — and looted an amount of Rs 25 lakh from him.

Police arrested several known criminals, and during the course of the investigation, BJP youth wing’s former state treasurer Sunil D. Naik’s name also surfaced. Naik was a close associate of Surendran and the case turned into a major topic of discussion after interrogation of the arrested people led to unearthing of more than Rs 1 crore.

Police questioned BJP state General Secretary, Organisation and senior RSS leader M. Ganeshan, and party state Office Secretary, G. Gireeshan. Sources also said that Surendran’s son Harikrishnan would also be questioned in the days to come.

On Sunday before the core committee meeting, senior BJP leader and former state President Kummanam Rajashekhran told the media that the BJP will not allow targeting of Surendran.

“The CPI-M and the Kerala media is targeting BJP and K. Surendran, and this vilification is the victimisation of the BJP and its President,” he said.

Muraleedharan also told media that the CPI-M is trying to tarnish the image of the party.

The core committee decided to come out against the CPI-M-led state government for the “false charges” being made against the BJP.

National News

HC stays arrest of Akali leader Majithia in drugs case for 3 days

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In a reprieve to senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia from arrest in a drugs-related case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted protection against the arrest for three days.

Majithia, the brother-n-law of SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, is in fray for the February 20 assembly polls from Majitha, near Amritsar.

With this, he can approach the Supreme Court for challenging the high court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

Justice Lisa Gill said the protection would be only for three days. She said the court did not find ground to afford one week as prayed for.

Earlier in the day, a team of Punjab Police conducted a raid at the residence of Majithia in Amritsar after dismissal of interim anticipatory bail by the high court on Monday.

Majithia had moved the high court after a Mohali court dismissed his anticipatory bail petition in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act registered on December 20.

In a 49-page FIR filed by the state police Crime Branch at the Mohali police station, the SAD leader has been booked under sections 25, 27A and 29 of the NDPS Act.

Majithia’s case was argued by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, while the Punjab government’s case was represented by former Union Minister P. Chidambaram.

“It is more than apparent that the present FIR has been registered against the petitioner keeping an eye on the forthcoming elections. The petitioner’s fundamental rights are at stake,” said the petition.

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National News

Expedite progress under ECRP-II to strengthen health infra: Mandaviya

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Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has asked the states to review and expedite implementation of activities under ECRP-II package for strengthening the health infrastructure, in a virtual meeting held with 9 states and UTs on Tuesday.

Mandaviya urged the health ministers and the state authorities to plug the existing gaps by efficiently utilizing the amount sanctioned for various infra projects.

With strengthened health infrastructure, we can meet any health emergency and public health crisis with better preparedness, said Mandaviya, while interacting with the health ministers and other state officials of – Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, Ladakh and Uttar Pradesh – virtually on Tuesday.

“In view of a substantial number of active Covid-19 cases across the country, it is important to focus on expanding the reach of tele-consultation services for providing timely quality healthcare to the beneficiaries”, Mandaviya said.

He said further that it will prove a game-changer and will be of immense value and importance for the hard-to-reach and far flung areas, and especially in the northern regions in the current winter season.

“States and UTs need to ensure that these centres work 24X7 and ensure convenience for both the common public and health experts. To ensure minimum hassle and travelling, such expert advice can be provided at the block levels, secondary or primary health centre levels tool”, he asked the states.

The states were advised to ensure regular updation of availability, occupancy and use of infrastructure like hospital beds, PSA plants, oxygen equipment. The Union Health Minister re-emphasised the need for ramping up testing. The states and UTs reporting a lower share of RT-PCR testing were requested to ramp up tests. States and UTs were also reminded to keep a close watch on the emerging clusters and hotspots and monitor the trend of hospitalised cases along with the deaths in the state.

“Vaccination remains a potent tool to fight COVID-19. Vaccinated people are less prone to severity and hospitalisation as seen in India and globally. Higher hospitalisation is being seen in unvaccinated people and hence it becomes crucial to vaccinate the unvaccinated”, Mandaviya underlined while urging to promote vaccination among 15-18 years age group and ensure full coverage in the districts that have shown a lower coverage of the first and second doses.

Union Minister of State for Health, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar stressed on the need for vigilance and alertness during the ongoing upsurge. She urged the states and UTs to ensure availability of essential medicines for any evolving situation and ensure timely purchase orders in case of shortages.

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Maharashtra

Can reduce Juhi Chawla’s 5G suit fine, but on one condition: Delhi HC

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it will consider reducing actress-environmentalist Juhi Chawla’s fine – slapped for abuse of the process of law in relation to a lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology – from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on the condition she does some service for the public.

A division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said: “We will make it Rs 2 lakh but that comes with another condition. Considering that your client is a celebrity, she should do some public work. Her status should be implied for some good of society. She could do a programme for the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA).”

Representing Chawla, senior advocate Salman Khurshid, argued that the petitioner had raised a genuine concern on the impact of 5G technology on the human body. If the cost amount could be waived, his client could go back to pursue the cause, he said.

Later, he said he would seek her instructions on the suggestion made by the court.

Further, issuing notice to the DLSA Secretary, the court listed the case for further hearing on January 27.

On January 21, the DSLSA approached the court seeking the execution of the order, in which Chawla and two others were directed to deposit Rs 20 lakh fine imposed in relation to a lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology.

On June 4 last year, Justice J.R. Midha had dismissed her lawsuit against the setting up of 5G wireless networks in the country. Her plea stated the levels of RF radiation are 10 to 100 times greater than the existing levels. It also claimed that the 5G wireless technology can be a potential threat to provoke irreversible and serious effects on humans and it could also permanently damage the earth’s ecosystems.

The court had held that the suit filed by Chawla and two others were defective, non-maintainable, and also contained unverified and vexatious assertions and also imposed the fine.

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