03 May 2021
A) Mamata Banerjee decisively stops BJP juggernaut in Bengal.
In the biggest story of this cycle of State assembly elections, Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee led her party to one of its biggest political victories in the past three decades by single-handedly stopping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut from coming to power in Bengal and paving way to become Chief Minister for a third consecutive time in the State. The West Bengal Assembly polls saw a high-voltage campaign with the BJP putting all its might into the State. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders campaigned vigorously in the State holding several public meetings and road shows. Yet the Trinamool Congress logged one of its biggest ever victories, winning a vote share of over 48% at the time of writing this newsletter. The victory also puts the 66-year-old Ms. Banerjee at the forefront of national politics with all the leaders of Opposition parties congratulating her for the massive win. Till late evening, with counting still on, the party had leads and victories in over 217 of the 292 seats that went to polls. In the 2016 Assembly polls, the TMC had won 211 seats and the percentage of votes polled was about 44.9%. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, lost from Nandigram against BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari by a narrow margin of about 1,736 votes. The TMC has demanded a recounting of votes in Nandigram though Ms. banerjee bruised off the setback. Some initial readings of the polling data indicated Muslims that comprise about 27.01% of the State’s population have overwhelmingly supported the Trinamool Congress. In districts like Malda and Murshidabad , which are minority-dominated areas, the State’s ruling party was leading or winning over 80% seats. The Trinamool Congress was also leading in a majority of seats of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly. The State’s ruling party was leading or emerged victorious in all the 11 seats in Kolkata.
B) DMK heading for big win in Tamil Nadu, Stalin ends long wait for CM chair.
After a decade in opposition, the DMK, in alliance with the Congress, is heading for a big win in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly. At the time of writing, the alliance is leading in over 140 seats. DMK president M.K. Stalin said the new government to be formed under him would actually be run by those who were aspiring for an ideal government for Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has announced the victory of the DMK. The State will win hereafter, he said in a statement. It wasn’t entirely the landslide that many opinion polls predicted however, with the incumbent AIADMK leading in 80-plus seats. Actor Kamal Haasan and his Makkal Needhi Maiam or MNM failed to make any kind of impact, with Mr. Haasan himself trailing. It has been a long journey for Mr. Stalin, who has had to wait four decades since his entry into politics to occupy the seat once held by his father M Karunanidhi. Even though he rose from being youth wing leader to legislator, Chennai Mayor, Minister and Deputy Chief Minister over the years, Mr. Stalin had to constantly prove his mettle. He was often compared adversely with his redoubtable father. Afraid of a backlash against being seen as promoting him in the party and government, Karunanidhi allowed him only a step-by-step elevation, lest his rise be seen as meteoric. Mr. Stalin’s tenure as mayor gave him a foundation in administration. He was made Minister of Rural Development and Municipal Administration after the party was elected to power in 2006. He strengthened women self-help groups in the State and his growing influence in the administration and party led to his promotion as the State’s first Deputy Chief Minister in 2009. Meanwhile, he also became the DMK’s treasurer.
C) Left Front on course for a historic win in Kerala.
The ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala is heading for a historic relection, the first government in Kerala in nearly four and a half decades to beat the trend of anti-incumbency. At the time of writing the LDF was leading in 99 of the 140 seat assembly while the the main opposition the United Democratic Front (UDF), led by the Congress was leading in 41 of the seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) i snot on course to win any seats. BJP candidate Metro Man E Sreedharan lost to Congress leader Shafi Parambil in Palakkad constituency of Kerala by a margin of 3,859 votes. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan dedicated the historic victory of the Left Democratic Front in the assembly polls to the people and said it proved that there was no room for communal politics in the state. Flaying both the Congress-led UDF and BJP-NDA and a section of the right-wing media for trying to tarnish the image of the government and its development and welfare programmes, he said the people have rejected their ‘vicious propaganda’ by giving the Left a decisive mandate.
D) BJP will return for second term in Assam.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition will return to Assam for a second term with a clear majority in the Assembly. The majority mark for the 126 seat assembly is 64 and at the time of writing the BJP had won 15 seats and was leading in 42 others. The party’s allies, the Asom Gana Parishad and the United People’s Party Liberal were on course to win 11 and seven seats, respectively. The leads and wins of the alliance added up to a total of 75 seats. Among the Opposition parties, the Congress had won five seats and was ahead in 25. Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front was leading in 14, while Bodoland Peoples Front was ahead in two seats and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was leading in one seat.
E) Defectors change the game in Puducherry.
The spate of defections of several heavyweights that triggered the fall of the Narayanasamy-led Government before completing term, is now scorching the electoral prospects of the Congress alliance with many former associates notching up crucial wins for the rival front as early results of the April 6 elections came in on Sunday. At the time of writing, The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has crossed the halfway mark in the 30-seat Puducherry Assembly. Its lead in 16 seats gives the alliance the majority needed to form the government in the Union territory. Whereas, the Congress-DMK-led alliance was leading in nine seats.
F) Ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to all hospitals, 13 Opposition parties tell Centre.
Top Opposition leaders on Sunday, in a joint statement, asked the government to focus all its attention on ensuring uninterrupted oxygen supply to hospitals across the country and undertake a mass free vaccination programme against COVID-19. The statement comes just a day after, at least, 12 critical patients including a doctor died on Saturday at Batra Hospital, a leading private hospital in Delhi, because of an oxygen crisis. Signatories to the statement include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M K Stalin and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. Other signatories include National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and Tejashwi Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on the augmenting oxygen requirements from industrial units and add more oxygen beds to meet the surge in demand. Apart from the deaths in Batra Hospital on Saturday because of a shortage in oxygen supply, less than a fortnight ago 20 COVID-19 patients died without oxygen at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the national capital. So severe has been the oxygen crisis in the capital that many hospitals have had to approach the High Court to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply. The government had, however, denied that there was any shortage and put it to logistics issue in transporting oxygen to places that has seen increased demand for oxygen.
A) Afghan fighting leaves scores of Taliban fighters dead: Ministry.
Fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban has left more than 100 insurgents dead in the past 24 hours, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, as the U.S. military pressed on with its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Taliban and government forces clashed across several provinces, including in the former insurgent bastion of Kandahar where the U.S. military carried out a precision strike on Saturday as it formally began the final troop pullout. Another 52 Taliban fighters were wounded in the clashes, the ministry said in a statement, without giving details of any casualties suffered by government forces. The Taliban did not offer any comment on the fighting, but both sides are known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other. Fighting on the ground has continued unabated in recent months as peace efforts aimed at ending the 20 year conflict have faltered. The U.S. military formally began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from the violence-wracked country on Saturday, as ordered by President Joe Biden last month. The pullout of all U.S. forces will now be completed by the 20th anniversary of the September Il attacks, as announced by President Biden.
B) India receives aid from Taiwan.
India on Sunday received assistance from Taiwan, including oxygen concentrators and cylinders, with more batches of medical equipment set to follow from Taipei. A first batch, consisting of 50 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen cylinders, landed in New on Sunday on a Boeing 747 of China Airlines, the government owned airline of Taiwan. Taiwan’s deployment Of medical supplies is testament to the close collaboration and partnership across multiple agencies on both sides, said a statement from the Taipei Economic and cultural Centre (TECO, Taiwan’s representative Office in India. India and Taiwan do not maintain formal diplomatic relations or embassies. India, meanwhile, has not yet accepted Beijings offers of aid and assistance that were conveyed again on Friday both in a message from President Xi Jinping to prime Minister Narendra Modi and in a phone call between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. India has preferred to source medical supplies from China on a commercial basis. A large number of such orders have been placed by Indian companies with Chinese firms, with the production of at least 40,000 oxygen generators currently under way, China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong told the Communist Party-run Global Times. As far as I know, Chinese companies have been accelerating production of at least 40,000 oxygen generators orders placed by the Indian side, and they are working around the clock to deliver them as soon as possible. Many Chinese firms and private organisations are also using their own channels to provide various forms of help to India, he said. Mr. Sun said on Twitter the past two weeks witnessed 61 freight flights from China to India in operation and China had, since April, supplied more than 5,000 ventilators, 21,569 oxygen generators, over 21 million masks and around 3,800 tons of medicine to India.