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Kolkata: In a bid to topple the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, the Congress leaders were trying to forge an alliance with the Left Front in the state.
State Congress general secretary Om Prakash Mishra also asserts that only a Congress-Left alliance can defeat the Trinamool.
However, a section of the state Congress leadership, including Manas Bhunia, point out that party workers had repeatedly come under attack from Communist cadres during the 34 years Left Front rule. They fear that a majority of the Congressmen could switch allegiance to the Trinamool or sit idle in case of a tie-up with the Left Front.
Beyond the boundaries of Bengal, the Congress and the Left are political foes in Kerala and Tripura, and a tie-up in the eastern state could “dilute” their rivalry in the two other states, argue critics. In such a scenario, the BJP – which has been trying to make inroads in Kerala and Tripura – would stand to gain.
However, Mishra is dismissive of such arguments.
“Electorally, we have competed against each other for over 60 years in Bengal and will continue to do so. But at the same time, we are on the same page in opposing the Trinamool’s misrule.”
“We cannot allow the Trinamool another reign of terror and, as opposition parties; it is our duty to provide the people a better alternative. So it is necessary for the Congress and the Left Front to come together,” Mishra told reporters.
Contending that 40 percent of votes which the BJP polled in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections would come to the Left-Congress combine, Mishra has twice written to party President Sonia Gandhi calling for seizing the political opportunity and tying up with the Left.
“No rational mind will bet on the BJP getting more than five percent votes, the civic polls last year are an indicator of that. In 2014, BJP got nearly 17 percent of the votes at the cost of both the Congress and the Left.”
“So, with the BJP losing all its popularity and becoming insignificant, the opposition votes itself would consolidate when the Congress and the CPI-M combine,” argued Mishra, claiming that the alliance could win around 170 of Bengal’s 294 seats.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, while the Trinamool secured 39.3 percent of the votes, the Left Front and the Congress had 29.5 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively.
In the last assembly elections in 2011, the Trinamool, then part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), had won 184 seats, the Left Front 62 seats, and the Congress 42 seats. The BJP did not win a single seat.
Mishra, a Jadavpur University professor, worked for over two months preparing the assembly segment-wise vote projections and claims an electoral arrangement with the Marxists will not impact his party’s opposition to the Left in Kerala, where elections will be held at the same time.
“The political dimensions vary from state to state. In Kerala we will compete, in Bengal we will cooperate. The Congress-Left contest in Kerala or Tripura will not reflect in our combined effort to dismantle the Mamata government,” he said.
The possibility of a Left-Congress alliance has gained ground with Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and state CPI-M secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and Marxist Politburo member Mohammad Salim publicly advocating such a coalition.
Chowdhury, who had been earlier insisting on the Congress going it alone, is now pitching for an alliance and has flown to New Delhi to discuss the issue with the party’s central leadership.
Mishra insists the combine would sweep the Muslim-dominated Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur districts – considered Congress strongholds.
“All six Lok Sabha seats in these three districts went to the Congress (four) and the CPI-M (two). If we combine, we can very well win all the 43 assembly seats in these three districts,” said Mishra, claiming Trinamool’s hobnobbing with the BJP has only furthered the disenchantment of the minorities against it.
“The disillusionment among minority voters has only been compounded with as many as four central ministers giving certificates of appreciation to the Mamata government,” said Mishra, referring to the recently-held Bengal Global Business Summit where union ministers, including Arun Jaitley, showered praise on the Banerjee administration.
“Both the Congress and the Left are well-regarded by the minorities anywhere in the country and when both these forces unite, the minorities are bound to root for them,” he said. Muslims comprise 27.1 per cent of Bengal’s population, according to the 2011 census.
The Congress has also been making efforts to reach out to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) to forge a grand alliance in the Bihar polls where old foes Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad joined hands to inflict a crushing defeat on the BJP.
Mishra said the effort will be to forge a formal alliance with a declared common minimum program, a chief ministerial candidate as well as a deputy chief ministerial nominee. (IANS)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)