Delhi government has decided to deploy senior nursing officers from state government-run hospitals as nodal officers in the private healthcare facilities to monitor the Covid situation and vaccination at private facilities.
The government-run hospitals have been asked to find suitable replacement for retired and transferred nursing personnel.
"The competent authority is pleased to deploy senior nursing officers as nodal officers in various private health care facilities from Delhi government hospitals to monitor management of Covid-19 patients along with monitoring of Covid vaccination," read an order issued by the Delhi health department on Tuesday late night.
The letter states that these senior nursing officers stand relieved from their respective hospitals with immediate effect, with the directions to report to their place of posting in private hospitals without waiting for any formal relieving orders form their hospitals. The order has been directed to all medical directors and medical superintendent of state government-run hospitals.
Meanwhile, the national capital on Tuesday reported 11,684 fresh Covid cases in the last 24 hours. The fresh Covid infection has pushed the total tally at 17,34,181. In the same time, 38 deaths have also been reported in the city, pushing the death toll at 25,425.
Delhi's positivity rate has also declined to 22.47 per cent, a substantial downward from Monday's 27.99 per cent. Reporting a decline of over 5,000 cases, the active caseload in the city stands at 78,112 as per the Delhi health department on Tuesday.
The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday declared Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate in the Punjab Assembly polls.
Announcing Mann's candidature, AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: "Some people have put forward my name for CM's face, 93.3 per cent favoured Mann as Chief Minister's candidate, while three per cent preferred Navjot Singh Sidhu."
Last week, Kejriwal had announced that the party will elect the Chief Ministerial candidate based on people's suggestions. The party had issued a mobile number and conducted a phone-in poll.
Earlier also the AAP chief had said he wanted the party's state unit chief Mann as the chief ministerial candidate.
In the last five years, the party faced many troubles and protests. The party saw the exit of leaders like H.S. Phoolka, Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, but Mann remained loyal to Kejriwal.
Prior to getting declared as the AAP's chief ministerial face, Mann said: "I am a loyal soldier of the party. I will do whatever duty is assigned to me. If I am asked to paste posters on walls or wave party symbol, I will gladly do that. Punjab is very important to me. Kejriwal has placed a lot of faith in me."
Mann is the only party leader who got elected to the Lok Sabha twice after winning polls. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was the only AAP leader who won for the second time. Mann has so far not opposed the party's leadership.
Before entering the world of politics, Mann was a big comedian. He is the only leader in the Punjab's AAP unit who has a strong fan base and is a crowd puller.
Experts are of the view that AAP in Punjab has an image of a party of Delhi and non-Punjabis. Because of this image, Kejriwal lost the polls in 2017 in the state and this time selected a 'Sardar' for the Chief Minister's post.
Facing criticism over poor implementation of the liquor ban, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar is likely to give some relaxation to the violators.
According to a top official of the JDU, the state government is ready to review this issue and a proposal is likely to be put on table in the upcoming budget session of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha.
As per the proposal, the violators who are caught in drunken state can be let off after paying penalty on the spot. Though, it is not applicable on repeat offenders. A person repeatedly violating the norms of liquor prohibition law would be liable to face jail term.
Such a relaxation would allow liquor consumption at home and would also promote the home delivery concept, which is already popular among habitual drinkers in Bihar.
The JDU official further said that the vehicle used for smuggling of liquor could be released after paying a fine.
He said that the Chief Minister is under huge political pressure after a series of spurious liquor tragedies in different districts in the last four months that have taken the lives of more than 80 persons and many others have lost their eyesight.
Reacting to it, Danish Rizwan, the chief spokesperson of HAM said: "Chief minister Nitish Kumar, instead of bringing amendment or review of liquor prohibition law, should do a survey on this issue. If common people of the state are satisfied with the amendment or review, our party will not go against it. If people of Bihar are in favour of withdrawal of the liquor ban, we also respect that decision."
The liquor tragedies occurred in Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Bettiah, Samastipur, Vaishali, Nawada and now CM's district Nalanda.
This issue is severely affecting Nitish Kumar government especially after its alliance partners BJP and HAM are extremely vocal. They want a review of the liquor prohibition law. The liquor ban was enforced in Bihar in April 2016.
The government also came under criticism by the Patna High Court recently. The court said a large number of liquor related cases are pending which has led to a huge burden on the judicial system. Keeping this in view, the Nitish Kumar government should establish more courts in all 38 districts for speedy trials of liquor related cases.
Though, this would not be the first case of amendment in liquor prohibition act. In 2018, the state government made a provision to grant bail to normal offenders at the police station level. The offenders have to pay Rs 50,000 as fine. In case of offenders unable to give a penalty, they would be liable to face jail term. Under the liquor prohibition law, the maximum jail term is 10 years.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, on Monday, said that when his party comes to power, he would ensure minimum support price for all crops for farmers.
He said that he would create a farmers' revolving fund to ensure payment of cane dues besides making adequate arrangements for ensuring free irrigation, loan, pension and insurance for them. He also said that he would withdraw all cases lodged against farmers and the families of those who had died during the agitation would be given Rs 25 lakhs each.
Yadav said that all this would be included in the Samajwadi manifesto which would be released after the BJP released its manifesto.
Farmer leader Tajinder Virk, who was among those injured in the October 3, 2021 Lakhimpur incident, administered a pledge with fistful of wheat and rice to defeat 'those who had heaped atrocities on farmers.'
Comparing the Lakhimpur incident with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Akhilesh Yadav said that by mowing down innocent farmers, the BJP had committed an unpardonable crime.
He said that it was the unity of farmers that had forced the BJP to take back the farm laws.
The SP president further said that the BJP and its leaders had been openly violating the model code of conduct. He said that he would soon lodge a formal complaint with the Election Commission and hoped that they would take action accordingly.
Replying to a question on failure of alliance talks with Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar, Akhilesh Yadav said that he had offered two seats but does not know why the same was turned down.
"Chandra Shekhar should know that Dr Ambedkar and Dr Lohia worked together and he should also work together in a positive spirit with us and as a brother," he said.
Amid speculation that he was likely to rejoin the Congress, Uttarakhand minister Harak Singh Rawat was on Sunday sacked from the government and expelled from the BJP for "anti-party activities" for six years.
BJP sources said that Rawat was asking for tickets for three of his family members including his wife in the assembly polls, but had been told that the party had made it a rule that only one member of a family would be fielded.
"He has been dropped from the Dhami cabinet and expelled from the party for six years," a source said.
The development came barely a month before the Assembly election in the hill state, slated for February 14.
It is learnt that Rawat, present in the national capital, is likely to join Congress on Monday. "Rawat is in touch with the Congress leadership and is likely to join the party. His daughter-in-law may also join the party with him on Monday," sources said.
Rawat had switched over from the Congress to the BJP before the 2017 Assembly polls.
Rawat was said to be nursing a grouse against the BJP leadership for quite some time, and even expressing his resentment publicly.
He had skipped the party meeting to select candidates in Dehradun on Saturday. As he met a senior Congress leader on Sunday and indicated that he would join the party on Monday, the BJP took action against him.
Similarly, last month, Rawat had left a cabinet meeting and announced his resignation. He threatened to resign demanding a budget for a medical college in assembly constituency Kotdwar and said that Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for the medical college but with that fund,only the boundary can be constructed.
Two days later, after a dinner meeting between Dhami and Rawat, the Uttarakhand BJP had claimed the crisis created after the latter's threat to resign from the state cabinet had been resolved.
After the meeting, Rawat had said that Dhami is like his "younger brother" and they had a "long relationship."
With an aim to derail the electioneering process in the state and to increase the Khalistani footprints in Punjab, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has activated its terror outfits to execute more terror activities in the state and also in some parts of Uttar Pradesh, the Intelligence agencies have warned.
The sources in the security setup, quoting the intelligence inputs, said that the ISI sponsored Sikh terror outfits may target the election rallies and may attempt to hit some important leaders or VVIP during the electioneering process in Punjab, parts of UP, and Uttarkhand.
Considering Punjab election as an apt opportunity to reactivate the Khalistani movement in the state and also in other poll-bound states wherein the Sikh voters are in large numbers, the ISI has activated all small or big terror groups which have been tasked to derail the poll process in the state, the sources further said.
The inputs have been shared by the Punjab, UP and Uttrakhand administrations which disclosed that these outfits may try to make inroads among Sikh population in other states too to gain their supports for their cause. The ISI has also conveyed to these proscribed Sikh Militant organizations that this is a time of 'Now or Never' for Khalistan.
Accordingly, the UP and Uttarakhand governments have been asked to keep a vigil on these activities and to keep in touch with the Sikh religious leaders and prominent persons in these states.
The ISI has instructed the Sikh militant groups which are active abroad to channelize the supply of weapons and explosives in Punjab and organizations like the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) to arrange the supply of weapons through Pakistani handlers.
The sources, quoting the intelligence input, also said that Sikh militant Wadhava Singh Babbar of BKI, Parmjit Singh Panjawar of Khalistan Commando Force and Ranjeet Singh Neeta of Khalistan Zindabad Force are in constant touch with ISI and executing the instructions while Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikh for Justice who have already been declared terrorist by Indian authorities, is also active in the UK, the US and Germany to support his men in Punjab by all means.
They also said that Lakhveer Singh-led ISYF has a substantial influence in the villages at the international border with Pakistan and many of his henchmen are experts in making bombs and other explosive devices. Singh has been tasked to arrange safe passage in Punjab of these explosive materials once it is smuggled into Indian Territory, the sources revealed.
The use of drones for transporting weapons and explosives across the border has become a major challenge for the security forces in recent times along the Punjab border. According to the officials, over 60 incidents of drones have been spotted on the Indo-Pakistan border in the Punjab sector. Many of them have been shot down by the Border Security Force.
The investigations into the recent Ludhiana blast have also revealed how these Sikh Militant groups are trying to execute their terror attacks in the state with their overground workers.
A senior official in the Punjab security grid said that the ISI has also activated the old terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e Mohammed, Indian Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen and asked them to recreate their sleeper cell network in Punjab and other parts of UP too. These Pakistan Occupied Kashmir based terror wings have been more active in Jammu and Kashmir through overground workers especially after the Taliban took over the reign in Afghanistan in August last year. He also said that extending the jurisdiction of BSF up to 50 km from the border to the hinterland in Punjab will help the security forces to prevent terror activities in forthcoming elections.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the BJP's politics of "hatred" is very harmful for the country and is also responsible for unemployment.
The former Congress chief said this a day after he attacked the BJP government by putting out an online quiz.
"I also believe that the hate politics of the BJP is very harmful for the country. And this hatred is also responsible for the unemployment," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Domestic and foreign industries cannot run without peace in the society. Will defeat this growing hatred around you everyday with brotherhood. Are you with me? #NoHate," Gandhi added.
The Congress leader had put out an online quiz on Saturday, asking people about the "biggest shortcoming" of the BJP government. The options he gave were "unemployment", "tax extortion", "price rise" and an "atmosphere of hatred".
As the elections are nearing in five states the Congress is witnessing internal rifts on the issue of who would be the chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls in Punjab and Uttarakhand. The party has, however, categorically stated that it is unlikely to project anyone as the CM face of the party and will go with collective leadership of the state. The issue will be settled after the results are out.
The Congress is wary of Punjab State President Navjot Singh Sidhu asserting himself for the top post ahead of the polls, while colliding with party colleagues. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi too is trying to impress the party high command while in Uttarakhand Harish Rawat wants to be the captain of the ship and is saying that it all depends on the party whether he will contest or not contest the polls. The Central Election Committee is meeting virtually on Saturday to decide on the poll tickets.
The party is trying to balance the warring factions and pacify the leaders like Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand who has been opposing the induction of BJP turncoats but the Congress leadership is eyeing the winnability factor in the state.
Sidhu on Thursday had questioned his own government and had said "A system which could not give justice to our Guru and could not punish the big fish involved in the drug trade needs to be demolished. I categorically state that I'm not running for any post and it's either this system will stay or Navjot Singh Sidhu," he tweeted.
"The fight is to change this system which has eroded Punjab like termites and is being run by mafias in connivance with mischievous politicians. This system cries for a change & reforms as the glory of Punjab has been annihilated by the nexus of a few political leaders and mafia," Sidhu said in another tweet.
The Congress, so far, has not named anyone as the chief ministerial face for the Assembly elections in the five states, as the party feels that it might lead to infighting and internal rifts which could damage its prospects in the polls.
The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 155.28 crore on Thursday with more than 63 lakh doses being given till 7 pm, the Union Health Ministry said.
More than 33,12,573 precaution doses have been administered so far to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities.
Also, 3,12,89,109 first doses have been given to beneficiaries in the 15-18 years age group so far.
Till 7 pm on Thursday, 63,92,572 vaccine doses were administered. The daily vaccination tally is expected to increase with the compilation of the final reports for the day by late night.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers (HCWs) getting inoculated in the first phase. The vaccination of frontline workers (FLWs) started from February 2 last year.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1, 2021 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
Vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years began from April 1, 2021. The government then decided to expand its drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1 last year.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from January 3 this year for adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years.
India began administering precaution dose of COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers, frontline workers including personnel deployed for election duty and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10 amid the country witnessing a spike in coronavirus infections fuelled by Omicron variant of the virus.
Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said his party will be asking the general public as to who should be the party's chief ministerial face in the Punjab Assembly polls even as he indicated that his own preference for the post was state unit president Bhagwant Mann.
Kejriwal, however, ruled himself out in the race.
The Delhi chief minister in the presence of AAP's Punjab unit president and MP Mann and party senior leader Raghav Chadha launched a mobile number on which people can give their feedback by 5 pm till January 17 by recording their voice, sending SMS or WhatsApp as to who among the party leaders they want to be declared as the chief ministerial candidate.
"No, Arvind Kejriwal is not in this race, let me clarify I am not in it," Kejriwal said.
He had in June 2021 announced that the party's chief ministerial face for the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls will be from the Sikh community, and said the entire Punjab will be proud of him.
Kejriwal said though he wanted Mann be declared as CM face, but the latter insisted that the people of Punjab should make this decision.
"Bhagwant Mann is my younger brother, he is AAP's tall leader. I said Bhagwant Mann should be made, but he said people should be asked first. He said the practice of deciding the name of the CM candidate behind closed doors should be stopped," Kejriwal told reporters here.
Mann said when he was told that his name will be declared as chief ministerial face then the Sangrur MP told Kejriwal that the "people should be asked whom they wish to see CM amongst the party leaders".
The Delhi chief minister said this may be for the first time in independent India that a party is asking people who should be the party's CM face.
"On mobile number 7074870748 the people can call, send message or WhatsApp and the party leader whom majority people will like will be announced as the AAP's choice for the CM face," said Kejriwal.
"The mobile number will be open till 5 pm on January 17. Based on the response of people, the AAP will declare its chief ministerial candidate," said Kejriwal.
Replying to question, Kejriwal said, "My personal choice is not important, but what people of Punjab say, the party will announce the name of that candidate".
"We want to give good candidate, who is liked by people. We have left the decision on three crore Punjabis now," he said.
Punjab goes to polls on February 14.
Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar on Wednesday said Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will definitely go to jail for corruption. He alleged that Rao was resorting to gimmicks like 'third front' to gain sympathy.
Stating that action against the chief minister is inevitable, Sanjay said his efforts to form a 'third front at the national level were aimed at gaining sympathy. Sanjay, who is also a member of Parliament, claimed that the central government was readying to take action against KCR.
Sanjay said that even if KCR escapes to some other country with his family, he will be brought back and put behind bars.
The BJP leader was speaking at a free medical camp organised by BJP Yuva Morcha at the party office here on Wednesday to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
Sanjay said the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader was holding meetings with leaders of Communist and other parties to project himself as a national figure and gain sympathy after the central government sent him to jail.
Referring to KCR's meeting with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday and earlier meetings with leaders of CPI and CPI-M, the BJP leader said KCR was resorting to gimmicks to save himself.
Sanjay remarked that KCR will not be able to save himself even if he takes the support of the sons of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Communists or even 'Taliban, Bangladesh or Al-Qaeda'.
The BJP leader also alleged that the corrupt are coming together on one platform. "They made thousands of crores but KCR made lakhs of crores. I think he is running a training camp for them here," he said.
Sanjay, who was arrested and sent to jail early this month for staging a protest in Karimnagar without police permission, has stepped up his attacks on KCR after his release from jail. The BJP has been bringing its national leaders here to target the TRS.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma were among the leaders who attended BJP meetings during the last few days to condemn Sanjay's arrest.
The BJP leaders have been describing TRS government as the most corrupt and claiming that the central government has all the records of corruption indulged in by KCR.