YK MYK TRANSPARENCY IN POLITICAL FUNDING HAS BEEN SACRIFICED OPINION KOLKATA THURSDAY, 1 APRIL, 2021 PG-12, YEAR—7, ISSUE—313 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) MAX 38 C MIN 26 C SCREEN & CINEMA Morning India Rs. 3 WEATHER TODAY I CRIED FOR TWO WEEKS: BRITNEY ON SHOW ABOUT HER LIFE Hockey tourney postponed as 11 players test positive in Simdega PC JHA Sky will be clear. AT A GLANCE OMCS TO REDUCE LPG CYLINDER COST BY RS 10 FROM APRIL NEW DELHI: State-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) will reduce the price of domestic LPG cylinder by Rs 10 per cylinder from April 1. Domestic LPG cylinder will cost Rs 809 per cylinder in Delhi, effective April 1. In a statement on Wednesday, OMC major Indian Oil Corporation said that prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the international market have been on a constant uptrend since November 2020. "As India is largely import-dependent on crude oil and the prices are market-linked, the increase in international prices resulted in increase in the domestic price of petroleum products," the statement said. RANCHI: As almost a dozen of players from Chandigarh and host Jharkhand were found Corona positive, organizers of the 11th National Junior Women Hockey Championship were forced to postpone the mega show which was scheduled from April 3 in Simdega. Chief Minister Hemant Soren spoke to players and got information about their health. The Chief Minister encouraged the players of both the teams by talking to them and convinced them not to worry about anything. He assured them that the government will take care of them in every way and all of them will be completely healthy and will soon return to their homes. In his tweet, the Chief Minister gave directions to the officers and said that everyone should be properly taken care of their health so that everyone can get well soon. Bholanath Singh, President, Hockey Jharkhand disappointedly said, “This is very unfortunate for us that players are found positive and we are not in a position. Prohibitory orders imposed in Nandigram MI NEWS SERVICE NANDIGRAM: The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in Nandigram assembly constituency in West Bengal's Purba Medinipur district, a day ahead of the high- stakes elections here, a senior official said. Besides, the EC has also started air surveillance in the area with the help of a helicopter, he said. People who are not voters of Nandigram are not being allowed to enter the constituency in view of the sensitivity, he added. "Nandigram is a sensitive constituency with high- profile candidates like Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikary. We want to ensure that the law and order situation is not compromised and people can vote freely without fear," the official told PTI. "That is the reason for imposing the prohibitory orders, which will be in place till Friday midnight. A person who is not a voter of Mamata calls for united struggle credible alternative against BJP CORE SECTORS OUTPUT CONTRACTS 4.6 PC IN FEB NEW DELHI: The output of eight core sectors declined by 4.6 per cent in February, the steepest contraction in the last six months which experts said could drag the overall industrial production in the month into the negative territory. All the key segments, including coal, crude oil, natural gas, and refinery products, witnessed a decline in production, according to the official data released on Wednesday. The growth rate of infrastructure sectors -- coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity -stood at 6.4 pc. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 1,21,50,912 TOTAL DEATH: 1,62,509 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 128,971,684 TOTAL DEATH: 2,819,170 Nandigram will not be allowed to enter the area till the polling is over," he said. The order prohibits the assembly of five or more persons, besides imposing other restrictions, he said. Twenty-two companies of central forces are being deployed in the constituency, which has a total of 355 polling booths and 75 per cent of them will have a webcasting facility, the official said. Central forces along with the state police have already started naka checking at crucial junctions in the area, he said. "Vehicles are being thoroughly checked before they are allowed to enter Nandigram. No outside vehicles are being allowed in," the official said, adding that anybody found trying to create a disturbance "will be handled strictly". The EC has also decided to deploy a 22-personnel quick response team (QRT) in the area on the election day, the official said. The EC has also constituted a team of officials who will supervise the proceedings in Nandigram on poll day, he said. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting at Singur on Wednesday MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: Amid campaign for assembly elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written a letter to opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi "for a united and effective struggle against the BJP's attacks on democracy and constitution" and suggested that a meeting should be held after the assembly polls to "deliberate the issues and chart a plan of action". The letter has been sent to several opposition leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, DMK leader MK Stalin, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, CPI (ML) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, The Trinamool Congress chief said that there is a need to present a credible alternative to the people of India. "The BJP wants to make it impossible for non-BJP parties to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms. It wants to dilute the power of state governments and downgrade them to mere municipalities. It wants to establish a one-party authoritarian rule in India. I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against BJP's attacks on democracy and the Constitution," she said. "Therefore, I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against BJP's attacks on democracy and the Constitution. As the chairperson of the All India Trinamool Congress, I shall work wholeheartedly with you and other like-minded political parties in this battle. We can win this battle only with unity of hearts and minds and by presenting a credible alternative to the people of India," she added. Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP government at the Centre has snatched away all powers of the democratically elected government of Delhi and vested them in the hands of centre-nominated Lt Governor through the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act. The Trinamool Congress leader said she was writing the letter to several leaders of nonBJP parties to convey her serious concerns over a series of "assaults by the BJP and its government at the Centre on democracy and constitutional federalism in India". "After the conclusion of the ongoing assembly elections, I suggest that we deliberate on these issues and chart a plan of action," she said. Mamata Banerjee said the passage of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill by Parliament was "an extremely grave development". "The Lt Governor has been made the undeclared viceroy of Delhi, acting as a proxy . Polling, presiding officer, electoral officers on their way to polling station from exam distribution center, on the eve of 2nd phase of assembly election, in East Midnapore district on Wednesday. ANI Second phase polling for 30 seats today MI NEWS SERVICE NANDIGRAM: The stage is set for the second phase of assembly poll in West Bengal on Thursday when more than 75 lakh voters will decide the fate of 191 candidates in 30 seats as eyes are set on the high profile Nandigram constituency where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against her protégéturned- adversary Suvendu Adhikari. REVERSE: All eyes on Nandigram All 10,620 booths where polling will be held this phase have been declared as sensitive by the Election Commission, which has deployed around 651 companies of central forces to provide security, officials said. Besides, the State police will also be deployed at strategic locations during the polling which will begin at 7 am, they said. A total 199 companies of Central Armed Police Force will be deployed in Purba Medinipur, 210 companies in Paschim Medinipur, 170 in South 24 Parganas and 72 in Bankura, the sources said. TMC and BJP are contesting in all the 30 seats, while CPI(M) is in the fray in 15 and its alliance partners of Sanjukta Morcha the Congress and ISF are competing in 13 and two seats respectively. Polling will take place amid strict COVID-19 guidelines in nine seats of Paschim Medinipur, eight in Bankura, four seats in South 24 Parganas and nine in Purba Medinipur - the home ground of TMC turncoat and BJP 800 companies of security forces deployed MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: As the high-stakes second phase of West Bengal Assembly polls approaches, security in the four constituencies has been ramped up with 800 companies of security forces deployed to ensure a peaceful election. Out of the 800 companies deployed throughout West Bengal, 22 companies of security forces have been deployed in Nandigram alone, where a high-profile contest will be witnessed between incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her former ministerial candidate Suvendu Adhikari. Out of the 30 seats in South 24 Parganas, Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur, Nandigram attaches the highest importance due to the face-off between Banerjee and Adhikari. leader Suvendu Adhikari. Nandigram falls in Purba Medinipur district. The agrarian constituency which shook the foundations of the mighty Left regime over the anti-land acquisition movement in 2007, has now turned into a battleground of titans with Banerjee suddenly deciding to switch from her Bhowanipur seat to the constituency held by Adhikari, her former lieutenant who has switched loyalty to the BJP. For Adhikari it is a battle for political survival as a defeat would be a devastating blow and might also put a question mark on his political graph in his new party the BJP. Similarly, a victory would not only establish him as one of the tallest leaders in Bengal but would also push him few miles ahead of others in the Chief Ministerial race in case the BJP is voted to power. For Banerjee, who is running for the third successive term as chief minister, a victory is a must to lead the government and keep together her party, which is faced with exodus. For the Congress-Left-ISF alliance candidate Minakshi Mukherjee of CPI-M, the challenge is to regain her party's lost ground. While Banerjee had been camping in Nandigram for the last four days, BJP fielded its 'big guns', including Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and superstar Mithun Chakraborty to defend Adhikari's turf, which he had won in 2016 and take on `Didi' (as Mamata is popularly called). Apart from identity politics and Bengali subnationalism, the demand for jobs, inclusion of Hindu backward communities in the OBC category and setting up of agro-based industry have emerged as main poll planks in the second phase of polls. Of the 30 seats which will see voting on Thursday, 23 were won by TMC in the 2016 assembly elections, five by Left Front and Congress and BJP one each. The political equation in the state had changed in 2019 when BJP made massive inroads in the tribal-dominated Janga Mahal region and Medinipur belt by sweeping all the five Lok Sabha seats. The TMC, however, has been able to maintain its dominance in South 24 Parganas district, where there is sizeable minority population. A prominent seat going to the poll in the second phase is Sabang, where TMC has fielded its Rajya Sabha MP Manas Bhunia. He is up against TMC turncoat and BJP leader Amulya Maity. Bhunia, a former state Congress president, had held the seat from 1982 to 016 as Congress nominee before switching over to the TMC in September 2016. TMC has fielded actor Sayantika Banerjee, a popular face in the Bengali silver screen, from Bankura seat against BJP's Niladri Sekhar Dana. The Sanjukta Morcha has fielded Congress candidate Radharani Banerjee. In Debra seat, two former IPS officers will cross swords. One is BJP candidate Bharati Ghosh who is contesting against TMC's Humayun Kabir. Both had resigned from their senior police posts to join active politics. Banerjee, who is on a wheelchair since her accident early this month, crisscrossed the majority of the constituencies going to the polls in the second phase. TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee toured the rest asserting that TMC will not let Bengal to be ruled from Delhi or Gujarat in an apparent reference to the battery of central BJP leaders and ministers camping in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda had led BJP's campaign from the front addressing rallies at Kanthi, Bankura and Nandigram and urging. WHO releases report on global tracing of Covid origins GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday released a report on the global tracing of Covid-19 origins, following a joint research with China on issues including the pathways of the virus and future investigation in different countries. A total of 34 experts from the WHO and China jointly conducted a 28-day research from January 14 to February 10 in Wuhan, China, Xinhua news agency reported. They made assessment of the likelihood of possible pathways. According to the report, Covid19 introduction through an intermediate host is "likely to very likely," introduction through cold/food chain products is "possible," and introduction through a laboratory incident is "extremely unlikely". China believes that the joint research will play a positive role in promoting global cooperation in Covid-19 origin tracing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, as the international community continues to raise the credibility and transparency of the report by the World Health Organization on Covid-19 origins, China on Wednesday sought to shift attention away from efforts inside its borders to trace the source of the coronavirus, arguing that health experts should start looking for clues in other ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, CHINESE STATE MEDIA OUTLETS REJECTED CRITICISM FROM THE WHITE HOUSE AND OTHERS THAT BEIJING HAD NOT BEEN TRANSPARENT IN THE INQUIRY. countries. According to The New York Times, Chinese state media outlets rejected criticism from the White House and others that Beijing had not been transparent in the inquiry. "Maybe it's time for scientists to dig somewhere else and test more hypotheses to solve the mystery," said an article in Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid owned by China's ruling Communist Party. The Chinese foreign ministry echoed that sentiment, saying in a statement that the investigation into the origins of the virus was a "global mission that should be conducted in multiple countries and localities." The Ministry said it was "immoral" and "unpopular" to politicize the issue of virus origin tracing after 14 countries, including the United States, raised concerns in a joint statement on the World Health Organization report released Tuesday, following its Wuhan investigation. "We have repeatedly emphasized that origin tracing is a sci- THE 124-PAGE WHO REPORT, BY A TEAM OF 17 CHINESE SCIENTISTS AND 17 GLOBAL EXPERTS, CONCLUDED THAT THE CORONAVIRUS PROBABLY EMERGED IN BATS BEFORE SPREADING TO HUMANS THROUGH AN INTERMEDIATE ANIMAL. entific issue, and it should be carried out cooperatively by global scientists and cannot be politicized, which is also the consensus of most countries," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying in a regular briefing Wednesday. Hua said the joint statement questioning the report is concrete evidence that countries like the US "disrespect science" and "engage in political manipulation." "Study of origins is a matter of science, which should be jointly conducted by scientists all over the world. To politicize this issue will only severely hinder global cooperation in the study of origins, jeopardize anti-pandemic cooperation, and cost more lives. It would run counter to the international community's aspiration for solidarity against the virus," the Ministry said. The Ministry further claimed that from January 14 to February 10 this year, Chinese experts and international experts from WHO and ten countries formed a joint team and conducted joint research for 28 days in Wuhan.