kottayam l Sunday l november 15, 2020 l `8.00 l PAGES 24 l city edition Biden solidifies victory in US prez race with Georgia win President-elect Joe Biden has won Georgia, major US outlets have projected, bringing the 2020 presidential race to a close Rare triumph in Republican bastion After Bill Clinton in 1992, Biden is the first Democratic nominee to triumph in Georgia, as per the projections by CNN. The former vice-president has struck at the heart of what has been a Republican presidential stronghold for nearly three decades, it said. According to NBC News, Biden’s margin in his apparent victory over Trump in the state was 14,152 votes. ■ 306 Republicans face court setbacks ■ Upholding the three-day extension in view of the pandemic, a court rejected the Republican Party’s efforts to block 9,300 mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day in Pennsylvania The Trump campaign has filed more than 15 legal challenges in Pennsylvania, seeking to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes electoral votes bagged by Biden are just as many as Trump’s in 2016 polls CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI CAG doubts KIIFB borrowings. Aim to scuttle projects: FM E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram The CAG never made such an observation in the previous nine audits it made in the KIIFB. The Constitution can’t be interpreted as per its political interests Thomas Isaac, Finance Minister The FM has taken a preemptive step to wriggle out of the issue fearing the irregularities in the KIIFB will come out. KIIFB has become a hub of corruption Ramesh Chennithala IN a rare move, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac on Saturday condemned the ‘draft report’ by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which reportedly states that the borrowings made by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) were against constitutional provisions. The minister was referring to the draft paragraphs given by the auditor to the board after scrutinising the accounts for 2018-19. According to the minister, the CAG has observed that the borrowings were against Article 293(1) of the Constitution pertaining to guarantees given by state governments. “The CAG never made such an observation in the previous nine audits it made in KIIFB. The Constitution can’t be interpreted as per the CAG’s political interests,” Isaac said. He added that this was just another instance of people with vested interests trying to scuttle the state’s development projects. This report is a continuation of the Enforcement Directorate’s attempts to sabotage the state’s development projects like Life Mission, K-FON, Taurus IT Park, and the e-mobility electric bus, he said. KIIFB is a corporate body and not a part of the , state government, the minister said. Like any other corporate body, KIIFB is also entitled to borrow from abroad with the RBI’s consent, and even from within the country as per the rules. “Even the corporate bodies under the Central government are making such borrowings,” he pointed out. The latest CAG audit in KIIFB began in January this year, said the minister. He added that a total of 76 queries were made as part of the audit, to which detailed replies were ● More on P4 given. State to opt for L1.1 lakh-cr borrowing option Kerala will opt for the I1.1 lakh-crore borrowing option put forward by the Centre for GST compensation, Thomas Isaac said. At the next GST council, Kerala will ask the Centre to immediately disburse the I73,000 crore, the estimated shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to the states, he said. India will give fierce reply if tested: Modi Takes a swipe at China without naming it, adds Indian soldiers have hit ‘sponsors of terrorism’ in their home India summons Pak envoy India on Saturday summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission and lodged a strong protest with him over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces along the border History of the world tells us that only those nations have remained safe and advanced who had the ability to take on invaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses Army personnel during his visit to the Longewala post in Jaisalmer on Saturday | PTI Narendra Modi, PM Territorial integrity India expressed concern over “actions and incidents” that “erode” trust in the South China Sea ■ In an address at the 15th East Asia Summit, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar noted the growing interest in the region as an integrated and organic maritime space with 10-nation ASEAN at its centre. ■ E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has denied the charge that its ongoing investigation into various projects undertaken by LIFE Mission amounted to an interference in the constitutional rights or privileges of the state legislature. The central agency was responding to a notice issued to it recently by the assembly’s Committee of Privileges and Ethics. The assembly panel had asked the ED to explain why the House should not deem its decision to summon the records of the LIFE project as a breach of legislative prerogative. In his response, P Radhakrishnan, Assistant Director of Enforcement and Investigating Officer in the case, urged the Legislature Secretary to drop any further action on the matter. The official said the assembly panel’s action was “without legal competence” and was based on “misinformation of facts”. The officer said since the ED Modi pays tribute to Nehru on birth anniversary New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid tribute to the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary. Born in 1889, the Congress stalwart remains India’s longest serving prime minister. “My humble tributes to the country’s first prime minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary,” Modi tweeted. ‘Misinformation of facts’ The panel had asked ED to explain why the House should not deem its decision to summon the records of the LIFE project as a breach of legislative prerogative ED said the assembly panel’s action was based on “misinformation of facts” found it necessary to have an expeditious investigation, a notice was issued for immediate production of documents related to the LIFE Mission projects. The summons to LIFE Mission CEO U V Jose was issued in good faith after invoking the powers under Section 50 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, he said. Clarifying that the notice was not meant to cause any personal inconvenience to the LIFE Mission CEO. The officer said Jose had not expressed any inconvenience nor requested any postponement of his appearance before the ● More on P5 agency . Sabarimala season to begin amid concerns Maha set to reopen places of worship Mumbai: Places of worship in Maharashtra, which have been shut since the lockdown in March, will reopen from Diwali ‘Padwa’ on Monday, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray announced on Saturday. The number of people to be allowed inside will be decided based on the size of the structure and ventilation, he said. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Sabarimala Akhilesh rules out alliance with BSP Etawah: Hinting at an electoral tie-up with his estranged uncle’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, Samajwadi Party(SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday made it clear that he will not enter into an alliance with the BSP. Shivpal Yadav will be given a cabinet berth if his party forms the government in the state, he said. PLUS 12 PAGES DELIVERING an unambiguous message to India’s enemies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asserted that it will give a “prachand jawab” (fierce reply) if provoked, as he flew to Longewala Post to celebrate Diwali with soldiers, a custom he has been observing since assuming office in 2014. Addressing soldiers at the forward post, which has become a part of military legend after troops here successfully thwarted numerically higher Pakistani forces in the 1971 war, Modi took a swipe at China without naming it, saying the world is troubled by “expansionist forces” and expansionism shows a “distorted mindset” that belongs to the 18th century . India has become a forceful voice against forces of expansionism, he said and also took aim at Pakistan, adding that Indian soldiers have hit the “sponsors of terrorism” in their home, a reference to air and surgical strikes against terror camps in the neighbouring country . “No force in the world can prevent our brave soldiers from defending our borders. The world today knows that we won’t compromise with our in- ED questions assembly panel’s legal competence e x p r e ss r e a d WITH THIS ISSUE P r e s s T r u s t o f In d i a @ Longewala FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS Devotees light diyas at the Ernakulam Siva Temple on Saturday as part of the Deepavali celebrations | A Sanesh Amid concerns raised by health workers and a section of devotees regarding the Covid situation prevailing in the state, the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple will open for the two-month Mandala Makaravilakku festival on Sunday evening. While Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president N Vasu claimed that all steps have been taken to ensure the safety of pilg rims, Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of devotees, has given a call to avoid pilgrimage as the devotees will not be able to perform all rituals due to Covid restrictions. “It is a daunting task to conduct the festival adhering to the Covid norms, but we have taken all precautions. The number of pilgrims has been restricted and only people who produce Covid negative certificate will be allowed to proceed to the temple. Covid testing facility has been provided at Nilakkal and Pampa and health staff have been deployed. All the three hospitals and emergency medical centres will function as usual,” said Vasu. Meanwhile, the restrictions have caused huge loss to the TDB which is struggling to meet the administrative expenses. The shops at Sabarimala have fetched a meagre `4 crore compared to the `50 crore annual revenue. The restrictions will also adversely affect the temple income. The TDB was forced to auction the shops at less than 20% of the original rate as traders were not ready to participate in the auction. Coconut was auctioned for `1.05 crore while the parking at Nilakkal was auctioned for `26 ● More on P5 lakh. terests even one bit at any cost,” he said amid a standoff with China at the Ladakh border. He said India believes in the policy of understanding others and making them understand but if it is tested, then it will give a fierce reply The country . has the capability and political will to give a befitting response to those who challenge it, he added. The PM also underlined the importance of having strong capability, saying despite advanced international cooperation and equations, vigilance is the path to security, alertness leads to happiness and peace is the prize of having strength. “History of the world tells us that only those nations have remained safe and advanced who had the ability to take on invaders,” he said, adding that 130 crore Indians stand with the country’s soldiers and bow to their bravely . tragedy@4am Five Keralites killed in road accident on Maha highway E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram FIVE Keralites — including a three-year-old — from two families died and eight others were seriously injured in a major accident in Satara district in Maharashtra around 4am on Saturday. The accident occurred when the van they were travelling in fell off a bridge and landed in a dry river near Karad town. The deceased have been identified as Thrissur natives Madhusoodanan Nair, 53, wife Uma Nair, 50, son Aditya Nair, 23, Shajan Nair, 35, and his son Aarav Nair, 3. Sajan’s sister’s husband Sujith has left for Mumbai. The deceased and injured were residents of Vashi in Navi Mumbai. The injured are Divya Mohan, 30, Deepa Nair, 32, Leela Mohan, 35, Mohan Velayudhan, 59, Sijin Sivadasan, 28, Deepthi Mohan, 28, and Archana Madhusoodanan Nair, 15, and driver Riku Gupta Saju, 32. They were admitted to a government hospital at Karad. Reports said the bus was heading to Goa for a picnic. The police and rescue teams rushed to the spot and shifted the injured persons to hospital. T he driver has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and under Motor Vehicles Act provisions, a police official said. local body polls Stuck at ‘reserved’, smaller parties make do with hand-down candidates A R U N M @Kochi WITH the local body polls nearing, the age-old conundrum of seat sharing has once again reared its head in the state. This time, however, leaders of major political fronts are armed and ready to tackle the clamour for seats with a special strategy — the reservation-seat method, which can help them kill two birds with one stone. When small parties seek rep- resentation, major parties allot them the ‘reservation seats’ from their account, in addition to suggesting a ‘suitable candidate’ for the seat. While this pacifies the smaller parties and thus reduces the chances of dissidence, it also ensures that candidates of the bigger parties’ liking are fielded. According to sources, many of the smaller partners in both the UDF and the LDF -- such as the Kerala Congress (Jacob), CMP RSP Kerala Congress (B), , , NCP, Democratic Kerala Congress, Congress (S), LJD and the Forward Bloc — have been demanding more representation in local bodies. While many of these parties do have strongholds of their own, seatsharing efforts become especially difficult when they stake claim to more tickets, irrespective of whether they have influence in the region or not. Major constituents hence allot them tickets to seats reserved for Women, Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), SC Women or ST Women, where they most likely have no suitable candidate of their own to field. The Congress, which is the major constituent of UDF, has effectively adopted this strateThere is no doubt the front is sidelining its smaller constituents. The UDF will fight the polls unitedly. Any issue within the front will be conveyed at the forum concerned — Premson Manjamattom, KC (Jacob) gy to pacify smaller partners ahead of the local body polls. In Ernakulam district panchayat, KC (Jacob) had contested two seats in the 2015 polls. This time, however, only a single seat reserved for SC Women has been allotted to the party. Two additional seats in the block panchayat have also been offered as a pacification technique, but those are also reserved for scheduled castes and women respectively ● More on P4 . 6,357 fresh Covid cases in Kerala, test positivity rate rises again After recording a dip for the past two days, the state’s test positivity rate saw a slight climb to 10.33 per cent on Saturday. The state recorded another 6,357 cases, while 26 more died due to Covid | P4
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