Friday, May 31, 2019

CPI (M) report states leak in devotee votes, but didn't mention Sabarimala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a report presented in CPI (M) state panel, it has been stated that traditional votes of devotees were not cast in favor of the party in the Lok Sabha election. It was also pointed out that a section of believers was misled.

However, there is no mention of Sabarimala in CPI (M)’s report. A section of believers is said to have been a setback in the report presented by state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The report also mentions the loss of votes from minorities towards Congress to prevent a second term for Modi government. Even though reasons are cited, discussion on election debacle has not started yet. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are of the stand that the Sabarimala issue has not affected the outcome of polls.

'RSS’ permission needed for Mahabharatham; Casting of Mohanlal not sure, reveals producer B R Shetty

Film Producer B R Shetty has said RSS’ permission was needed to begin the making of mega-budget film Mahabharatham and he has sought the help of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev to finalise on the script of the film.

When asked whether Mohanlal would be part of the film, Shetty said, “Actors and actress for the film are not yet selected. Now, what we are looking for is an ideal script,” he revealed in an interview given to Gulf News.

The Inidan-born billionaire business man said he was not interested in interfering in the dispute between script writer and author of Randamoozham M T Vasudevan Nair and Director Sreekumar Menon. “For long I have been keeping away from the issue,” he said. He was in Gulf in connection with the promotion of his new film P M Narendra Modi, based on the life of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in which Vivek Oberoi is playing the title role.
Shetty also gave the hint that his new Mahabharatham will be different from the one decided earlier. Many months ago, Mohanlal had come on a Facebook live and said that the film Randamoozham is getting ready for Rs 1000 crore budget and he will do the role of Bhima in the film, to be produced by Shetty and directed by Sreekumar Menon. Lal had also said that it was his dream project.
But, later M T had approached the court, saying that the shoot didn’t start even after handing over the complete script three years ago. Sreekumar Menon’s plan was to make the movie Randamoozham in Malayalam, and as Mahabharatham in other languages. In between Menon had made the movie Odiyan with Mohanlal in the lead. M T’s daughter had also come out against the director

“The film is a dream of my father. He will decide who should make it,” she had said.

‘Vappachi’ was particular in speaking Malayalam at home

Mega star Mammootty is an honour for Malayalam films. Not only in the film industry, he is a model in his own life too. When fans address him as superstar, he is a beloved husband for his wife and ‘vappachi’ for his children. The words of the mega star’s daughter Surumi about her father has gone viral in the social media.

She said, though he is busy always, he is very concerned on family matters. We were not brought up in state, but he was very particular in speaking Malayalam at home. He wanted us to speak only Malayalam at home. However, the support of my mother on all these is very big, she said.

Just before his death, Jayan had kept a box in my house… the controversy created by it was not small: Actor Kunchan

Who is the first action star of Malayalam cinema? There is only one answer to this question- Jayan. Jayan will live on in the hearts of Malayalis as long as there is Malayalam cinema though they lost him in an unexpected chopper tragedy at the shooting site.
Kunjan is an actor who has acted with Jayan in a number of films. He, in a recent interview to Kaumudy TV, revealed that just before his death Jayan had kept a box safely in his house and went back; the hullaballoo created by it later was not small.

Kunjan opened up on his personal relationship with Jayan.

“I got introduced to Jayan only after I entered the cinema. He was always very affectionate to me. We together acted in a number of films. His demise was the biggest shock of my life. He left that day for the last time after keeping a box in my house. It became a big controversy later. His brother created noise, saying that there was eight to nine lakh rupees inside the box. During those days there was no chance for Jayan to get so much money. At that time there was an organisation called MALC. When that box was opened in front of the organisation, only his wig and other paraphernalia were found…”

Nirmala Sitharaman second woman FM after Indira Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday surprised markets by naming Nirmala Sitharaman, formerly the country’s defence minister, as the next finance minister at a time when Asia’s third-largest economy is stuttering.

Sitharaman, 59, will become the senior most woman minister in Modi’s cabinet and the second woman to head the finance department after late former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Amit Shah, chief of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was appointed as the minister of home affairs, giving him responsibility for internal security with a control over the federal police.

Regarded as the architect of Modi’s landslide victory in the recently concluded general election, Shah replaces senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, who will now be defence minister.

Shah had been tipped as a possible candidate for the finance ministry in recent days, but the job went to Sitharaman, who has an economics background and was briefly the junior finance minister in Modi’s first term.

Unlike Shah and former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who opted out of this government due to ill health, Sitharaman is seen as a political lightweight.

Sitharaman was among the three women who became part of the Union Cabinet in the 17th Lok Sabha.

Before Sitharaman, Indira Gandhi was the only female finance minister who served for a short period.

It is a big surprise and very unexpected news,” said Yogesh Nagaonkar, founder and chief executive of Rowan Capital Advisors in Mumbai. “The initial expectation of the market from her would be to see how she addresses liquidity concerns. We need to have good liquidity in the market to achieve growth.”

Nagaonkar said the ministry should have gone to Piyush Goyal, a chartered accountant who had stepped into the role twice in the previous government when Jaitley was out sick.

Goyal will now be minister of railways and commerce, at a time when trade ties with the United States are straining.

Sitharaman will take over the finance ministry when there is pressure from industry for the government to provide some stimulus to halt a worrying slowdown in India’s $2.7 trillion economy.

India probably lost its spot as the fastest growing major economy to China in the January-March quarter as a chill in domestic and global consumer demand hit manufacturers and service providers. Data for the quarter is set to be released later on Friday.

The government is already considering rolling out a slew of ‘big-bang’ economic reforms in the first 100 days of Modi’s second term, with a focus on privatisation of state assets and relaxation of labour and land rules for businesses, a top official at the government’s main think tank told Reuters.

Amit Shah gets Home, Rajnath to be new Defence Minister, Jaishankar gets External Affairs

NEW DELHI: Amit Shah will be the new Home minister, Rajnath Singh the new Defence minister and Nirmala Sitharaman the new Finance minister, the Rashtrapati Bhavan announced on Friday.

Former foreign secretary turned minister S Jaishankar has got the External Affairs ministry while Smriti Irani will be the new Women and Child Development Minister along with retaining the Textile Ministry, according to a communique issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Nirmala Sitharaman will be the new Finance and Corporate Affairs minister while Nitin Gadkari will continue to be the Minister for Road Transport and Highways.

Piyush Goyal has been given the charge of the ministries of Railways and Commerce while Ravi Shankar Prasad will continue to helm the Ministry of Law, Telecom as well as the IT Ministries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will retain DoPT, Atomic Energy as well as all important policy issues and portfolios not allocated.

Modi was sworn in on Thursday as prime minister for a second term, helming a 58-member team of ministers, including him and BJP president Amit Shah who makes his debut in the Central government.

A new Ministry of Jal Shakti has been created and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat will be its minister.

List of portfolios given to Ministers of State
V Muraleedharan: Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Faggan Singh Kulaste: Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey: Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Arjun Ram Meghwal: Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

General (Retd) V K Singh: Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Krishan Pal: Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Danve Raosaheb Dadarao: Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

G Kishan Reddy: Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Purshottam Rupala: Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Ramdas Athawale: Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti: Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development.

Babul Supriyo: Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Sanjeev Kumar Balyan: Minister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao: Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development; Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Anurag Singh Thakur: Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

Angadi Suresh Channabasappa: Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways.

Nityanand Rai: Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Rattan Lal Kataria: Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Renuka Singh Saruta: Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Som Parkash: Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Rameswar Teli: Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

Pratap Chandra Sarangi: Minister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

Kailash Choudhary: Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Debasree Chaudhuri: Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Will find solution to problems of NRKs in Kerala, says Muraleedharan

NEW DELHI: V Muraleedharan, newly inducted into the Narendra Modi cabinet said the portfolios allocated to him are heavy and challenging. He obtained Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. Muraleedharan said that he is expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Modi for giving him a chance to work with two senior cabinet ministers. Kerala is one of the states having more Non-resident Keralites (NRK). I hope that I will be able to intervene in their problems and solve them, he added.

Talking to the media, he said the air fare is seriously affecting them and a solution would be found to it. I am happy to work with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahalad Joshy. A solution would be found to the problems of NRKs and other issues will be solved after consulting with other states, he said.

The 100-day action programme of Modi Government will be announced soon. It is hinted that there will be a huge economic reform. 42 public sector firms including Air India will be privatised. Labour laws will be liberalized. Land will be acquired for the development of industries and land banks will be set up. The first meeting of second Modi cabinet will be convened at 5 pm today. 58 including V Muraleedharan were sworn in yesterday.

Rahul sends letter to CM requesting probe on farmer suicides in Wayanad

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rahul Gandhi, the MP-elect from Wayanad and the President of AICC, has sent a letter to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan requesting a probe on the farmer suicide in Wayanad. The requested probe is on the suicide of V. Dinesh, a resident of Panamaram Panchayat. The letter also mentions Rahul’s phone conversation with the wife of the deceased in which the cause of the death was detailed.

Rahul’s letter also elucidates on how bank loans are the reason for such suicides. The representatives of banking institutions are frequently troubling farmers even after the govt declared a moratorium for agriculture loans till December 31.

The Wayanad MP-elect also extended his support to bringing up long term projects to resolve the problems of farmers.

CPM should change, shun violence, or else will have West Bengal fate: Muraleedharan

NEW DELHI: Union minister V Muraleedharan has opined that the CPM should end the style of settling score with its opponents by taking the path of violence.
“If it doesn’t change from its current style of functioning, its fate will be similar to that in West Bengal and Tripura. In Vadakara, CPM men even tried to kill their rival candidate,” he told Kerala Kaumudi soon after his swearing-in ceremony.

Muraleedharan said though he is the Union minister, he would work for the development of Kerala. For this he would cooperate with the State government. “Central projects will be conceived and implemented in Kerala so as to benefit the State after arriving at a consensus with other parties.”
Referring to the absence of Kerala CM in the swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister, Muraleedharan said it may be part of their politics. Our political culture is to invite non-BJP chief ministers.
Muraleedharan said the party would examine why Modi wave didn’t hit Kerala. “If the party has failed to bring the benefits of Modi government’s achievements to Kerala, it will be examined. Sabarimala issue had helped us garner more votes but that was not enough for victory,” he said.

The new minister added that the misunderstanding in the case of National Highway development was resolved under the leadership of Alphons Kannanthanam, MP.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

60 ministers to swear-in along with Modi, possibility for Kummanam and K surendran from Kerala

NEW DELHI: Reports say that 50-60 ministers will be sworn in along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Rashtrapathi Bhawan. There is a possibility for Kummanam Rajashekharan from Kerala to get a ministerial berth. As per the invitation from BJP, Kummanam left for New Delhi Thursday morning. It is not clear whether he was invited for the swearing in function as a former governor or to induct him in the cabinet. The names of V Muraleedharan, Suresh Gopi, Alphons Kannamthanam and P C Thomas are also heard.

Meantime, Alphons Kannamthanam is likely to continue as union minister. Eight to ten people from allied parties may get cabinet berths. President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the oath of office to Narendra Modi, assuming power for the second consecutive term. The swearing in ceremony will take place at 7 pm in an open venue in the premises of the Rashtrapathi Bhawan. Nearly 6500 guests will attend the function. Heads of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhuatn have been invited for the swearing-in ceremony.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and congress chief Rahul Gandhi will attend the function. Meantime, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will not attend the function.

Ahead of being sworn in, Modi paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and BJP veteran late Atal Bihari Vajpayee Thursday morning. BJP chief Amit Shah, other party leaders and military chiefs accompanied Modi.

Kummanam reveals reason for reaching Delhi

NEW DELHI: When only a few hours are left for the cabinet led by Narendra Modi to be sworn-in, discussions on whether Kummanam Rajashekharan will be inducted in the cabinet, are heating up.

The names of Kummanam, V Muraleedharan and K Surendran are heard. However, the most heard is the name of Kummanam. There were reports that Kummanam will be given union environment department. After Kummanam left for Delhi to attend the swearing in ceremony, the propaganda intensified.

Now, Kummanam has come forward revealing the truth on ministership. Nobody invited me to Delhi, I just came to witness the historic movement the country is entering in. All top leaders of Kerala are attending the function. I did not come expecting any post, he said.

Chairman should be decided through consensus, says Joseph

KOTTAYAM: At a time when feud in the Kerala Congress (M) is intensifying, P J Joseph told reporters that they have not submitted a letter to the election commission demanding to select the new K C (M) chairman through votes. He said that he is not aware whether a letter was given on temporary chairman and if it is given then it is only a natural process.

Those asserting that a new chairman should be chosen convening the state committee doesn’t know what constitution is. They are trying to break the party. Some are creating problems in the name of a letter, he said.

Kerala Congress vice chairman Jose K Mani said that some with vested interests are trying to destroy the party. Will not allow to break the party floated by K M Mani. Will take the party forward unitedly. The chairman should be selected through a democratic process by convening the state committee of the party. Some centres are circulating fake news. Those who gave the letter are not disclosing it, Jose told reporters in Pala.

Meantime, the factional war in the KC (M) has spilled onto the streets. Youth front activists burnt the effigy of Joy Abraham for trying to grab the party. With the support of Abraham, Joseph is in complete control of things and also has the support of three legislators.

C F Thomas, the senior leader of the party is trying to bring unity in the party. Thomas is of the stand that there is nothing wrong in giving the chairman post to Joseph, who was the working chairman of the party. Joy Abraham is also of the same stand.

V Muraleedharan inducted into Modi’s cabinet

NEW DELHI: V Muraleedharan, senior BJP leader from Kerala and a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra has been inducted in Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Modi invited Muraleedharan for talks ahead of the swearing-in ceremony. With this, one from Kerala has got a representation in the union cabinet.

Soon after his name was heard, he told reporters that he never expected a ministerial berth. The ministers selected for oath of office will meet Modi at his residence at 4.40 pm just before the oath taking ceremony. Murali too got an invitation to attend Prime Minister’s tea party.

Muraleedharan, a native of Thalassery reached politics through ABVP. He had served as ABVP’s state secretary and all India general secretary. His presence in BJP and RSS was very strong. Murali who was in Delhi for a long time has a close rapport with Modi. Murali had also worked as chairman of Nehru Yuva Kendra.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

CWC'19 warm-up: India beats Bangladesh by 95 runs

CARDIFF: India thrashed Bangladesh by 95 runs in their final warm-up match at Cardiff on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

Chasing a score of 360, Bangladesh got off to a steady start as their openers Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar stitched together a partnership of 49 runs. Jasprit Bumrah however, dismissed both Sarkar (25) and Shakib Al Hasan in successive deliveries to stage to allow India to gain the upper hand.

Das and Mushfiqur Rahim steadied the innings for Bangladesh and they put up a 120-run stand. Yuzvendra Chahal finally provided the much-needed breakthroughs to India as he dismissed Das (73) and Mohammad Mithun (0) in the 32nd over, with Bangladesh still requiring 191 runs for the win.

Mahmudullah (9) failed to leave a mark as he was sent back to the pavilion by Kuldeep Yadav in the 36th over. Rahim and Sabbir Rahman put up a brief stand of 25 runs but they couldn't hold the fort much longer as Rahim (90) was clean bowled by Yadav.

Rahim's departure proved as the final nail in the coffin as Bangladesh lost their final four wickets in a hurry and they lost the match by 95 runs.

Earlier, centuries by KL Rahul and MS Dhoni helped India score 359 runs for the loss of seven wickets in the allotted fifty overs after being put into bat.

The Indian team started on a slow note. The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were not able to register comprehensive scores and they departed cheaply. Dhawan and Sharma were just able to score 1 and 19 respectively.

The skipper Virat Kohli played a knock of 47 runs to steady the ship for the Men in Blue but his dismissal in the 19th over raised alarm bells in the Indian camp. Vijay Shankar (2) also failed to leave a mark and the team was reduced to 102 for four.

MS Dhoni and Rahul then took the responsibility on their shoulders and they stitched together a partnership of 164 runs to take the team to a safe total.

Both the batsmen registered centuries and their form orders well for the team going into the World Cup. Rahul played a knock of 108 runs whereas Dhoni scored 113 runs.

Hardik Pandya played a 21-run cameo to take the team over the 350-run mark.

For Bangladesh, Rubel Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan scalped two wickets each.

India lost their opening warm-up match against New Zealand by six wickets whereas Bangladesh's first warm-up fixture was abandoned due to rain.

Bangladesh will take on South Africa in their opening match of the World Cup on June 2 whereas India takes on South Africa in their opening match on June 5.

Brief Scores: India 359/7 (MS Dhoni 113, KL Rahul 108, Rubel Hossain 2-62) defeat Bangladesh 264 all out (Mushfiqur Rahim 90, Liton Das 73, Kuldeep Yadav 3-47) by 95 runs.

Mamata not to attend Modi's swearing-in, cites 'political violence'

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she will not be attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony as it is "an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party".

Banerjee said she had planned to accept the "ceremonial invitation" but following gross misrepresentation of facts about 54 deaths in poll violence, she decided to skip the oath-taking ceremony to be held on Thursday.

About the violence, she stated in her tweet that there has been "no political murders in Bengal". There might have been deaths due to personal enmity, family quarrel and other disputes, she said. "But nothing related to politics. There is no such recors with us," she added.

She said such turn of events has "compelled" her not to attend the ceremony.

If resisting communal powers is called arrogance, that arrogance will be repeated: Pinarayi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sticking on to his stand in the Sabarimala issue, CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government will be forever committed to protecting the rights of women and renaissance values.

“If resisting communal powers is called arrogance, then that arrogance will be repeated. There should be equal rights for both sexes”, Pinarayi Vijayan said.

The CM also questioned the criticism that the govt showed urgency in implementing the SC verdict. “Wouldn’t it be contempt of court if the women were stopped from entering the shrine?,” CM asked.

Admitting that the party faced a setback in the just concluded elections, CM said that the opposition managed to mislead the allies of the front which will be only temporary.

Vigilance report states serious irregularities in Palarivattom bridge construction

KOCHI: In the primary investigation report by the Vigilance Department, serious irregularities in the Palarivattom Bridge is stated. Vigilance officer says that serious irregularities were committed in the construction. The department has recommended a probe in the incident.

In the report, Vigilance advised registering cases against the contractors and the officers involved in the construction. The Vigilance director will decide whether a probe has to be initiated.

In an examination conducted by an IIT team, it was found that enough cement and bars were not used in the construction. Reconstruction or any further works cannot be done without the consent of the IIT team. There is no assurance on the reopening of the bridge on June 1 either.

Don't include me in new cabinet, Jaitley tells Modi

NEW DELHI: Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to include him in the new cabinet, citing his health issues.

"During the last 18 months, I have had some serious health challenges. My doctors have enabled me to emerge out of most of them," Jaitley said in a letter to Modi.

The BJP leader said he had already communicated his request to Modi before he left for Kedarnath.

"I am writing to you formally to request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time to myself, my treatment and my health and therefore not be a part of any responsibility, for the present in the new government," he said.

Jaitley said that even though he was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to him during the Lok Sabha election campaign, "I would in future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health.

"I would obviously have a lot of time at my disposal to undertake any work informally to support the government or the party," he added.

BJP to lure Kerala by giving ministers, four names heard

NEW DELHI: The union cabinet under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be sworn-in Thursday evening at 7 pm. It has been hinted that there will be 35 members in the first phase of the cabinet. Party chief Amit Shah is likely to be included in the cabinet. Meantime, it is also heard that Shah will be included in the cabinet only after the polls in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. Modi had a five-hour long discussions with Amit Shah yesterday on the formation of the cabinet. The list of ministers to be included in the cabinet will be given to the President. Arun Jaitley has asked Modi not to include him in the cabinet citing health issues.

The portfolios of Rajnath Singh, the second in the cabinet, could not be changed without his permission. The finance department may be given to Piyush Goyal instead of Jaitley. There is a possibility for Amit Shah to take over this portfolio. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Health Minister J P Nadda may take over the charge of the party. Nirmala Sitharaman may continue as minister if she is not made party chief.

Many new faces may be included in the cabinet. Local and social considerations are also considered. Venkiah Naidu was excluded from the cabinet following his elevation as vice-president. Many vacancies lying vacant will be filled with smart new faces. All parties will be given importance. Nitish Kumar’s JD (U), Siva Sena will get two ministers each. Akali Dal, AIADMK and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party will get berth.

Kerala is likely to get one or two ministers. Alphons Kannamthanam may get a ministerial berth as part of steps to attain confidence in minorities. Names of Kummanam Rajashekaran, Rajya Sabha members V Muraleedharan and Suresh Gopi are also heard.

Kerala many not get representation in the first phase. Kannamthanam is expected to be an independent minister in the first phase itself.

Juice, ice-cream laced with alcohol sold to children ? Rishiraj Singh orders inspection

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: From the beginning of the next academic year, the Excise department in coordination with the Food Safety department is planning to conduct inspections in eateries and juice/ice-cream shops, after considering the possibilities of alcohol/narcotics-infused juices, ice-cream and other eatables that could be sold to school children, when schools reopen.

Inspections will be held in bakeries, stationaries, juice/ice-cream parlours and hotels near school/college premises. The Excise has got the secret information that intoxicating sweets, chewing gums and other such things are being sold on school premises. It is on the basis of this information the government is planning to replicate in the shops the raids that are usually conducted in bars and beer parlours.

Food safety experts have also been roped in for the operation so that they can prima facie identify intoxicating materials, if any, that are included in the food materials sold to children.

There have been attempts to mix narcotic materials in sweets, cakes and ice-creams and lure children to their shops after creating an addiction of sorts in them. The main aim is to thwart this attempt. It was Excise Commissioner Rishiraj Singh who has ordered the combined operation.

Besides this, selling of intoxicating materials will be banned within 100 metre radius of educational institutions including professional colleges. The officials have also been asked to seize narcotic materials, if any, are found in shops near and around educational institutions, way ahead of the next academic year.

Reopening of schools in Kerala postponed to June 6

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Reopening of schools in Kerala for the next academic year has been postponed to June 6 from June 3.
The decision was taken by the cabinet meeting on Wednesday on account of Ramzan.

Earlier, leaders led by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala gave a letter to the chief minister and Education minister, demanding the government to postpone the reopening of schools from June 3 to June 6.

Following this, there were also some rumours that the schools will reopen only on June 12. Soon the education department came out with the clarification that it was wrong information.

Kummanam to leave for Delhi tomorrow

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even when speculations are rife over the question who all from Kerala would become ministers in the Modi cabinet, BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan will go to New Delhi on Thursday.
He will board Delhi flight from Thiruvananthapuram International airport Thursday morning. This also hints at the chance of Kummanam finding a place in Narendra Modi’s new ministry.
Besides Kummanam, names like V Muraleedharan, Suresh Gopi and Alphons Kannanthanam are also being rumoured by media as minister porbables in the Modi government.
Meanwhile, prominent State BJP leaders including State President Adv P S Sreedharan Pillai will reach New Delhi to witness the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi government on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Anushree, Aparna in Safe; Hero is Siju Wilson

The shoot of Safe in which Siju Wilson, Anushree and Aparna Gopinath are playing prime roles has commenced in Kochi. The newcomer Pradeep Kaleepurathu is directing the film.
Other stars in the film are Divya Pilla, Mithun Ramesh, Hareesh Peradi, Lakshmi Priya, Krishna Chandran, Anjali Nair and Ambika Rao.

Shaji Pallari Mangalam and Sarju Mathew are co-producing the film under the banner Epiphany Entertainment. The camera is being cranked by Neel D Kunja.

Shaji Pallarimangalam has written the script for the film. Rahul Subrahmanyam has composed the songs, written by Arun Aalatt.

Meanwhile, director Manoj Nair’s film Varthakal Ithuvare is getting ready for the release. Siju Wilson and Vinay Forrt are the heroes in the movie.

BJP with 'Mission 333' in 2024 Lok Sabha polls, to focus on south

NEW DELHI: The target for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, according to the party’s national secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh and Tripura, Sunil Deodhar is 333. The party is all set to assume office for a second term.

Deodhar said the party is planning to assume power attaining 333 seats in the polls to be held in 2024. Deodhar is the secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh and Tripura. The party won 282 seats in 2014 and 303 in 2019.

The party will next focus on states from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu to get the 333 seats in the next polls. The party is planning to influence states including Kerala, he said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Deodhar however pointed that Mission 333 can be possible only if BJP overcomes the perception of being a party of and for Hindi speakers. He said that he has started to learn Telugu, and that he mastered Bengali after being asked to help oversee the party’s march in the East and the North East. The party has initiated efforts to strengthen organizational activities in the southern states. The party will convene a meeting to discuss the situation of various states. The BJP will start holding meetings to discuss the way ahead. The first such is scheduled for Tuesday in Kerala.

The BJP won 25 of the 28 seats in Karnataka and four of the 17 in Telengana, but could not secure even one seat in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The party got two seats in 2014 and 18 in 2019. The party is planning to deliver results similar to those in West Bengal. Deodhar is one among the national leaders who snatched Tripura from the CPM. Deodhar, a senior RSS leader was appointed in the party to strengthen the BJP.

Security beefed up in coastal areas, says Pinarayi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Coastal intelligence wings have been formed in eighteen coastal police stations as part of security beefing up in the coastal areas of the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the assembly.

There is boat patrolling with the cooperation of fisheries department and marine enforcement in coastal sectors. Coast guard vigilance panels have been formed including the residents of coastal areas in order to strengthen coastal security. After giving training to 200 persons, they will be appointed in police stations of coastal areas, he said.

The coastal areas of the state were put on high alert after an intelligence report said 15 Islamic State terrorists had set off from Sri Lanka for the Lakshadweep islands on boats.

Soon after the alert given, state police chief Lokanath Behera held talks with high officials of various security agencies.

Congress leaders meet Rahul amid leadership crisis

NEW DELHI: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot and general secretaries K C Venugopal and Priyanka Gandhi on Tuesday met party President Rahul Gandhi amid a leadership crisis following the party's rout in the Lok Sabha elections.

Spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala also met Rahul Gandhi at the latter's residence. Gehlot arrived after Pilot had left.

Details of their discussions were not immediately known.

Gandhi had offered to quit as the party President at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Saturday but it was unanimously rejected.

The CWC, the party's top decision making body, authorised Rahul Gandhi to make structural changes in the country's oldest political party.

But party sources maintained that Rahul Gandhi was firm on quitting, triggering concern in the party that has always worked under the Nehru-Gandhi umbrella.

Priyanka Gandhi first arrived at Rahul Gandhi's residence in the morning followed by Surjewala and Venugopal. Pilot reached the residence some time later.

After separate meetings with Rahul Gandhi which lasted for over 50 minutes, Pilot, Venugopal and Surjewala left.

Gehlot then reached the Gandhi residence.

On Monday, Gandhi had declined to meet Gehlot despite an appointment and asked him to meet Venugopal instead.

Congress Uttar Pradesh leader Pramod Tiwari also met Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress is expected to call another CWC meeting within the next four days.

Rahul Gandhi had blamed Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for devoting more time in the constituencies of their sons instead of doing more for the party in the elections in which the Congress won just 52 Lok Sabha seats.

Rahul best person to lead party, too premature to write Cong's obituary, says Tharoor

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi is the best person to pull the Congress out of its predicament following the setback in the Lok Sabha polls, says party leader Shashi Tharoor while declaring that his party is "alive and kicking" and it is too premature to write its obituary.

The Congress has no time to sit and lick its wounds as it must immediately pick itself up for the upcoming state elections, Tharoor told reporters.

The party faces an existential crisis with the party president adamant on his decision to quit after the poll debacle -- winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats -- and its state governments facing an uncertain future.

Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvananthapuram seat in the Lok Sabha polls, also said he is ready to take on the job of the Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha if offered the post.

The Congress still represents the only credible national alternative to the BJP and it will take its message to the country, hopefully under Gandhi's leadership, he said.

In his view, the Gandhi-Nehru family will continue to command "great clout and respect" within the party, on the basis of the tremendous contributions it has made in shaping and guiding the party since Independence.

The former Union minister said Gandhi has led the party from the front and still has far more to offer to the party.

Asked about Gandhi's offer to resign and if he was still Congress' best bet in terms of leadership, Tharoor said attempts in the media to pin all the blame for the party's electoral setback on his shoulders are simplistic and unfair.

"I think it does a disservice to the very complex challenges facing the Congress party to reduce it to a question of one person.

"While Rahulji has bravely taken full responsibility for the defeat, we all are responsible for what went wrong and we all have a responsibility to ensure the party's revival," the 63-year-old leader said.

Gandhi will easily beat any other interested candidate by a landslide if the party decides to hold a free and fair election tomorrow for the position of party president, he claimed.

"That is the kind of place he has built in the hearts of the rank and file of the Congress party and therefore, to my mind, he still undoubtedly remains the best person to help rally the party out of the predicament it finds itself in and help us collectively move forward," Tharoor said.

Asked whether a non-Gandhi could lead the party, Tharoor said others can rise to prominent positions in the Congress and a case in point is that the last two Congress prime ministers were not Gandhis.

"Still, I have no doubt the Gandhi-Nehru family will continue to command great clout and respect within the party, just on the basis of the tremendous contributions they have made in shaping and guiding the party since Independence," the former diplomat said.

Two former prime ministers from the Gandhi family -- Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi -- even sacrificed their lives for the nation and this is the proud legacy to which Rahul Gandhi is heir, he said.

Asked if the Congress still remains a credible alternative to the BJP, he said, "It's far too premature to write any obituary for the party – as Kerala and Punjab have shown, we are very much alive and kicking."

Despite Congress' poor showing across the country, the party performed well in Kerala and Punjab, winning 15 and eight seats respectively.

"I strongly believe that we have no time to sit and lick our wounds and must instead pick up again immediately and effectively — not least because we have several state elections coming up, some of which are four or five months away," he said.

Elections are due in the states of Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra later this year.

Tharoor said he strongly disagreed with Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav's recent "ill-considered" statement that the "Congress must die".

"I genuinely and passionately believe that what the Congress stands for and offers the nation is fundamentally indispensable to the future of the country," he said.

The Congress represents an alternate vision of the idea of India, an inclusive and pluralist vision, that reflects truly the heart and soul of the country, Tharoor said.

Asked if he would take up the role of Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, he said, "If offered, certainly I would, but that is not for me to determine. It is clear, though, that since so many of our stalwarts have lost these elections, those of us who remain will have to pull our weight and take on extra responsibility. I am ready for that."

Talking about polarisation playing a role in elections, Tharoor said certainly the party has to understand why voters chose not to vote in their economic self-interest.

With unemployment at a 45-year high, farmers in such distress that record numbers are committing suicide, and small and micro enterprises are shutting down all over the country, one would think that economics would decide the election, he said.

"...Why should a young man who voted for Mr Modi in 2014 in the hope of getting a job vote for him again in 2019 when he still doesn't have a job? And yet he did," Tharoor said.

"Undoubtedly, the increasing religious polarisation was a factor. But it is not the whole story, I think. The larger-than-life personality cult around the PM seems to have convinced some voters that he is the only one to lead the country and keep it safe from real and imagined enemies, within and without," he said.

Pro-Modi remark: KPCC to seek explanation from Abdullakutty

THIRUVANNATHAPURAM: In the KPCC meeting held on Tuesday, it was decided to seek explanation from Congress leader A P Abdullakutty for his Facebook comments praising Modi’s achievements.
Abdullakutty had written that Modi’s was a great win and it was an acceptance for the development works he had done for the country. As soon the post became controversial, political parties including the Youth Congress had come out against the Congress leader. KPCC’s decision came soon after this.

Besides this, it was also decided to appoint a special committee to study the UDF’s drubbing in Alappuzha. UDF’s defeat in Alappuzha though it had won all other 19 seats had become the topic of heated discussion. It was alleged that there was fall in voting percentage on Alappuzha Corporation and Cherthala constituent assembly due to the interference of local leaders.
In the leadership meeting and political affairs committee meeting, Alappuzha UDF candidate Shanimol Usman was not present. The official explanation was that she was fasting ahead of Idul Fitr. But, the hint is that she stayed away from the meeting due to her defeat in the recent Lok Sabha election.

BJP central leadership refutes Pillai, states party was hopeful of winning three seats in Kerala

ALAPPUZHA: BJP Kerala sector’s performance in the Lok Sabha election has drawn criticism from the central leadership. The party’s national secretary Y. Sathyakumar has shared his discontent with the party wing’s poor showing despite having favorable circumstances. Contradicting state president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai’s statement that the central leadership is content with the result, Sathyakumar said that the party was hopeful of winning three seats in Kerala.

There is criticism within the party for the state president’s contest for candidature, which may have negatively affected the election. The party couldn’t even win at Vattiyoorkavu, a RSS-BJP stronghold. Kummanam lost the election by over 1 lakh votes. Even after securing close to 3 lakh votes in Pathanamthitta, Surendran finished at third position. Suresh Gopi’s presence at Thrissur didn’t prove to be significant enough.

BJP leader M.T. Ramesh commented that party president is not decided on the basis of elections. He further added that there was an organized campaign against Modi in the state and the party will introspect for the reasons of defeat.

Such Modi 'bhakts' should be expelled immediately: Congress leader lashes out at A P Abdullakutty

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KPCC member M A Rohit has come down heavily on Congress leader A. P. Abdullakutty for praising Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi sky-high. “Such bhakts (devotees) should not be allowed to stay in a big political institution like the Congress and they should be thrown out,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Earlier in the day, Abdullakutty had come out with a pro-Modi post, shocking the Congress and surprising the BJP as well as the Left parties.
In the post, he had, one by one, laid out the schemes and projects brought out by Modi for the poor that catapulted him to better political position. He even described Modi as a prime minister who really followed Gandhian values as he remembered the face of the poor while conceiving each project.
“None of the people who preserve Congress tradition will not say or write a word, extolling Modi. I have felt that A P Abdullakutty is a man who always cozies up to authority. To retain that he sides with and find cover under the word development. He can praise Modi and make him the hero of development…but it should not be at the cost of the Congress…..If you plan to go, go immediately to your old tent or Modi’s tent…for us, both are equal…” says Rohit on his FB post.

Sabarimala: Govt couldn't keep believers with them, no change in LDF stand says Vijayaraghavan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: UDF proclamation to make law in relation to Sabarimala women entry is not practical, says LDF convener A. Vijayaraghavan. He further added that the government couldn’t make the people aware of the stand taken in Sabarimala issue and thus couldn’t keep the believer community with them. He was talking to the media in Thiruvananthapuram.

However, Vijayaraghavan stuck to the LDF stand in Sabarimala issue and also said that his remarks against Ramya Haridas didn’t affect the outcome of the election.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A massive fire breaks out in Kochin Broadway market, No causalities

Due to the congestion in the road, fire engines could only reach half hour after the fire.
A massive fire broke out in a cloth bazaar in the busy Broadway market in Ernakulam district of Kerala around 10 am on Monday. The shops which caught fire in the cloth bazaar were Bhadra Textiles and KC Textiles.

The Kerala Fire and Rescue Services was informed the very moment that shops caught fire. However, though the name of the commercial market is Broadway, the roads are very narrow and packed with vehicles. This led to an almost half-hour delay and fire vehicles could reach the spot only after 10.30 am. According to TV channel reports, the fire engines were also delayed as hundreds of people had gathered on Broadway as soon as they heard about the fire.

Once the fire engines reached, the traders and the locals present in the market also joined the Fire Force officials in dousing the fire.

Institutions build by Nehru helped democracy survive in India for over 70 yrs: Rahul

NEW DELHI: Heaping praise on India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that institutions build by him have helped democracy survived for over 70 years.

"Many democratic nations as young as India, soon degenerated into dictatorships. On Jawaharlal Nehruji's death anniversary, let us remember his Jawaharlal Nehruji's contribution in building strong, independent, modern institutions, that have helped democracy survive in India for over 70 years," he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, political leaders including senior Congress leaders paid their homage to Nehru on his 55th death anniversary.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to Pandit Nehru at his memorial Shanti Van here.

Among others who paid their obeisance to the late leader was former Uttar Pradesh, Governor Motilal Vora. An all-religion prayer meeting was organised at the memorial premises.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his tributes.

"Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji on his death anniversary. We remember his contributions to our nation," he wrote on Twitter.

Nehru emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death on May 27, 1964.

A staunch advocate of socialism, secularism and democracy Pandit Nehru, he was an eminent leader of India's freedom movement against the British rule.

Rajeev Kumar skips CBI summons, sends letter seeking more time

KOLKATA: Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar skipped a meeting with the CBI officials on Monday despite being summoned by the agency for questioning in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, officials said.

Kumar, however, sent a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), seeking some more time to appear before its officers in connection with the case.

A CID official visited the CBI office in Salt Lake and submitted the letter, in which Kumar said he is on a three-day leave and, therefore, unable to attend the summon.

CBI sources said officials were at the Barasat court to prevent Kumar from taking any legal step to stop the agency from interrogating him.

The CBI had on Sunday summoned the IPS officer to the agency's Salt Lake office on Monday after a team failed to meet him at his residence in connection with the Saradha probe.

Kumar has been reinstated as the additional director general of the CID on Sunday night by the West Bengal government after the model code of conduct ceased to exist.

On Saturday, the CBI had also issued a lookout notice against Kumar to prevent him from leaving the country.

The agency wants custodial interrogation of Kumar in connection with the chit fund scam as he was heading the police's special investigation team to probe the case before the CBI took over.

The ponzi scheme scam was over Rs 2,500 crore by the Saradha group of companies, which had duped lakhs of customers promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the CBI had said.

Institutions build by Nehru helped democracy survive in India for over 70 yrs: Rahul

NEW DELHI: Heaping praise on India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that institutions build by him have helped democracy survived for over 70 years.

"Many democratic nations as young as India, soon degenerated into dictatorships. On Jawaharlal Nehruji's death anniversary, let us remember his Jawaharlal Nehruji's contribution in building strong, independent, modern institutions, that have helped democracy survive in India for over 70 years," he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, political leaders including senior Congress leaders paid their homage to Nehru on his 55th death anniversary.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to Pandit Nehru at his memorial Shanti Van here.

Among others who paid their obeisance to the late leader was former Uttar Pradesh, Governor Motilal Vora. An all-religion prayer meeting was organised at the memorial premises.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his tributes.

"Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji on his death anniversary. We remember his contributions to our nation," he wrote on Twitter.

Nehru emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death on May 27, 1964.

A staunch advocate of socialism, secularism and democracy Pandit Nehru, he was an eminent leader of India's freedom movement against the British rule.

Assembly pays tributes to K M Mani

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The assembly session began paying tributes to K M Mani, who died on April 9. Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan said it is impossible to break the record win of Mani. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Mani was an unparalleled leader. Mani was a leader who led Kerala politics into his path, said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

P J Joseph was seen sitting in K M Mani’s seat. Meantime, the feud in the party has intensified after the seat was given to deputy leader P J Joseph. The Joseph faction had given a letter to the speaker demanding the seat and at the same time the Mani faction too had requested not to give that seat to Joseph faction.

Mani’s son Jose K Mani is firm in his stand that the party should first pick the chairman and then the parliamentary party leader. Meantime, P J Joseph said that Mani had stated that the chairman should be a senior leader and that he was the working chairman. However the speaker had sent a letter to Kerala Congress asking them to select the leader of the legislative party by June 9.

Woman murders baby, kills self in Palarivattom

KOCHI: A woman committed suicide after killing her baby at Palarivattom. The woman identified as Udaya committed suicide by hanging after murdering her four-month-old baby. Udaya is a native of Kottarakkara.

The incident happened early Monday morning. Those finding the door closed informed the police. Family problems might have led her to take the extreme step. She was estranged from her husband for quite some time.

Believer community distanced from party; criticism for CPI (M) Kerala sector

NEW DELHI: CPI (M)’s polit bureau criticized its Kerala sector for the failure to realize the leak in votes in the Lok Sabha election. As a reply to this, Kerala sector explained that the believer community distanced from the party.

The sector further assumed that in addition to the believers, minorities also detached from the party, thereby increasing the magnitude of the debacle. The Kerala sector also elucidated that this is temporary and the party will overcome these adversities.

CPI (M) won just one seat out of 20. The CPI (M) stand in the Sabarimala issue faced the biggest criticism.

Despite not winning, Surendran offers his support to Pathanamthitta

Despite not winning in the Lok Sabha elections, BJP leader K. Surendran has assured protection of faith and development to the people of Pathanamthitta. In a post on Facebook, he also dismissed the allegations that issues within the party and NDA resulted in his defeat.

Mentioning the performance at over 15 places where the front came first, he praised the work of Sangh Parivar activists who worked day and night for achieving this. Surendran also expressed his gratitude towards different communities for their support.

Kerala not in development of national highway priority list

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The decision to give priority list to the development of national highway in Kerala has not been executed. Kerala is still in the second priority list. Following that, it was asserted that the then union minister Alphons Kannamthanam intervened and included Kerala in the first priority list. It was also claimed that steps were taken to include Kerala in the top priority list after consulting with the centre.

However, the order released has made it clear that the decision has not been progressed. The order released on May 15 by the centre has stated not to distribute the compensation.

Kannamthanam had sent a letter to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari requesting to consider Kerala in the top priority list. The letter demanded to consider Kerala in the top priority list for the development of the national highway from Kasargod to Parassala.

There were reports of Gadkari cancelling the order deprioritising national highway development in Kerala. He maintained that there is no discrimination towards Kerala. The main issue faced by Kerala on the development is land acquisition. Gadkari had promised to bring clarity on it.

Will introspect on Sabarimala issue and other reasons for setback in election: Sitaram Yechury

NEW DELHI: At the end of the two-day Polit Bureau (PB) meeting of the CPI(M), general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the party will introspect on reasons for the severe setback in the recent Lok Sabha election, particularly in their strongholds.

“The BJP could successfully shift the popular narrative away from the multitude of livelihood issues that the last five years of the NDA government had imposed,” Yechury said. He further said that following the declaration of results, minorities faced assaults at several states.

“I’m taking up the responsibility of the defeat as the party general secretary. Party as a whole is responsible for this. The party will introspect whether Sabarimala was a decisive factor for the setback. The central panel will discuss the assumptions of PB and reports from states. Going forward, necessary changes will be made based on that,” Yechury added.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Justice not obtained from women’s panel, says Ramya Haridas

KOCHI: I didn’t get justice from the women’s commission on the complaint against CPM leader A Vijayaraghavan, said Ramya Haridas, who won the Alathur Lok Sabha seat. They didn’t even contact me on the complaint lodged. I will go forward with the complaint as per the directive of the UDF leadership, she said.

Meantime, the sexist remarks of Vijayaraghavan against Ramya may have influenced the voters of Alathur, said Minister A K Balan. The party will examine it. Vijayaraghavan made the controversial statement against Ramya during electioneering.

While addressing a poll convention at Ponnani in Malappuram, Vijayaraghavan said Ramya visited P K Kunhalikutty after her candidature was announced. I don’t know what will happen to her now.

Soon after the issue stoked a controversy, she lodged a complaint at the DySP office in Alathur. His explanation was that he had not made any sexist remarks.

Audit department to examine strong room after noticing fall in gold offered to Sabarimala

SABARIMALA: In the case of finding a drop in the quantity of gold offered to Sabarimala, the strong room will be opened tomorrow and examined. The state audit department found that the gold and silver was shifted without any proofs.

A fall was found in the valuable items including gold and silver offered to the Sabarimala Temple. The vigilance had obtained some complaints on it and based on it, the state audit department decided to open and examine the strong room tomorrow.

The devaswom vigilance found that there was no accuracy on the proofs in keeping safely the gold and silver reaching the strong room. The audit department will examine whether the procedures in keeping the gold safely were followed.

The gold and silver offered to Sabarimala temple is kept safely in the strong room of Travancore devaswom adjacent to the Aranmula Temple. Officials led by assistant accounts officer is in charge of the strong room. The strong room can be opened only if the three officers are together.

Travancore devaswom president A Padma Kumar said it has been found that there are flaws from the side of the officers in handing over the charge to a new person assuming office. There is nothing less in the gold. The records of the gold should be handed to a new officer taking charge. However, this is not happening over the last six years. A complaint was lodged on it. The audit section will conduct an inspection related to it. If any irregularities are noticed, steps will be taken.

Smriti Irani aide shot dead in Amethi

AMETHI: A close aide of Smriti Irani, the newly elected MP from Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead by two men, with police not ruling out the possibility of it being a "political murder".

Surendra Singh (50), a former head of Baraulia village, was shot at around 11.30 pm Saturday, said Additional Superintendent of Police Daya Ram.
He was referred to a Lucknow hospital but he succumbed during treatment, Ram said.

Two suspects have been detained for questioning, police said.

Baraulia was in the news during the general election campaign after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused Irani of distributing shoes to the village residents in order to insult Rahul Gandhi, the BJP leader's main opponent in the constituency.

Irani defeated the Congress president on Amethi seat, for long a Gandhi family bastion.

BJP convenor of Amethi Lok Sabha seat Rajesh Agrahari told PTI, "Considering the fact that the Congress is disappointed, especially after the defeat of its party president in Amethi, a high-level probe should be ordered, and the guilty should be punished."

"Surendra Singh was a popular and active grassroots level leader, and a close aide of MP Smriti Irani. He and other party leaders were actively involved in distribution of shoes," he added.

Amethi Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar did not rule out the possibility of the crime being a political murder. "The incident cannot be ruled out to be a political murder. All aspects are being probed. There can be old enmity as well," the SP said.

Man collapses, dies while singing during daughter’s wedding celebrations

KOLLAM: A man collapsed and died while singing in a ganamela organised on the previous day of his daughter’s wedding. He has been identified as Vishnu Prasad, a native of Kollam and additional sub inspector of Karamana police station. His daughter’s wedding was fixed for today. Though he was rushed to the hospital, his life could not be saved. He died of cardiac arrest.The marriage was decided to take place at a temple in Chavara but following the death, it was shifted to an auditorium. He was promoted as additional SI two months back. The body is kept in the mortuary. He was a good singer. The video of him singing during celebrations has gone viral in the social media.

State WC Chairman reluctant in responding to Ramya Haridas' remarks

KOCHI: Kerala Women’s Commission Chairman M.C. Josephine showed reluctance in responding to the questions from the media on the comments from the victorious UDF candidate at Alathur Ramya Haridas that she didn’t receive any justice from the state WC.

Ramya had earlier said that she didn’t even receive a call after lodging a complaint with the commission. Meantime, the sexist remarks of Vijayaraghavan against Ramya may have influenced the voters of Alathur, said Minister A K Balan.

Allegations are baseless, not even pinch of gold is lost: A. Padmakumar

PATHANAMTHITTA: Devaswom Board President A Padmakumar has denied the allegations regarding the drop in gold and silver offerings in Sabarimala. Saying the allegations as baseless, he said that not even a pinch of gold is lost.

Vagueness is regarding the quantity of gold and silver received as offerings. The audit department found a drop of 40 kilos of gold and 100 kilos of silver. Also, there are no proofs that these valuable was shifted to the strong room. Devaswom audit department has directed to open the strong room and conduct an inspection.

Remarks against Ramya Haridas only political, says Vijayaraghavan

THRISSUR: LDF convenor A Vijayaraghavan said that his remarks against Ramya Haridas, the UDF candidate of Alathur, was only a political one. He said this while responding to the words of Minister A K Balan that the controversial statement affected polls badly.

Vijayaraghavan said my remarks against Ramya was only a political one. I don’t think A K Balan will say against me. Should ask him why he made such a remark against me, Vijayaraghavan said.

Meantime, Ramya said that she is happy to know that the CPM has realised that the remarks were wrong. She also said that she didn’t get justice from the women’s commission.

Minister A K Balan had stated that Vijayaraghavan’s statement affected polls. Balan had asserted that his remarks against Ramya badly affected the defeat of P K Biju. But Vijayaraghavan did not intend to insult her in any form, he added.

Mamata offers to quit as CM, party rejects

KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee Saturday offered to quit as chief minister of West Bengal following her party's drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls but the TMC rejected it.

Addressing her first press conference after the election results were declared, she accused the BJP of polarising the people on religious lines to garner votes in West Bengal.

"At TMC's internal meeting, I offered to leave the chief minister's post. However, the offer was rejected by the party and I may continue," Banerjee said.

She also raised suspicion over BJP's stellar poll performance.

"This huge victory is not beyond suspicion. It is quite astonishing how the opposition is completely wiped out in several states. There has been some setting and foreign powers are also involved," she claimed.

The TMC chief also said that an emergency-like situation was created in the state by the BJP to win the elections.

YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy meets Modi

NEW DELHI: YSR Congress Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Y S Jaganmohan Reddy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence here on Sunday.

Reddy, whose party stormed to power on Thursday with a landslide victory in assembly polls, discussed the issues of special category status to Andhra Pradesh and the state's financial situation and sought central funds during the meeting with Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence, sources said.

After meeting Modi, he is expected to interact with officials at Andhra Bhawan.

Reddy will take oath as the chief minister of the state on May 30 in Vijayawada.

On Saturday, he was unanimously elected as the leader of YSRC legislature party.

Reddy's party has won 151 of the 175 assembly and 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, the elections for which were held on April 11.

Where is gold offered to Sabarimala? Surendran slams minister and board president

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP leader K. Surendran has come out in response on the drop in gold and silver offered to Sabarimala. “The devotees need to know where the valuable offerings are. Is this how such important things are handled at Sabarimala? Don’t the minister and president who is so agile in making women entry possible have time for this?” Surendran wrote on Facebook.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

In Sabarimala issue NSS stand is right: R Balakrishna Pillai

THIRUVANNATHAPURAM: Forward Community Corporation Chairman and Kerala Congress (B) chief R Balakrishna Pillai has said Sabarimala issue was the reason for the big defeat of the LDF in the Lok Sabha election, 2019.
“The government mishandled the Sabarimala issue and it cannot be resolved without protecting the beliefs of the devotees,” he said in an interview recently given to a private channel. .
Pillai said, in Sabarimala case, the stand taken by the NSS was right. Its stand was the one that protected beliefs. No government can change the beliefs and sentiments of believers, whatever coercion it uses against them.
During the recent elections, Sabarimala issue also strongly influenced people from other religions. Minority communities have lost faith in the government, which turned out to be a big setback for it in the election,” Balakrishna Pillai said.
However, Pillai had backed the government in Sabarimala issue, before the election.