Sun, 02 May 2021
13 Oppn leaders request govt for free vaccination
23:43 13 Oppn leaders request for free vaccination
Leaders of 13 Opposition parties on Sunday urged the Centre to launch a free mass vaccination drive across the country in view of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases.
In a joint statement, they also called upon the Centre to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to all hospitals and health centres as they manage the staggering patient loads in view of the rising cases.
The signatories include Congress president Sonia Gandhi, JDS leader and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
"In times of the uncontrollable surge of the pandemic across our country, we call upon the Central government to focus all attention in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of Oxygen supplies to all hospitals and health centres across the country," they said in a joint statement.
"We call upon the Central government to immediately launch a free mass vaccination programme across the country," they added.
The opposition leaders said the budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for the vaccination programme must be utilised for this drive.
JMM leader and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, DMK chief MK Stalin, BSP supremo Mayawati, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav have also signed the statement, besides left leaders D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M).
23:25 EC makes it official: Suvendu has defeated Mamata
The BJP's Suvendu Adhikari has the election from Nandigram constituency against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, as per Election Commission of India website.
In an update on the website, ECI said Adhikari won against Banerjee by a slender margin of 1956 votes.
The Trinamool Congress has demanded an immediate recount in Nandigram, alleging a number of illegalities in the vote counting process.
23:09 India receives 1.25L vials of Remdesivir from US
As the United States continues to deliver vital medical supplies to India to support its fight against COVID-19, a flight from America carrying 1.25 lakh vials of an anti-viral drug Remdesivir landed in India on Sunday.
"4th flight from USA arrives carrying 1.25 lakh vials of Remdesivir. Welcome this support from the United States," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. On Saturday night, a flight from the US, carrying 1,000 oxygen cylinders, regulators and other medical equipment landed in India.
Earlier on Friday, the US deployed its first two planes carrying the initial emergency relief supplies including oxygen cylinders, regulators, and pulse oximeters generously donated by California, rapid diagnostic tests and N95 masks, according to the release.
Last week, the White House announced that the United States will be delivering medical supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days to India to provide urgent relief as the country battles a new wave of COVID-19 cases, said the White House.
22:57 TMC wins simple majority in West Bengal
The TMC on Sunday scored a simple majority in the West Bengal assembly, winning 148 of the 292 seats where polling was held.
According to the Election Commission website, the party was also leading in 63 other seats.
The state has a 294-member assembly but election was countermanded in Shamsherganj and Jangipur constituencies due to the death of candidates.
A party needed 147 seats for a simple majority in the House with an effective strength of 292.
22:48 Sonia dials Mamata Banerjee, Stalin, congratulates them
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday congratulated TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and DMK chief M K Stalin for their stupendous victories in the assembly polls.
Sonia Gandhi spoke to both Banerjee and Stalin over telephone and lauded them for leading their parties to victory in assembly polls in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
While the Congress fought against the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, it was an ally of the DMK in Tamil Nadu.
Mamata Banerjee rode the BJP challenge to take her Trinamool Congress to triumph for a third consecutive term in West Bengal on Sunday while Tamil Nadu voted against the incumbents with AIADMK preparing to cede space to the opposition DMK-led alliance.
22:36 Trinamool demands recount in Nandigram
The Trinamool Congress has demanded recounting in Nandigram constituency from which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stood, alleging a number of illegalities in the vote counting process.
According to unofficial sources Banerjee lost the Nandigram assembly elections to BJP candidate and her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari by around 1,700 votes. However, Election Commission could not confirm the result.
The TMC has written to the CEO requesting an immediate recounting of votes, party sources said, alleging "tampering and mismanagement of numbers from the EVM and said that the counting process was stalled from time to time and was not reported by the poll panel.
The party in its letter to the CEO also alleged that valid votes in favour of Banerjee were rejected while invalid votes for the BJP were counted.
22:27 Ripun Bora resigns as president of Assam Congress
Ripun Bora resigned as the Assam Congress chief after the party dismal performance in assembly elections in the state.
Ripun Bora while tendering his resignation as the Assam Congress president, said that he takes responsibility for the partys defeat in the Assembly elections.
Ripun Bora submitted his resignation before Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
I do hereby tender my resignation from the post of President, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee owing responsibility of the humiliating defeat of my party in the Assam Assembly Elections 2021, Ripun Bora said in his resignation letter.
we were unable to combat the divisive and communal politics played by the BJP and the RSS, Ripun Bora added.
I pledge to continue my fight as a dedicated Congressman to uphold the ideology and values of the Indian National Congress, Ripun Bora further said in his resignation letter.
22:13 BJP retains Salt assembly seat in Uttarakhand
The BJP on Sunday retained the Salt assembly constituency in Uttarakhand with Mahesh Jeena defeating Congress's Ganga Pancholi by 4,697 votes in a bypoll to the seat.
Snatching an early lead over his nearest rival, Jeena maintained it consistently up to the end of counting, garnering21,874votes against Pancholi's17,177, the Election Commission said, quoting the returning officer of Almora.
The BJP's win is significant as it was the first election contested after Tirath Singh Rawat took over in March as the chief minister of the state.
Bypoll to the seat, which fell vacant after the death of Surendra Singh Jeena due to Covid-19 late last year, was held on April 17.
Mahesh Jeena, the elder brother of Surendra Singh Jeena, was fielded by the BJP from the seat in the hope of making the most of sympathy votes.
The Congress chose to rely on Pancholi as she had given a tough fight to the BJP on the seat in the 2017 assembly polls.
22:11 Stones pelted at Suvendu Adhikari's car
Stones have reportedly been thrown at Suvendu Adhikari's car as he was leaving the Election Commission Office after collecting his certificate.
Amid reports of BJP's Suvendu Adhikari winning in Nandigram, the TMC has demanded a recounting of votes in the assembly constituency where Adhikari was pitted against Mamata Banerjee.
21:55 Few opted for NOTA option in five assembly polls
The 'none of the above' option had very few takers in the five assembly polls, counting of which was held on Sunday.
According to data available on the Election Commission website, a total of 1,54,399 or (1.22 per cent) of the total voters exercised the option in Assam.
In Kerala, 91,715 or 0.5 per cent of the electors used the NOTA option, while in the Union Territory of Puducherry 1.30 per cent or 9,006 of the total people who voted used the option.
In Tamil Nadu, 0.78 per cent or 1,84,604 of the total voters pressed the NOTA button which is placed at the end of the electronic voting machine (EVM) after the names of the contesting candidates.
In West Bengal, 5,23,001 voters (1.1 per cent) exercised the NOTA option.
The figure would change once the final results are declared late on Sunday or early Monday morning.
The 'NOTA' option on EVM was introduced in 2013 on the directions of the Supreme Court and it has its own symbol -- a ballot paper with a black cross across it.
After the Supreme Court order in September, 2013, EC added the NOTA button on the EVMs as the last option on the voting panel.
21:52 Kamal Haasan loses to BJP in Coimbatore South
BJP's Vanathi Srinivasan has won in the Coimbatore (South) constituency defeating MNM party founder and actor Kamal Haasan.
Congress' Mayura S Jayakumar was at the third spot in the race.
After her victory, Vanathi took to Twitter to thank the members of the constituency for their support. "We have won! Thank you Kovai South for your support & blessings. I bow down to my voters, to my leaders, PM @narendramodi ji, HM @AmitShah ji, Nat'l President @JPNadda ji, GS(O) @blsanthosh ji & all @BJP4TamilNadu karyakarta for their hard work & dedication (sic)," she wrote.
21:16 For 2nd day, Delhi records over 400 Covid deaths
The national capital reported 407 COVID-19 fatalities and 20,394 cases with a positivity rate of 28.33 per cent on Sunday, according to a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.
This is the second consecutive day the capital has recorded over 400 fatalities due to the deadly virus.
It had reported 412 deaths on Saturday, the highest so far; 375 on Friday, 395 on Thursday, 368 on Wednesday; 381 on Tuesday, 380 on Monday, 350 on Sunday, and 357 on Saturday last week, according to government data.
Delhi had recorded 25,219 cases on Saturday, 27,047 on Friday, 24,235 on Thursday, 25,986 on Wednesday, 24,149 on Tuesday, 20,201 on Monday, 22,933 on Sunday, and 24,103 last Saturday.
The city has so far recorded 11,94,946 cases, of which over 10.85 lakh have recovered. The death toll due to the viral disease stands at 16,966, the bulletin said.
A total of 71,997 tests, including 17,510 rapid-antigen tests, were conducted in a day. The city currently has 92,290 active cases, it added.
A significant number of 24,444 patients recovered from the virus during the period. Out of the 21,483 COVID beds in various hospitals of the city, only 1347 are vacant. A total of 50,742 patients are recovering in home isolation, the bulletin said.
According to it, 49,633 vaccine doses were administered in a day and included 28,775 who received the first dose and 20,858 who got the second dose.
The number of containment zones in the city has jumped to 42,098 from 39,556 the previous day.
20:59 Bihar recognises journalists as frontline workers for COVID vaccination
On instruction of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Bihar government on Sunday decided to give status of frontline workers to the journalists who will get COVID vaccination on a priority basis.
All the journalists accredited with the Information and Public Relations Department at the state level and also non-accredited scribes authenticated by the district public relation officers, from print,electronic and web media, will
be considered as frontline workers for inoculation, an official statement said.
All of them will be given COVID vaccine on a priority basis, it said.
The state government took the decision considering the important role mediapersons are playing in making people aware about the danger of the highly infectious disease.
The chief minister has on various occasion acknowledged the services rendered by the mediapersons during the coronavirus pandemic and the risk involved in their jos.
20:56 Counting smooth but website updating is slow: EC
The Election Commission on Sunday said the counting process for the five assemblies was going on "smoothly", but its website was slow in displaying trends and results due to server overload.
Poll panel officials were responding to queries on slow updates of results. Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain said there was excessive load on the servers but the counting was on.
EC Secretary General Umesh Sinha said the counting was going on "smoothly", and that the load on servers cannot affect the counting of votes on the ground anyway.
The counting is on and results are being declared, while website is getting updated later, Jain explained.
Jain also said EVMS have once again proved that it remains "tamper-proof".
He said barring a few incidents which were a result of lapses on part of the officials, no other major issue surfaced with regard to the electronic voting machines.
The Commission officials did not respond to a question on West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerje planning to move court against alleged "mischief" in Nandigram from where she contested the polls.
Sources later referred to the various letters written by Banerjee to the Commission before and after the polls, regarding EVMs and paper trail machines. They said the results are a clear indication that EVMs remain reliable as ever.
20:44 No Covid vaccines for 45+ tomorrow in Mum: BMC
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Sunday said that there will be no Covid vaccination for Mumbaikars of age 45 & above on Monday either. The city has been vaccinating only those in the age group of 18-44 from May 1.
With vaccinations stopped in the city for three days due to inadequate supply, only those in the 18-44 age group will be inoculated on Saturday and Sunday. Those who are above 45 will be vaccinated whenever new vaccine stocks arrive, the civic body had said.
Though, slots will be open at 7.30 pm on Sunday for the 18-44 year olds to book themselves for tomorrow at the same 5 centres, the BMC said. Also, only 500 registrations from each centre will be allowed.
The third phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive to include everybody in the age group of 18-44 began at five hospitals in Mumbai on Saturday. The civic body listed Nair Hospital, BKC jumbo Covid Centre, Cooper Hospital, Seven Hills Hospital and the Rajawadi hospital to administer the vaccine doses.
20:27 Modi congratulates Mamata 'Didi'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee this evening and assured that the Centre will continue to extend all possible support to the West Bengal Government to fulfil people's aspirations and also to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic".
Counting the BJP's gains, he thanked the people of Bengal for their "blessing" to the party.
"From a negligible presence earlier, BJP's presence has significantly increased," PM Modi tweeted as the BJP - which had aspired to 200 of Bengal's 294 seats - headed for a victory only in 70-plus seats.
20:16 Punjab CM congratulates M K Stalin on his victory in TN polls
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday congratulated DMK leader M K Stalin on his victory in Tamil Nadu elections.
"Congratulate DMK chief @mkstalin for leading the alliance to a well-deserved victory in Tamil Nadu. I am sure you will provide a stable and reassuring government to the people of the State," Singh tweeted.
Several political leaders such as Tejashwi Yadav, Rajnath Singh, Sharad Pawar and Arvind Kejriwal also congratulated the DMK president for his electoral triumph.
19:35 Mumbai's 24 hour Covid caseload: 3,672 cases, 79 deaths
Mumbai reported 3,672 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.
It pushed the city's caseload to 6,56,204.
With 79 fatalities, the death toll in the city due to the pandemic reached 13,330.
As many as 5,542 people were discharged from hospitals.
19:30 TRS retains Nagarjuna Sagar assembly seat, BJP loses deposit
The ruling TRS has retained the Nagarjuna Sagar assembly segment by winning a majority of over 18,000 votes in the bypoll held on April 17.
The counting of votes was taken up on Sunday.
TRS candidate Nomula Bhagat polled 89,804, his nearest Congress rival K Jana Reddy got 70,932 votes, while the BJP candidate lost the deposit.
The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of sitting TRS legislator Nomula Narsimhaiah in December last.
19:22 Humbly accept people's mandate: Rahul
After the party's poor performance in assembly elections in five states, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said it humbly accepts the people's mandate and it will continue to fight for its values and ideals.
"We humbly accept the people's mandate. Sincere gratitude to our workers and the millions of people who supported us on the ground. We will continue to fight for our values and ideals. Jai Hind," Gandhi said on Twitter.
His remarks came soon after the Congress failed to win back states of Kerala, Assam and Puducherry and fared poorly in West Bengal, while only romping to power with the help of its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu.
Gandhi also congratulated DMK chief MK Stalin for the victory in Tamil Nadu.
"People of Tamil Nadu have voted for change and we will, under your leadership, prove to be a confident step in that direction. Best wishes," he said.
18:52 BJP has met its match in Bengal and lost: Tharoor
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday hailed Mamata Banerjee for her "spectacular victory" in the West Bengal Assembly polls and said the BJP has met its match in Bengal and lost.
Tharoor, who campaigned extensively for the United Democratic Front in the Kerala polls, also expressed disappointment with the results in the state where the ruling CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front was all set to retain power with a thumping mandate.
"It's a day of disappointment for many of my friends and colleagues in @INCKerala. You fought a good fight. The energy and commitment I've seen from you is the party's greatest strength," Tharoor said.
"We must not be disheartened. There is work ahead to renew and revive our party, and to serve the people," he said in a series of tweets.
Tharoor congratulated Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan "for his remarkable re-election, a first in 44 years".
"It is our duty to respect the confidence the people have shown in him and his government. In the fight against COVID and communalism, he (Vijayan) should have our support," tweeted the MP from Thiruvananthapuram.
Hailing Mamata Banerjee on the Trinamool Congress's performance in Bengal, Tharoor said on Twitter, "Congratulations to @MamataOfficial Mamata Banerjee on her spectacular victory over the forces of communalism and intolerance."
"The voters of Bengal (and especially Nandigram) have demonstrated where their hearts lie. The BJP has met its match in Bengal, and lost," he tweeted.
Tharoor also congratulated DMK chief M K Stalin on the "convincing and decisive" victory in Tamil Nadu polls.
"All Congress workers are happy to be allied with a party that will restore good governance to Tamil Nadu. Together we must stand for co-operative federalism & #InclusiveIndia," he said of the DMK-Congress alliance win.
After a decade in opposition, the DMK was on course to capture power from the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu as per the trends made available for the 234 seats.
18:29 No clarity on Nandigram, Mamata says 'don't worry'
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee addressing her party workers:
"This is a victory of the people of Bengal.
They spoke about double engine government, we have scored double century.
Humanity, compassion, has won.
Khela hoyechhe and we have won. I will distribute 50,000 footballs to the poor.
Covid is my first priority because it is on the rise. I have to start work immediately on Covid mamnagement. We won't have a big oath taking ceremony.
I am thankful to the people of Bengal. I am thankful to all the central leaders who came here and campaigned for us.
We will conquer Covid as well.
I request the Centre to distribute free vaccines to all the citizens of the country or I will protest it.
I have received congratulations from all quarters.
To my TMC party workers, please do not have victory procession.
Let's stand with the people in the time of this pandemic.
The BJP has practiced dirty tricks in these elections. But the people have not voted for them.
I am wearing a anklet, my plaster has been removed, I had told the press about this a few days ago.
Don't worry about Nandigram, I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It's ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don't mind. We won more than 221 seats and BJP has lost the election. Whatever happens for the best. I won't have to travel so far." (Mamata implies that she may have lost from Nandigram, though she hasn't spelt it out in as many words. News agency ANI said she won by 1200 votes.)
17:50 Not the time to celebrate, says Pinarayi
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan: "Kerala has given a verdict in favor of the LDF. But this is not the time to celebrate with great joy as COVID-19 continues to spread. This is the time to continue the fight against COVID-19. Kerala today reported 31,950 new COVID19 cases and 49 deaths. "
17:18 BJP office in Arambagh on fire
Violence begins in West Bengal. The BJP's office in Arambagh has been set on fire by miscreants. The BJP had said that it feared repercussions if it lost the elections. The TMC candidate from Arambagh is Sujata Mondal, whose husband is with the BJP.
Booth capturing, violence during polls (remember the Panchayat polls), vote rigging have been a constant in West Bengal elections for decades.
17:12 Mamata to address press at 6 pm
Mamata Banerjee comes out of her house to address her supporters saying: "You have worked very hard. Go home, rest, have a bath with hot water. Take care of yourselves. We have a pandemic around us, follow Covid protocol. Do not gather for celebrations. I will address the press at 6 pm."
She ended the short speech saying, Bangalar maati Banglar joy... Victory to Bengal.
According to NDTV the reason she still hasn't addressed the press is because the Nandigram results are in fact not in.
16:26 BJP concedes defeat in Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulates Mamata Banerjee, Pinarayi Vijayan, and MK Stalin for their wins in West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively.
Mamata Banerjee set to brief the media in a few minutes. As an aside, she is not on her wheelchair anymore.
16:19 Final counting in Nandigram begins, Mamata leads
Final round of counting begins in Nandigram. Mamata Banerjee is leading with just over 800 votes. Nails bitten to the quick. This is why every vote counts.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee left Bhawanipore, her two-term constituency, to contest from Nandigram, which is the fiefdom of Suvendu Adhikari, who quit the party to join BJP in December opening up a host of defections.
A while ago, Adhikari was leading by 6 votes.
Nandigram is one of the two cradles of the land acquisition protests, the other being Singur, that earned her the image of Bengal's "agni kanya (fiery woman)' and propelled her to power topelling the Left rule of 34 years.
15:57 Rajasthan bypolls: Gehlot congratulates Congress candidates; results awaited
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday congratulated Congress candidates Gayatri Devi and Manoj Meghwal while they led in the counting for the Sahada and Sujangarh assembly seats in the bypolls.
Though the official announcement was yet to be made by the Election Commission of India (ECI) as counting of votes is underway, Gehlot took to Twitter to congratulate the candidates.
"Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Congress candidate Gayatri Devi from Sahada (Bhilwara) and Manoj Meghwal from Sujangarh (Churu). The Rajsamand by-election was also fought unitedly and the BJP's victory margin here has been quite normal," he tweeted.
"People of the region have given more strength to the Congress government and have paved a way for development. I thank the voters for their blessings and support to the Congress candidates. I also congratulate party workers and leaders," Gehlot added. Bypolls to Sujangarh, Sahada and Rajsamand assembly seats were held on April 17. The counting of votes for t
15:55 Manguluru cops are inhaling steam, but...
BL Santosh, National Gen Secy BJP, tweets: "Another mass steam inhaling arrangement ... This time from Barkey Police Station , Mangaluru . #IndiaFightsCorona."
No masks, no physical distancing, and everyone is breathing in and out! Steam inhalation is held to be beneficial but in the confines of your own home or in a space where others aren't breathing in what you breathe out.
15:28 Mamata behind TMC's astounding performance: Vijayvargiya
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Sunday credited Mamata Banerjee for the TMC's astounding performance in Bengal elections, and said his party would introspect the poll results.
Earlier in the day, he had claimed that initial trends were not the real indicators of the final outcome, and exuded confidence that his party will win the elections. Vijayvargiya, who is also the BJP's Bengal minder, also said that he has received a call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who enquired about the party's poor show.
The senior BJP leader stated that he was shocked to see BJP MPs Babul Supriyo and Locket Chatterjee trailing. "The TMC won because of Mamata Banerjee. It seems people have chosen Didi. We will introspect what went wrong, whether it was organisational issues, lack of face, insider- outsider debate. We will see what went wrong," he said.
The ruling TMC looks set to retain power in West Bengal with its candidates leading in 205 of the state's 292 constituencies that went to polls against BJP's 85, according to the trends available for 287 seats on Election Commission website at 3pm. PTI
'Banglar nijer meye', the TMC's slogan for Mamata Banerjee
15:17 Mamata secures slim lead in Nandigram
Mamata Banerjee scrapes ahead of Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram by around 1300 votes, NDTV says. This is at the 13th round of counting, with around 4 rounds more to go.
Nandigram has been one of the most communally divisive campaigns by the BJP with Adhikari calling the constituency a mini Pakistan and Banerjee, 'Mamata Begum'. For Mamata Banerjee, who has always been contesting from Bhowanipur, Nandigram was a huge risk. The leads are still very slender.
Nandigram can still go either way.
15:04 Prashant Kishor to quit as poll strategist
Prashant Kishor who has helped Mamata Banerjee win West Bengal for the third time against all odds, and MK Stalin win Tamil Nadu, says he will be quitting work as a poll strategist.
"I've had enough. Eight-nine years I have been doing this. I don't need to do this. I am quitting this space. I do not want to continue to do what I am doing. I have done my bit. I want to take a break and do something else," Prashant Kishor tells NDTV. He said he was a failed politician, and neither did he say he was going to join politics or rule it out. He said his organisation Ipac was in able hands.
Kishor had said he would quit 'this space' (his work as a poll strategist) if the BJP won more than 99 seats. The BJP is leading at 84 seats, TMC at 205. His detractors will have to bite the dust and how! Clearly, Kishor is quitting on a high.
14:43 We were always confident: PK on TMC win
Election strategist Prashant Kishor speaking to NDTV on the numbers that indicate Mamata Banerjee's TMC is heading towards a win.
"We have been quite confident all along. All the BJP was doing throughout was run this massive propaganda that BJP is about to win. But we fought hard. The numbers may not seem like it is a close contest, but in reality it was. Numbers don't reflect the true fight on ground. The BJP has fought hard and like I said before, that they are definitely a formidable force here in Bengal," Kishor said.
Prashant Kishor has been bang on with his prediction. He had said BJP will not cross 99 and TMC will get 200 seats.
BJP's Suvendu Adhikari lead over Mamata Banerjee has dropped to 4,392 votes after 12th round of counting in Nandigram.
14:35 Pawar congratulates Mamata as TMC surges ahead of BJP
NCP president Sharad Pawar on Sunday congratulated Mamata Banerjee, whose party TMC was striding way ahead of the BJP in the counting of votes for the West Bengal Assembly polls.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) was ahead in 202 of the 292 seats that went to polls in West Bengal, way over the halfway mark of 147, leaving the BJP trailing far behind in 77 seats. "Congratulations @MamataOfficial on your stupendous victory! Let us continue our work towards the welfare of people and tackling the Pandemic collectively," tweeted Pawar, whose party shares power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra.
14:32 Thank people of Kerala for reposing faith in LDF govt: Sitaram Yechury
With the CPI(M)-led LDF set to return to power in Kerala, the party's general secretary Sitaram Yechury in a video message on Sunday thanked the state's electorate for showing confidence in the party and vowed that the Left party will continue to fight the challenges faced by people.
With the initial trends from the state showing the ruling LDF maintaining its lead in 88 of the 140 assembly constituencies in Kerala while the opposition Congress-headed UDF was ahead in 50 segments, as per trends available till 10.30 am, Yechury seemed confident that his party will emerge triumphant.
"I thank the people of Kerala for reposing faith in an unprecedented manner in the way that the previous LDF government tackled all the challenges that the people have faced and also the pandemic scourge. The government gave a Kerala model to the world on how to handle the pandemic," he said.
He said that the country as well as the state is facing twin dangers at the moment -- livelihood issues arising out of the pandemic and the defence and safeguarding of the constitutional, secular, republic of India. "The CPI(M)-led LDF will play its due role in this and we expect that the people of Kerala who have always stood up as one will continue to do so in a more stronger manner," he said.
14:05 You prevailed despite EC: Omar to Mamata
Omar Abdullah congratulates Mamata Banerjee: "Heartiest congratulations to @MamataOfficial didi & everyone at @AITCofficial for the remarkable victory in West Bengal. The BJP & a thoroughly partisan Election Commission threw everything including the kitchen sink at you & you prevailed. All the best for the next 5 years."
Though the TMC seemed to have successfully ridden the BJP challenge, it could well be a bitter sweet moment for Chief Minister Banerjee herself with trends showing she was trailing behind her one-time loyalist and now BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram by about 3,700 votes.
13:43 Maha: BJP maintains lead in Pandharpur Assembly bypoll
BJP's Samadhan Autade continued to maintain lead over his NCP rival in the counting of votes on Sunday for the bypoll to Pandharpur-Mangalvedha Assembly seat in Maharashtra's Solapur district. "At the end of the 24th round, NCP candidate Bhagirath Bhalke bagged 65,528 votes, while BJP's Autade polled 71,584 votes, taking a lead of 6,056 votes," a district election official said. As per district poll officials, thereare total38 rounds of counting.
13:41 Shiv Sena congratulates Mamata, mocks PM
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut congratulates Mamata Banerjee on her impending win. The TMC is leading in 206 seats to the BJP's 83 seats. Raut tweeted, "Congratulations to the Tigress of Bengal... O Didi... Didi O Didi @MamataOfficial @derekobrienmp @MahuaMoitra."
Didi O Didi of course, alludes to PM Narendra Modi's mocking of the CM at his rallies in the state -- 26 of them -- till the EC banned rallies over the Covid crisis. Mamata Banerjee had called herself the tigress of Bengal.
The Shiv Sena supported the TMC by not fielding any candidates in the state.
13:27 We will win over Covid as well: Derek O'Brien
TMC spokesperson Derek O'Brien tweets this emoji-loaded message of their impending win. Leads: TMC: 205, BJP: 84.
The ruling Trinamool Congress is set to retain power in the keenly watched state of West Bengal while the saffron party-led NDA was leading in Assam and the opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu, according to latest trends available on Sunday for assembly polls.
13:25 'We believe in only one leader and that is Mamata'
As TMC minister Chandrima Bhattacharya told Rediff a few weeks back, that the party had only one star candidate, it didn't need anyone else. Mamata Banerjee herself said that apart from three seats which she left to GMM, she was the candidate in all the 291 seats.
Read: Chandrima Bhattacharya's interview here.
The BJP on the other sent the PM, HM, JP Nadda, Amit Malviya, Yogi Adityanath and a host of other senior leaders to the state.
13:15 3-tier security in Bengal's counting centres
A three-tier security arrangement is in place in West Bengal's counting centres and 256 companies of central forces deployed across 23 districts of the state that voted in a gruelling election marred by violence and vicious personal attacks.
The result will decide whether Banerjee, who has been in power for 10 years and is arguably fighting the toughest poll of her political career, has been able to thwart the challenge by the battle-hardened election army of the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The BJP, which had just three seats in the 294-member Assembly after the polls and went to win 18 out of 42 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, had pulled out all the stops in the state in a determined bid to oust Banerjee, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Modi, and add another state to its tally of 17. The Left-Congress alliance is the third main contestant in the state.
Pritish Nandy@PritishNandy tweets: "Didi oh didi! Eta ki holo?"
13:01 Take immediate action: EC on celebrations in WB
Election Commission of India has asked respective State Chief Secretaries to take immediate action to stop gatherings. This is in response to images of TMC supporters celebrating their 'win' at Kalighat, Kolkata, which is the CM's residence.
DMK supporters continue to celebrate outside party headquarters in Chennai as official trends show the party leading on 118 seats so far. Election Commission of India has banned any victory procession amid the COVID-19 situation in the country.
12:56 Pon Radhakrishnan trails in Kanyakumari
Senior BJP leader and former union minister Pon Radhakrishnan was trailing by a margin of 58,813 votes against his rival Vijay Vasanth of the Congress in the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency.
The bypoll in the constituency was necessitated following the death of Congress-veteran H Vasantha Kumar who died last year due to COVID-19. Vasantha Kumar's son Vijay Vasanth is pitted against Pon Radhakrishnan who had earlier won from this constituency in 2014.
According to Election Commission figures, Vijay Vasanth has bagged 55.65 per cent votes while Radhakrishnan 36.02 per cent around noon.PTI
12:50 J'khand: JMM candidate leads by 4,076 votes in Madhupur assembly bypoll
JMM leader and minister Hafeezul Hasan Ansari is leading by 4,076 votes over his nearest rival Ganga Narayan Singh of the BJP in the by- election to the Madhupur assembly constituency, an Election Commission official said. Ansari polled 34,314 votes while his rival BJP candidate has to his credit 30,238 votes after the seventh round of counting, an EC spokesperson said.
12:49 'It's like winning the 1971 Bangladesh war'
Dr Kunal Sengupta, a leading orthopaedic surgeon in Kolkata says the atmosphere in the city is similar to what it was after Indira Gandhi announced that Dhaka had been liberated in 1971. "It's unfortunate that we cannot celebrate the win, but I cannot put into words, how ecstatic we are!"
Leads: TMC: 203, BJP: 86
12:34 Guj: BJP leads in early trends of Morva Hadaf Assembly bypoll
BJP's Nimisha Suthar gained a lead over her nearest Congress rival Suresh Katara in the bypoll to Morva Hadaf Assembly seat in Gujarat's Panchmahal district, as per initial trends of the counting on Sunday.
The bypoll, held on April 17, was necessitated after Independent MLA Bhupendrasinh Khant was disqualified in May 2019 for submitting an invalid caste certificate. He eventually lost an appeal in the Gujarat High Court on the issue. Khant died due to health issues in January this year. The constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.
12:33 People blessed us, BJP to retain power in Assam: Sonowal
Elated over the initial trends of Assam poll results, which showed that the BJP has an edge over its rivals, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday exuded confidence that the saffron party-led alliance will retain power in the state.
The ruling BJP-led NDA is surging ahead of the Grand Alliance spearheaded by the Congress in Assam, leading in 77 of the 119 seats, trends available on the Election Commission website at 12.15 pm showed.
"People have blessed us. We can say for sure that the BJP will form government in Assam. We are coming back to power with our partners AGP and UPPL," Sonowal told reporters.
Asked if the ruling coalition will be able to bag 100 seats, as claimed by the saffron camp ahead of the polls, he said, "The trends are completely in favour of the BJP. The party will achieve its target. However, we will have to wait for the final results." Sonowal is maintaining a comfortable lead in Majuli constituency. PTI
12:31 TMC leads in 202 seats, Mamata scores hat-trick?
Trinamool Congress leading on 202 seats and its supporters celebrate in Kolkata. The EC has banned celebratory rallies amid the rising Covid cases. The BJP likely to be the opposition in West Bengal. But remember these are still leads.
12:24 BJP leads in 88 seats in WB, PK predicted -99
This is what was at stake for the Trinamool Congress in Bengal. Narendra Modi held 24 rallies and Amit Shah 27 rallies. The TMC felt the eight-phase poll would work against the party. The TMC felt the central security forces were working in tandem with the BJP.
But the trends so far indicates a clear win for Mamata Banerjee.
She had said she needed to at least win 200 seats to prevent horse trading, given the huge number of defections to the BJP before the polls began.
The BJP had said they would be crossing 200 seats.
If the TMC indeed wins, it will be a huge loss of face for the BJP.
Right now the leads are: TMC: 202, BJP: 88.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor had said he would hang up his boots if the BJP makes it to 99+
The PM and the HM had repeatedly pointed to the huge crowds at the rallies and said it indicates a win for the BJP.
All this, while the country was going through a huge crisis -- the Covid pandemic.
12:22 Byelection leads
Official trends for by-election to Vidhan Sabha: BJP leading in Gujarat & Uttarakhand
JMM leading in Jharkhand
BJP & Congress leading on 1 seat each in Karnataka
Zoram People's Movement leading in Mizoram
Congress leading in MP
Congress leading on 2 BJP in 1 in Rajasthan
12:10 Journalists declared frontline workers in Odisha
Odisha CM declares working journalists of the state as Frontline Covid Warriors. He said working journalists are doing a great service to State by providing seamless news feed, making people aware on COVID-related issues and they're great support for war against COVID: CMO
11:52 Leads: DMK crosses halfway mark in Tamil Nadu
Trends continued to indicate a clear edge for the DMK combine over the ruling AIADMK front as counting of votes for the April 6 assembly elections got underway on Sunday.
The DMK combine is leading in 139 Assembly constituencies while the AIADMK front is ahead in 92 segments.
Victory in 118 of the total 234 constituencies will ensure a simple majority. A key pointer in the trends available so far is that there is no distinct wave in favour of the DMK and that the AIADMK continued as a force to be reckoned with despite the burden of a 10-year anti-incumbency.
Exit polls had projected anywhere between 160 and 190 seats for the DMK front. Top AIADMK leaders, Chief Minister K Palaniswami was comforably leading in his home segment of Edappadi in Salem district, while Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is trailing his main rival, DMK's Thanga Tamilselvan, a former party colleague, by a thin margin.
Interestingly, poll strategist Prashant Kishor has been advising the DMK in TN and the TMC in West Bengal.
DMK's Udhayanidhi Stalin ahead in Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni seat in TN.
11:16 NDA leads in Puducherry
The AINRC-led NDA was leading in 10 seats while the Congress headed alliance was ahead in three segments after first round of counting of votes polled in April 6 elections.
AINRC chief N Rangasamy was leading in his constituency.
The NDA-led front comprises the AINRC, AIADMK and BJP. There are 30 Assembly constituencies spread over Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam regions.
The chief contestants in the poll are the AINRC leader N Rangasamy heading the NDA in which the AINRC, AIADMK and BJP are the constituents. On the other side, the Congress-led Secular Democratic Alliance (SDA) comprises the Congress, DMK, VCK and CPI. PTI
What will the tea leaves say?
11:10 Incumbents cross halfway mark in Assam, WB, Ker
The ruling BJP-led NDA is leading in 81 seats, while the Grand Alliance spearheaded by the Congress is ahead in 38 places, as per trends available now.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are leading by 18,923 and 85,935 votes from Majuli and Jalukbari seats respectively. Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami of the BJP is trailing Congress nominee Rana Goswami in Jorhat. Assam has a 126-member assembly and 64 seats are needed for a simple majority.
11:03 YSR Congress leads in bypoll to Tirupati LS seat
The ruling YSR Congress has established a clear lead of over 14,000 votes after the first round of counting in the by-election to the Tirupati (SC) Lok Sabha constituency. YSRC candidate M Gurumurthy polled 28,547 votes while the TDP's Panabaka Lakshmi secured 14,451 in the first round, according to the Election Commission on Sunday.
This is a file pic. The EC has banned victory celebrations
11:02 Karnataka by-polls: BJP leading in Belgaum constituency
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Mangala Suresh Angadi is leading on Belgaum Assembly constituency election in Karnataka as the counting of votes underway on Sunday.The vote counting has started in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka - and 13 assembly seats at 8 am today. The party fielded Mangala Suresh Angadi as its candidate from the constituency.
11:00 MP: Congress leads in early trends of Damoh Assembly bypoll
Congress candidate Ajay Tandon was ahead of his nearest BJP rival Rahul Singh Lodhi by 700 votes after the first round of counting for the Damoh Assembly bypoll in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, an official said. The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of sitting Congress MLA Rahul Lodhi, who later joined the BJP.
10:59 LDF crosses halfway mark n leads
The ruling LDF maintained its lead in 91 of the 140 assembly constituencies in Kerala while the opposition Congress-headed UDF was ahead in 46 segments, as per trends available till 10.30 am.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was leading by 3,351 votes in his home turf against his nearest rival C Raghunathan of the Congress, according to Election Commission figures.
Ministers, K K Shailaja, A C Moideen, E Chandrasekharan, Kadakampally Surendran and M M Mani were leading in their respective constituencies, while their cabinet colleagues T P Ramakrishnan and J Mercykutty Amma are trailing. K T Jaleel, the former higher education ministerwho resigned recently following nepotism charges, was also trailing, as per the EC figures. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintained their leads in Haripad and Puthupally respectively.
10:46 TMC crosses halfway mark in leads, CM trails
The ruling TMC surged ahead of challenger BJP in West Bengal, leading in 173 of the 156 seats from where trends were available till now. The BJP was leading in only 108 places. The two parties were locked in a neck-and-neck contest in the initial stages of counting.
Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was, however, trailing her BJP rival and sitting MLA Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram. West Bengal has a 294-member assembly but elections could not be held for Shamsherganj and Jangipur seats due to the death of candidates. Therfore the halfway mark is 147 for 292 seats. PTI
10:36 BJP's Babul Supriyo trails
TMC's Aroop Biswas leading from Tollyganj, BJP's Babul Supriyo trailing. Supriyo is currently quarantined in Kolkata after contracting COVID for the second time. The first time Babul tested positive was in August 2020, when he lost his mother to the pandemic.
BJP's Rabindranath Bhattacharya
10:34 BJP leads in key seat Nandigram, TMC in Singur
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was Sunday trailing her BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram by 3460 votes after two rounds of counting, officials said. According to trends available from 120 of the 292 assembly seats that went to polls, the TMC is ahead in 75, BJP 43 and Independents 2.
Another 15 rounds of counting will take place in Nandigram before the result is announced.
In Singur seat, TMC minister and candidate Becharam Manna is leading his nearest rival Rabidranath Bhattacharya of the BJP after first round of counting.
TMC candidate from Bhabanipur, the seat vacated by Mamata Banerjee, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, is leading, and so is Firhad Hakim, a minister, from the Kolkata Port constituency. PTI
10:31 T'gana bypoll: TRS leads in early trends in Nagarjuna Sagar
The ruling TRS party candidate Nomula Bhagat on Sunday established a lead in early trends in the Nagarajuna Sagar bypoll held on April 17. Bhagat is leading by 2,118 votes over his nearest Congress rival K Jana Reddy after the second round of vote- counting, according to the Election Commission.
The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of sitting TRS legislator Nomula Narsimhaiah in December last. The BJP has put up P Ravi Kumar as its candidate.
The Congress candidate Jana Reddy had served as Leader of Opposition in the previous Legislative Assembly. He lost from the same constituency in the 2018 Assembly polls. PTI
10:30 Counting of votes for UP panchayat polls underway
Counting of votes for the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh began on Sunday morning, an official said. "The counting of votes will continue till all the ballots are counted. The entire process may take two days," a senior SEC official told PTI.
The State Election Commission (SEC) had said the candidates and their agents will be allowed to enter the counting centres only if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the 48 hours prior to the commencement of the counting process or taken both doses of the vaccine. The Supreme Court on Saturday had refused to stay the counting process.
In a special urgent hearing on a holiday (Saturday), a bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Hrishikesh Roy passed the order after taking note of several notifications and assurances of the SEC that the COVID-19 protocols will be followed at all the 829 counting centres.
The court directed that there will be a strict curfew in the entire state till Tuesday morning and no victory rallies will be permitted. It also asked the SEC to fix the responsibility for observance of COVID-19 protocols at the counting centres on gazetted officers.
10:29 Maha: NCP takes initial lead in Pandharpur Assembly bypoll
The ruling NCP is leading over the opposition BJP in the by-election to Pandharpur-Mangalvedha Assembly constituency in Maharashtra's Solapur district, as per initial trends of counting of votes on Sunday morning.
"At the end of the fourth round of counting, BJP's Samadhan Autade bagged 11,303 votes, while NCP's Bhagirath Bhalke polled 11,941 votes, taking a lead of 638 votes," a district election official said. The NCP and the BJP are in a direct fight in the bypoll, which was necessitated following the death of NCP legislator Bharat Bhalke due to post-COVID-19 complications in November last year.
Waiting to breathe
10:09 2,15,542 Indians have died of Covid
A record 3,689 daily COVID-19 fatalities pushed India's death toll to 2,15,542, while the infection count reached to 1,95,57,457 with 3,92,488 more people being confirmed positive for the disease, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The active cases have crossed the 33-lakh mark, the data updated at 8 am showed. Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 33,49,644, comprising 17.13 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 81.77 per cent.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1, 59,92,271, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.10 per cent, the data stated. India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.
The country crossed the grim milestone of 1.50 crore on April 19. According to ICMR, 29,01,42,339 samples have been tested up to May 1 with 18,04,954 samples being tested on Saturday. The 3,689 new fatalities included 802 from Maharashtra, 412 from Delhi, 304 from Uttar Pradesh, 271 from Karnataka, 229 from Chhattisgarh, 172 from Gujarat, 169 from Jharkhand,160 from Rajasthan, 147 from Tamil Nadu, 138 from Punjab,125 from Haryana, 107 from Uttarakhand, 103 from West Bengal and 102 from Madhya Pradesh. A total of 2,15,542 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 69,615 from Maharashtra, 16,559 from Delhi ,15,794 from Karnataka, 14,193 from Tamil Nadu, 12,874 from Uttar Pradesh, 11,447 from West Bengal, 9,160 from Punjab and 8,810 from Chhattisgarh.
10:04 Mamata trails in Nandigram
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee trailing in Nandigram where she is pitted against the BJP's Suvendu Adhikari. The Trinamool Congress is leading on 139 seats, while the BJP has 117 leads.
While the EC has rapped Adhikari for trying to communally divide the vote by calling Mamata 'begum' and saying she had turned Nandigram into a mini Pakistan, Banerjee has also fed into the narrative by addressing crowds in the constituency saying, "I am a Hindu girl". On the last day, she said, "I am a Brahmin and I belong to the Shandilya gotra."
09:50 LDF way ahead of Cong in Kerala
The LDF is leading in 68 seats, UDF in 30 in early trends of counting of votes for Kerala Assembly.
The counting of votes on 140 seats in the state has begun on Sunday at 8 am following the COVID-19 protocol.
The Election Commission has made necessary arrangements for counting. The counting is taking place amid an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The polling in the state was held in a single phase on April 6.The counting of votes began today for the high-stakes assembly polls in four states- Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and the Union territory of Puducherry adhering to COVID-19 protocols.
The counting is done under the shadow of a raging coronavirus pandemic to elect their next governments.
09:35 Maintain discipline, don't come to streets to celebrate poll victories: Gehlot to people
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday appealed to people not to gather on the streets to celebrate poll victories in the wake of the raging coronavirus in the state. The counting of votes for the bypolls to three assembly seats in the state started on Sunday morning. The results are expected by the evening.
"The result of the bypolls for the three seats in the state will be announced. It is my appeal to not celebrate in the wake of the rising corona cases. Do not gather crowds, do not burst firecrackers by making a gathering," Gehlot tweeted.
09:21 Assam: BJP in comfortable lead over Congress
Assam Assembly Election Results: BJP Leads In 20 Seats, Congress In 09
The ruling BJP is leading in 34 seats while the Congress is ahead in 19 seats, early trends from postal ballots show.
Counting of votes for the assembly elections in Assam is underway with strict adherence to health protocols as it is taking place amid a raging second wave of COVID-19. An average 82.04 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the elections to 126 assembly constituencies in Assam.
09:17 India receives essential medical supplies from France to combat COVID-19 surge
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, India on Sunday received several essential medical supplies and equipment from France to help fight the second wave of the coronavirus.
According to sources, the medical supply from France was received today includes eight oxygen generators, 28 ventilators, 200 electric syringe pumps, 28 AFNOR/BS Flexible tubes, 500 anti-bacterial filters, 500 machine filters and 500 related patient circuits. The total weight of these materials is more than 28 tonnes. These eight generators are Novair Premium RX 400 Hospital Level Oxygen Generators, with each unit capable of providing yearlong oxygen for 250 beds. These world-class generators would make 8 hospitals oxygen autonomous for over 10 years, informed sources.
09:10 'Mamata will win Bengal with 190+ seats'
Udayan Bandopadhyay, columnist, author, political scientist and an associate professor of political science at the Bangabasi College in Kolkata, in an interview with Rediff.com said that Mamata will win Bengal with 190+ seats. Read the interview here.
09:06 BJP closes in in Bengal
Extortion (tolabaaj), the bhaipo factor (nephew Abhishek Banerjee), the Amphan aid misappropriation are the main factors that will see the TMC lose its leads.
But the BJP's biggest drawback is the lack of a regional leader. Not a single one.
Leads: TMC 79, BJP 76.
The TMC and challenger BJP were Sunday locked in a neck-and-neck contest in West Bengal as counting of postal ballots was underway, with the ruling party having a slight edge, officials said. While the TMC was leading in 64 constituencies, the BJP in 60. The Left-Congress-ISF candidates are leading in three places.
08:47 Covishield production in full swing in Pune, says Poonawalla
The other big story: Shortage of vaccines...
Serum Institute of India CEO Aadar Poonawalla has said that the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield is in full swing in Pune and he will review the operations once he is back in the country.
Poonawalla is currently in the UK to meet his family members. "Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the UK. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD's production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days," Poonawalla said in a tweet.
India rolled out the third phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive for those in the age group of 18-45 years on Saturday though the inoculation process failed to take off in some states due to shortage of vaccines. While Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir among other states and union territories launched the vaccination drive, Karnataka and Odisha made only a symbolic start to it.
Poonawalla on Saturday had spoken out about the pressures he was under over the production of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles through a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
08:45 TMC, BJP neck-and-neck in Bengal
Leads: TMC: 55, BJP: 50
In Bengal, it's really a bipolar contest with the BJP putting in all its might into winning the state.
Will Mamata Banerjee be able to win Nandigram where she is pitted against 'Mir Jaffar' Suvendu Adhikari? Will Adhikari be Bengal's Himanta Biswa Sarma? Stay with us. As of now TMC leading in Nandigram.
Counting of votes polled in the West Bengal assembly elections began at 8 am on Sunday under tight security and strict adherence to safety protocols, amid a raging second wave of COVID-19.
Exit polls have forecast a tight contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the eight-phase elections to the 294-member assembly.
The counting will decide the electoral fate of 2,116 candidates including nominees of the Left-Congress-Indian Secular Front alliance. The exercise is underway in 108 counting centres spread across the 23 districts of the state, where a three- tier security arrangement has been put in place.
At least 292 observers have been appointed and 256 companies of central forces deployed at the counting centres. Polling to 292 assembly seats was held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29.
Voting in Shamsherganj and Jangipur seats in Murshidabad district was postponed due to the death of some candidates. Polling in these two seats will now be held on May 16 and votes counted on May 19.
08:39 LDF leads in Kerala
Counting of votes, polled in the April 6 Kerala assembly elections, began on Sunday morning adhering to COVID-19 protocols. The postal votes were taken up for counting first when the counting began at 8 AM.
The outcome will decide the fate of 975 candidates, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition leader, Ramesh Chennithala, senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, 'Metroman' E Sreedharan and former Union Minister K J Alphons.
The counting for the Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll is also being held. Of the 633 halls in 114 counting centres in the state, 527 have been earmarked for tabulating Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) votes, while the remaining 106 will be for counting the over four lakh postal votes.
Over 24,000 polling officials are participating in the counting exercise and as many as 30,281 police personnel have been deployed for security duty.
LDF: 5, UDF: 2
08:35 Puducherry: Counting of votes begins amidst tight security
Counting of votes polled in the April 6 Assembly elections in Puducherry began at 8 AM on Sunday. There are 30 Assembly constituencies spread over Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam regions. Counting began amid tight security and in strict adherence to the Covid protocols.
A spokesman of the Election Department here told P T I that postal ballots were taken up first for counting.
This would be followed by counting of votes recorded in Electronic voting machines (EVMs) at 8.30 am, the spokesman said. There are three counting centres in Puducherry region -Motilal Nehru Government Polytechnic college, the Women`s polytechnic college and the Government Tagore Arts and Science college (all in neighbouring Lawspet)-relating to the 23 segments in Puducherry.
08:31 Will return to India in few days: Adar Poonawalla
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said he will return to India from London in a few days. Poonawalla made the announcement soon after he spoke out about the pressures he was under over the production of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles through a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the U.K. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD's production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days," Poonawalla said in a midnight tweet.
In his first comments since he was provided with 'Y' category security by the Indian government earlier this week, Poonawalla had told 'The Times' in an interview about receiving aggressive calls from some of the most powerful people in India, demanding supplies of Covishield -- the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the Serum Institute is producing in India.
That pressure was largely behind his decision to fly into London to be with his wife and children, the 40-year-old entrepreneur had said in the interview on Saturday.
"I'm staying here (London) for an extended time because I don't want to go back to that situation. Everything falls on my shoulders but I can't do it alone...I don't want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can't supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don't want to guess what they are going to do," Poonawalla had told the newspaper.
According to Indian government officials, the protection to Poonawalla has been given in view of "potential threats" to him. Armed commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will be with him every time he travels to any part of the country, they said and added that the 'Y' security cover will entail a posse of about 4-5 armed commandos. "The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It's overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can't understand why anyone else should get it before them," Poonawalla had said.
08:27 Rtpcr or Antigen tests must for entry into centres
The EC has said that Rtpcr tests or antigen tests are a must for entry into counting centres or both doses of vax need to be taken which is impossible since there is a shortage of vaccinations across the country.
Assam: Counting of votes got underway on Sunday morning for the Assam assembly elections, with most exit polls predicting a victory for the BJP-led alliance for the second time in a row. The electoral fate of 946 candidates including 74 women, who contested the three-phase polls for the 126-member assembly, will be decided during the exercise.
Counting started at 8 am in 331 designated halls where the Election Commission has put in place various measures to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, as the state has witnessed a surge in cases.
A three-tier security apparatus has also been installed outside the counting centres. Prominent contestants include Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, Asom Gana Parishad chief Atul Bora, and senior Congress leaders Pradyut Bordoloi and Debabrata Saikia.
08:21 Bengal: Repolling in 2 seats after candidates died of Covid
Bengal: Exit polls have forecast a tight contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the eight-phase elections to the 294-member assembly. The counting will decide the electoral fate of 2,116 candidates including nominees of the Left-Congress-Indian Secular Front alliance. The exercise is underway in 108 counting centres spread across the 23 districts of the state, where a three- tier security arrangement has been put in place.
At least 292 observers have been appointed and 256 companies of central forces deployed at the counting centres.
Polling to 292 assembly seats was held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29.
Voting in Shamsherganj and Jangipur seats in Murshidabad district was postponed due to the death of some candidates. Polling in these two seats will now be held on May 16 and votes counted on May 19.
08:17 Bengal: BJP leads in 4 seats, TMC 1
4 leads coming in from West Bengal: BJP, 1 to TMC. These are postal ballots that are being counted now.
Assam: 4 leads: BJP at 3, Cong: 1
Kerala: LDF: 3, Cong: 1
Again, these are all postal ballots, and very early leads, which no way reflect the results.
08:10 Counting for votes for 4 states, 1 UT begins
Counting of votes for the Assembly Elections 2021 begins. Votes being counted across Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The strong room is being opened in Malappuram as counting of votes are set to begin.
Leads from Canning, Kolkata: TMC
Leads in Bankura: BJP
08:06 Kerala: CPI-M-LDF hopes for win
In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-LDF, Opposition Congress-headed UDF and the BJP-NDA are waiting with fingers crossed as the outcome of the fiercely fought April 6 Kerala Assembly polls is only hours away with counting to be held under strict COVID-19 guidelines all set to commence on Sunday.
As many as 957 candidates, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, 11 of his Cabinet colleagues, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, 'Metroman' E Sreedharan, former Union Minister K J Alphons and BJP State president K Surendran, among others, were in fray in the election to the 140 seats. Though all the exit polls and pre-poll surveys had predicted a massive win for the ruling Left front, the Opposition UDF has not given up hope.
08:02 West Bengal will be most closely watched state today
West Bengal: This is the most closely watched among the five polls. This is where Mamata Banerjee is trying to retain power for the third time amid a tough contest from the BJP. Exit polls have forecast an edge for the Trinamool Congress chief, but it will still be a tight race given sheer number of defections from her party to the BJP.
07:59 Results of polls 4 states, 1 UT today
The results of the four state elections -- West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and the single union territory of Puducherry -- will be declared today amid the raging pandemic. The answer to the most discussed question will start emerging from 8 am today when the counting of votes for the 822 Assembly seats begin amid strict Covid protocols.
07:59 Over 80K in 18-44 age group vaccinated on May 1
The health ministry said 84,599 beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine in the country on Saturday.
A total of 16,48,192 vaccine doses were given till 8 pm on Saturday, the 106th day of the inoculation drive, the ministry said.
As many as 9,89,700 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 6.58 lakh beneficiaries received second dose, according to the provisional report.
A total of 84,599 people in the 18-44 age group have been administered the first dose. The ministry said final reports would be completed for the day by late night.
The total vaccinations across the country rose to over 15.66 crore.
These include 94.28 lakh healthcare workers who have taken the first dose and 62.65 lakh people who have taken the second dose, 1.26 crore frontline workers who have received the first dose and 68.78 lakh such workers who have taken the second dose, it said.
In the 45-60 age group, 5.33 crore people have taken the first dose, while over 40 lakh have been given the second dose of the jab so far.
As many as 5.26 crore people aged above 60 have taken the first dose and 1.14 crore beneficiaries have taken the second dose.
The phase 3 vaccination drive has come into force from May 1.
The Centre has advised the states and Union territories to set up help desks with the aid of volunteer groups and NGOs. -- PTI