Kerala Congress (B) chairman, former minister R Balakrishna Pillai passes away

News Network
May 3, 2021

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Kollam, May 3: Kerala Congress (B) chairman and former minister R Balakrishna Pillai passed away at a private hospital in his hometown Kottarakkara on Monday morning due to age-related ailments, his family said.

He was 86.

Born in a wealthy family in Kottarakkara, Pillai entered politics during his student days. He was a member of the Students Federation before joining the Congress.

He was a member of the AICC from 1958 to 1964.

Having been elected to the Assembly in 1960 from the Pathanapuram seat at the age of 25, Pillai quit the Congress in 1964 and formed the Kerala Congress along with senior leader K M George.

Pillai was the founder general secretary of the Kerala Congress.
He won the election from his home constituency Kottarakara in 1965, but was defeated in the next two polls in 1967 and 1970.

Pillai was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971 from the Mavelikara constituency.

He was a minister for several years in various ministries headed by C Achutha Menon, K Karunakaran, E K Nayanar and A K Antony.

Pillai's over six-decade-long political career saw many ups and downs.

He had to resign from the ministry for his speech in the 1980s in which he had called for an agitation on the lines of the militancy in Punjab against the central government for ignoring Kerala's development needs.

He was the first minister in Kerala who was sentenced to jail for corruption.

The Supreme Court had in February 2011 sentenced Pillai and two others to one-year imprisonment for allegedly abusing their positions in the award of a contract for the Idamalayar hydroelectric power project during his tenure as power minister from 1982-1985 in the K Karunakaran ministry.

From 2017 onwards, he had been serving as the chairman of the Kerala State Welfare Corporation for Forward Communities, with cabinet rank.

Pillai is survived by his three children.

His son Ganesh Kumar, who is also a former minister, was re-elected to the Kerala Assembly as an LDF candidate from his family bastion Pathanapuram.

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News Network
May 3,2021

Bengaluru, May 3: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan has been named as chairperson of the Covid-19 Task Force, which has been reconstituted amid the raging pandemic.

The state-level Covid-19 Task Force will have Primary & Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Information & Public Relations Minister CC Patil and Health & Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar as members, according to a government order.

The task force is authorized to review Covid-19 containment and management measures, besides creating awareness among citizens.

The ministerial task force was first constituted in March 2020 when the pandemic was in its initial stages in Karnataka. The task force was headed by the then Health Minister B Sriramulu, Sudhakar, Narayan, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and the then Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar.

Apparently, the task force became inactive after Sriramulu was divested of the health portfolio that was given to Sudhakar in October 2020. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was authorized to reconstitute the task force. Deputy Chief Minister and Public Works Minister Govind Karjol was appointed as head of the task force. Now, Narayan will replace him.

The chief secretary, additional chief secretary (health) and principal secretary (medical education) will assist the task force, the government order said.

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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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News Network
April 24,2021

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Bengaluru, Apr 24: With Bengaluru recording 1.5 lakh active coronavirus cases, the highest for any city in the country, the Karnataka Task Advisory Committee on Covid- 19 has asked the state government to impose stringent restrictions, including lockdown for 14 days to break the chain.

The members of the panel have also recommended to the government to increase the number of beds to tide over the crisis.

The TAC members also foresee the third wave Covid in October-November and have, accordingly, insisted that the government should complete the vaccination of vulnerable age groups before the next wave hits. Professor and Head of Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Giridhar Babu said:

"I have on record said that there are two main strategies. Firstly, we need to reduce the number of cases and that will happen only by a stringent lockdown for at least 14 days. Secondly, we should expand the bed capacity by taking as much as possible beds from all the private medical colleges, nursing homes and hospitals."

According to him, the 14 days lockdown will reduce the number of infections. The TAC member said the state may witness the peak of the second wave by the May end or the first week of June. Eminent cardiologist and director of the Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, C N Manjunath said he had in November 2020 predicted the arrival of the second wave of Covid in March or April based on the pattern of spread and resurgence in Europe.

While the Covid cases may come down by May end or the first week of June, people's behaviour for the next six to nine months will hold the key.

"The most important is when the cases come down, guards should not be let down. Facemask wearing and physical distancing should continue while most importantly congregation should be banned," he said. The health experts were of the opinion that the healthcare system is totally suffocated.

"In the first phase, the cases were coming in a staggered manner. So the daily rise in a particular state was 200 to 300 cases. Now it's in thousands," the cardiologist said.

Giridhar Babu too concurred with him. "The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) has informed the high court that there are no more ICU beds. So, the court has also said the situation is very scary. That will summarise the current status," Babu explained. Both were unanimous that the vaccination drive should be completed by October before the possible third wave hits the nation.

"Vaccination should go on. By October- November the entire country should be vaccinated. Otherwise, we are in for a rude shock again," Manjunath said. Meanwhile, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said the officials at the civic agency's Covid war room are working over time.

On the shortage of oxygen and essential drugs such as Remdesivir, the Chief Commissioner told the news agency that the whole country was grappling with it and the Centre and the state are dealing with it in an effective manner. To a query on the need for more ICU beds, he said already a few have been arranged and more have to be procured very soon. With 26,962 infections on Friday, the state touched the highest single-day spike in Covid cases.

There were 190 deaths too. More alarming was that the active cases in the state crossed two lakh mark of which 1.5 lakh are in Bengaluru alone.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had during a video conference told the PM that the state needs about 1,500 tonnes of oxygen and two lakh vials of Remdesivir. To contain the alarming rise in Covid cases, the state has imposed night curfew and weekend curfews while ordering closure of many shops and business establishments. 

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