Kerala leader Behanan withdraws name after tussle

Kochi, April 4 (IANS) In a game of one-upmanship in Kerala’s Congress circles, the name of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s closest aide Benny Behanan was axed from the list of assembly aspirants by the party high command, a party source here said on Monday.

Behanan is sitting legislator from Trikkakara constituency in Ernakulam district.

Sources here said party vice president Rahul Gandhi dropped Behanan’s name from a list sent from here for approval at New Delhi.

The development followed strong reservation by state Congress chief V.M. Sudheeran to five names suggested by Chief Minister Chandy. Gandhi, while allowing four names to remain on the list, directed that Behanan’s name be knocked off, the sources said.

Later, Behanan told media persons here that he had decided to withdraw his name from the upcoming assembly polls.

The final list of Congress nominees for the 140-seat Kerala assembly was likely to be released on Tuesday.

Activists seek tobacco control measures in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) Ahead of the Kerala assembly polls, a group of medical activists on Monday appealed to all political parties to include tobacco control as a public health measure in their election manifestos.

The activists — who included oncologists, cardiologists and epidemiologists — called for specific measures for tobacco control, saying tobacco was responsible for 40 percent of all cancer cases in Kerala.

During an interaction with the media, they also said that the economic burden on healthcare resources in the state due to tobacco use was Rs.1,514 crore a year, while revenue from tobacco was only Rs.315 crore.

Paul Sebastian, vice chairman of Tobacco Free Kerala, and director of the Regional Cancer Centre, said investing in tobacco control was primarily investing in public health.

“It is an assured way of preventing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure,” he said.

A.S. Pradeep Kumar, an epidemiologist, said their request to all political parties was to promise in their election manifestos the strong and strict implementation of tobacco control law Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.

R. Jayakrishnan, associate professor at the Regional Cancer Centre, pointed out that major political parties in Assam, which is also going to the polls, have included tobacco control in their manifestos.

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