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Bihar

BJP suffers shock defeats in Gorakhpur, Phulpur LS bye-elections

Samajwadi Party candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

 
Samajwadi Party workers celebrate their victory in UP LS bye-elections
Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
 
What made the loss even more humiliating for the BJP, which is in power at the Centre as well as in Uttar Pradesh, was the fact that the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were held by its leaders Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya, who had resigned after taking over as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Uttar Pradesh.
 
The bye-election results have come a year after the BJP had scored a resounding win in the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, held in February-March 2017, in which it won 312 seats in the 403-member House. Its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party won nine and four seats, respectively.
 
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which was then ruling the state, could manage only 47 seats, while its ally Congress ended up with a single-digit tally of just 7.
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party of former Chief Minister Mayawadi picked up 19 seats and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) one. The Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal secured one seat and independents three seats.
 
As counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections today, Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Nishad won the Gorakhpur seat, defeating his BJP rival Upendra Shukla by a margin of 21,881 votes. In Phulpur, Nagendra Singh Patel of the SP prevailed by a margin of more than 59,000 votes over Kaushalendra Singh Patel of the BJP.
 
The BJP ended up on the losing side in Bihar, too, where its candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh lost to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) nominee Sarfaraz Alam in the bye-election for the Araria Lok Sabha seat by a margin of more than 57,000 votes. 
 
The vacancy in Araria was caused by the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Taslimuddin in September last year.
 
In bye-elections for Assembly seats in Bihar, the BJP's Rinki Rani Pandey won the Bhabua seat by a margin of more than 15,000 votes while the RJD's Kumar Krishna Mohan defeated Aviram Sharma of the Janata Dal (United) by a margin of more than 35,000 votes in Jahanabad. The two seats had fallen vacant due to the deaths of RJD MLA Mudrika Singh Yadav and BJP MLA Anand Bhusan Pandey, respectively.
 
In Bihar, the bye-elections were the first electoral test for the RJD and Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) after the collapse of their grand alliance, which also included the Congress. JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar continued to be the Chief Minister of the state after forging an aliance with the BJP.
 
Adityanath said the party accepted the people's verdict in Uttar Pradesh and would work on ironing out the flaws. "There are lessons for us in the results," he said.
 
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Gorakhpur was considered to be the Chief Minister's bastion, with Adityanath having won the seat for five consecutive terms from 1998 onwards. Before that, his mentor Mahant Avedyanath had won the seat for three consecutive terms from 1989 to 1998, the first time as a candidate of the Hindu Mahasabha and then twice as a candidate of the BJP.
 
Adityanath, 45, is the head of the Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, which has a huge following in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and other parts. 
 
Phulpur, which was the constituency of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was won by the BJP for the first time in 2014. After Nehru passed away in 1964, the seat was won by his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit in a bye-election that year and retained by her in 1967. V P Singh, who served as Prime Minister in 1989-90, had won the seat as a Congress candidate in 1971.
 
Samajwadi Party leader and former state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav thanked the people of Uttar Pradesh for the victory as well as BSP leader Mayawati for her support. Mr. Yadav met Ms. Mayawati to convey his gratitude to her and her party.
 
Ms. Mayawati's decision to back the Samajwadi Party nominee in the bye-elections caught the BJP unawares. Adityanath called their understanding as the coming together of "a snake and a mongoose", but it was the Opposition which had the last laugh today. The arrangement between the two parties has given rise to speculation about a grand alliance by the Opposition parties against the BJP and its allies in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
The BJP, on its part, tried to explain the defeat by saying that the low turnout of voters -- 49% in Gorakhpur and 38% in Phulpur -- was a factor. The party's leaders also said they did not anticipate the understanding between the SP and the BSP and could not respond to the new situation in the short time available to it. The results suggest that the BSP was able to transfer its votes to the SP candidate.
 
The Congress candidates -- Sureetha Kareem in Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra in Phulpur Lok Sabha -- ended up losing their deposits.
 
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JD (U)-led "grand alliance" heads for handsome win in Bihar Assembly elections

The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, was headed for a handsome victory on Sunday as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly.

 
Grand Alliance heads towards big win in Bihar Assembly elections
 
The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, was headed for a handsome victory today as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly.
 
As counting trends became available for 230 of the 243 seats, the JD (U) and its allies were ahead in 125, past the half-way mark for a simple majority, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had established leads in 96. Others accounted for nine seats.
 
The campaigning for the elections was marked by sharp and bitter exchanges of barbs among the main contestants.
 
The elections were seen as a major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to the voters and as a battle for survival for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) and his foe-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
 
Polling in the elections was held in five phases on October 12, October 16, October 28, November 1 and November 5, and more than 56.80 percent voting was registered.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful across the state and no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
 
A total of 67063004 electors, including 31282535 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in the elections and there were, in all, 3450 candidates, including 272 women, in the fray.
 
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The Election Commission had set up 65349 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a freee and fair poll.
 
Counting of votes began at 8 am today amidst tight security at 39 centres across the state and al the results are expected to be in by this evening. 
 
All counting centres are situated in the district headquarters. There are two counting centres separated by a common road in Saharsa distict and one each in the 37 other districts.
 
The Election Commission ensured 24x7 three-tier security at all counting centres, with the inner cordon being manned by personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at all counting centres.
 
The commission also deployed an observer each in all 243 constituencies to oversee the counting process.
  
Exit polls had produced varying forecasts, with some putting the "grand alliance" ahead and others predicting a victory for the NDA.
 
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Nitish Kumar returns as Chief Minister of Bihar

Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth time in Patna on Sunday evening, two days after his loyalist-turned-political foe Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned from the position hours before a trust vote in the state legislative assembly on Friday.

 
Nitish Kumar takes oath as Chief Minister of Bihar
Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth time here this evening, two days after his loyalist-turned-political foe Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned from the position hours before a trust vote in the state legislative assembly here on Friday.
 
Mr Kumar, 63, and 22 Ministers, including three women, were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi at a ceremony that began around 5 pm today.
 
The ministers are : Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Prasad Yadav, Ramai Ram, Damodar Raut, Narendra Narayan Yadav, P.K. Shahi, Shyam Rajak, Awadesh Kushwaha, Lesie Singh, Dulal Chand Goswami, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Shrawan Kumar, Ramlashan Ram Raman, Ramdhani Singh, Jai Kumar Singh, Manoj Kumar Singh, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Bima Bharti, Ranju Geeta, Baidyanath Sahni, Vinod Singh Yadav and Naushad Alam.
 
Of them, 20 had resigned from the Manjhi government while the other two --  P K Shahi and Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh -- had been removed by the former chief minister.
 
Mr Kumar has returned as Chief Minister nine months after he had stepped down on May 17 last year, taking moral responsibility for the defeat suffered by his party in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
His return ended about two weeks of political uncertainty in the state following a bitter power struggle between him and Mr Manjhi.
 
Mr Manjhi finally met Mr Tripathi and handed in his papers on Friday morning. Shortly thereafter, Mr Kumar had called on the Governor and staked his claim to form the next government. Mr Tripathi had invited him to form the new government and asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly within three weeks.
 
Mr Manjhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Miister Akhilesh Yadav, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala were among those who attended the ceremony.
 
Mr Manjhi's resignation came after it became clear that he did not have the numbers to win a trust vote in the 243-member assembly even though the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has a score to settle with Mr Kumar, had thrown its weight behind him.
 
Mr Kumar has been claiming that he has the support of 130 MLAs in the House, including 99 of his own party, 24 from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and five of the Congress.
 
Ahead of his meeting with the Governor, Mr Kumar, a former Union Minister, had promised on Friday to provide good governance if given another chance to serve the people of Bihar and apologised to them for his decision to resign on May 17 last year after his party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.
 
Mr Kumar's party had ended up with just two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its erstwhile partner in the state, won as many as 22.
 
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of former Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, an ally of the BJP, got five seats. The Congress won two seats, the NCP one, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) four and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party won three.
 
On June 16, 2013, the JD (U) had formally withdrawn from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and ended its 17-year-old partnership with the BJP in Bihar after it became increasingly clear at that stage that Mr Narendra Modi would be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.
 
Mr Manjhi, who was the Minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Backward and Economically Backward Classes Welfare, was handpicked by Mr Kumar to succeed him on May 19 last year.
 
"I assure the people of Bihar that if I get an opportunity again I will serve them in the same spirit I did for eight and a half years earlier. Good governance was and will remain my priority," Mr Kumar told journalists on Friday.
 
"I also apologise for my decision to quit. I will never take an emotional decision again. Now I am ready to lead from the front," he said.
 
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The JD (U) has 115 members in the assembly, and most of them back Mr Kumar. The BJP has 88 members and the support of three independents.
 
Mr Kumar had staked claim to form the next government two weeks ago after the JD (U) removed Mr Manjhi as the leader of its legislature party and elected him to the position to enable him to return as Chief Minister. Mr Manjhi had refused to oblige and was expelled from the party. He then decided to seek a trust vote, banking on the support of the BJP.
 
Mr Kumar said Mr Manjhi had decided to quit after all the efforts made by the BJP to wean away MLAs from the JD (U) had failed.
 
Mr Manjhi, however, told journalists that he had decided to quit to protect MLAs supporting him, saying they had received death threats in the past few days. 
 
Mr Kumar has a degree in electrical engineering from the Bihar College of Engineering, Patna, now the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Patna. He joined politics after a brief stint in the Bihar State Electricity Board.
 
At the Centre, Mr Kumar has handled the portfolios of Railways and Agriculture.
 
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Polling underway for 41 seats in final phase of LS elections

Polling was underway on Monday amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.

 
Ninth phase of 16th LS polls underway
Polling was underway today amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Thousands of voters turned out to exercise their franchise in these constituencies and long queues of voters  were seen at many polling stations despite the sweltering heat,
 
All eyes were, however, on Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the second constituency from which BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is trying to make his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha. His main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Mr Modi is also in the fray from Vadodara in Gujarat, where polling was held on April 30.
 
Around 1.6 million people are eligible to cast their votes in Varanasi in what is clearly the keenest contest of the 2014 elections. There were long queues of voters outside polling stations in most areas of the city.
 
The authorities have deployed around 45,000 security personnel to ensure free and fair polls in the constituency. More than 12,000 polling booths were put under surveillance with CCTV cameras and proceedings at more than 300 polling stations were being videographed.
 
The Election Commission has deployed Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar as a special observer for the constituency following complaints of bias against the local election officials by the BJP. Several senior police officers of Uttar Pradesh are also camping in the city.
 
The constituencies that voted today included 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. They have a total of 66.13 million voters and there were 606 candidates in the fray.
 
The first phase of polling in the long drawn out election process was held on April 7. Counting of votes for all constituencies will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Two members in the 545-member Lok Sabha are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
 
Other prominent candidates in the fray in Uttar Pradesh include Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh and UP Legislative Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey from Doomariaganj.
 
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Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh is contesting from Kushinagar and popular Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, both on the Congress ticket. Veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra is contesting the Deoria seat. Quami Ekta Dal (QED) leader Mukhtar Ansari, who withdrew from the contest in Varanasi and later announced his support for the Congress, is in the contest from Ghosi.
 
In Bihar, the prominent candidates include well-known Hindi filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is trying his luck yet again, this time as a Janata Dal (United) candidate, and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fielded former Union Ministers Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore and Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) from Ghatal and Tapas Paul in Krishinagar.
 
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has put up Ms Subhashini Ali against Mr Trivedi in Barrackpore, while the BJP has fielded well-known magician P C Sorcar (Junior) in Barasat. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury is the party's candidate in Berhampore.
 
The TMC had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to the polls today in West Bengal in the 2009 elections, while the CPI, SUCI and Congress had won one each. The TMC and the Congress were in an alliance then. The CPI (M) had not won a single seat from these in 2009.
 
There are a total of 328 candidates, including 18 women, in the 18 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, which have a total electorate of 31.6 million voters.
 
In Bihar, more than 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the six constituences which have a total of 90 candidates in the fray.
 
The 17 constituencies that went to the polls in West Bengal have a total electorate of  25.61 million and 188 candidates in the fray.
 
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Five killed, 83 injured in serial blasts near Modi's rally venue in Patna

At least five people were killed and as many as 83 others suffered injuries in a series of low-intensity blasts that occurred near the Gandhi Maidan in Patna shortly before Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally there on Sunday afternoon.

Serial blasts rock Patna; 5 killed, over 80 injured
At least five people were killed and as many as 83 others suffered injuries in a series of low-intensity blasts that occurred near the Gandhi Maidan here shortly before Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally there this afternoon.
 
In all, there were seven blasts, including one in a toilet on platform number 10 at the Patna railway station, about two and a half kilometres from the ground. The other six explosions occurred around the Gandhi Maidan, the venue of the rally, which was attended by thousands of people.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told newspersons that one person suffered injuries in the first blast at the railway station and his condition was stated to be critical.
 
He said the other five blasts occurred around the Gandhi Maidan within the space of 15-20 minutes.
 
Mr Kumar said that, in all, 83 people were taken to the Patna Medical College Hospital, where 38 were admitted for treatment while the rest were discharged after first-aid. He said the condition of a few of the injured was serious.
 
Police sources said four unexploded bombs were found later and had been defused by bomb disposal squads. One policemen suffered injuries while defusing a bomb.
 
Mr Kumar said the police were questioning some suspects and had gathered valuable clues. He said he was confident the police would find those responsible for the blasts. 
 
He said there were no intelligence inputs about the possibility of such blasts. According to him, the police had made elaborate arrangements for Mr Modi's rally and it was a matter of serious concern that such an incident had occurred.
 
He said that the way in which the serial blasts were carried out indicated that somebody had planned to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.
 
The Chief Minister announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the blasts. He said the state government would meet the medical expenses of those injured in the explosions.
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and called for urgent steps to identify and ake action against those responsibility. He also appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm.
 
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Dr Singh spoke to Mr Kumar to enquire about the situation and called for immediate and firm action against those responsible.
 
He also assured the Chief Minister of all assistance from the Centre in the investigations.
 
Mr Kumar held a meeting with senior state government and police officials to take stock of the situation.
 
In Delhi, Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh told journalists that the explosions were caused by crude devices.
 
Condemning the blasts, he said teams from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guard (NSG) had been rushed to Patna to probe the incident.
 
He said the Ministry of Home Affairs was in continuous touch with the Bihar government in this regard.
 
The rally continued, with none of the speakers, including Mr Modi making any reference to it. However, towards the end, Mr Modi did urge people to return home from the meeting in a peaceful manner.
 
Later, he condoled the loss of lives in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
 
"Blasts in Patna are deeply saddening & unfortunate. Condolences with families of deceased & prayers with injured. I appeal for peace & calm," he said.
 
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Modi unveils development projects in Bihar and Jharkhand

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a slew of development projects in the areas of infrastructure, connectivity, energy security and healthcare at functions in Barauni and Hazaribagh during a day's visit to Bihar and Jharkhand today.
 
At Barauni in Bihar, Modi inaugurated or laid the foundation stones of projects worth Rs. 33,000 crore at a function at which Bihar Governor Laljee Tandon, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi and Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs Ramvilas Paswan were present.
 
He laid the foundation stone of the Patna Metro Rail Project that will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 13,365 crore. It will have two corridors -- Danapur to Mithapur and Patna Railway Station to New ISBT and is likely to be completed in five years. The project will ease the public transport in Patna and adjoining areas.
 
He also inaugurated the Phulpur to Patna stretch of the Jagdishpur-Varanasi natural gas pipeline, a project initiated by him in July 2015. “It will ensure the supply of gas to the local industries and to the revived Barauni Fertilizer factory besides marking the start of piped gas supply in Patna. A gas-based ecosystem will create employment opportunities for the youth in the area,” he added. 
 
“The Government is committed for the overall development of Eastern India and Bihar. Under Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Yojana, Varanasi, Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack, Patna, Ranchi and Jamshedpur are being connected by gas pipeline,” he said. 
 
Modi also inaugurated the Patna City Gas Distribution project which will provide piped gas supply in the city and adjoining areas.
 
“The NDA government’s vision of development is on two lines, infrastructure development and upliftment of the marginalized sections of society who have been struggling to avail basic amenities for over 70 years,” he said.
 
”It is a historic day for Bihar in terms of health care infrastructure development. New medical colleges will now be coming up in Chapra and Purnia while Medical colleges in Gaya and Bhagalpur are being upgraded. He added that AIIMS has come up in Patna while work is on to set up another AIIM in the state to meet the healthcare needs of the people,” he added.
 
He inaugurated the first phase of River Front Development in Patna and also laid the foundation Stone for the Karmalichak Sewerage Network spanning 96.54 kilometres.  Works related to Sewage Treatment Plants at Barh, Sultanganj and Naugachia were kicked off by the Prime Minister. He also laid the Foundation Stone for 22 AMRUT projects at various locations.
 
Referring to the pain, anger and grief in the country after the terror attack in Pulwama, he said, “I feel the same fire in my heart that’s burning inside you.” He paid tributes to martyr Constable Sanjay Kumar Sinha from Patna and Ratan Kumar Thakur from Bhagalpur who laid down their lives for the country and said the entire nation stood with the family of martyrs in this hour of grief. 
 
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He laid the foundation stone of the 9 MMT AVU of the Barauni Refinery Expansion Project. Another one was for the augmentation of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur LPG pipeline from Durgapur to Muzaffarpur and Patna besides the ATF Hydrotreating Unit (INDJET) at Barauni Refinery. These projects will significantly augment the availability of energy in the city and the region.
 
The Ammonia-Urea Fertilizer Complex at Barauni foundation stone was laid by Modi during this visit to boost fertilizer production.
 
He also inaugurated the electrification of railway lines on the following sectors: Barauni-Kumedpur, Muzaffarpur-Raxaul, Fatuha-Islampur,· Biharsharif-Daniawan and flagged off the Ranchi-Patna AC Weekly Express train.
 
Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu, Chief Minister Raghuvar Das and  Union Minister Jayant Sinha were among those present at the function at Hazaribagh.
 
Addressing the gathering, Modi said “I pay homage to Vijay Soreng, the brave son of Jharkhand who laid his life for the nation. At every step we will have to take care of the families of martyrs."
 
He inaugurated the Medical Colleges at Hazaribagh, Dumka and Palamu. The foundation stone of these colleges were laid by him in 2017. The new Medical colleges are built at a cost of Rs 885 crore. Each college campus is made disabled friendly. The modern medical facilities will benefit 1.5 crores people of 11 districts of Jharkhand. 
 
"It is this land of Jharkhand that witnessed the launch of Ayushman Bharat Yojana that has benefitted lakhs of people across India including thousands from Jharkhand. And constant efforts are being made to improve the health infrastructure of the state," he said.
 
He laid the foundation stone for four 500-bedded hospitals at Hazaribagh, Dumka, Palamu and Jamshedpur.
 
Modi said that health and safe drinking water are inseperable. And the water projects unveiled in Jharkhand will ensure good health of its people. He inaugurated four Rural Water Supply Schemes in Ramgarh and Hazaribagh districts. He laid the foundation stone for an additional six Rural Water Supply Schemes in these two districts along with foundation stone for water supply schemes in areas inhabited by Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups. He also laid the foundation stone for Urban Water Supply Scheme in Hazaribagh. To be set up at a cost of Rs 500 crore, this project will supply safe drinking water to 56,000 households of Hazaribagh.
 
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the Sahibganj Sewerage Treatment Plant, and the Madhusudan Ghat, under the Namami Gange initiative.
 
Modi distributed cheques to select beneficiaries to mark the launch of DBT scheme for farmers to purchase mobile phones under e-NAM. He said “the scheme will benefit 27 lakh farmers. With the help of a smartphone they would not only get weather information but information of crop prices, government schemes and new methods of farming also."
 
The Prime Minister e-inaugurated a Women's Engineering College at Ramgarh. He noted that it is the first such college in Eastern India and only the third in India where only women will study engineering.  
 
Foundation stone for the Centre for Tribal Studies, Acharya VinobaBhave University, Hazaribagh was also laid by the Prime Minister. He said that the institute will help in garnering and spreading the knowledge on tribal ways and culture. He said that sabka saath sabka vikas entails empowerment of all sections of the society including the poor, women, youth and tribals. And the colleges for women and tribals are efforts in this direction.
 
The Prime Minister distributed packed milk to select schoolchildren to mark the launch of Kanha Milk Scheme for students in government schools. The students will get 200 ml of milk everyday which will help in fighting malnourishment. “I hope each child will realise her full potential and make the nation proud," he said.
 
Modi reiterated that his government is making efforts to preserve and promote the memories of tribal heroes of the country's freedom struggle in museums and memorials. The Birsamunda Museum of Jharkhand is one such example, he added.
 
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Cabinet clears Patna Metro Rail Project comprising two corridors

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The Union Cabinet has approved the Patna Metro Rail Project, which will have two corridors, Danapur to Mithapur and Patna Railway Station-New ISBT, at an estimated cost of Rs.13365.77 crore to be completed in five years.
 
The Danapur Cantonment-Mithapur corridor will pass through the heart of the city and connect densely populated areas such as Raza Bazar, Secretariat, High Court, Law University and Railway Station. 
 
The Patna Junction-ISBT corridor will connect Gandhi Maidan, PMCH, Patna University, Rajendra Nagar, Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Transport Nagar and ISBT.
 
The Metro will provide eco-friendly and sustainable public transport facility to residents, commuters, industrial workers, visitors and travellers, an official press release said.
 
The length of the Danapur-Mithapur corridor is 16.94 km, which is mostly underground (11.20 km) and partly elevated (5.48 km) and comprises 11 stations (3 elevated and 8 underground).
 
The length of the Patna Station-New ISBT corridor is 14.45 km, which is mostly elevated (9.9 km) and partly underground (4.55 km) and comprising 12 stations (9 elevated and 3 underground).
 
The existing population of 26.23 lakh of Patna agglomeration area is expected to be benefitted by Patna Metro Rail Project directly and indirectly.
 
The approved corridors will be having multimodal Integration with Railway Stations and ISBT Station and will have feeder network of bus, Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT), the release said.
 
The project will have non-fare box revenue from rental and advertisement as well as Value Capture Financing (VCF) through the mechanism of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDK).
 
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Congress will waive farm loans if voted to power at Centre: Rahul Gandhi

 
Gandhi criticises farmers’ scheme introduced in Interim Budget
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Sunday that his party would waive farms loans all over the country, just as its governments had done in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, if it is voted to power at the Centre in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Addressing a huge rally at the Gandhi Maidan here -- the party's first in the city in years -- the Congress President also promised that it would accord the status of a Central University to Patna University and create more jobs for the youth through food processing and other units across the state.
 
Gandhi hit out Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing them of only looking after the interests of crony capitalists.
 
He alleged that, while the government had written off loans worth thousands of crores of industrialists, all that it had done for the farmers was the announcement of an income support scheme under which they would get Rs. 6000 per year which worked out to just Rs. 17 a day for a family. For a family of five, it worked out to just Rs. 3.50 a day, he pointed out.
 
He said this was an insult to the country's farmers and said they would give a befitting response to Modi and the BJP in the coming elections.
 
Gandhi said he was confident that the Congress and its allies in the Mahagathbandhan, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), would win the elections at the Centre and soon after that in Bihar. "We will together remove the BJP and Nitish Kumar from power in Bihar soon," he declared.
 
He said his confidence stemmed from the "fact that the BJP at the Centre and Nitish Kumar had not kept their promises" made by them to the people in the run-up to the last elections.
 
He said farmers in the country paid huge amounts as premium for crop insurance schemes but got nothing when they filed claims and found that the schemes had only benefited the insurance companies owned by the top industrialists.
 
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He went on to refer to the demonetisation and the problems it had caused for small traders, farmers, the lower income groups and others. He also spoke about the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and alleged that jobs which could have come to India's youth had been lost because the 36 aircraft India was buying would be made in France. Under the contract envisaged by the previous Congress-led UPA government, 108 of the 126 aircraft would have been made in India, he pointed out. Also, a lucrative offset contract had been given to industrialist Anil Ambani, whose company is debt-ridden and has no previous experience in the aircraft manufacturing sector, he said.
 
The Congress said the BJP government had done nothing for the youth of the country in areas such as education and jobs. He said Bihar, where the ancient Nalanda University was located, was known as a centre of education but its youth were now forced to go out of the state for education and in search of jobs.
 
He said many Bihari youth trying to eke out a living were forced to leave states like Gujarat and Maharashtra.
 
He also reiterated his party's promise of a Minimum Income Guarantee for the country's poor if the Congress were elected to power in the next Lok Sabha elections.
 
He asserted that the Congress was determined to play "on the front foot". 
 
"With (RJD leader) Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar, we will play on the front foot and hit the ball for a six," he said.
 
He went on to praise Tejashwi Yadav who works hard and does not lie to the people. "All of us will work together with dignity, love and unitedly," he added.
 
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel were amongst those present at the rally.
 
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7 dead, 30 injured as 11 coaches of Seemanchal Express derail in Bihar

At least seven passengers died and 30 others suffered injuries when eleven coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of Sunday.

 
11 coaches of Seemanchal Express derail near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar
At least seven passengers died and 30 others suffered injuries when eleven coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of today.
 
Of the injured passengers, three had suffered grievous injuries while the othes had received minor injuries in the mishap, which occurred at 3.58 am near Sahadai Buzurg station in Sonpur Division of East Central Railway, when most passengers were asleep, an official press release said.
 
The release said the derailment had affected the 11 coaches of the train. Three coaches had fully overturned, it said.
 
The affected coaches include one air-conditioned coach, two general IInd class coaches, three sleeper class coaches and three SLR coaches.
 
All the injured passengers have been moved to nearby hospitals, District Hospitals and Railway Hospital.
 
"Adequate number of doctors are available at site. Ambulances have been pressed into service. All medical expenses of the injured passengers will be borne by Railways," the release said.
 
Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav, senior Railway Board officials, ECR General Manager and the Divisional Railway Manager, Sonpur had rushed to the scene of the mishap to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.
 
The release said the Railways had also rushed Self-Propelled Accident Relief Train and Medical Equipment (SPARME) and Accident Relief Trains (ARTs) to the site.
 
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as well as personnel of ECR, the district administration, police and other emergency services, including doctors, were also rushed to the site.
 
Ambulances were pressed into service to ferry the injured to hospitals. Cranes were deployed to help lift the derailed coaches from the tracks.
 
Adequate free catering arrangements have been made at the accident site, Patna, Hajipur and at hospitals for passengers. Commercial officers with teams are deployed at Hajipur and Danapur to take care of the passengers.
 
Arrangements for refunds to the passengers who do not continue their journey have been ensured at different stations.
 
The rescue operation is complete and efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section. The derailment had disrupted the movement of trains on the route temporarily.
 
Railway sources said, prima facie, the cause of the mishap appeared to be a fractured rail at a crossing on the Barauni end of the station yard.
 
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal expressed profound grief over the loss of innocent lives in the accident and wished speedy recovery for the injured.
 
He ordered an inquiry into the accident by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Circle), Latif Khan.
 
He also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh each to the next-of-kin of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs. 50,000 to those with simple injuries.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Sonpur 06158221645 
Hajipur 06224272230 
Barauni 06279232222
Patna  0612 2202290/91/92
 
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Six dead, several injured as nine coaches of Seemanchal Express derail in Bihar

At least six passengers died and several others suffered injuries when nine coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of Sunday.

 
Nine coaches of Seemanchal Express derail near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar
At least six passengers died and several others suffered injuries when nine coaches of the  12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of today.
 
East Coast Railway (ECR) spokesman Rajesh Kumar told NetIndian over the telephone that  six bodies had been pulled out of the affected coaches. 
 
The mishap occurred at around 3.58 am, when most of the passengers were fast asleep.
 
The injured have been rushed to nearby hospitals, and an exact count of their numbers was not immediately available.
 
According to him, the affected coaches include one air-conditioned coach, two general IInd class coaches, three sleeper class coaches and three SLR coaches.
 
Rail traffic on the section has been disrupted and will take some time for resumption.
 
"Our immediate focus is on rescue and relief operations, to save lives," he said.
 
Senior railway officials, along with an accident relief train and medical teams as well as personnel of the district administration and police, have rushed to the site to oversee rescue and relief operations, he said.
 
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have also reached the  spot and are helping to pull out the victims from the affected coaches.
 
An NDRF official said most of the passengers trapped in the affected coaches had been extricated. A "confirmatory search" was being conducted to ensure that no one was still trapped in any of the coaches, he said.
 
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is in touch with members of the Railway Board and with the General Manager of the ECR and is monitoring the rescue and relief operations.
 
He expressed profound grief over the loss of innocent lives in the accident and wished speedy recovery for the injured.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Sonpur 06158221645 
Hajipur 06224272230 
Barauni 06279232222
Patna  0612 2202290/91/92
 
NNN
 

 

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Nine coaches of Seemanchal Express derail in Bihar

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Nine coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of today.
 
Senior railway officials, along with an accident relief train and medical teams, have rushed to the site to oversee rescue and relief operations, official sources said. 
 
A team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is also on its way to the scene of the mishap, which occurred around 3.55 am.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Sonpur 06158221645 
Hajipur 06224272230 
Barauni 06279232222
 
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Gadkari to Inaugurate and lay foundation stones of road and river projects in Bihar on Wednesday

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Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari will inaugurate and lay the foundation stones of several road projects and river development works in Bihar tomorrow. 
 
He will be accompanied by Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radhamohan Singh and others, an official press release said.
 
Gadkari will lay foundation stone for work of widening of 69 km section of National Highway (NH)-28A from Piprakothi to Motihari and Raxaul (including ICP Link road) with a cost of Rs 333.60 crore. He will also inaugurate the widening to 2-lane and strengthening with paved shoulders of 40 km section of NH-28B from Chhapra to Misrauli with a cost of Rs 171.40 crore, the release said.
 
The Minister will also inaugurate and lay the foundation stones of four national highway projects worth Rs 353.71 crore at Bagaha, Pashchim Champaran in Bihar. These include widening to 2-lane and strengthening of 24 km road from Misrauli to Parsauni with a cost of Rs 93.84 crore, widening and strengthening of 37 km road from Manuvapul to Yagnapatti-Navalpur-Raywal Chowk with a cost of Rs 128.90 crore under CRF, and construction of road overbridge (ROB) at 91 km and 94 km with the cost of Rs 131.97 crore.
 
Gadkari will also initiate the development of 300 km long river route from Hajipur to Triveni Ghat at a cost of Rs 12.9 crore under dredging work in river Gandak for facilitating water transport. This will help in generating cargo transport capacity of 11.6 MT in the next five years, the release said.
 
There will be RO-RO terminals at Vaishali, Kalyanpur, Betia and Bagaha. The project will provide cargo connectivity from river Ganga and transport facility up to Nepal by waterway, it added.
 
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'Accidental Prime Minister': Case filed against Anupam Kher, others in Bihar

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A case has been filed against actor Anupam Kher and others associated with upcoming film 'Accidental Prime Minister' in a Bihar court on Wednesday for damaging the image of some top people.
 
Lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha filed the case in Muzaffarpur's Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court. The court has admitted the case and fixed January 8 to hear the case in Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate court.
 
Ojha in his petition complained that Anupam Kher and Akshay Khanna, who have played the role of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his press advisor Sanjaya Baru in the film, have damaged the image of both of them. "It hurt me and many others," he said.
 
In his complaint, Ojha said others who have played the role of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra also damaged their image. He has also complained against the film director and producer.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Paswan's LJP to contest six LS seats in Bihar

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The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will contest six seats while the BJP and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) will contest 17 seats each, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar under a seat-sharing formula, BJP President Amit Shah announced on Sunday.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the JD-U also agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat to LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.
 
"The BJP and the JD-U will contest 17 seats each while the LJP will contest six seats in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections," Shah said after an hour-long meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Paswan.
 
Shah said they have agreed to contest under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He expressed confidence that the National Democratic Alliance would win more seats in Bihar in 2019 than it did in 2014.
 
Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP had won 22 out of 30 it contested while the LJP won six out of seven it contested.
 
Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), now a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance, had won all three seats it contested as part of the NDA alliance then. 
 
The JD-U had bagged only two seats.
 
IANS
 

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PNB official, construction firm owner, property dealer killed in Bihar in 12 hours

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At least three persons have been killed by unidentified gunmen over the past 12 hours in three different districts of Bihar, prompting a scathing attack by the opposition on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's governance.
 
The latest victim was a construction firm owner, who was gunned down in broad daylight on Saturday in Darbhanga district. Hours before that a bank official was abducted from Gaya and killed. 
 
A property dealer was murdered in Begusarai late on Friday. All these murders came barely 48 hours after the murder of a well-known businessman's father in Vaishali.
 
All cases were still open, police said. 
 
"Nitish Kumar is busy meeting in Delhi, discussing seat sharing with BJP President Amit Shah and criminals are busy killing businessmen. 
 
"Nitish Kumar has no time for anything other than preparing for 2019 Lok Sabha polls," former Deputy Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's son Tejashwi Yadav said.
 
In the latest attack, K. P. Shahi, the owner of Shahi Construction Company, was shot dead around 11 a.m. while he was enroute to his office from his residence in Darbhanga district. 
 
Four motorcycle-borne masked men targeted his vehicle and fired indiscriminately, killing him on the spot. Shahi Construction was engaged in road construction at three or four places. 
 
Police suspect 'rangdari' or extortion by a criminal gang as the reason behind his killing. 
 
Darbhanga Senior Superintendent of Police Garima Malik said it is difficult to say what the motive was, but "we have constituted an SIT to probe the case". 
 
Shahi's murder came barely nine hours after the murder of a Punjab National Bank (PNB) Customer Service Point (CSP) in-charge Pintu Singh in Gaya district.
 
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Singh was abducted late on Friday from near Amas at 11 p.m. He is believed to have been shot dead around 2 a.m. on Saturday, according to Amas Police Station Shayam Lal Saran. Deep injury marks were found on his head. 
 
Meanwhile, in Begusarai district, a property dealer Mahesh Singh was shot dead by unidentified criminals around midnight, police said. He was killed in Paspura village under Mufassil Police Station, a district police official said. 
 
All these killings came barely 48 hours after a businessman was shot dead in Vaishali district. 
 
The back-to-back killings have triggered violent protest by villagers, who have blocked the GT Road disrupting traffic for hours, Saran said. 
 
Gunjan Khemka, an industrialist was shot dead on Thursday in Hajipur. His son, Gopal Khemka is a well-known businessman in Patna. 
 
Khemka was targeted on his way to his factory in Hajipur, about 30 km from Patna, Vaishali Superintendent of Police Manavjit Singh Dhillon said. 
 
Police are still in dark and yet to make any breakthrough in the case. 
 
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress leaders have targeted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the rise in crime and total collapse of law and order.
 
Besides Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha have questioned Nitish Kumar's self-claimed rule of law in Bihar.
 
"There is no law and order in Bihar. It is free for criminals and they do whatever they wish," RJD spokesperson Bhai Virendar said. 
 
Ruling JD-U and BJP leaders have refuted opposition leaders allegations. 
 
IANS
 

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LJP to contest on 6 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, announcement on Saturday

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After some hard bargaining by the Lok Janshakti Party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar is understood to have sealed a seat-sharing deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the BJP and the Janata Dal-United contesting an equal number of 17 seats each leaving the rest of the six seats to the party headed by Ram Vilas Paswan.
 
In a bid to retain the LJP in its fold, the BJP is also believed to have agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat from its quota to the party.
 
The seat-sharing arrangement is likely to be made public on Saturday in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan. 
 
The LJP national spokesperson Sanjay Saraf told IANS, "It has been decided that our party would contest six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and get one Rajya Sabha berth." 
 
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Arun Jaitley held discussions with Ramvilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan over seat sharing arrangements in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
The discussion came a day after LJP leaders met BJP President Amit Shah and shared their concerns over the delay in holding talks over the seat sharing issue.
 
After the meeting with Jaitley, LJP Parliamentary Board Chairman Chirag Paswan expressed the hope that talks would move in the right direction.
 
"Talks are going on. An announcement will be made at an appropriate time. We have put our points before the BJP leadership and the important thing is that we are being heard. Hope everything will be fine," he told reporters.
 
His uncle, Ram Chandra Paswan, who also attended the meeting said that the LJP would remain part of the NDA.
 
"We are and will remain in the NDA. Seat sharing will be announced this week," Ram Chandra Paswan said. 
 
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"The party, which is having strongholds in any specific area, should be respected. We are a small party. We need adequate time for preparation. That's why we wanted the issue to be resolved at the earliest," he told reporters.
 
Sources in the BJP said a final arrangement of seats would be formalised after a meeting of the BJP and LJP leaders with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in Delhi.
 
A Bharatiya Janata Party leader also claimed that talks were going in the right direction and everything will be finalised soon.
 
In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested from 30 seats and won 22, while the LJP won six seats and lost one. The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), which is now a part of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar, bagged three. 
 
In 2014, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) had contested on its own but performed poorly. It had won only two seats.
 
On Thursday, BJP leader and Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav first went to meet Chirag and Ram Vilas Paswan and the three leaders later went to the residence of Amit Shah. They were joined there by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
 
The BJP and the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U had declared earlier that they would contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
IANS
 

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After ditching NDA, Kushwaha joins Congress-led UPA

 
Kushwaha joins grand alliance in Bihar after quitting NDA
Giving a jolt to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, former Union Minister and one-time ally Upendra Kushwaha joined the Congress-led UPA on Thursday and declared his party Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) will contest the elections as part of a 'grand alliance'.
 
Kushwaha, who on December 10 quit as the junior human resource development minister and from the BJP-led NDA, joined the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Congress headquarters here in the presence of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi and Congress Treasurer Ahmed Patel.
 
The development came on a day when another "disgruntled" BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in the national capital. 
 
The LJP is said to be unhappy with the BJP over seat-sharing in Bihar ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Chirag Paswan on Wednesday had admitted to a "few concerns" and had said "It was for the biggest party in our alliance, the BJP, to address the concerns". He had also praised the Congress for raising "real" issues of the youth and farmers during the recently concluded Assembly polls in five states. 
 
Kushwaha, who is the second BJP ally to quit the Modi government after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was unsparing in his attack on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as well Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
 
Addressing the media, Kushwaha accused Nitish Kumar of attempting to weaken and destroy the RLSP in connivance with the BJP. 
 
"Nitish Kumar is a big conspirator. He got help from Delhi government. He decided that Kushwaha has to be demolished so that he will not be able to take up the issues of Bihar," he said.
 
Kushwaha attacked Modi for betraying his promises made during the 2014 election campaign, of addressing the issues of education, jobs and healthcare for the people of Bihar. 
 
"But on all fronts, he failed to fulfill his promises. There was a difference between his talk and action. I never believed there could be so much difference," he said.
 
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He also praised Congress President Rahul Gandhi for honouring the party's promises of loan waiver for farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the party has formed the government after winning the recent Assembly polls. 
 
Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said a "pre-poll grand alliance" was imperative to defeat the BJP government at the Centre. 
 
Asserting that first steps towards forging a grand alliance was being taken, Tejashwi also hinted at paying court to the LJP to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). 
 
"There was speculation about whether Kushwaha would join the UPA. Today his party is part of the grand alliance. It was Kushwaha's decision to join, nobody forced him. 
 
"Similarly whether or not the LJP will join the grand alliance, that is their decision. But the country's (political) climate is changing, you need to wait and see," said Tejashwi.
 
While Tejashwi remained tight-lipped about any bid to woo Paswan to the grand alliance, sources said leaders of the Congress and the RJD were mulling a meeting with the LJP supremo. 
 
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of imposing an "undeclared emergency" in the country and wrecking democratic institutions, saying a "pre-poll grand alliance" of opposition parties was the need of the hour. 
 
"If we don't unite, people will not forgive us," he said exuding hope that Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would sooner or later become a part of the anti-BJP "grand alliance". 
 
"Like-minded parties opposed to the BJP are steadily uniting. Both the SP and the BSP need not be told, they know what they should do. And I believe, their decision would be based on what the people of the country want, which is to get rid of the Modi government," he said. 
 
Remaining evasive about whether his party was open to the idea of Rahul Gandhi being the prime ministerial face of the grand alliance, Tejashwi praised the leadership qualities of the Congress President. 
 
"The issue is not who will be the Prime Minister, the issue is whether our Constitution, our country will be will be protected or not from the BJP onslaught. 
 
"The recent Assembly poll results have displayed Gandhi's leadership qualities. The way he is striving to bring all opposition parties to a single platform is praiseworthy. I believe opposition parties are uniting and we will together defeat the Modi regime," added Tejashwi.
 
IANS
 

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Kushwaha meets Ahmed Patel, set to join grand alliance

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Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha met Congress Treasurer Ahmed Patel here on Saturday amid indications that the former's party will join the grand alliance in Bihar soon.
 
RLSP spokesperson Madhav Anand told IANS that Patel came to meet Kushwaha at his residence and they discussed political issues concerning Bihar.
 
He said there was a possibility of Kushwaha also meeting Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the coming days. 
 
Party sources said that an announcement of RLSP joining the grand alliance is expected soon. 
 
Kushwaha had resigned as a Minister in the Narendra Modi government on December 10 and his party had also quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance. 
 
Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) are part of the grand alliance in Bihar. 
 
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Congress MP from Bihar Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi passes away

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Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP from Bihar's Kishanganj, Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi, passed away early on Friday following a heart attack. He was 76.
 
According to district officials, he died at the Kishanganj Circuit House. He will be buried at his native Tarabadi village.
 
Qasmi was a noted Islamic scholar and a popular face of the party in the state, particularly in Seemanchal comprising Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar districts.
 
He won the Kishanganj seat on a Congress ticket in the 2009 general elections after five consecutive failures. He retained the constituency in 2014 despite the Narendra Modi wave in Bihar and across the country.
 
He had defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party's Dilip Kumar Jaiswal by a margin of over 1 lakh votes in 2014.
 
He was a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and also a founder member of the All India Milli Council.
 
IANS
 

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SC entrusts all Bihar shelter home probes to CBI

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday handed over the investigation into all the 17 cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children at shelter homes in Bihar to the CBI.
 
The court said: "If the state government had done its job properly, the cases might not have gone to the CBI."
 
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta directed the Bihar government to provide all manpower, resources and logistical support to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) even as counsel for the state government made a last-ditch bid to keep the investigation with the state police.
 
Allowing CBI to expand its existing team of investigators already probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror, the court said none of the members of the investigating team would be withdrawn without the permission of the court.
 
Initially the CBI counsel told the court that its earlier October 26 order directing the officiating Director M. Nageswara Rao to perform only the "routine tasks" was coming in the way of taking decision on its yesterday's suggestion to take over investigations in all the 17 cases of child abuse, including sexual abuse of children, at shelter homes in Bihar.
 
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on October 26 directed Nageswara Rao "not to take any policy decision(s) or any major decision(s) and only perform routine tasks essential to keep the CBI functional."
 
Noting that the October 26 order was no impediment in CBI taking over the investigations in all the 17 cases of child abuse in Bihar shelter homes, Justice Lokur said, "This (October 26 order) does not say that all investigations will stop."
 
The court lambasted the Bihar government saying it has taken all the remedial steps and issued instructions to investigating officers to invoke and incorporate the stringent provisions of criminal law against the accused in Muzaffarpur shelter home horror case.
 
"Can such a direction be issued to an investigating officer? Can Inspector General of Police say invoke certain provisions against an accused and ask the investigating officer to add these sections (of criminal law)?" said Justice Lokur wondering by that corollary, the supervising officer can ask the investigating officer not to invoke certain provisions against the accused.
 
Justice Gupta said such directions to the investigating officer could be counter-productive at a later stage.
 
On Tuesday, the court slammed the Bihar government for not invoking the stringent provision of penal code and that of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) against the accused.
 
The court appeared unimpressed as senior counsel Gopal Singh patting the Bihar government said "The court gave us 24 hours, but we have made rectifications in 12 hours by invoking stringent provisions of the criminal law against the accused."
 
Brushing aside the resistance by Bihar government, with State Chief Secretary present in the court, on handing over the investigation to CBI, Justice Lokur said, "We have seen what you have done." Gopal Singh had said, "This kind of order (transfeering investigation to CBI) will cast doubts" on the ability of the state police.
 
IANS
 

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ADB to provide $ 200 million loan to improve state highways in Bihar

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here today a $200 million loan to finance widening and upgrading of about 230 kilometers of State Highways in Bihar to all-weather standards with road safety features. 
 
The signatories to the loan agreement for the Bihar State Highways III Project (BSHP-III) were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of India, and Mr. Rajeev P. Singh, Officer in-Charge of ADB's India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB. 
 
The project agreement was signed by Mr. Vipin Kumar, Resident Commissioner, Govt. of Bihar and Mr. Chandra Shekhar, Chief General Manager, Bihar State Roads Development Corporation Limited. 
 
Mr. Khare said the loan would complement the efforts of the Government of Bihar to upgrade all State Highways to meet the minimum two-lane standard with better surfaces and improved road safety leading to improved connectivity. 
 
Mr. Singh said that the new loan would continue ADB's support in the development of the road sector in Bihar. The improved roads under the project will contribute to savings in vehicle operating cost and travel time, reduce vehicle emissions, and improve road safety. The project will also establish a State-level Road Research Institute to improve technical and management capacity of the Road Agency Staff. 
 
Since 2008, ADB has provided four loans to Bihar, amounting to $1.43 billion, to upgrade about 1,453 km of State Highways and to construct a new bridge over the Ganga near Patna, an official press release said.
 
This BSHP-III project, approved by the ADB Board in October this year, will involve upgrading State Highways to standard two-lane width with road safety features and paved shoulders including reconstructing, widening, and strengthening culverts and bridges. The project will also build institutional capacity of the State for road design and maintenance and incorporate appropriate new technologies in the State's road sub-sector, the release added.
 
NNN
 

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Absconding former Bihar Minister surrenders

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Former Bihar Minister Manju Verma, who was absconding for nearly three months in an arms case related to the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror, surrendered at a court on Tuesday.
 
Manju Verma surrendered in the Begusarai District Court after a lower court and the Patna High Court rejected her interim bail petition. The Supreme Court had slammed Bihar Police for its failure to arrest her. 
 
According to police, Manju Verma covered her face while reaching the court. 
 
Police in Bihar on Saturday started attaching the properties of Manju Verma after a court order in an arms case connected to the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror. 
 
Verma faces arrest under the Arms Act following the recovery of 50 live cartridges from her residences in Patna and Begusarai during a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raid. 
 
Last month, a court in Begusarai issed a warrant against here. 
 
Last month, her husband Chandrasekhar Verma, who had been absconding for a month, surrendered before a court after which he was sent to 14 days judicial custody in connection with the shelter home case. 
 
Manju Verma resigned on August 8 following allegations that Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the Muzaffarpur case, had links with her husband. Thankur is now in the Muzaffarpur jail. 
 
Of the 42 girls lodged at the short-stay home run by Thakur's NGO, 34 were found to have been sexually assaulted. The crime came to light after a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai. 
 
IANS
 

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Muzaffarpur horror: Five girls, not two, died in shelter home

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The Central Bureau of Investigation has discovered that five minor girls, and not two as reported earlier, died in a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.
 
Their post-mortem examinations were conducted at a government hospital, police said on Monday. 
 
The CBI, probing the alleged rape of 34 girls at the shelter home, on Sunday searched documents at Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital and found that the post-mortem examinations of five girls of the shelter home were conducted there. 
 
According to the hospital register, the post-mortem examinations of two girls were conducted in 2013, two in 2015 and one in 2017. 
 
The CBI officials are now trying to find out as to whom the bodies of the girls were handed over after their autopsies and also whether cases were registered in the matter. 
 
"A team of CBI officials is likely to soon interrogate some hospital doctors to collect more details about the case," a district police officer said. 
 
The CBI had earlier found human bones at a cremation ground on October 4 following a tip-off. It had also carried out an extensive excavation at the shelter home premises on suspicion that some inmates might have been killed and buried there, but could not recover anything from there. 
 
Last month, a shelter home employee Krishna Ram, who also ran the press of Brajesh Thakur -- the main accused -- told the CBI sleuths that some bodies were stuffed in gunny bags and disposed of in the Burhi Gandak river a year ago. 
 
However, the CBI could not recover anything from the river. 
 
According to the CBI, Ram disclosed that Brajesh Thakur had ordered the disposal of the bodies. 
 
He reportedly revealed that two inmates of Thakur's NGO, Seva Sankalp Ewam Vikas Samiti, had died under mysterious circumstances and their bodies were dumped in the river from Akharaghat Bridge with the help of Guddu, another employee of the shelter home, and Vijay Tiwari, Thakur's driver. 
 
Of the 42 girls lodged at the short-stay home run by Brajesh Thakur's NGO, 34 were found to have been sexually assaulted. The crime came to light after a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, five months ago.
 
The shelter home has been sealed, and Thakur sent to jail. 
 
The Supreme Court is monitoring the CBI probe into the case. 
 
IANS
 

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Bihar dismisses 175 police constables, suspends 23 officials for rampage

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The Bihar government on Sunday dismissed 175 police constables and suspended 23 police officials for rampaging in the city after the death of a female colleague, who was reportedly denied leave despite being ill.
 
More than 300 police constables had gone on the rampage here on November 2, damaging properties and attacking police officers, after a woman colleague who had reportedly been refused leave died.
 
Of the 175 police constables dismissed, most were trainees.
 
The government also suspended 23 police officials, including havildars and assistant sub-inspectors.
 
According to officials, the action was taken after a high-level meeting of top police officers here.
 
Hours after the police constables went on a rampage, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked Bihar police chief K. S. Dwivedi to submit a detailed report at the earliest. 
 
IANS
 

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Australian tourist found hanging in Bihar

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An Australian tourist was found hanging from a tree at an orchard near Bihar's Bodh Gaya on Saturday.
 
Gaya city Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar said the deceased was identified as Heath Allan, 33, a resident of Westmead, a suburb of Sydney in Australia.
 
"Some local residents spotted the body of a foreigner hanging from a tree and informed the police. We have recovered the body and sent it for post-mortem examination," Kumar said.
 
Kumar said a suicide note was also found near the site, besides his bag and a diary.
 
Bodh Gaya, about 110 km from Patna, is considered the holiest of Buddhist shrines where Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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