QKolkata: TMC Wrests Sabang; Xmas Brings Tourism Back To The Hills

Your daily lowdown on all things Kolkata.

6 min read
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. 

1. TMC Wrests Sabang As Cong Loses Deposit In Former Fortress

Trinamool Congress on Sunday comfortably scripted its first success in the Sabang assembly seat, but it’s the BJP’s vote surge — from 2.6 percent to 18 percent within 20 months — which sprang the only surprise, prompting a tweet from PM Narendra Modi himself.

Congress’s performance in its former citadel in West Midnapore was so poor that the candidate even lost his deposit money.

With seven-time Sabang MLA Manas Bhunia defecting to Trinamool, his wife Gita bettered his 2016 assembly win margin by 15,029 votes, as the party got a 51.2 percent vote-share, higher than the 36.6 percent it had got over a year-and-a-half ago.

As the results kept pouring in, a Trinamool victory appeared certain, with the party bolting ahead of its nearest rival, CPM, in the third round itself by a lead of 6,778 votes. This lead nearly doubled by the next round. By the 16th — and final — round of counting, the lead stretched to 64,196. “My wife has got more votes than me,” said Manas, whose win margin in 2016 was 49,167 votes.

(Source: The Times Of India)

2. Temp Flip-Flop Hits City Air Quality On Christmas Eve

The deteriorating air quality of the Park Street area was a matter of concern as revellers hit the party zone on Christmas eve.

Early on Sunday, the PM2.5 count shot up to “very unhealthy” level, which is four times the permissible limit of 60µg/m3(microgram per cubic metre). In the afternoon, the air quality index (AQI) improved a bit to “unhealthy” level, but it surged in the evening.

Environmentalists said this is mainly due to a phenomenon called “temperature inversion.” During warmer afternoons, the particulate matters could escape to a higher strata of atmosphere. But on cold evenings, the stagnant air causes a build-up of the particulate matter near the ground. So, this flip-flop continues.

This is the reason why the PM2.5 count, which rose to 242µg/m3 at 1am on Sunday, gradually came down to 184 µg/m3 at 3pm.

But it took a turn in the evening. As there is no major change in the atmosphere, the PM2.5 count is likely to rise to an alarming level.

(Source: The Times Of India)


3. Mukul Challenges Anubrata

Former TMC and present BJP leader Mukul Roy.
Former TMC and present BJP leader Mukul Roy.
(Photo: PTI)

BJP leader Mukul Roy on Sunday dared Trinamool Congress’s Birbhum strongman Anubrata Mondal to stop BJP candidates from filing nominations for the forthcoming panchayat election.

Lashing out at Mondal, Roy said, “Today, I will not speak much about him, but at the next meeting, I will spill the beans and that will either force him to leave (his party), or force his party to suspend him. He has said that he will not allow us to file nominations for the panchayat election. We accept the challenge. I can assure you that we will win the Birbhum zilla parishad.”

Mondal later said, “I will not comment on what Mukul babu has said. I do not pay heed to a man who built his political career in TMC and left the party. He is an opportunist.”

The BJP rally was scheduled to be held at Tantipara, 12 km from Suri. Three days ago, police cancelled permission. At Suri too, the civic body cancelled permission on Saturday. But despite that, BJP organised the rally. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh too lashed out at TMC leaders, saying, “Don’t try to harass BJP.”

(Source: The Times Of India)


4. VC Flags Skewed Funding

Jadavpur University. 
Jadavpur University. 
(Photo Courtesy: Jadavpur University)

The state universities are faced with financial constraints because of a funding policy of the UGC that favours central institutions at the cost of others, Jadvapur University vice- chancellor Suranjan Das said on Sunday.

"The UGC allocates 65 percent of its annual budget for only 47 central universities while the 375 state universities have to remain content with the rest 35 per cent," Das said while addressing the 62nd annual convocation of JU. "Like all state universities, this university ( JU), too, suffers from financial constraints.

This is a reflection of the discriminatory funding mechanism of the UGC." In the academic year 2016- 17, of the annual receipts of Rs 291.56 crore, the state government contributed 67.6 per cent and the UGC, only 19.5 per cent.

A section of JU teachers, however, pointed out that Das did not mention in his speech the slash in the state government’s funding.

Partha Ray, a teacher of physics, said the government had released Rs 170 crore against the Rs 182- crore salary bill submitted by JU in the 2016- 17 financial year.

(Source: The Telegraph)


5. Yuletide Spirit Brings Tourists Back To Hills

Much to the surprise of the tourism industry, the Yuletide spirit has brought in the otherwise reluctant tourists to the Hills, giving tour operators and hoteliers hope of making up for the loss caused by the three-month agitation.

Some of the heritage hotels are fully booked till the first week of January and restaurants are working on a war footing to cater to the unexpected rush of tourists. “We have 25 rooms and all are packed till the first week of January,” said Badal Majumdar, manager of The Elgin.

The hotel has prepared a mouth watering spread for the Christmas and New Year programmes. Along with complimentary wine, the hotel will offer continental dishes like roast lamb with brown sauce, roast pork with apple sauce, grilled fish, Chicken a la Kiev and a variety of salads and plum pudding with brandy sauce. “Besides the food, we will also have carols for two days, a bonfire with cocktail and a cultural programme for Christmas. For New Year, we have hired a DJ to entertain our guests,” Majumdar added.

Deep Arora, owner of the Park Restaurant — popular for its Thai dishes — was pleasantly surprised by the sudden rush. “There is an increase in the number of tourists. It happened a couple of days back. But it’s good for the Hills,” he said. Tourists will get to enjoy authentic pan-Asian food like Chicken Taipei, Dimsum (Buddha delight) and Khai Luk Khai (half-moon eggs tossed in tamarind sauce) and roast pot chicken (in special herbs).

(Source: The Times Of India)


6. Mass Marriage For Couples

One venue. Hundred-and-one weddings.

Couples tied the knot in a mass marriage ceremony conducted by Vishwa Jagriti Mission Trust, Calcutta, at PC Chandra Garden on Sunday, 24 December.

The brides and grooms — most of them from the Sunderbans and Baruipur in South 24- Parganas and some from Tangra — don’t have have the money to organise their wedding, said Sushil Goenka, the secretary of the Vishwa Jagriti Mission Trust, which has been conducting such ceremonies for the past seven years.

Among those who got married on Sunday were Rupali Mondal and Bikash Mondal, both from Gosaba in the Sunderbans. While Rupali is a Class VIII dropout and works as a domestic help, Bikash is an agricultural worker.

Bikash’s income depends on the quality of harvest.

"I am happy that they could marry. They have known each other for many years, " said Jayanti Mondal, Rupali’s mother.

Goenka, who is also the managing director of Emami Limited, said the couples either knew each other or selected each other and contacted the Trust for financial support.

An organiser of the mass marriage said many of the grooms work as orderlies in offices or as waiters in restaurants while the brides work as domestic help.

(Source: The Telegraph)


7. On The Road For The Elderly

Around 300 Calcuttans from varied age groups came together on Sunday morning for a 2km walk organised to pay tribute to the elderly.

Hope-a-thon, held in association with The Telegraph, was flagged off and led by actor Prosenjit, who stars in the upcoming Bengali film Mayurakshi that revolves around the relationship between an elderly father and his son.

Soumitra Chatterjee plays the father and Prosenjit is his reel son.

"Many elderly parents are forced to live alone as their children have migrated to other cities and abroad to pursue their careers. We will organise this walk every year as a mark of respect for the elderly," the actor said.

The walk started around 9.30am from the ground in front of Anderson Club, off Southern Avenue, and ended half an hour later at Calcutta Rowing Club.

Former cricketer Sambaran Banerjee and actresses Pallavi Chatterjee and Sudiptaa Chakraborty were among the celebrities who matched steps with the 300- odd participants from various age groups.

Among the elderly participants was 67-year-old Murli Manohar Lamba, who drew everyone’s attention by outpacing walkers younger to him by years.

(Source: The Telegraph)

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