GHMC POLLS … TRS emerges as single largest party, BJP next, AIMIM in third slot

NEWS GHMC NIGHT UPDATE:

HYDERABAD: On a day of high suspense, Telangana’s ruling TRS party emerged as the largest party and the BJP as the second largest, with the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi coming as third and major force in the Greater Hyderabad municipal corporation (GHMC) elections, the results of which streamed in on Friday. The final position is yet to be known, while most results were out.

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao faced serious reverses and saw a 40 per cent drop in its tally from the 2016 polls. It lost some 30 seats to the BJP. According to the latest leads, the TRS may end up with less than 60 of 150 municipal seats or wards. The BJP may win 50, with the AIMIM retaining at least 40. In the previous election, the TRS scored 99 seats, the AIMIM 44 and the BJP 4.“The result is not what we expected. We fell short by 20-25 seats than our expectations. 10-12 seats saw a margin of less than 200 votes. There’s nothing to be disappointed, we will be single largest party,” said Telangana minister and son of chief minister, KT Rama Rao. The CM had hoped to win at least 80 of the total 150 seats.UPDATE: 1930 HRS: The TRS won 53 divisions, the AIMIM  43  divisions and the BJP 32 divisions as counting for the GHMC polls continued this evening. A total of 150 seats were up for polls… The Congress  won two divisions.
UPDATE:1230 hours: The ruling TRS is taking the lead in nearly 50 seats while the AIMIM led in 23 seats and the BJP in 21 seats … Counting progresses for 150-member Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls. IHN-NNNEWS GHMC/ first report/ 10.am.

HYDERABAD: BJP was leading in 20 out of 29 seats when initial trends of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls were out an hour after the start of counting this morning. Counting of votes for the 150 corporation wards started at the LB Stadium by 8am.

The ruling Telugu Rashtra Samithi leader and daughter of chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, K Kavita, said the party would win no less than 100 seats. Her father was more cautious, though, and hoped the party could win 80 seats.

As many as 1122 candidates are in the fray. There was a nearly 47 per cent voter turnout in the hotly contested elections in which the BJP played a major role for the first time alongside TRS and the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi. Some 34 lakh of the total 74 lakh voters participated in the electoral exercise. In view of the Covid pandemic, the voting was done by ballot papers and not by electronic voting machines.

The BJP campaigned actively for the civic polls by fielding, among others, Union home minister Amit Shah. BJP chief JP Nadda, Union minister Smriti Irani and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The BJP promised to change the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar – a clear communal bait to woo Hindu voters in a locale where Muslims formed a sizeable number of the electorate.

The last GHMC polls saw the TRS winning as high as 99 seats while the Owaisi party won 44 seats, the BJP won four seats, the Congress two seats and the TDP of Chandrababu Naidu one seat. 

This time, the BJP is seeing the GHMC polls as a stepping stone to the bigger battlefield, the assembly polls in 2013 as scheduled, or much earlier through effecting a split in the ruling TRS and pulling down of the KCR government.–IHN-NN

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COVID VACCINE.. Only side-effect noticed so far is ‘fatigue’ or tiredness in some volunteers


NEWS VACCINE

NEW DELHI: The only noticeable side-effect for the vaccinea being administered for Covid control to select number of volunteers was fatigue in some cases. The UK is the first nation to give formal nod for vaccine injections, and the treatment is generally certified to be safe.

Top pharmaceutical companies that tested their vaccines on volunteers said the only Grade 3 (severe cases)-solicited adverse event greater than or equal to 2 per cent in frequency after the first or second dose “was fatigue at 3.7 per cent following dose 2.”

Interviewed by CNN, paediactrics professor Paul Offit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia noted that some side effects are normal for all vaccines. “That means your immune response is working for you. You should feel good about that,” he said.

Should people experience side-effects from the first dose, then there shouldn’t be any difficulty coming back for that second shot, knowing that you’re now in a much better position to fight off this awful virus,” he was quoted as saying.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been granted emergency authorisation by British regulators, and the first doses are expected to be rolled out from early next week.

HOW VACCINE WORKS

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine uses a new approach to making vaccines that uses messenger RNA, or mRNA. The mRNA is a single strand of the genetic code that cells can “read” and use to make a protein. The mRNA instructs cells in the body to make a particular piece of the virus’s spike protein. The immune system sees it, recognizes it as foreign, and is prepared to attack when actual infection occurs.

CAN MORE THAN ONE VACCINE BE USED?

The UK government says studies are underway to determine whether the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines can be given interchangeably across the two doses, since “both … are based on the spike protein of the virus,” but so far it’s unclear whether this is effective.

“There is no evidence as to the interchangeability of the different Covid-19 vaccines although studies are underway. Therefore, every effort should be made to determine which vaccine the individual received and to complete with the same vaccine,” the UK government says, though exceptions are permitted. –Agencies, IHN-NN

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VACCINE … UK becomes the first nation to approve Covid vaccine; distribution to begin in a week’s time


COVID UK VACCINE

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which will be distributed within a matter of a few days – or, early next week, as is officially announced on Wednesday.

Vaccine is the only hope to rein in the Chinese-origin virus spread which so far killed 1.5 million people and turned the world upside down for the past eight months. “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use,” the UK government said.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week,” it said, while the US and other largely affected nations like India are also promising to introduce one or other vaccine in a matter of a few weeks hence.

Britain’s vaccine committee will decide which priority groups will get the jab first such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. India will also be giving priority in the first phase of the vaccine distribution to health workers, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Three vaccines are getting ready in Indian pharma firms – in Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad – while more vaccine candidates are at work in India as well. India will also draw in vaccines produced outside the country.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and US biotech firm Moderna have reported preliminary findings of more than 90 per cent effectiveness in trials of their vaccines, which are both based on new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. – Agencies, IHN-NN

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FARMERS’ PROTEST … Talks in Delhi fail to sort problems out; another meet on December 3


NEWS FARMERS

NEW DELHI: A meeting held between farmer leaders and the Union Government on discussing their demands did not help much in sorting out the issues, but the two sides agreed to hold another round of talks on December 3. Farmer leaders said they would continue with the week-long agitation including blockade of the entry points to the national capital.


The offer by the government side – represented by three ministers – was that a committee would be set up to look into the problems raised by a group of 35 farmer organisations, but this was rejected by the farmer leaders.

The farmers’ unions want the government to repeal the recent legislations for the agricultural sector, passed by Parliament and turned into law by the Modi government by way  of reforms in the agriculture sector. 

Farmer leaders say this will result in dismantling of the Minimum Support Price for wheat and other farm produces that is now on offer to farmers. They also fear that farmers will, henceforth, be at the mercy of big corporates who will, under the new law, directly purchase produces from farmers. 

The meeting lasting over three hours was held at the Vigyan Bhavan here, participated by farmer leaders as also Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal and junior minister for commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab.

The idea of the government, it is explained again by three ministers, is to eliminate middlemen, who so far exploited farmers.

The Bharat Kisan Union (Ekata Ugrahan) is leading the farmers’ agitation, which has outside backing from the Congress and the two Communist parties.

The farmers are holding peaceful sit-ins at entry points to the capital. They are mostly from Punjab and Haryana, and the epicentre of the protests are the Singhu and Tikri borders as also the Ghazipur border. IHN-NN


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NRI VOTES … Fresh move by ECI to grant voting rights to NRIs in 2021 May assembly polls


NEWS NRI VOTE

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought nod from the central government to allow voting for NRIs in the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala.

In a note to the Union Law Ministry, the ECI said it is technically and administratively ready to extend the electronic voting facility to NRIs through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System. While over crore of Indians live abroad, only a few thousand of them have so far registered as voters – mainly those who live in the Gulf region. Others have shown no interest so far.

Elections to these states are to be held in May next year. ETPBS is now allowed only for service voters – meaning those in military service and the personnel on election duty away from their wards where their names are registered. The government can give its nod by effecting a change in voting rules, and parliament approval is not needed for this, ECI officials pointed out.

Based on a request from the ECI and pleas from overseas Indians, the Union Government had, in 2018, introduced a legislation to facilitate NRI voting. This was passed in the Lok Sabha but not in the Raja Sabha before the end of term of the Modi government in 2019. When the government came back to power after the Lok Sabha polls, this matter has not been taken up afresh. –IHN-NN

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RAIN, STORM .. TN, AP, Kerala set for heavy rain, storm in coming four days, says Met warning


NEWS RAIN

CHENNAI: A well-marked low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal is turning into a depression on Monday and would bring moderate to heavy and extremely heavy rainfall over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and coastal Andhra Pradesh over the next four days.

The low pressure area on Saturday over south Andaman sea and adjoining areas of southeast Bay of Bengal has organised into a well-marked low pressure area, the Regional Meteorological Centre here said. “The well marked low pressure area “is very likely to concentrate into a depression during next 24 hours and likely to intensify further thereafter. It is likely to move westnorthwestwards and reach near south Tamil Nadu coast around December 2,” the weather office said. IHN-NN
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BJP MINISTER AT IT … Actress Vidya Balan who refused to dine out with MP Minister Vijay Shah faces his wrath; film shooting stopped in Balaghat forest area


NEWS MINISTER 

BHOPAL: The shooting for film Sherni has been cancelled at a location in Madhya Pradesh after actress Vidya Balan spurned an offer for dinner from state forest minister Vijay Shah, reports said on Monday. The shooting was going on in Balaghat, when the shooting team was asked abruptly to stop the shoot.

The team was stranded in the middle of the forest after the minister cancelled the permission, the report said.

Minister Shah however came up with a different version. He said it was the shooting team which made the offer for dinner to him, and he excused himself by saying he would meet the actress when he goes to Maharashtra the next time. The minister’s explanation is seen as an attempt to escape from the embarrassment over the matter spreading through the media.

Vijay Shah has been minister in Madhya Pradesh for repeated terms in BJP governments since 2004, starting with the Uma Bharti-led BJP ministry. He entered politics through student movement in Indore and claims to be a farmer by profession. Vijay Shah is known for his abrasive behavior. In 2013, he had been sacked from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan ministry after he made a loaded comment to the CM’s wife, asking her out for fun.

The Opposition Congress party took serious objection to the minister’s action against actress Vidya Balan and the shooting team. The party has sought action against the minister. The matter has reached Chief Minister Shivrajsigh Chouhan’s table, but he remains mum, official sources said. –IHN-NN

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HYDERABAD … Caught between KCR, Owaisi and BJP; civic polls on Dec 1; results on December 4


NEWS POLLS 

HYDERABAD: The BJP is making a calculated bid to grab the governance of Hyderabad – which goes to polls soon and the campaign for the elections ended today. A keenly engaged campaign by multiple players saw the Telugu Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao being giving a hard fight by the BJP which so far does not have much of a clout in the Telangana state that was carved out of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in 2014.

Yet, the BJP is hopeful it can give the TRS a run for its money in this elections. Its hope rests mainly on a victory it tasted in the recent round of by-elections in various states, held alongside the Bihar assembly polls. The BJP won the Dubbakka assembly seat, trouncing the ruling TRS, and giving a shock to the chief minister.

Voting for the 150 wards will take place on December 1. The results will be known on December 4.In the 2016 corporation polls, the BJP had got just four of the 150 wards, while the TRS swept the polls with nearly 100 seats.

It was to build on this hope that the BJP sent in senior party leaders like UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath the other day, and Union home minister Amit Shah today to boost the party’s electoral chances. Shah told a rally that the BJP wanted to end the Nawab-Nizam culture in the city, and run the city corporation on an ideology of equitable distribution of the resources. He said the chief minister was missing when huge floods made life miserable for the citizens; and he stressed this was caused because drains are illegally occupied by encroachers and the ruling TRS does not have the guts to remove them. The BJP, he said, will end the dynasty rule – meaning the rule by KCR and his son KT Rama Rao and nephew T Harish Rao – and run the city on democratic lines; no one will be excluded from its benefits, he stressed, throwing an olive branch to even the Muslims who are dead set against the BJP. “We will take Telangana from corruption to transparency,” he said.

Shah alleged that the TRS was secretly hobnobbing with the AIMIM of Assaduddin Owaisi in this polls. Owaisi is hopeful that his party can wrest power this time with the heavy support he expects from Muslims and a section of the Dalits. Owaisi hails from a family from Syria, which had landed in India long ago, settled down in Maharashtra and then moved into Hyderabad.

Earlier, addressing a campaign rally, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said if the BJP wins power in the corporation, the city will be renamed as Bhagya Nagar, after removing the name Hyder-a-bad, the City of Hyder Ali. “If Faizabad can become Ayodhya, and Allahabad the Prayagraj, then Hyderabad can become Bhagyanagar,” he said. Owaisi quickly caught on this promise and urged people to vote for AIMIM to ensure that Hyderabad’s name remained as what it is today.

Caught in the cacophony of BJP and AIMIM is the TRS, who banks principally on Telugu Hindu votes. KCR hails from a forward community that has

Muslims form less than half of the 40 lakh population of Hyderabad district, as per the population census of 2011. Hindus are in a majority, forming about 52 per cent of the population and Muslims 44 per cent, Christians 2 per cent. Muslims are mostly poor; and the rich form some 2 per cent of the community. 

Hindu votes could as well get divided between the TRS and the BJP, as also small entities like the Congress, the TDP etc. Muslim votes, in part, could go to TRS and the Congress too, and the rest to AIMIM. It is here that Owaisi sees a chance. 

Owaisi is steadily building a base for his party, which has in the past won the Lok Sabha polls in the Old City where Muslims are largely concentrated on. His party won a few seats in Maharashtra years ago and built further on it there, and recently won five seats in the Bihar assembly polls. He is doing a lot of ground work for the next assembly polls in West Bengal, where Muslims form 30 per cent of the electorate. 

He is also aiming to make a big mark in Tamil Nadu assembly polls by May next year, where he plans to field 25 candidates. IHN-NN


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NEWS POLLS 

HYDERABAD: The BJP is making a calculated bid to grab the governance of Hyderabad – which goes to polls soon and the campaign for the elections ended today. A keenly engaged campaign by multiple players saw the Telugu Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao being giving a hard fight by the BJP which so far does not have much of a clout in the Telangana state that was carved out of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in 2014.

Yet, the BJP is hopeful it can give the TRS a run for its money in this elections. Its hope rests mainly on a victory it tasted in the recent round of by-elections in various states, held alongside the Bihar assembly polls. The BJP won the Dubbakka assembly seat, trouncing the ruling TRS, and giving a shock to the chief minister.

Voting for the 150 wards will take place on December 1. The results will be known on December 4.In the 2016 corporation polls, the BJP had got just four of the 150 wards, while the TRS swept the polls with nearly 100 seats.

It was to build on this hope that the BJP sent in senior party leaders like UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath the other day, and Union home minister Amit Shah today to boost the party’s electoral chances. Shah told a rally that the BJP wanted to end the Nawab-Nizam culture in the city, and run the city corporation on an ideology of equitable distribution of the resources. He said the chief minister was missing when huge floods made life miserable for the citizens; and he stressed this was caused because drains are illegally occupied by encroachers and the ruling TRS does not have the guts to remove them. The BJP, he said, will end the dynasty rule – meaning the rule by KCR and his son KT Rama Rao and nephew T Harish Rao – and run the city on democratic lines; no one will be excluded from its benefits, he stressed, throwing an olive branch to even the Muslims who are dead set against the BJP. “We will take Telangana from corruption to transparency,” he said.

Shah alleged that the TRS was secretly hobnobbing with the AIMIM of Assaduddin Owaisi in this polls. Owaisi is hopeful that his party can wrest power this time with the heavy support he expects from Muslims and a section of the Dalits. Owaisi hails from a family from Syria, which had landed in India long ago, settled down in Maharashtra and then moved into Hyderabad.

Earlier, addressing a campaign rally, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said if the BJP wins power in the corporation, the city will be renamed as Bhagya Nagar, after removing the name Hyder-a-bad, the City of Hyder Ali. “If Faizabad can become Ayodhya, and Allahabad the Prayagraj, then Hyderabad can become Bhagyanagar,” he said. Owaisi quickly caught on this promise and urged people to vote for AIMIM to ensure that Hyderabad’s name remained as what it is today.

Caught in the cacophony of BJP and AIMIM is the TRS, who banks principally on Telugu Hindu votes. KCR hails from a forward community that has

Muslims form less than half of the 40 lakh population of Hyderabad district, as per the population census of 2011. Hindus are in a majority, forming about 52 per cent of the population and Muslims 44 per cent, Christians 2 per cent. Muslims are mostly poor; and the rich form some 2 per cent of the community. 

Hindu votes could as well get divided between the TRS and the BJP, as also small entities like the Congress, the TDP etc. Muslim votes, in part, could go to TRS and the Congress too, and the rest to AIMIM. It is here that Owaisi sees a chance. 

Owaisi is steadily building a base for his party, which has in the past won the Lok Sabha polls in the Old City where Muslims are largely concentrated on. His party won a few seats in Maharashtra years ago and built further on it there, and recently won five seats in the Bihar assembly polls. He is doing a lot of ground work for the next assembly polls in West Bengal, where Muslims form 30 per cent of the electorate. He is also aiming to make a big mark in Tamil Nadu assembly polls by May next year, where he plans to field 25 candidates. IHN-NN


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COVID PM … PM Modi on visit of three pharma firms to ascertain Covid vaccine preparedness for nation


NEWS COVID PM

MUMBAI: India’s quest for a vaccine to rein in the Chinese-spread Covid-19 vaccine reaches a decisive stage, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi airdashing to three major pharma facilities on Saturday for a first-hand assessment of the readiness of these entities to start supply of the vaccine to people across the country in stages from start of 2021.

The PM’s first stop-over was in Ahmedabad, where pharma major Zydus Cadila is ready with a vaccine. He was scheduled to spend an hour at the plant at Changodar, some 25km from Ahmedabad. Its vaccine is named ZyCoV-D.

The PM’s next landing will be in Pune, where the Serum Institute of India is ready with a vaccine. It has partnered with AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce the vaccine. The third stop-over for the PM is Hyderabad, where Bharat BioTech is ready with a vaccine, Covaxin, billed as India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate. The PM would head for Hyderabad from Pune after lunch.

COVID FIGURES

India, which started taking Covid-19 spread seriously since late March, has by now 9.3 milion registered Covid-19 cases, most of which have recovered, but left a trail of death of the order of 1,36,500 in the past eight months. Some 87,59,000 affected people have recovered, while the dead included a Union minister, and former President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, and a couple of state ministers as also some top names in the entertainment industry. IHN-NN


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JOLT TO MAMATA … Transport minister Suvendu quits govt, to join hands with BJP


NEWS SUVENDU

KOLKATA: In a major jolt to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her ruling Trinamool Congress, senior party leader and state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari left the government and is all set to join the BJP bandwagon. He would join hands with the BJP to throw Mamata out of power in the coming assembly polls.

Suvenu, who has forwarded the resignation letter to Mamata and governor Jagdeep Dhankar, said he would soon decide his future course of action. He has been distancing from Mamata for the past one year, and recently attended some events outside of the TMC framework. Alongside, an outfit called Dadar Anugami (followers of the brother) has been sprouting in various parts of the state in support of Adhikari.

Two issues that set Adhikari against the CM were the attempt by Mamata Banerjee to promote her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, now an MP, in the TMC and government circles. The CM’s plan is seen to be to turn TMC into a dynasty-led party, like the Congress. Adhikari, who was kind of a second-in-command in the TMC behind Mamata, smelt a rat. Also, the introduction of election strategist, Prashant Kishor to build the image for the TMC and Mamata was also not to the liking of Adhikari. Kishor hails from Bihar. Mamata, Adhikari and Kishor are all from the Brahmin stock.

Notably, Adhikari was in the forefront of the agitation against the land acquisition plan of the Buddhdev Bhattacharya-led Left Front government in Nandigarm in 2007. He was then a TMC MLA from the region. It was this agitation that spelled doom for the Left Front government and led to its exit from power in 2011 at the hands of TMC, after an uninterrupted 34 years in power.

The BJP is now serious about dislodging the Mamata Banerjee government. Mamata had been in the forefront of the campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi ever since he was nominated by the BJP for the top post. Mamata herself nursed ambitions of becoming PM by cobbling an alliance of regional parties, but this did not come off. Mamata failed to have any appeal beyond West Bengal, where she enjoyed the support of Bhadraloks led by Brahmins and also of the poor through her advocacy of the causes of the slum dwellers etc. She had also managed to win the support of the Muslims, who form 30 per cent of the population. Now, Muslims are also disenchanted with the style of functioning of the Mamata government. 

Notably, the Hyderabad-based Assadudin Owais, who leads the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is trying to consolidate the strength of Muslims behind the pr-Muslim party. Owaisi has made several visits to West Bengal in recent times, and is steadily building the base for the party. He has won five seats in Bihar Assembly polls. It already has a few seats in Maharashtra assembly, and is now trying to capture Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in view of the strong Muslim base there. He is also entering Tamil Nadu in a big way in the coming assembly polls. 

Meanwhile, the BJP is making a very serious effort this time to dislodge Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool from power, as it did with the CPIM in Tripura by first decimating the Trinamool support bases there. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has started learning Bengali four years ago, has announced he would be visiting West Bengal every week from January, to build the party campaign machinery for the May assembly polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also planning to make several visits to West Bengal to build support for the BJP.

In a stunning growth, the BJP had won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal in the 2019 polls, and emerged as the main Opposition in the state by sidelining the CPIM and the Congress. This time, the CPIM, CPI, and the Congress have entered into an alliance to unitedly face the Trinamool and the BJP. All these three parties have very little influence in the state now. The main fight will, thus, be between the BJP and the Trinamool. 

The exit of Suvendu Adhikari from the Trinamool set-up will majorly affect the ruling party in the state, as he has influence in some 15 constituencies in East and West Midnapore, Malda regions. He hails from a Congress family and his father was a Union minister in the UPA government. Suvendu Adhikari left the Congress and joined hands with the TMC when Mamata formed the party in 1988. He also has a stigma, via-a-vis the Saradha chit fund scam, in which his name figures prominently over duping of lakhs of investors. Central agencies are still investigating the case. –IHN-NN

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