BJP wins only 8 of the 40 ZP seats in Ayodhya

News Network
May 4, 2021

Ayodhya, May 4: The BJP has won just eight out of the 40 zila panchayat seats in Ayodhya, a disappointment for the ruling party in the district on which the Centre and the state government have lavished much attention.

The opposition Samajwadi Party claimed to have made major gains in the panchayat elections held last month, saying candidates it backed won 22 district level seats here.

The Bahujan Samaj Party claimed its candidates won four zila panchayat seats in Ayodhya.

Lakhs of candidates contested the panchayat elections across Uttar Pradesh -- for seats at four levels including the village and the district -- on free symbols allotted by the State Election Commission (SEC).

The parties had, however, extended support to those in the fray and are now claiming that the results have gone in their favour. Counting of the ballot papers began Sunday at over 800 centres across the state.

Contrary to the BJP's claim of overall success in the state, its Ayodhya unit has conceded that it did not do as well as expected.

“The results are disappointing. Despite having sitting BJP MLAs in all constituencies in Ayodhya district, we won only eight out of 40 zila panchayat seats,”  BJP's district spokesperson Diwakar Singh told PTI.

The result has been particularly bad for the BJP in the Sohawal sub-district, where the administration handed over five acres for the construction of a mosque, as mandated by the Supreme Court in its 2019 verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.

The Samajwadi Party claimed to have won three of the four zila panchayat seats there, leaving one for an independent candidate.

Commenting on the result, SP leader Awadhesh Prasad said people in rural areas are facing a lot of problems under the BJP government.

Among them is the issue of stray cattle destroying crops, which he claimed has driven some farmers to suicide.

The Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government had announced several development projects for Ayodhya since the Supreme Court verdict, which has paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple on the once-disputed site.

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coastaldigest.com news network
April 25,2021

Mangaluru, Apr 25: Two prisoners suffered injuries in a clash among jail inmates at district prison in Mangaluru on Sunday.

According to City Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar, the injured are Ansar who was arrested by Mulki police last month and Jainuddin who was arrested on the charges of dacoity in Moodbidri recently.

The accused Sameer had assaulted the duo using a spoon and other kitchenware. Ansar suffered injuries on his arm and leg, while Jainuddin has suffered injuries on his shoulders and back. 

The accused Sameer was arrested in a robbery case reported in Panambur and has been lodged in prison since last July. City police commissioner and other police officers have visited the spot.  

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News Network
May 6,2021

The coronavirus wave that plunged India into the world’s biggest health crisis has the potential to worsen in the coming weeks, with some research models projecting that the death toll could more than double from current levels.

A team at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore used a mathematical model to predict about 404,000 deaths will occur by June 11 if current trends continue. A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington forecast 1,018,879 deaths by the end of July.

While coronavirus cases can be hard to predict, particularly in a sprawling nation like India, the forecasts reflect the urgent need for India to step up public health measures like testing and social distancing. c The US currently has the largest number of fatalities at around 578,000. 

India reported a record 3,780 deaths on Wednesday for an overall toll of 226,188, along with 382,315 new cases, taking its outbreak past 20.6 million infections. In recent weeks, the scenes on the ground, with long lines outside crematoriums and hospitals turning away ambulances, have painted a picture of a nation overwhelmed by the crisis.

“The next four to six weeks are going to be very, very difficult for India,” said Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health. “The challenge is going to be to do things now that will make sure it is four weeks, not six or eight, and that we minimize how bad things will get. But in no way is India anywhere near out of the woods.”

A spokesperson for the health ministry couldn’t immediately be reached. The ministry said on Monday that in about a dozen states, including Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, there are early signs that the number of daily new infections are starting to plateau.

The Indian rupee has declined about 1% this quarter in Asia’s worst performance as investors turned cautious ahead of an unscheduled speech by India’s central bank governor Wednesday. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex Index is down about 2% as foreign funds sold about $1.7 billion of the nation’s stocks.

Economic Impact

A prolonged crisis has the potential to dent the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as slow or reverse India’s recovery from last year’s economic recession. Bloomberg Economics lowered its growth projection for the year ending March 2022 to 10.7% from 12.6%, and even these numbers are flattered by a low base as activity ground to a halt due to a strict lockdown last year.

India’s central bank, meanwhile, has announced new loan-relief measures for small businesses and promised to inject 500 billion rupees ($6.8 billion) of liquidity to support the economy.

For public health researchers, a key concern is the relative dearth of coronavirus testing, which many scientists believe is causing a sharp undercounting of cases.

“It could honestly get a lot worse, which is hard to imagine given how staggering the impacts have already been when you see 400,000 new cases each day and you know that that’s probably an underestimation,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland.

The main metric that officials are watching is the test positivity rate, which is the percentage of people with positive test results. The overall positivity rate is 20% in India now, and in some parts of the country, it tops 40%, a shockingly high number that indicates as many as three-fourths of infections are being missed, said Jha.

The World Health Organization considers anything above 5% too high, saying that governments should implement social distancing measures until positivity rates are below that level for at least two weeks.

“Despite scaling up testing considerably, it’s still not enough to capture all the infected people,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, speaking on Bloomberg TV. “So the numbers, while very high, are likely an underestimate of the true numbers of infections,” she said. “It’s a grim situation.”

Social Distancing

The goal is to run enough tests that a large number of infected people aren’t going undiagnosed. If only the sickest patients are tested, many people with milder disease or no symptoms at all may continue to unwittingly spread the disease.

 “There are reports of tests being considerably delayed and of patients delaying having to go to hospital as much as they can, given the stresses on the health system,” said Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, who also works on modelling outbreaks. “We don’t know enough about Covid-19 spread away from the major cities, in the rural heartland of India, although reports from there suggest that the situation is dire.”

The U.S. government, as part of a package of supplies for India, pledged last week to send one million rapid tests to India. There are several other things that could be done quickly to try to help staunch the outbreak. High on the list is wearing masks, a crucial element for disease control, said Catherine Blish, an infectious disease specialist and global health expert at Stanford Medicine in California.

Major cities in India already require people to wear masks, but such rules can be harder to implement in crowded slums and rural areas. Several states have introduced lockdowns, although Modi has resisted a national effort after one imposed by him last year fueled a humanitarian crisis with migrant workers fleeing the cities on foot and in some cases bringing the virus with them.

Lockdowns

The Indian Institute of Science has estimated that with a 15-day lockdown deaths could be lower at 300,000, falling to 285,000 with a 30-day lockdown. IMHE estimates a lower death toll of around 940,000 by the end of July with universal mask-wearing.

Vaccines will be the big way to remove risks, although it will take time to get there, public health experts say.

It takes several weeks for immunity to build after someone has been vaccinated. The process is even longer with those that require two shots, stretching the process out from six weeks to two months.

“The vaccines are working,” said Kim Mulholland, an Australian paediatrician and leader of the infection and immunity group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. “They just haven’t got the capacity.”

Ultimately, cases will come down, it’s just a matter of when, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and an adviser to US President Joe Biden. Scientists still don’t have a good understanding of why Covid-19 comes in sudden, roller-coaster-like changes, he said.

“It will eventually burn itself through the population,” Osterholm said. “Within several weeks to a month and a half, you will see this peak come back down, and it’s likely to come down quickly.” 

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Agencies
April 26,2021

Chennai, Apr 26: On a day that saw the number of fresh COVID-19 cases cross 3.5 lakhs in the country, the Madras High Court came down heavily on the Election Commission holding it responsible for the current mess the country is in.

The High Court on Monday (April 26) said that the EC responsible for the second wave of the COVID pandemic by allowing political rallies in the country and that the officials should be booked for murder.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy called EC "the most irresponsible institution".

"Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19,” Banerjee told the Election Commission's counsel.

He went on to add, “Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably.”

“Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?” the chief justice said further.

Banerjee said that Commission had failed to enforce COVID norms regarding wearing of facemasks, use of sanitizers and maintaining social distancing during election campaigns, despite several court orders.

The court warned EC that it would not allow counting of votes of elections scheduled on May 2, unless it places a plan to ensure COVID-19 protocol is followed.

"The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next,” Banerjee said.

The bench was hearing a public interest petition seeking direction to authorities to ensure fair counting of votes on May 2 in Karur by taking necessary steps to ensure COVID guidelines are followed.

Notably, the EC had denied Trinamool Congress' requests to club poll phases in West Bengal.

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