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Tuesday,09-March-2021

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Don’t blame govt for virus spread once grocery stores open: Goa CM

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Pramod Sawant. (File Photo: IANS)

A miffed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said people should not blame the government for any spread of coronavirus now, after he was forced to relent on his earlier decision of a “100 per cent lockdown” in Goa and order the opening up of grocery stores, amid panic and complaints from all quarters.

Sawant, in a message to the people, said that grocery stores would be open from Friday onwards, even 24×7 if the owners could manage it, but also said that he was more keen on a total lockdown to rein in the Covid-19 menace.

“We cannot say when and how the coronavirus can be transmitted. Therefore we should take care of ourselves. If tomorrow, coronavirus spreads in a big way in Goa, then you cannot blame the government.

“Government wanted a 100 per cent lockdown. The government did not want unnecessary contact because it could lead to spread of coronavirus,” the Chief Minister said, adding that he was forced to take a decision “due to complaints from many quarters”.

He, however, urged people to maintain social distance and not to rush into stores once they open for fear of contracting or spreading the virus.

The decision by the CM comes on a day, when an apparatus rigged by the state administration, with the help of volunteers, for home delivery of essential commodities crumbled, leaving people in most parts of Goa without supply of milk, bread, food grains and other articles.

The Opposition has been slamming Sawant for failing to make essential goods available to the people of Goa on the fifth day of curfew – the March 22 janata curfew announced by PM Modi had been extended by three days by the CM.

Sawant said, that he was aware of the perils of the coronavirus because he was a medical practitioner and therefore was keen on the 21-day spell of curfew.

“As a doctor, I read about the coronavirus and Covid-19 and how it can spread. After learning about all this, I had felt that there should be a 100 per cent lock down,” Sawant said.

Interestingly, earlier this month the Chief Minister was reluctant to postpone the Zilla Panchayat elections which was originally scheduled to be held on March 22, despite criticism from the Opposition, which maintained that the polling exercise would put the entire population of Goa eligible to vote to risk of contracting the virus.

The polls were eventually postponed after a petition was filed before the Goa bench of the Bombay Court seeking postponement of polls due to the pandemic.

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Mallikarjun Kharge makes his presence felt on first day as LoP

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The newly-appointed Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, began his stint on an aggressive note on the first day of the House proceedings after recess.

On the issue of fuel price hike, the senior Congress leader gave a notice to the chair for suspension of business but it was not allowed, following which the opposition stalled the proceedings of the House.

Observers said that Kharge’s aggression is just opposite to his predecessor Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was more mild.

During the first leg of the ongoing Budget session, then LoP Azad had agreed to the discussion on the motion of thanks by the President, but it was delayed in the Lok Sabha even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took pot shots at Rahul Gandhi for not being in sync with the strategy of the opposition in the Upper House. The Prime Minister had even praised the outgoing LoP in his farewell speech.

Congress insiders said that now the whole strategy will be monitored by Rahul Gandhi in the Upper House after the appointment of Kharge as the LoP.

However, the Congress has a parliamentary strategy committee headed by Sonia Gandhi to devise the party’s stand on crucial issues, which even met on Sunday. The treasury bench may feel the heat on key contentious issues, but the government has the numbers, so passing a bill may not be a problem.

On Monday, the House was adjourned for the day after the Opposition forced multiple adjournments in the Rajya Sabha, the first day of the second half of the Budget session, as it pressed for discussion on the fuel price hike.

The House was first adjourned till 11 a.m. and when it met again, Kharge repeated his earlier demand. Deputy Chairman Harivansh said the ruling of the Chairman could not be reconsidered. Pandemonium soon followed and the House was again adjourned till 1 p.m., then till 1.15 p.m. and after that till 1.30 pm and finally for the day.

Earlier, the Chairman of the House, M. Venkaiah Naidu, had rejected Kharge’s notice for suspension of business under Rule 267.

Kharge said, “Petrol price has reached Rs 100 per litre in some parts of the country and the government has earned more than Rs 20 lakh crore in the last six years through taxes, and it’s utmost important to discuss the issue.”

But the Chair did not allow the notice and said that it was against the rules. The House was adjourned after the Congress MPs resorted to sloganeering.

“I don’t want to take drastic action on the first day,” Naidu said.

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Uttarakhand CM summoned to Delhi by BJP leadership

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The BJP high command on Monday called Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to New Delhi in the face of the serious discontent within a section of the state party MLAs and MPs who are bitterly opposed to his style of functioning, top party sources said here.

“The CM is going to New Delhi on Monday,” said a source close to the Chief Minister.

The high command’s decision came after it sent former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to hold an unscheduled meeting of the core committee on Saturday in Dehradun when the Assembly session was discussing the state Budget at Garisain. This raised many eyebrows both in the Chief Minister’s camp as well as that of his opponents.

The Chief Minister along with the party MLAs was asked to fly to Dehradun by helicopter in the afternoon on Saturday soon after the Budget Session of the state Assembly was adjourned sine die in a hasty way.

State BJP President Bansidhar Bhagat when contacted had stated that the core committee meeting did not discuss anything related to the change of guard in the state.

“I have made it clear earlier also that there was no discussion on change of guard,” he said.

On March 18, Chief Minister Rawat will complete his four years in office, an event which will be celebrated in a big way in the state, Bhagat said.

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Ex-Rajasthan Governor Anshuman Singh passes away

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Former Rajasthan Governor Anshuman Singh passed away at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow on Monday at the age of 86.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot expressed grief over his death.

The deceased leader’s mortal remains were being taken to Prayagraj for the last rites.

Anshuman Singh had been ailing for some time.

Justice (retired) Anshuman Singh took charge as the Governor of Rajasthan on January 16, 1999 and remained in office till May 2003.

Born in 1935 in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) he studied Arts and Law and became an advocate in Allahabad district court in 1957.

He was appointed judge of the Allahabad High Court in 1984 and later became acting Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court.

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