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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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Manoj Sinha flags off Darbhanga-Jalandhar City Antyodaya Express

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Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha flagged off the 22551/22552 Darbhanga-Jalandhar City Antyodaya Express (Weekly) through video conferencing from Rail Bhawan here today.
 
Member Traffic, Railway Board, Mohammad Jamshed, Member Traction, Railway Board, Ghanshyam Singh and other senior officials of Railways were present on the occasion.
 
Speaking on  the occasion, Mr Sinha said Indian Railways have been making many efforts for providing connectivity all over the country and giving access to the countrymen along with making travel easy and comfortable. This Antyodaya Train will make it easy to commute for those travelling from Bihar to Punjab thus providing connectivity to the people of Bihar. The train is fully equipped with good facilities like Bio-toilets, mobile charging, and so on, he added.
 
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Lalu gets six weeks provisional bail for treatment

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The Jharkhand High Court on Friday granted jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad six weeks provisional bail for medical treatment.
 
His lawyer had sought three months provisional bail on health grounds, telling the court that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief wanted to get treated in Mumbai.
 
Hearing the petition, Justice Apresh Kumar Singh sought a medical report from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
 
Lalu Prasad, who was undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) here after he was brought here from AIIMS on May 1, is currently in Patna on three days parole to attend the marriage of his eldest son Tej Pratap on May 12.
 
In the Birsa Munda jail here since December 23, 2017 being convicted in a fodder scam case, he was admitted to RIMS on March 17 following complaints of uneasiness.
 
He has been convicted in four fodder scam cases since 2013 -- the latest being the Dumka treasury case in which a special Central Bureau of Investigation court sentenced him to a 14 year jail term.
 
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Five girls drown in a pond in Madhubani district of Bihar

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Five girls drowned in Bihar's Madhubani district on Wednesday when they had taken out buffaloes to graze, police said.
 
The girls slipped into deep water in a big pond near Navtoli village under Babubarhi block in Madhubani and drowned, a district police official said.
 
According to police officials, the girls, following their return from a government-run middle school, went as usual to take the buffaloes to a nearby field when the accident occurred. 
 
The bodies have been recovered and sent for autopsy, police said.
 
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Lalu Prasad gets parole, to attend son's marriage

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Jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Wednesday secured five days parole to attend his elder son's marriage in Patna on May 12.
 
The parole was granted following consultations between the jail administration and the Home Department. Lalu Prasad had sought five days parole to attend Tej Pratap's wedding. 
 
The former Bihar Chief Minister is being treated at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) here after he was brought here from the AIIMS in New Delhi on May 1. 
 
He is likely to leave for Patna by air on Wednesday evening. 
 
The RJD leader has been convicted in four fodder scam cases since 2013 -- the latest being the Dumka treasury case in which a CBI court sentenced him to 14 years in jail.
 
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7 dead as bus overturns, catches fire

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At least seven passengers were burnt to death after a bus overturned and caught fire on Thursday in Bihar's East Champaran district, officials said.
 
Bihar Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav told the media that they had received information about seven persons dying in the accident.
 
Pratyay Amrit, Principal Secretary - Disaster Management Department, said that most of the charred bodies were still inside the bus.
 
According to police, an air-conditioned bus from Muzaffarpur to Delhi met with the accident after the driver lost control over it.
 
Soon after the bus overturned, it caught fire and the seven persons were either charred or died due to suffocation from smoke inside the vehicle.
 
Police officials said the passengers who managed to come out of the bus had been admitted to a hospital.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the loss of lives and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased.
 
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Four arrested for molesting minor in Bihar

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Four persons in Bihar's Jehanabad district have been arrested for molesting a minor girl, the video of which went viral on social sites, police said on Monday.
 
The video, captured by a local, shows the girl being hounded and molested by a group of youths in broad daylight. The incident took place on Saturday, the police said.
 
Jehanabad's Superintendent of Police Manish Kumar said a special investigation team (SIT) arrested four of the accused. "Others have been identified and a hunt is on to arrest them," he said.
 
The SIT also siezed a motorbike seen in the video.
 
According to police official Shayam Sundae Singh, an FIR was lodged against seven people involved in the case.
 
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NDMA conducts training programme for CBRN emergencies at Patna airport

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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) began a five-day basic training programme at the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport here yesterday to enhance the  preparedness of Airport Emergency Handlers (AEHs) to respond to CBRN emergencies.
 
CBRN emergencies pertain to threats emanating due to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear material.
 
The training programme is being conducted in collaboration with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS).
 
Four such programmes have already been conducted earlier - one each in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Varanasi.       
 
An official press release said the programme consists of lectures as well as field training, including live demonstrations of detection and decontamination including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Apart from equipping the airport emergency handlers to handle CBRN emergencies, the training programme will also enable them to provide medical first aid and initial psycho-social support.
 
Experts from the domain departments viz. Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), INMAS, NDMA, etc. will deliver lectures and hold demonstrations on various areas related to CBRN emergency management.
 
A total of 200 personnel will be trained on various aspects of CBRN emergencies. This includes sensitization of 150 working level staff in a half day module.
 
A team of NDRF, trained for CBRN emergency, is posted in Patna and their expertise will also be utilized in the programme.
 
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Yashwant Sinha snaps links with BJP, says will launch campaign to 'save democracy'

 
Yashwant Sinha snaps ties with BJP
 
 
Senior BJP leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who has been trenchant in his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, on Saturday announced that he was snapping his links with the party and launching a countrywide campaign to save  democracy.
 
"I am announcing here from this stage that I am ending my long time relationship with the Bharatiya Janata Party," he said while addressing the first meeting of the Rashtra Manch, founded by him.
 
Eighty-year-old Sinha, who had joined the BJP in the mid-90s, said "Aaj se mera BJP ke saath rishta samapt ho gaya. Main apna sambandh viched kar raha hun BJP se. Main BJP se khud ko alag kar raha hun (From today my relation with BJP is over. I'm severing my ties with the party...)."
 
He said that from now he will try to unite all non-BJP parties, "I will not join any political party and will have nothing to do with party politics." 
 
"I am not an aspirant for any top post and I am making it clear here that I am not at all interested in seeking any post," he added.
 
Sinha, who was Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, attended the meeting of the Rashtra Manch along with BJP MP Satrughan Sinha, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Congress leader Renuka Choudhary and AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh.
 
In 2017, Sinha had created a political storm with an article in the Indian Express claiming that the Indian economy was poised for a hard landing after demonetisation and GST. 
 
Again, earlier this week, he had written an open letter to BJP MPs asking them to challenge the leadership before the next elections so that correctives could be taken.
 
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Deputy CM Sushil Modi among three BJP nominees for Bihar LC polls

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Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Health Minister Mangal Pandey are among the three candidates whose names were announced for the Bihar Legislative Council polls by the ruling BJP on Sunday.
 
Sanjay Paswan, a former Union Minister and Dalit face of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar, is its third candidate.
 
The opposition Congress -- part of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Grand Alliance along with Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) -- also announced the name of Prem Chandra Mishra.
 
The Election Commission has announced April 26 as the polling date for the biennial elections to 11 Legislative Council seats that will fall vacant on May 6. 
 
BJP ally Janata Dal-United is yet to formally announce the names of three candidates. 
 
JD-U sources said that party President and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will file the nomination on Monday, the last date for filing of papers along with two other candidates.
 
Last week, the RJD announced the names of former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, Santosh Manjhi, son of another former Chief Minister and HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, RJD state President Ram Chander Purve and Mohsin Qadir.
 
While the terms of 10 sitting members will end on May 6, one seat fell vacant when Narendra Singh was disqualified on January 6, 2016, ahead of the end of his term on May 6, 2018.
 
Nitish Kumar, Sushil Kumar Modi, Rabri Devi and Mangal Pandey are among those whose terms will end on May 6.
 
IANS
 
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DCW chief's fast enters Day 3, two more minors raped

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An indefinite hunger strike by Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal demanding death penalty for rapists entered the third day here on Sunday even as two more minors were raped across the country.
 
Maliwal launched the protest at Rajghat on Friday in the wake of the horrific rape incidents in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao and Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua districts.
 
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, she said: "I will not break my anshan (fast) until the Prime Minister does not (promise) the country a better system for the safety of our daughters."
 
As Maliwal continued her fast in Delhi, authorities in Patna said a minor girl was gang-raped on Sunday. The incident took place at 12.30 a.m. near a railway line in the heart of Bihar's capital.
 
"Both the accused (Chotu Kumar and Phekan Kumar) were caught by a police patrol that heard the girl's cries for help. The girl also identified both of them," police officer Rama Shankar Singh said.
 
In Odisha, police said a four-year-old girl was raped by a youth in Balasore district. The accused, 24-year-old Nityacharan Jena, is a neighbour.
 
On Friday, when the girl was playing outside, Jena lured her to his house with chocolates and raped her, according to police. The girl has been hospitalised. Her family lodged a police complaint on Saturday.
 
Meanwhile in Srinagar, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah demanded a special Jammu and Kashmir Assembly session to pass a bill to hand out capital punishment to those convicted of raping minors.
 
"It is only by awarding capital punishment to perpetrators of such heinous crime that incidents like Kathua rape and murder can be prevented in future," the former Chief Minister said. 
 
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has already said that Jammu and Kashmir will soon pass a bill for death sentence to those who rape minors.
 
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Modi blasts opposition for 'dividing' the country

Amid nationwide protests by Dalits after a Supreme Court order allegedly diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused the opposition of dividing the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the National Convention of Swachhagrahis, at Motihari in Bihar, on April 10, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the National Convention of Swachhagrahis, at Motihari in Bihar, on April 10, 2018
Amid nationwide protests by Dalits after a Supreme Court order allegedly diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused the opposition of dividing the country.
 
"They (opposition) are creating hurdles in the work of the government from the streets to Parliament. Today you have a government at the Centre which is working to unite the people of the country while the opposition is working to divide the people," Modi told the National Convention of 'Swachhagrahis' here.
 
Eight persons were killed and dozens injured during Dalit protests on April 2 turned violent following a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Dalits and Tribes.
 
Tuesday's event was organised as part of the centenary celebrations of the Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi in Champaran.
 
Hitting out at the former UPA government led by the Congress for delaying projects, the Prime Minister said his government was completing all its mission and commitments with the cooperation of the people.
 
Describing the Madhepura Electric Locomotive Factory as a prime example of Make in India and a source of employment in the region, he said work on the project was first approved in 2007 but it began only three years ago when the NDA government came into the power.
 
On Tuesday, the first engine rolled out of the factory.
 
"This is the style of working of this government. 'Ab atkane, latkane and bhatkane wala kaam nahin hota'. Now the culture of stopping files is not there. The government is committed to fulfil all its mission," he said.
 
He said the changes brought in the society through development works had created problems for the opposition and they were unable to accept this. 
 
"They cannot see the poor getting empowered. They feel if the poor are strengthened, then they (opposition) will not be able to speak lies. They will not be able to fool them," he said. 
 
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The Prime Minister showered praise on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his patience and able administration in fighting corrupt and anti-social forces.
 
"It is not so easy," he said, adding that the Centre extended its full support to the efforts of Nitish Kumar in fighting against corruption and his efforts towards sanitation drive for social change.
 
On the occasion, the Prime Minister launched several development projects. He unveiled a plaque to mark the foundation stone of Motijheel Project, the Bettiah Nagar Parishad Water Supply Scheme and four Ganga Projects.
 
Modi laid the foundation stone for the doubling of railway lines between Muzaffarpur and Sagauli as well as between Sagauli and Valmikinagar. 
 
He dedicated the first phase of the Madhepura Electric Locomotive Factory to the nation. Via video link, he flagged off the first 12,000 HP Freight Electric Locomotive, and the Champaran Humsafar Express.
 
The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for a road lane of NH-2 in Aurangabad Bihar-Jharkhand border section and distributed awards to Champion Swachhagrahis from across the country.
 
Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran Satyagraha on April 10, 1917 against the British to fight for the rights of farmers who were forced to undertake indigo cultivation.
 
IANS
 
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Modi to attend concluding ceremony of centenary of Champaran Satyagraha

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the concluding ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar during a day-long visit to the state tomorrow.
 
On the occasion, he will address a gathering of about 20,000 Swachhagrahis or Ambassadors of Cleanliness in Motihari.
 
"Swachhagrahis are the ‘foot soldiers’ and motivators to implement the Community Approaches to Sanitation (CAS) at the village level. Swachhagrahis are key to driving progress towards achieving an open defaecation free nation," an official press release said.
 
Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago, on 10th April, 1917 against the Britishers to fight for the rights of farmers who were forced to undertake indigo cultivation. April 10th, 2018 marks the end of the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagrah, and is going to be celebrated through the “Satyagrah se Swachhagrah” campaign.
 
Mr. Modi will also unveil several development projects on the occasion such  as laying of Motijheel Project; Bettiah Nagar Parishad water supply scheme under AMRUT; four sewerage projects, worth Rs 1111.56 crore aimed at creating a sewage treatment capacity of 60 million litres daily for Patna,under Namami Gange; doubling of railway lines between Muzaffarpur and Sagauli, and Sagauli and Valmikinagar; Motihari-Amlekhgang Oil Pipeline Project; dedication of first phase of Madhepura Electric Locomotive Factory and flagging off of the first 12,000 HP Freight Electric Locomotive and Champaran Humsafar Express.
 
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Six dead as Dalit protests turn violent in different states

Six persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long nation-wide shutdown on Monday turned violent in India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

 
Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
Six persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long nation-wide shutdown on Monday turned violent in India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others. But the top court denied an urgent hearing of the matter.
 
Protesters clashed with police in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha -- states where normal life was paralysed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
 
The central government rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to violence-hit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
 
A Home Ministry official in Delhi said two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Meerut and one company each to Agra and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where five persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing officials to impose curfew in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts. Protests were also held Bhopal as agitators blocked roads in the state capital.
 
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made a passionate appeal for peace.
 
Police said one person each was killed in Bhind and Morena while three died in Gwalior. The dead in Morena was identified as Rahul Pathak, a student leader. 
 
Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed.
 
"Three people have been conformed dead in Gwalior." Jain said.
 
A man identified as Pawan Kumar was killed in Rajasthan's Alwar as violence was also reported from other parts of the state including Jaipur, Ajmer. Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.
 
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Punjab and Haryana also saw widespread protests.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda too shut down.
 
Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
 
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said.
 
Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers.
 
Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police.
 
Violence also erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh as protesters attacked shops, looted some and pelted stones at police in Hapur, Agra, Meerut, Saharanpur and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.
 
Many cars were targeted and their window panes smashed. At some places, government property was targeted. 
 
Some people reportedly fired at a police team in Meerut while a passenger bus was set on fire. 
 
Also in Meerut, over 500 Dalit youths targeted the media and broke their cameras as they were trying to photograph the protests. 
 
Gujarat's major towns and cities also saw protests by Dalits amid reports of vandalism from Ahmedabad and Jamnagar.
 
Amid widespread anger and violence, the Modi government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
 
The Supreme Court had held on March 20 that police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the act before acting on it. 
 
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court".
 
IANS
 
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Two killed as violence grips India amid Dalit protests

Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

 
Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated Dalit activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others.
 
Protesters clashed with police in Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Odisha -- states where normal life was paralyzed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
 
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where two persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing authorities to impose curfew at many places. Police said one person was killed in Bhind and the other in Morena.
 
Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed. 
 
Protesters blocked rail tracks and set fire to vehicles, with plumes of fire and smoke seen on near barren roads.
 
The Madhya Pradesh government called the Army to control the situation in Bhind, Morena and Gwalior.
 
Punjab and Haryana also saw widespread protests.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
 
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Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
 
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said.
 
Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers.
 
"Train services have been badly disrupted due to the protest," an East Central Railway official told IANS.
 
Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police.
 
Violence also erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh as protesters attacked shops, looted some and pelted stones at police in Hapur, Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur.
 
Many cars were targeted and their window panes smashed. At some places, government property was targeted. 
 
Some people reportedly fired at a police team in Meerut while a passenger bus was set on fire. Pro-reservation groups indulged in vandalism at the Muzaffarnagar railway station, stoning the Kocchi Express.
 
Also in Meerut, over 500 Dalit youths targeted the media and broke their cameras as they were trying to photograph the protests. 
 
Amid widespread anger and violence, the government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
 
The Supreme Court had held on March 20 that police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the act before acting on it. 
 
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court".
 
He said senior government lawyers "will argue this matter with all their legal preparations and authority that this judgment needs to be reconsidered". 
 
IANS
 
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Shaktisinh Gohil appointed as Congress in-charge of Bihar

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi has appointed senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil as the party's in-charge of Bihar in place of Dr. C. P. Joshi, a senior party leader from Rajasthan.
 
"The party appreciates the hard work and contribution of Dr. C. P. Joshi who is relieved from the charge of the General Secretary In-charge of Bihar," a press release issued by Mr. Ashok Gehlot, General Secretary, All India Congress Committee (AICC), said here today.
 
Mr. Gandhi has also appointed Mr. Anugrah Narayan Singh as the party's in-charge of Uttarakhand, Mr. Gehlot addded.
 
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Union Minister's son sent to judicial custody in Bihar

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A Bihar court on Sunday sent Union Minister Ashwini Choubey's son Arijit Shashwat, accused of inciting communal violence in Bhagalpur, to judicial custody for 14 days.
 
Bhagalpur Senior Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar said that Shashwat, who had been evading arrest for over a week, surrendered and was produced in a court.
 
"Police have strong evidence against Arijit Shashwat and an FIR was lodged against him," he said.
 
Earlier, Shashwat surrendered at around 12.30 a.m. outside the Mahavir temple near the Patna railway station, shouting slogans like "Jai Shri Ram" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai", district police official Rakesh Dubey said.
 
Last week, a case was lodged against Shashwat, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, on charges of taking out a procession without prior permission, inciting communal sentiments and roaming with arms on the streets of Bhagalpur.
 
He moved a bail plea in a civil court, following which the court on March 27 sought the case diary from the police to ascertain his role in the communal flare-up on March 17.
 
The court then issued an arrest warrant against Shashwat.
 
Minister Choubey has dubbed the FIR "a piece of garbage" registered by "corrupt police officers".
 
Shashwat contested the last Assembly polls on BJP ticket from Bhagalpur and lost.
 
IANS
 
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Modi flags off train between Varanasi and Patna

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off a train for Patna from Manduadih Railway Station, launched various development projects and addressed a public meeting at the DLW Grounds here yesterday.
 
Mr Modi complimented the people of the pilgrim city for extending a warm welcome to French President Emmanuel Macron. He said the Government is committed to the continuous development and upgrading of the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), that manufactures diesel-electric locomotives and its spare part, describing it as  a symbol of the industrial development of Varanasi.
 
He appreciated the efforts of the State Government in the housing sector and urged it to ensure that more people get access to housing facilities. The Prime Minister also commended the exhibition of various “waste to wealth” initiatives at the venue.
 
There is immense potential for tourism in Varanasi, and all efforts should be made to keep the city clean, he added. Referring to the recently announced Ayushman Bharat scheme, he said it will transform the health sector by providing top quality healthcare to the poor.
 
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ADB to provide $ 84 million loan for improvement, expansion of water supply in Bihar

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The Government of India and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $84 million loan here today for improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in Bihar.
 
The tranche 2 loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Programme that was approved by ADB in 2012 to provide sustainable urban infrastructure and services in four towns in Bihar – Bhagalpur, Gaya, Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur.
 
“The Project 2 will improve access to better quality and sustainable water supply, for the people of Bhagalpur and Gaya towns. It will also promote better water management practices that will result in a citywide coverage with 24-hour uninterrupted supply of treated water of 135 litres per capita per day in both cities,” said Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed the loan agreement for Government of India.
 
“The loan finances will support civil works subprojects and would benefit 1.1 million people in the two project towns with increased coverage of treated water supply by 2021; train 400 urban local body (ULB) staff in the management and operation and maintenance (O&M) of water supply systems, and help ULBs improve technical and financial management of the water supply operations,” said Mr Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission who signed the agreement for ADB. 
 
The project agreement was signed by Mr. Vipin Kumar, Resident Commissioner on behalf of the Government of Bihar.
 
The two towns under the project would achieve the national urban service goals or match many of the national averages for urban service delivery performance in India. The investment programme will assist ULBs in designing affordable tariffs for O&M cost recovery.
 
The loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15% per year.
 
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CCEA okays doubling of Muzaffarpur-Sagauli and Sagauli-Valmiki Nagar rail lines with electrification

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the doubling of the 100.6 km long Muzaffarpur-Sagauli and the 109.7 Km Sagauli-Valmiki Nagar railway lines with electrification at completion costs of Rs. 1347.61 crore and Rs. 1381.49 crore, respectively. 
 
These projects will cover the districts of Muzaffarpur, East Champaran (Motihari) and West Champaran (Bettiah) in Bihar, an official press release said.
 
Areas served by this route are densely populated regions of north Bihar. At present passenger trains suffer congestion and stoppages on the Muzaffarpur-Valmiki Nagar route as the line capacity utilization is upto 213%. 
 
As many as 38 mail/express trains are running in this section with thousands of passengers travelling daily. Additional capacity will ease congestion and allow faster and reliable movement with minimum delays. In addition, it will enhance safety through more availability of maintenance blocks, the release said.
 
"In addition to decongesting the entire route from Muzaffarpur to Valmiki Nagar, doubling will improve capacity and connectivity, thus paving way for economic prosperity and overall development of the region. Development of eastern regions of the country is important for achieving the ‘New India’ vision of Prime Minister by 2022.Champaran is on the border with Nepal, thus doubling of this line will lead to better connectivity with neighbouring countries as well," the release said.
 
"Electrification will lead to faster trains, reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable environment. Further, It will reduce fuel import dependence, and result in energy costs savings for Railways and forex savings for the country," the release added.
 
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Bye-elections to be held on March 11 to fill two LS vacancies from UP, one from Bihar

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The Election Commission of India today said it would hold bye-elections on March 11 to fill three vacancies in the Lok Sabha -- one from Bihar and two from Uttar Pradesh -- and two vacancies in the Bihar Legislative Assembly.
 
The vacant Lok Sabha seats are Araria in Bihar and Phulpur and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
 
The seats vacant in the Bihar Legislative Assembly are Bhabua and Jehanabad.
 
An official press release said the notifications for the elections would be issued on February 13 and the last date for filing nominations is February 20. Scrutiny of nominations will be taken up on February 21 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is February 23.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up on March 14, the release added.
 
The Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were held by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prsadad Maurya, who had resigned after taking over as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Uttar Pradesh.
 
The vacancy in Araria was caused by the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Taslimuddin in September last year.
 
This is 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.
 
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