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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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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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. 
 
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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. 
 
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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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Bihar constables attack officers, probe ordered

 
Cops go on rampage after ailing womanconstable dies in Patna
More than 300 constables went on a rampage here damaging properties and attacking officers after a woman colleague who had been reportedly refused leave died early on Friday, leaving at least one officer in a serious condition.
 
Three police officers and two journalists were injured as the protesting trainee constables, including a large number of women, attacked and ransacked officers' quarters at the Patna Police Lines.
 
The constables complained that they were forced to put in long hours of work without being provided basic facilities. 
 
"We work without food, water and toilet facility. It is impossible to get leave even for genuine reasons," one of them told the media. Others echoed him.
 
They said the woman constable died due to sheer negligence and the "inhuman and authoritarian stance of her seniors". 
 
She reportedly had dengue and had sought leave. However, despite repeated requests, she was not granted leave, a constable complained.
 
Bihar Director General of Police K. S. Diwedi, who was in Delhi on Friday to attend a meeting, reacted sharply to the unrest in police force.
 
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Videos on social media showed policewomen rampaging through police stations, shattering LED television and furniture. 
 
When a senior officer, Mohammad Maslehuddin, tried to pacify them, they hit him with a baton on his head.
 
Deputy Superintendent Maslehuddin's family told IANS that he had been admitted to a private hospital and his condition was serious.
 
"He was first attacked in the office and beaten. When he tried to escape and reached his official quarter, they forcibly entered it and tried to kill him.
 
"However, his young daughter saved him by standing at the door and challenging the mob. The house was also ransacked," a family member said.
 
Diwedi said in New Delhi that such indiscipline would not be tolerated. 
 
"The protesters will be punished and trained to follow discipline."
 
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked Diwedi to submit a report at the earliest. A probe headed by Inspector General N. H. Khan has been ordered.
 
Additional Director General S. K. Singhal told the media that the situation had been brought under control.
 
IANS
 

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Tariq Anwar returns to Congress, party urges other leaders to come back

Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes back former NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar into the party in New Delhi, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Congress)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes back former NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar into the party in New Delhi, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Congress)
Hours after former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar returned to the Congress on Saturday, almost two decades after he had walked out, the party appealed to others leaders to come back.
 
Anwar returned to the Congress in the presence of party President Rahul Gandhi. Anwar had in 1999 joined NCP chief Sharad Pawar and some others in quitting the Congress to protest the appointment of a person of foreign origin -- Sonia Gandhi -- as the party chief.
 
Gandhi welcomed Anwar into "the Congress family", the party tweeted, posting a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.
 
Anwar, who represented Katihar (Bihar) in the Lok Sabha, had quit the NCP and his Lok Sabha membership on September 28 expressing disagreement with party chief Sharad Pawar whom he has been upset with for giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Modi in the Rafale deal.
 
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who was present at the press conference at the party headquarters, said, "Anwar met Gandhi and then joined the party."
 
Gehlot said that more people would come to Congress due to the kind of "atmosphere" being created in the country. 
 
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, Gehlot said, "Only two people are running the country -- Modi and Shah." 
 
He also said that the people of the country have understood that whatever they (BJP) had said has turned false. 
 
Gehlot appealed to former Congress leaders to return to the party fold.
 
"As the biggest party of the country, the Congress has a rich history before and after Independence. 
 
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"Indira Gandhi was assassinated when she was the Prime Minister. Rajiv Gandhi was also assassinated when he was set to become the Prime Minister again. And today they question what Congress did in the last 70 years. They don't have any history of their participation in the Independence movement," he said. 
 
"And now they talk about Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as they know they have failed on all fronts," he said.
 
Congress Bihar in-charge Shakti Sinh Gohil said, "With Anwar joining back the party, the Grand Alliance would be strengthened as he has the experience of working in the party."
 
Gohil said that disaster was set to hit the NDA and more leaders would join Congress in the coming days.
 
Comparing Modi to a ruler who can do anything to save his chair, the Congress's Bihar in-charge said, "Modi is such a ruler, who when he finds any danger to his kingdom compromises."
 
Taking a jibe at the Janata Dal-United and BJP seat sharing formula announced on Friday, Gohil said, "Now as the king has found that his kingdom was in danger, they have stitched a deal in Bihar."
 
Shah and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the President of the JD-U on Friday announced that both the parties will contest an equal number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections in the state next year under a seat-sharing formula between them.
 
IANS

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19 years on, Tariq Anwar returns to Congress fold

Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes back former NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar into the party in New Delhi, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Congress)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes back former NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar into the party in New Delhi, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Congress)
Days after quitting the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Tariq Anwar on Saturday returned to the Congress here in the presence of party President Rahul Gandhi - almost two decades after he had walked out.
 
Gandhi has welcomed Anwar into "the Congress family", the party tweeted posting a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.
 
Anwar had quit the NCP and his Lok Sabha membership on September 28 expressing disagreement with party chief Sharad Pawar whom he has been upset with for giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.
 
Anwar had in 1999 joined NCP chief Sharad Pawar and some others in quitting the Congress to protest against the appointment of a person of foreign origin -- Sonia Gandhi -- being appointed the party chief.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Police officer killed in Bihar encounter

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A police officer was killed during an encounter with criminals in Bihar's Khagaria district, police said on Saturday.
 
"Pasraha Station House Office Ashish Kumar Singh was killed late Friday night in the encounter," Khagaria Superintendent of Police Minu Kumari said. 
 
Bihar Police Association President Mirtunjay Kumar has demanded a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the victim's family. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Girl students oppose molesters, thrashed

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Students of a residential school for girls in Bihar's Supaul district were thrashed when they tried to oppose a bid to sexually harass them, police said on Sunday.
 
The incident happened when a group of youths forcibly entered the Kasturba Awasiya Balika Vidyalay on Saturday evening with the intention of molesting the girls. 
 
In the ensuing fracas, 34 girls were injured and have been admitted to a hospital. 
 
"Action will be taken against the accused and security arrangements will be made at the school," District Magistrate Baidyanath Yadav said.
 
A case has been registered, said Vinay Kumar, a district official. The accused have been identified, but no arrests have been made as yet.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Tariq Anwar quits NCP, LS; unfortunate, says party

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In a jolt to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), one of its founding leaders, Tariq Anwar, on Friday quit the party and the Lok Sabha expressing disagreement with party chief Sharad Pawar who he said gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.
 
"I have resigned from the NCP as well as the membership of Lok Sabha because I totally disagree with Sharad Pawar's statement in support of Modi on Rafale deal," he told the media here. 
 
"The Prime Minister is fully involved in the Rafale deal," said Anwar, a party general secretary, reacting to Pawar's television interview in which he said he did not think people doubt Modi's intentions on a personal level. 
 
Jolted by his move, the party said the decision was "unfortunate" while Pawar's daughter and party MP Supriya Sule said the NCP chief's comments on the Prime Minister and the Rafale deal have been misunderstood as he has actually demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal.
 
Anwar, 67, who was expelled from the Congress in 1999 along with Pawar and P. A. Sangma after they questioned the foreign origins of Sonia Gandhi, said he personally respected and honoured Pawar but felt his statement in support of Modi was unfortunate. 
 
"I do not agree with his statement and have resigned from the party and membership of Parliament," the MP from Katihar said.
 
Anwar told IANS that he was forced to take this decision to prove his moral stand in politics. "I am telling people one thing and cannot take another stand," he said. 
 
Anwar's resignation brings down the NCP's strength in the Lok Sabha to six.
 
Anwar, who has been a Lok Sabha member several times and in the Rajya Sabha once, said he will talk to his supporters before taking a move to join any party.
 
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Reacting to his resignation, NCP general secretary Praful Patel said Anwar's decision was sudden and unfortunate and felt it was not correct on his part to have exited in this manner without any discussion with the leadership.
 
He said he has noted that Anwar was angry over some remarks made by Pawar on the Rafale deal. 
 
"We are surprised but sad at the same time. We want to clarify that Anwar who was with the party since its birth and was a founder... you have left suddenly and in this fashion without any discussion with the leadership, it is not correct," he said.
 
Pawar's statement in an interview to a television channel was welcomed by BJP chief Amit Shah who praised him for "placing national interests above party politics".
 
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Sule said it was "disappointing" that the issues raised by Pawar in the interview regarding the Rafale fighter jet deal were ignored.
 
"It's disappointing that people have not heard Pawar ... where he has clearly raised three questions: 1) what is the justification for a 300 percent price increase from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore which potentially could be a significant loss to the exchequer?," said Sule, a Lok Sabha member and a daughter of Pawar.
 
"2) If such doubts have been raised and the government is so confident, then why are they shying from setting up a JPC? 3) When the BJP raised both price and specification issues during the Bofors allegations, then why are they hiding behind artificial justification of secrecy of agreements vis-a-vis both commercial price and offset agreements."
 
IANS
 

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Tariq Anwar quits NCP, LS after Pawar praises Modi

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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) General Secretary Tariq Anwar on Friday quit the party and the Lok Sabha, expressing his disagreement with party chief Sharad Pawar who gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.
 
"I have resigned from the NCP as well as the membership of Lok Sabha because I totally disagree with Sharad Pawar's statement in support of Modi on Rafale deal," he told the media here. 
 
"The Prime Minister is fully involved in the Rafale deal," he said, reacting to Pawar's television interview in which he had said he did not think people doubt Modi's intentions on a personal level. 
 
Pawar's statement was welcomed by BJP chief Amit Shah who praised him for "placing national interests above party politics".
 
Anwar, 67, who was expelled from the Congress in 1999 along with Pawar and P. A. Sangma after they questioned the foreign origins of Sonia Gandhi, said he personally respected and honoured Pawar but felt his statement in support of Modi was unfortunate. 
 
"I do not agree with his statement and have resigned from the party and membership of Parliament," the MP from Katihar said.
 
Anwar told IANS that he was forced to take this decision to prove his moral stand in politics. "I am telling people one thing and cannot take another stand," he said. 
 
Anwar, who has been a Lok Sabha member several times and in the Rajya Sabha once, said he will talk to his supporters before taking a move to join any party.
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet nod for new domestic terminal, allied structures at Patna Airport

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved the construction of a new domestic terminal building and other allied structures at Patna airport at an estimated cost of Rs 1,216.90 crore.
 
After construction of the new terminal building, the passenger handling capacity of the airport will go up to 4.5 million passengers per annum (MPPA) from the existing 0.7 MPPA, an official press release said.
 
The new terminal building will have an area of 65,155 sqm, including basement area of 18,650 sqm, with world-class passenger facilities, the release said.
 
With the construction of the new terminal, there will be an increase in economic activities in Patna region, which will create additional jobs, it said.
 
The project is a part of the package for Bihar announced by the Prime Minister.
 
Patna airport is one of the major airports in the Eastern Region. The existing terminal building is a timeworn double storied structure and is operating at four times of its capacity.
 
"The construction of the new domestic terminal building and other allied structures at the Patna airport has become inevitable as the traffic has increased at a tremendous rate in last few years," the release added.
 
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Muzaffarpur ex-Mayor, driver shot dead

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Former Muzaffarpur Mayor Samir Kumar and his driver were shot dead on Sunday night by unidentified assailants in the Bihar town, police said.
 
Samir and his driver, who was not identified immediately, were fatally shot by motorcycle-borne criminals armed with an AK-47 assault rifle.
 
The criminals hailed the former Mayor's SUV to a stop at the Banaras Chowk in Muzaffarpur. As they stopped, the assailants fired dozens of bullets at Samir and his driver and fled, a police official said.
 
The crime has created panic in Muzaffarpur. Police has registered a case.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Man hired for honour killing in Telangana arrested in Bihar

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A hired killer who allegedly murdered a young Dalit man in a case of honour killing in Telangana's Miryalguda town was arrested from Bihar's Samastipur district on Tuesday, police said.
 
Subhash Sharma, who was allegedly hired to murder Pranay Kumar, was taken into custody from Jagatsinhpur. 
 
Samastipur police officer Paritish Kumar said Sharma was arrested by a team of Telangana Police along with the local police. He was produced in a court and handed over to Telangana Police on transit remand. 
 
Pranay Kumar, 23, was hacked to death on Friday as he was coming out of a hospital along with his wife Amrutha Varshini, with whom he had an inter-caste marriage. 
 
They were in love since their school days and had married against the wishes of the girl's parents. Since then, he was facing threats to his life. 
 
Amrutha, who is five-months pregnant, blamed her father, Maruthi Rao, for the murder. 
 
Police earlier arrested Maruthi Rao, his brother Shravan Kumar and three others in the sensational case. 
 
Maruthi Rao allegedly paid Rs 10 lakh to the hired killer. He reportedly told police that 'honour' was more important for him than his daughter.
 
Calling her father a devil, Amrutha vowed never to go back to him. She said she would live with her slain husband's parents.
 
IANS
 

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Political strategist Prashant Kishor joins JD-U

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Election strategist Prashant Kishor on Sunday formally joined the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in the presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ahead of the party's state executive meeting here.
 
JD-U spokesperson Sanjay Singh confirmed Kishor's joining.
 
"Now Prashant Kishor is a JD-U leader," Singh said.
 
Shortly after the announcement, Kishor tweeted: "Excited to start my new journey from Bihar!" 
 
The 41-year-old former UN official, who founded the Indian Political Action Committee (I-Pac), was tasked with running the JD-U's campaign during the 2015 Bihar polls after he parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 
 
After the success of the Grand Alliance, Nitish Kumar named Kishor as his adviser for planning and programme implementation with status  equivalent to a state Cabinet Minister. 
 
Last week, Kishor hinted at his political debut while addressing an event at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. 
 
Kishor had formulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi' election strategy in the 2014 elections.
 
IANS
 

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Elderly couple found dead in Patna

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A retired commissioner of Irrigation Department and his wife have been found dead in their house in the Bihar capital. Four people have been detained, police said on Friday.
 
Harender Prasad Singh, 88, and his second wife Sapna Das Gupta, 70, were found murdered late on Thursday in Dujra's Buddha colony here.
 
Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said an investigation is on. Those detained include a maid servant, a caretaker of their house, and a driver. They are being interrogated.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Satya Pal Malik named as new Governor of Bihar

Satya Pal Malik
Satya Pal Malik
Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik was today transferred and appointed as the new Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.
 
He will succeed Mr. N. N. Vohra, a retired IAS officer, who has been holding the position since June, 2008.
 
Mr. Malik, 72, a former Member of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, was appointed as the Governor of Bihar on September 30, 2017.
 
In  other appointments made today, the President named Mr. Lalji Tandon as the new Governor of Bihar, Mr. Satyadev Naryan Arya as the Governor of Haryana and Ms. Baby Rani Maurya as the Governor of Uttarakhand.
 
Mr. Ganga Prasad, Governor of Meghalaya, has been transferred and appointed as the Governor of Sikkim. Mr. Tathagata Roy, Governor of Tripura, has been shifted to Meghalaya, while Mr. Kaptan Singh Solanki, Governor of Haryana is transferred and appointed as the new Governor of Tripura.
 
Mr. Malik was a member of the 9th Lok Sabha, representing Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh in the Huse from 1989-91.
 
He served two terms in the Rajya Sabha, from 1980-86 and from 1986-1992. He was also a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly during 1974-77. 
 
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