YK MYK ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA CAUGHT IN ITS OWN TRAP OPINION KOLKATA FRIDAY, 30 APRIL, 2021 PG-08, YEAR—7, ISSUE—342 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) MAX 36 C NATION Morning India Rs. 3 WEATHER TODAY 16 CR VACCINE DOSES PROVIDED TO STATES, UTS FREE OF COST 76.07 pc voter turnout draws curtains to Assembly polls MIN 27 C Exit polls: Mamata set to retain Bengal; massive electoral gain for BJP SAFFRON PARTY LIKELY TO RETAIN POWER IN ASSAM Sky will be partly cloudy. AT A GLANCE INDIA'S CONSUMER DEMAND FOR GOLD TO WEAKEN IN APR-JUN: WCG MUMBAI: Consumer demand for gold is likely to weaken in the ongoing quarter due to the restrictions and lockdowns in wake of the second wave of Covid19, according to a report by the World Gold Council (WGC). "The outlook for the coming quarter is cautious. As lockdowns are reimposed in various regions of the country in response to rising COVID-19 cases, consumer confidence has dipped. This is likely to impact wedding demand in Q2 2021," it said. EX-PM SINGH DISCHARGED FROM AIIMS NEW DELHI: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was on Thursday discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here, where he was admitted after testing positive for COVID-19. Sources close to the Congress leader said he was doing fine and returned home Thursday afternoon. Bengal reports 17,403 fresh nCoV cases KOLKATA: Bengal on Thursday registered its highest single-day deaths of 89 people due to COVID-19, pushing the toll to 11,248, the Health Department said. The Coronavirus tally topped the 8-lakh-mark to settle at 8,10,955 after 17,403 tested positive in the last 24 hours, it said. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 1,83,84,798 TOTAL DEATH: 2,04,896 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 150,377,507 TOTAL DEATH: 3,167,198 Voters stand in queue outside a polling station to exercise their franchise during the last phase of Assembly elections in Kolkata on Thursday. MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: An approximate 76.07 per cent voter turnout has been recorded on Thursday as the eighth and final phase of Bengal Assembly elections were held, according to the Election Commission (EC). Voting for the last phase of Bengal Assembly elections began at 7 am and continued till 6:30 am. Among the four districts, Birbhum recorded the highest voter turnout of 81.82 per cent till 5:30 pm. Constituency-wise, Hariharpara in Murshidabad district recorded the highest voter turnout of 84.19 per cent followed by Labhpur in Birbhum district at 84.03 per cent. Jorasanko constituency in Kolkata witnessed the lowest voter turnout at 48.45 per cent. Meanwhile, Congress MP and party's state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury cast his vote at a polling booth in Murshidabad. As many as 283 candidates, including 35 women, were in the fray in the last phase of the Assembly elections where polling was held in 35 constituencies in four districts. The 35 constituencies are spread across four districts. Among these, six are in Malda, eleven in Birbhum, eleven in Murshidabad and seven in Kolkata. Over 84.77 lakh electorates, including 41.21 lakh women and 158 persons representing the third gender, cast their votes at as many as 11,860 polling stations in phase VIII. The ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and BJP contested on all 35 seats. Congress, the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) made a coalition and fought under the banner of Samyukta Morcha. Out of the 35 seats in this round, Congress has 19 in its share, CPM has 10, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) has one, All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) has three and ISF has four seats. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also tried its luck and fielded 24 candidates. The dominance of the Muslim population in the districts of Murshidabad and Malda sets the political dynamics in this region. Traditionally, these districts are considered as the Congress bastion. Berhampore, the administrative headquarters of Murshidabad, is represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury. Ranjan However, the emergence of Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM and the Indian Secular Force (ISF) has impacted the political gradient in this region. Development, unemployment and migration remain the core issues in these districts. The BJP targeted the incumbent TMC over 'tolabaazi' (extortion), 'cut money' and syndicate raj and appeasement politics. Plus, an air of anti-incumbency can also be felt against the ruling TMC Government in the State. However, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is banking upon its welfare schemes like "Duare Sarkar", "Swastho Sathi" and "Kanyashree". Bengal underwent an eightphased Assembly election. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. NEW DELHI: The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress looks poised to retain power in West Bengal, while the DMK led by M.K. Stalin will come to power in Tamil Nadu with a big majority. As per the CVoter Exit Poll for Times Now/ABP News, the NDA is winning Puducherry, barely retaining Assam and losing Tamil Nadu. The exit poll stated that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool is likely to retain West Bengal, while the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF is set to return to power for the second time in a row in Kerala. The survey stated that in West Bengal, the incumbent Trinamool Congress is likely to retain power for the third consecutive term amid a robust challenge from the BJP. The survey suggests that the Left, which had ruled the state for more than three decades, is likely to be Voters stand outside a polling booth to cast their vote during the 8th and final phase of West Bengal Assembly election, in Kolkata on Thursday. ANI reduced to a marginal player, despite forming a pre-poll alliance with the country's grand old party - the Congress. Also, the entry of a Muslim front - comprising the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Guv Dhankhar exercises franchise Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and his wife Sudesh Dhankhar on Thursday cast their votes at a polling booth in Chowringhee, Kolkata in the eighth and the final phase of State Assembly elections. Speaking on the occasion, Dhankhar termed the election as the greatest festival in democracy and expressed his happiness at the arrangements made for the voters to exercise their voting right with adherence to COVID-19 protocols. Dhankhar said, "Election is the greatest festival in democracy, we both voted. COVID protocol being followed 100 per cent. I'm very happy with the arrangements. Excellent work done by EC and CAPF. Democracy is powered only by your votes. Anyone who doesn't vote loses the right to grievance." Voting for the last phase of Bengal Assembly elections began at 7 am and continued till 6:30 am. As many as 283 candidates, including 35 women, were in the fray in the last phase of the Assembly elections where polling was held in 35 constituencies in four districts. Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the influential cleric Abbas Siddiqui's new party Indian Secular Front - into the electoral fray will fail to spell trouble for the Trinamool Congress. Translated into seats, the survey data project Trinamool to emerge victorious on 152 to 164 seats in the state, which has a total of 294 Assembly constituencies, with 148 being the majority mark. The survey data clearly indicate that BJP has BJP candidate attacked in Birbhum BOLPUR: Clashes broke out on Thursday between members of two political parties in Birbhum district's Ilambazar area amid the voting exercise for the last phase of Bengal elections, with BJP's Bolpur candidate Anirban Ganguly coming under attack during the melee, an official said. Activists of the rival political outfits hit each other with brickbats and bamboo sticks around 2.30 pm, the election official said, adding that at least two persons were injured in the clash. Ganguly claimed that "TMC-backed goons" attacked him as he was touring the poll booths in Bolpur, and his vehicle suffered damage. "There was no problem anywhere... Polling process was peaceful, until the TMC goons arrived and threatened people. They attacked and damaged the rear windshield of my vehicle. The TMC is resorting to such attacks as the party is scared of losing the elections," Ganguly said. TMC candidate for the constituency and State Minister Chandranath Sinha rubbished Ganguly's allegations and said villagers drove him away as the BJP candidate was trying to influence voters. "Wherever he (Ganguly) went, people came out in protest as he tried to influence them. He is the one who actually attempted to disrupt peace. Polling, otherwise, has been very peaceful in Bolpur," he said. Several locals in Illambazar were also seen shouting 'go back' slogans as the BJP nominee along with his supporters visited the area. Bharat Biotech cuts price of Covaxin for states HYDERABAD: Bharat Biotech on Thursday announced that it is slashing the price of its Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin to Rs 400, from Rs 600 earlier, for state governments. The announcement came a day after the Serum Institute of India (SII) cut the price of Covishield to Rs 300 from Rs 400 earlier. The two vaccine makers slashed the prices after the Central government reportedly made a request to them amid the row over different pricing for the Central and state governments. Bharat Biotech said in a statement on Thursday that it deeply concerned with the critical pandemic circumstances that India is facing at this time. "Recognising the enormous challenges to the public healthcare system, we have made Covaxin avail- THE PRICE OF COVID-19 VACCINE COVAXIN REDUCED TO RS 400, FROM RS 600 FOR STATE GOVERNMENTS. able to state governments at a price of Rs 400 per dose," the Hyderabadbased company said. "We wish to be transparent in our approach to pricing which was determined by internally funded product development, several operationally-intensive BSL-3 manufacturing facilities (the first of its kind in our country) and clinical trials," it added. The company stated that for the last one year, Team Bharat Biotech has been fearlessly handling live SARS-CoV-2 virus strains, tirelessly working round-the-clock while overcoming many challenges given the uncertainty of the pandemic. Bharat Biotech had on April 24 announced the prices of Covaxin. It fixed at Rs 1,200 as the price per dose for private hospitals. This is twice the cost fixed by the SII for 1 CR DOSES STILL WITH STATES: HARSH VARDHAN ON COVID VACCINE SHORTAGE NEW DELHI: Amid reports that several states are facing shortage of covid-19 vaccines in hospitals, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan clarified that there was no dearth of vaccine stock in the country. He said that over one crore vaccine doses are still left with states, some lakh doses are in pipeline and will be delivered in next 2-3 days. "We allocate vaccines to states as per their performance in terms of vaccination. We have given more than 16 crore doses of vaccines to states out of which more than 15 crores doses have been administered," said Vardhan on vaccine shortage in states. MORE ON PAGE 5, 7 Covishield. For exports, it has priced India's first indigenous Covid vaccine at $15-$20 (Rs 1,125-1,500). Ever since the launch of Covid vaccination programme in India, Bharat Biotech and the SII have been supplying their vaccines to the Centre at Rs 150 per dose. While Bharat Biotech is likely to continue the supplies to the Centre at the same price, the SII had hinted at revising this to Rs 400. emerged as a key player on the political landscape of the state as the saffron party is likely to register victory on 109 to 121 seats. The LeftCongress combine is projected to grab 14 to 25 seats. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the Trinamool had won 211 seats, the BJP had secured 3 seats while the Left-Congress combine had cornered 76 seats. The survey stated that Assam would see a photo-finish for both the BJP and the Congress, as the UPA is poised to close the gap with the NDA. As per the survey, the ruling NDA would win the state polls but it would be a tough fight as the UPA will follow closely on its heels. The exit poll stated that the NDA has a slight edge with 65 seats in the 126member Assembly, one more than the majority mark of 64, while the UPA would win 59 seats. The projected seats for ‘ARMY OPENING HOSPITALS FOR PEOPLE WHEREVER POSSIBLE’ NEW DELHI: Indian Army chief General M.M. Naravane said on Thursday that the force is opening hospitals for the local people wherever possible seeing the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases across the country. After visiting the forward locations in Siachen and eastern Ladakh on Wednesday, Naravane met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to brief him on the various initiatives taken by the Army to help in Covid management. The Army chief informed the Prime Minister that medical staff of the force are being made available to various state governments. He also told Modi that the Army is setting up temporary hospitals in various parts of the country. Naravane also apprised the Prime Minister that the Army is opening its hospitals for civilians wherever possible and the citizens can approach their nearest Army hospitals. He informed the Prime Minister that the Army is helping with its manpower. INDIA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE MAY RISE TO 8% IN APRIL: CMIE NEW DELHI: As states go into lockdowns and impose restrictions amid the second wave of Covid-19, the unemployment rate in April is likely to increase to nearly 8 per cent from 6.5 per cent in March, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). CMIE's CEO Mahesh Vyas said that fast frequency labour statistics indicate that labour market conditions have been deteriorating in April 2021. "The labour participation rate (LPR) looks unlikely to fall in April. The 30-day moving average LPR indicates that the ratio was rising till April 15 when it peaked at 40.8 per cent. Then it started falling, but it is unlikely to fall to a level lower than that of March 2021," he said. Unless there is an unusual bounce in the last week, the April LPR is likely to stabilise at its March level of 40.2 per cent, as per CMIE. "The April markets seem incapable of absorbing the supply of labour at an LPR of 40.2 per cent. While the LPR has declined in the last four weeks, the unemployment rate has increased," Vyas said. In the last week of March, the LPR was 41.2 per cent and the unemployment rate was 6.7 per cent. In the following week which ended on April 4, the LPR was stable at 41.2 but the unemployment rate shot up to 8.2 per cent. Labour retreated in the next week as the LPR dropped to 40.1 per cent in the week ended April 11. Yet, the unemployment rate was unrelenting as it inched up to 8.6 per cent. In the following two weeks, the unemployment rate has dropped first to 8.4 per cent and then to 7.4 per cent. "Nevertheless, the unemployment rate during the month of April is likely to be close to 8 per cent after closing March at 6.5 per cent," he said. April could be the third consecutive month of deterioration in terms of the most important fastfrequency labour statistic, the employment rate, he added. Based on the company's ability to attract, develop and retain talent, Microsoft-owned professional networking platform LinkedIn on Wednesday named Amazon as the most desirable workplace in the US for 2021. In the 2021 LinkedIn Top Companies List, Amazon was followed by Alphabet, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T and Bank of America as the top five. Amazon is up from number 3 in 2019, the latest edition of this ranking. CMIE's CEO Mahesh Vyas said that fast frequency labour statistics indicate that labour market conditions have been deteriorating in April 2021. Unless there is an unusual bounce in the last week, the April LPR is likely to stabilise at its March level of 40.2 per cent, as per CMIE. This annual list uses data from LinkedIn's 740 million members across the globe to rank the most sought-after places to work for professionals in the US. "We keep refining our Top Companies methodology each year," George Anders, senior editor-at-large for LinkedIn, said in a statement. "Amazon's strong showing this year isn't just a tribute to how many different ways there are to make a career at the company. Our data shows that Amazon also is a standout in building employees' skills, year by year," Anders added. LinkedIn's Top Companies list is designed to help professionals identify the best companies to grow their careers. LinkedIn's methodology evaluates how companies attract and retain the best talent, including through promotions, funding opportunities for employees to learn new skills, gender diversity, and hiring people from all backgrounds and levels of education.