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Patna

Nitish Kumar quits as Bihar CM, signals end of JD (U)'s alliance with RJD

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday resigned from his position, hours after RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav reiterated that his son Tejashwi would not quit as deputy chief minister despite the CBI filing a case against him, signalling the end of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Mahagathbandhan that won a dramatic victory in the state elections in November 2015.
File photo of Nitish Kumar
File photo of Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today resigned from his position, hours after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav reiterated that his son Tejashwi would not quit as deputy chief minister despite the CBI filing a case against him, signalling the end of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Mahagathbandhan that won a dramatic victory in the state elections in November 2015.
 
Mr. Kumar, 66, met Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and handed over his resignation.
 
Later, Mr. Kumar told journalists outside his official residence that the Governor had accepted his resignation and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangements were made.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr. Yadav addressed a press conference at which he said Tejashwi, 28, would not resign from his position, arguing that the case filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this month was a "fake case".
 
Mr. Kumar said that he had tried his best to run the state government and adhere to the "coalition dharma" but a stage had been reached where he found that he could not continue in office without straying from his principles.
 
He said he had never asked for Tejashwi's resignation but had asked him and Mr. Yadav that they must give a public explanation about the charges against them.
 
He said he had raised this issue with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi at their meeting in New Delhi some days ago. He regretted that there was no response from any of them.
 
"The atmosphere had become such that it was impossible to work. My conscience told me to resign," he said.
 
Mr. Kumar said he had informed Mr. Yadav, the state leadership of the Congress and his party legislators of his decision before driving down to Raj Bhavan to hand in his papers.
 
He said he was attacked for supporting demonetisation and later for backing the NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. "I faced so many charges. The Opposition has no agenda, no discourse. They only have a reactive agenda," he said.
 
Mr. Kumar also talked about the various steps he had taken to ensure good governance and social justice in Bihar, including imposition of prohibition. "I tried to run the government as long as possible," he said.
 
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On July 7, the CBI had conducted raids at the residence and other premises of Mr. Yadav and others in five cities in connection with a case registered by it on July 5 against them for alleged irregularities in the award of tender for managing two IRCTC hotels in 2006.
 
The CBI said the case had been registered under section 120 B, read with section 420, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 13 (2) read with 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Mr. Yadav; his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi and his son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav; Vijay Kochhar and Vinay Kochhar, directors of Sujata Hotels, Patna; Mrs Sarla Gupta, wife of RJD leader Prem Chand Gupta; Delight Marketing Company, Patna; Lara Projects, a company owned by Mr. Yadav's family; then IRCTC Managing Director P K Goyal; and unknown others.
 
The case related to the award of tenders for the development, maintenance and operation of BNR Hotels at Ranchi in Jharkhand and at Puri in Odisha to Sujata Hotels in 2006, when Mr. Yadav was Minister for Railways. Mr. Yadav is also a former Chief Minister of Bihar.
 
A CBI spokesman had said at that time that the case had been registered consequent to a preliminary enquiry conducted by the agency which "prima facie revealed" that Mr. Yadav had derived undue advantage by abuse of his official position.
 
He said that the private hotel company had, in return for favours, sold three acres of Patna to the private marketing company, in which Mrs. Gupta, the wife of Mr. Yadav's close associate, was a director, at a price which was less than the prevalent circle rate.
 
It was alleged that this favour was in return for the award of long term lease for the two hotels by manipulating the tender process. The ownership of the hotels, owned by the Railways, was first transferred to the public sector Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) which, in turn, invited tenders for managing them.
 
It was also alleged that, as per available records, the entire shareholding of the private marketing company was transferred to Mrs. Rabri Devi and Mr. Tejaswi Yadav between 2010 and 2014 for a consideration of approximately Rs. 64 lakh when the company owned land worth around Rs. 32.5 crore as per the circle rate and around Rs. 94 crore as per the market rate.
 
The spokesman said that between 2004 and 2014, a conspiracy was hatched under which the two railway hotels were first transferred to IRCTC and then given on lease to the private hotel company by manipulating the tender process and tweaking the terms so as to benefit the Patna company.
 
"The allegation is that during this process, the tender process was rigged and manipulated and the conditions were tweaked, to help the private party. In return, three acres of land in western Patna was given to Delight Marketing Private Limited, owned by associates of Mr. Yadav, at a price far below the circle rate," he said.
 
The land was finally transferred to Mr. Yadav and his family, again at rates far below the circle and market rates, the spokesman said.
 
"Subsequently between 2010 and 2014, this land was transferred to Lara Projects, owned by Lalu's family. This transfer was also at a very low price. The land was valued at Rs 32 crore as per circle rates at that time. It was transferred for a mere Rs 54 lakhs to Lara Projects," he said.
 
Mr. Yadav has repeatedly said that the case and the raids were an act of  "political vendetta" by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.
 
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TCS launches new centre in Patna to create opportunities as part of Digital India push

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IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has set up a business process service (BPS) centre here as part of its India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS), envisaged under the Digital India programme, to leverage IT industry’s growth to create new opportunities for the country's talent and drive inclusive growth.
 
The TCS centre was inaugurated yesterday by Union Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.
 
The facility in Patna is one of three such BPS centres being set up by TCS, with the other two located at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Nashik in Maharashtra.
 
The BPS unit of TCS is among the largest in the country with annual revenues of over $2 billion. It works with customers on core industry-specific processes, delivers analytics and insights as well as enterprise services such as finance and accounting, HR and supply chain management, a press release from the company said.
 
According to it, TCS complements its experience and expertise with innovative delivery models such as robotic automation and providing Business Processes as a Service (BPaaS). With four decades of global experience and a delivery footprint spanning six continents, TCS is one of the largest BPS providers globally today, it said.
 
Mr. Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and MD, TCS, said, “The launch of the new centre in Patna is aligned with the government's ambitious IBPS scheme, aimed at creating thousands of new jobs, driven by technology and taking the IT revolution beyond the metros. The TCS centre is a state-of-the-art facility with robust administrative and technology infrastructure that will drive new opportunities for business and jobs and help build an IT eco-system in the region.”
 
The release said TCS has been working closely with several large customers to redefine the processes of their business to deliver a superior experience to their end customers. 
 
"The BPS enterprises seek to drive business growth and agility through innovation in an increasingly regulated, competitive, and global market. TCS helps clients achieve these goals by managing and executing their business operations effectively and efficiently," it added.
 
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Mukherjee honours freedom fighters on occasion of centenary of Champaran Satyagraha

President Pranab Mukherjee felicitating a freedom fighter, on the occasion of the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha, at Patna, in Bihar on April 17, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee felicitating a freedom fighter, on the occasion of the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha, at Patna, in Bihar on April 17, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee honoured freedom fighers at an event to commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha here today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that Champaran in Bihar had served as the laboratory of Satyagraha and the national freedom movement.
 
He said that the symbolic significance of Champaran Satyagraha was much greater than what actually happened in Champaran.
 
Along with the Kheda Satyagraha of 1917-1918, the Champaran Satyagraha was the movement responsible for putting Mahatma Gandhi in the front seat of the Indian nationalist movement and making satyagraha a powerful tool of civilian resistance, he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said that the Government of Bihar deserved appreciation for commemorating the centenary of the Champaran movement and for organising the event to felicitate the freedom fighters of India. 
 
"It is a true homage to our roots – the freedom fighters, who under the able and inspiring leadership of Gandhiji laid the foundation of a resilient Indian freedom movement. The event is not only to recognize the contribution of our freedom fighters but was also important because it is necessary that we know our history and are acquainted with our roots," he said.
 
He said that India must celebrate its diversity and should make efforts to ensure that it reaches at rightful place in the comity of nations. 
 
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Mukherjee inaugurates ADRI International Conference on Bihar & Jharkhand

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The strategy for development of seriously disadvantaged regions like Bihar and Jharkhand requires policy makers to unleash the productive forces of the economy, and not just unquestionably follow a path of industrialization, President Pranab Mukherjee has said.
 
Inaugurating a conference on “Bihar and Jharkhand: Shared History to Shared Vision’ here yesterday, Mr Mukherjee pointed out that despite the region being a land of rich mineral resources and fertile soil, relative economic progress and development could not take place.
 
“We also need to realize that, for seriously disadvantaged regions like Bihar and Jharkhand, a strategy of development requires the policy makers to unleash the productive forces of the economy, and not just unquestionably follow a path of industrialization, as was done by countries or regions which had developed earlier. It is here that one requires directed research which can identify appropriate policies that best suit the interests of the regions,” he added.
 
“More specifically, one may consider the immense potential of human development for promoting economic development in regions like Bihar and Jharkhand. The international experience shows that, for specially disadvantaged regions, human development, could indeed be an alternative development strategy.
 
“Under this strategy, it is possible for disadvantaged regions to change their comparative advantage from low skill labour-intensive goods and services to more skill-intensive goods and services provider through deliberate human development. A logical requirement of this alternative development strategy will be prioritizing investment on education beyond what would happen under 'normal' circumstances.
 
“One may also note here that education does not mean economic advantage for the educated persons alone. It has some other important advantages as well — it empowers people and also promotes their participation in both development programs and the political process,” he added.
 
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In the recent past, both the states have started doing well. Particularly Bihar has shown the way in implementation of many social development schemes. The growth performance of Bihar economy has been steady over the past one decade registering an annual growth rate at 10.5%. This is a remarkable achievement.
 
While Bihar still remains a largely agricultural state, Jharkhand is slowly transforming itself into an economy with larger share of service sector. Governments in both the states have taken a large number of steps to speed up the transformation of the social and economic conditions of the states. I wish the people of this region all the best in their march forward.
 
The Conference was organized by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) as part of its Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
 
The President said he was very happy to learn that the Asian Development Research institute (ADRI) is one of those institutions which have been active in social science research during the last 25 years. He expressed the hope that they would continue their efforts in coming years and attain new heights in their academic pursuit and simultaneously provide valuable research support to various development agencies.
 
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Projects worth Rs. 1050 crore to arrest sewage pollution in Ganga from Patna

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In a major step to develop adequate sewage treatment infrastructure in Patna to keep the Ganga clean, projects worth Rs. 1,050 crore have been awarded under the Namami Gange programme.
 
An official press release said here yesterday that the amount would be spent on setting up two sewage treatment plants (STPs), renovation of one existing STP , construction of two pumping stations and laying of new underground sewage network of about 400 km.
 
Contracts to build STP of 60 MLD capacity and laying of new underground sewage network of 227 km in Saidpur zone of the city have been awarded to UEM India Pvt. Ltd and Jyoti Build Tech Pvt. Ltd at a total cost of Rs. 600 crore, it said.
 
Three other firms – Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Voltas Ltd and GAA Germany JV have been awarded separate projects in Beur zone of the city worth over Rs. 450 crore to build one STP of 23 MLD, renovate existing STP of 20 MLD and lay down new underground sewage network of about 180 km. The scope of work also includes creation of main pumping stations of 83 MLD and 50 MLD capacity in Saidpur and Beur zones, respectively.
 
The contracts include the cost of operation and maintenance of STPs and sewage networks for a period of 10 years.
 
The release said the projects aimed not only to treat the current sewage generation in respective zones of Patna but also take into account the sewage estimates of next one decade, considering the expected rise of population in the city. As per a survey by the World Bank, Patna is also one of the fastest growing city in the world in terms of infrastructural development.
 
After time-bound commissioning of these projects, no untreated water will go into the Ganga from these zones, saving the river from contamination and deterioration, it said.
 
The progress of the construction will be monitored by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to ensure that deadlines are met, the release said.
 
Patna city, spread in an area of more than 100 square kilometers, is divided into six sewerage zones – Digha, Beur, Saidpur, Kankarbagh, Pahari and Karmali Chak. Contracts for sewage related projects in Karmali Chak zone are expected to be awarded shortly, he added.
 
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Cabinet approves transfer of 11.35 acres of land to AAI for expansion of Patna Airport

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The Union Cabinet today approved the transfer 11.35 acres of land at Patna airport to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by way of exchanging equivalent land of AAI at Anisabad.
 
The proposed land at Patna Airport will be used for expansion of the airport and construction of new terminal building along with other associated infrastructure, an official press release said. The Bihar Government has also agreed in principle for transfer of the land.
 
The new terminal building will have a capacity of 3 million passengers per annum. The existing terminal building at Patna Airport was built for a capacity of 0.5 million passengers per annum, against which 1.5 million passengers per annum are already using it, leading to  extreme crowding in the terminal building, the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves transfer of AAI land at Patna Airport

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The Union Cabinet today approved the transfer 11.35 acres of land at Patna airport to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by way of exchanging equivalent land of AAI at Anisabad.
 
The proposed land at Patna Airport will be used for expansion of the airport and construction of new terminal building along with other associated infrastructure, an official press release said. The Bihar Government has also agreed in principle for transfer of the land.
 
The new terminal building will have a capacity of 3 million passengers per annum. The existing terminal building at Patna Airport was built for a capacity of 0.5 million passengers per annum, against which 1.5 million passengers per annum are already using it, leading to  extreme crowding in the terminal building, the release added.
 
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24 dead as boat capsizes in Ganga at Patna in Bihar

As many as 24 people, including five children, died after a boat carrying them capsized in the river Ganga at Patna in Bihar on Saturday evening.
 
24 dead as boat capsizes in Ganga at Patna
As many as 24 people, including five children, died after a boat carrying them capsized in the river Ganga at Patna in Bihar yesterday evening.
 
Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal told NetIndian that the victims included 16 men, three women and five children.
 
He said about eight people had swum to safety and a similar number had been rescued by people who jumped into the river to save them.
 
Mr. Agarwal said the boat was carrying about 40 people and none of them are now reported missing. However, search and rescue teams were continuing their operations for some more time to ensure that all the passengers of the boat are accounted for, he said.
 
He said that two of the eight persons admitted to a local hospital had been discharged, while the other six were undergoing treatment and in a stable condition.
 
The search and rescue efforts had continued through the night last night, sources said.
 
The victims were among a large crowd that had gathered at the Ganga Diara here to witness a  kite festival held every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The boat, which had taken people for a free ride on the river, capsized around 6 pm, perhaps, due to overcrowding, the sources said.
 
Video footage shot by onlookers on the river banks showed rescuers making frantic efforts to save the people.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked the District Magistrate to look into the lapses that led to the tragedy.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incident and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families.
 
He also approved an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for the seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, an official press release in Delhi added.
 
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63 dead, 150 injured as Indore-Patna Express derails near Kanpur

At least 63 people died and more than 150 others suffered injuries when 14 coaches of the 19321 Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of Sunday in one of the worst rail disasters in the country in recent years, official sources said.
 
63 dead as Indore-Patna Express derails near Kanpur
At least 63 people died and more than 150 others suffered injuries when 14 coaches of the 19321 Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of today in one of the worst rail disasters in the country in recent years, official sources said.
 
Additional Director General of Police Daljit Singh Chawdhary told journalists that at least 63 bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches, and that the death toll could rise further.
 
He also said that more than 150 people with injuries had been rushed to hospitals in Kanpur.
 
Two coaches, which capsized and telescoped into each other, were the worst affected and cranes and gas cutters were used to cut through the twisted and mangled steel to reach victims trapped inside. One of the coaches had climbed onto the other, crushing the coach below, he said.
 
The mishap occurred around 3.10 am between Pokhraya and Malasa stations on the Jhansi-Kanpur section of North-Central Railway at a time when most passengers were fast asleep, official sources said.
 
Accident relief trains and medical teams have rushed to the spot and scores of ambulances were deployed to rush the injured to hospitals, the sources said.
 
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were on their way to scene of the accident and the district administration has also sought the help of the Army for the rescue efforts.
 
Senior district administration, police and railway officials have rushed to the scene to oversee the rescue and relief efforts. The Minister of State for Railways is also on his way to the spot.
 
"All rescue relief work on to deal with unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed. Enquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely," Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on micro-blogging Twitter said.
 
"Strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for accident. All possible mobilisation for relief initiated," He said.
 
"Enquiry team will start investigation for cause of accident immediately All necessary assistance provided to the  affected, We r taking care," he said.
 
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The stranded passengers were being moved in buses from the site to Malasa station, from where a special train was being arranged to take them to their destinations.
 
The Ministry of Railways has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 3.5 lakh to the next-of-kin of those who died in the accident, Rs. 50,000 to those with grievous injuries and Rs. 25,000 for those with simple injuries.
 
This is in addition to the compensation which will be available through the Railway Claims Tribunal.
 
The Railways have also promised to provide the best possible medical treatment for the injured.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his shock and grief over the loss of lives in the acident. "Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on Twitter.
 
"Prayers with those injured in the tragic train accident. I've spoken to @sureshpprabhu, who is personally monitoring the situation closely," he added.
 
Traffic on the section, which has only a single line, has been affected and several trains have been cancelled or diverted. Efforts are being made to restore normal traffic at the earliest, sources said.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Indore- 0731 1072, Ujjain 0734 2560906, Ratlam 07412 1072, Jhansi 0510-1072, Orai 05162-1072, Kanpur 0512-1072, Pokhrayan 05113-270239, Patna 0612-220 2290, 220 2291, 2202292
 
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Inland water transport terminal to come up in Kolkata, Patna

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Inland water transport terminals will come up in Kolkata and Patna under the public-private partnership (PPP) model with the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) having identified development and operation of Kolkata Terminal’s GR Jetty -I, GR Jetty-II & BISN and Patna Terminal’s Gaighat & Kalughat on the river Ganga.
 
After invitation of bids, nine firms have expressed their interest in taking up the project and the work is expected to be awarded by November, an official press release said.
 
These are the first PPP projects undertaken by the IWAI. Under the transactional structure worked out by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the operator will undertake the operations and maintenance services at both Kolkata and Patna clusters and invest in equipment handling mechanism, goods, items, container loading and unloading equipment and warehousing. The operator will also provide labour, professionals, supervisory, and managerial personnel for performance of operations and maintenance services.
 
The operator will have the right to demand and collect user fees from the users. Service charges would be revised from time to time so as to suitably reflect variation in the market conditions. 
 
The operator will be responsible for the payment of revenue share to IWAI for the period commencing from the third anniversary of the appointment date until the duration of the concession. 
 
The release said the operator is expected to handle 10,000 TEU or 15,000 tonnes at both the terminals within five years of signing the contract.
 
IWAI will finalise the Front End Design (FEED) of the Kalughat Terminal and construct it with the technical assistance of the World Bank under Jal Marg Vikas Project. IWAI will initially invest Rs. 80 crore for the estimated cost construction of the Kalughat Terminal and Rs. 10 crore as the cost of land acquisition of about 2-3 hectares for the container cargo Terminal. 
 
IWAI has taken land on lease for thirty years for GR Jetty I & II, and BISN Terminal in Kolkata.
 
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16 dead as bus plunges into pond in Madhubani district of Bihar

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At least 16 people died when a private bus they were travelling in veered off the road and fell into a deep roadside pond, Sundar Kund, in Madhubani district of Bihar today, official sources said.
 
District officials at the scene of the mishap told NetIndian over the telephone that about 12 passengers of the ill-fated bus had been rescued.
 
Search and rescue teams were searching the pond, said to be about 25 feet deep, to see if there were any more victims.
 
The officials said they had no exact figures for the number of passengers in the bus, which was completely submerged under water.
 
By late this evening, the search teams, including personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), had managed to pull the bus out of the water and extricate several bodies from it.
 
The bus was on its way to Sitamarhi from Madhubani, 180 kms northeast of Patna, when the mishap occurred around 12.30 pm near Basaitha chowk in Benipatti police station area of the district.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the accident and urged district officials to speed up the rescue and relief efforts.
 
He asked Revenue Minister Madan Mohan Jha and Panchayati Raj Minister Kapil Dev Kamat to rush to the scene of the tragedy.
 
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Earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolts Myanmar, tremors felt in eastern, NE India

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolted Myanmar this afternoon and the tremors were felt in several parts of eastern and north-eastern India.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.0 N and longitude 94.4 E, near Chauk town on the Irrawaddy river, occurred at 1604 hours IST at a focal depth of 58 km.
 
Reports reaching here said the tremors were felt in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal, Patna in Bihar, Guwahati in Assam and Tripura, among other places. They were also felt in Bangladesh and Thailand.
 
Residents of the affected areas ran out of their homes and offices as a precautionary measure.
 
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Fruitful exchanges on international, regional issues at BRICS Policy Planning Dialogue

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The BRICS Policy Planning Dialogue successfully concluded here today with "fruitful exchanges" on strategic assessments of international situation and the regional situation of each country and trends, going beyond immediate issues of customary diplomacy.
 
The delegations also discussed the role of BRICS in international governance, ongoing cooperation at BRICS Forum and reflected on areas of convergence among the member countries.
 
BRICS brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. India has assumed the Presidency of BRICS in February this year. 
 
The two-day dialogue gave an opportunity for sharing of best practices in foreign policy planning and assessment between the BRICS countries, an official press release said.
 
The quality and scope of discussions affirmed the significance of the voice of BRICS given that it is a grouping that brings together five major world economies that are home to 43% of the world population, it added.
 
The release said the discussions would contribute towards India’s objective as Chair of BRICS for 2016 to further consolidate Intra-BRICS cooperation by adopting a five-pronged approach – institution building to further deepen and sustain BRICS cooperation; implementation of the decisions of previous Summits including the Prime Minister’s announcements at the Fortaleza and Ufa Summits; integrating synergies among the existing cooperation mechanisms; innovation, that is, new cooperation mechanisms and continuation of mutually agreed existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms.
 
During their stay in Patna, the heads of delegations called on Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Some delegations also took the opportunity to visit historic places of interest in the vicinity of Patna such as Nalanda and Rajgir.
 
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Nalanda Mahavihara gets inscribed in World Heritage List

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The excavated remains at Nalanda of the great monastic-cum-scholastic establishment has got inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
 
Located around 88 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar, the site presents a key archaeological evidence of a truly international centre for organised learning.
 
Nalanda Mahavihara was founded by Kumargupta I of the Gupta dynasty in 5th century CE. It was patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th – 12th century CE) as well as various scholars.
 
Later, a number of factors spread over centuries caused the decline of this famed institution. The same region later saw emergence of a number of reputed educational institutions like Vikramshila and Odantpuri but the eminence of Nalanda remains unrivalled.
 
About six centuries after Nalanda’s decline, the site was first discovered and reported by Sir Francis Buchanan. The site was systematically excavated and consolidated by Archaeological Survey of India from 1915 to 1937 and again from 1974 to 1982.
 
Nalanda is a rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art and architecture. It symbolized the multiplicity of knowledge production, the innovative processes of the organized transmission of ideas through education and a shared heritage of people living in multiple regions of Asia.
 
Nalanda distinguished itself as the earliest planned university of the Indian sub-continent. Thematic and iconographic assimilation of features from major art centres of the sub-continent with local practices is evident in art of Nalanda. While Nalanda stucco influenced practices in Thailand, its metal art influenced art of the Malayan archipelago, Nepal, Myanmar and Tibet travelling out through scholars.
 
Nalanda attracted scholars from the Indian sub-continent and beyond and received patronage of local rulers and foreign kings for an unbroken period of 800 years.
 
Students were admitted after rigorous evaluation only. Apart from teaching of topics related to Buddhism, contemporary texts and philosophies, logic, grammar, science, and medicine were also part of the knowledge imparted at Nalanda. Earning the title of ‘Medieval School of Discussion and Logic’, Nalanda`s scholars mastered the art and science of debate developing it into a critical tool for higher learning.
 
Today, the continuity of its systems is also evident in contemporary monasteries in Sri Lanka, Tibet and Nepal. In fact, the term Nalanda has become synonymous with aspired standard of education as evidenced in several 21st century namesake institutions all over the world.
 
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All surviving remains of Nalanda Mahavihara in the proposed property area demonstrate amply the attributes of the property such as its planning and layout, its architectural manifestation and extant building materials and applied ornamental embellishments.
 
Preserved in-situ is structural remains of viharas (residential-cum-scholastic structure) and chaityas (temple-like structure) whose layers of construction show evolution of the respective forms.
 
The positioning of these structures over the length of the site shows the planned layout unique to Nalanda. The viharas retain infrastructure for residential-cum-scholastic functions.
 
The quincuxial or five-fold plan-form characteristic of a Nalanda chaitya is evident in the temple within the property. The site also retains a corpus of moveable and immoveable artefacts and artistic embellishment that shows iconographic development reflecting changes in Buddhist belief system. While stucco and engraved art are conserved in-situ, metal and stone objects are exhibited today at the adjoining Site Museum.
 
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CCEA okays rehabilitation of Mahatma Gandhi Setu on Ganga at Patna

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a project for the rehabilitation of the four-lane 5.575 km Mahatma Gandhi Setu on national highway (NH)-19 on the Ganga at Patna in Bihar. 
 
An official press release said the bridge would be constructed after dismantling the damaged pre-stressed cantilever arms superstructure and subsequent re-decking by steel truss.
 
The project will be implemented in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode. The cost is estimated to be Rs.1742.01 crore, it said.
 
The bridge was constructed in the 1980s by the Government of Bihar. The distressed bridge is very important link between North Bihar and South Bihar and is a route for several economic as well as socio-political activities. Business with Nepal and Bhutan also flow through this connection. 
 
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made efforts to rehabilitate this bridge in the last 15 years but they were not successful. After a lot of studies through national and foreign experts, it has now been decided that the only remedy left is to dismantle the existing superstructure followed by subsequent re-decking by steel truss, the release added.
 
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Lightning claims 56 lives in Bihar, 24 suffer injuries

 
Lightning claims 56 lives in Bihar
At least 56 people died and 24 others suffered injuries when lightning struck several parts of Bihar during heavy rains in the state late last night, official sources said here today.
 
While six peope were killed in Patna, five died in Buxar and four each in  Aurangabad, Rohtas, Bhojpur and Nalanda districts, the sources told NetIndian. 
 
In all, deaths were reported from as many as 19 districts, including Gaya, Bhagalpur, Saran, Kaimur, Saharsa, Katihar, Samastipur, Monghyr, Madhepura and West Champaran.
 
Officials said the casualties could be higher with reports from some remote areas yet to come in. The victims included women and children.
 
Mr. Vyas Ji, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management in the Bihar Government, told newsmen that the state administration had received reports by late yesterday that several people had been killed due to lightning.
 
He urged people to avoid staying out in the open and remain indoors to minimise the risks.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the incidents.
 
Lightning strikes are common during the monsoon in Bihar. The south-west monsoon advanced into the state earlier this week and yesterday's rains were among the first downpours of this season.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the loss of lives due to lightning in Bihar as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and other places over the last few days.
 
"Deeply anguished by loss of lives due to lightning in parts of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand & other parts of the nation over the last few days.
 
"My thoughts & prayers are with those who lost their near & dear ones due to the lightning. May the injured recover quickly," he said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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One injured, six escape unhurt as air ambulance crash lands near Delhi Airport

 
Air ambulance crash lands in Najafgarh
An air ambulance with seven people on board, carrying a patient from Patna to Delhi for medical treatment, crash landed in a field at Kair village in the Najafgarh area of the national capital, after both its engines failed one after the other, injuring one of the passengers.
 
The injured person was rushed to the Medanta Medicity Hospital in Gurgaon nearby, while four others were taken to the Rao Tularam Hospital in Delhi for a routine check-up.
 
The Beechcraft King Air C90 A aircraft, belonging to Alchemist Airline and withcall sign VTEQO, was on a chartered flight and was about six nautical miles away from touchdown on runway 10 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport when the mishap occurred.
 
The aircraft had taken off from Patna at around 11.43 am and the pilot sent the first "Mayday" distress call around 2.47 pm.
 
Officials said the pilot reported that one engine of the aircraft had shut down and shortly thereafter informed Air Traffic Control (ATC) that he had lost the second engine, too.
 
All indications were that the pilot, identified as Amit, managed to steer the aircraft to a deserted field, away from the densely populated areas nearby, and make a controlled landing, without causing much damage to the plane.
 
Fire tenders, police and other emergency services personnel rushed to the scene and removed the injured to hospital.
 
The aircraft, manufactured in 1989, had a seating capacity of seven, including the pilot and the co-pilot.
 
Official sources said besides the pilot Amit, those on board included co-pilot Rohit, the patient, Birendra Rai, a doctor, Dr. Roopesh, a woman named Juhi and another passenger identified as Bhagwan Rai.
 
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Today's incident brought back memories of a similar incident on May 25, 2011 when another air ambulance, a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, also carrying seven people from Patna to Delhi, including a patient for medical treatment, crashed near sector 22 in Faridabad, about 20 km from the Delhi airport, in bad weather that night.
 
All seven people on the single-engined aircraft, including a 20-year-old patient, two doctors, two attendants and two pilots on board the single-engined aircraft, died in the crash.
 
Three persons on the ground were also killed in the crash, which occurred in a residential area, and three others on the ground sufferd injuries.
 
On December 22, 2015, a Beech Superking B-200 aircraft of the Border Security Force (BSF) crashed minutes after take-off from the Delhi Airport, killing all ten persons aboard.
 
The aircraft, with VT-BSA registration, bound for Ranchi in Jharkhand, crashed outside the airport boundary wall on the western side of the airport.
 
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Wi-fi services at Patna, Ranchi, Visakhapatnam railway stations

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today inaugurated high speed wi-fi services at Patna, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam railway stations through video conferencing.
 
The wi-fi facility for visitors and rail users at these stations has been commissioned by RailTel in association with Google for providing high speed state-of-the-art world class internet experience to the commuters, an official press release siad.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Prabhu said as India was heading towards digitalization, Internet had become the basic need of every individual for which they are entitled to. In order to bring the railway stations to world standard and to keep pace with the latest technology, provision of high speed wi-fi is the first step in this direction.
 
So far this facility has been provided at 19 railway stations which will be extended to 100 stations in the next one year.
 
He said after completion of this project of providing wi-fi facility at 400 stations, it would be the biggest wi-fi service in the world.
 
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Justice Dhirendra Waghela to be Chief Justice of Bombay High Court

Justice Dhirendra Waghela
Justice Dhirendra Waghela
The President has, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transferred Mr. Justice Dhirendra Hiralal Waghela, Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.
 
An official press release said Mr. Justice Waghela had been directed to assume charge of the office of the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court on or before February 16, 2016.
 
The President has also transferred Mr. Justice Hemant Gupta, Judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, as a Judge of the Patna High Court. He has also been directed to assume charge of his office in the Patna High Court on or before February 16, the release added.
 
Born on August 11, 1954 at Rajkot, Gujarat in a family of artists and artisans, Mr. Justice Waghela took a degree in commerce from the  P.D.Malaviya Commerce College there and also worked in his family business for five years. 
 
He topped Saurashtra University in General LL.B. and Special LL.B. in 1974 and 1975, respectively. He stood second in the university in the LL.M. examinations in 1976-77.
 
He practised exclusivel in the Labour and Industrial Courts for many years and served as Secretary of the Labour Court Practitioners’ Association for several successive years and represented the Labour Bar of Saurashtra in the agitation for a High Court bench in Saurashtra. 
 
In 1990, he shifted his practice to Ahmedabad, appearing in many cases for poor workmen without charging any fees. He also represented several government bodies and companies as well as the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. 
 
In the year 1999, he was called to the bench and assumed his office as Additional Judge of the High Court of Gujarat on 17th September, 1999. 
 
He was elevated as the Chief Justice, High Court of Karnataka in March, 2013. He was then transferred to Orissa High Court, where he took oath as Chief Justice on June 4, 2015.
 
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L&T JV wins Rs 3115 crore new Ganga bridge project in Bihar

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business of L&T Construction, along with its joint venture (JV) partner, Daewoo E&C of South Korea, had won a major order worth Rs. 3,115 crore from the Bihar State Road Development Corporation Limited (BSRDCL).
 
A press release from the company said the contract was for th  design and construction of a greenfield six-lane extra-dosed cable bridge over river Ganga near Kachchi Dargah in the district of Patna on National Highway (NH)-30, near Bidupur in the District of 
Vaishali on NH-103 (Bihar). 
 
The prestigious engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract involves construction of a 22- km road alignment including a 9.76 km long extra-dosed bridge spanning the Ganga. The project also includes viaducts, road overbridges (ROBs), major bridges and road works. 
 
"After completion, this will be the country’s longest extra-dosed bridge. The project is scheduled to be completed in four years," the release said.
 
“This is a significant win in the heavy civil infrastructure space and we hope that this is a sign for many such projects involving vital infrastructure that are in the offing to materialize,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director & President, L&T. 
 
“This mandate is truly representative of our expertise in building bridges as we are already building some major bridges in India: one across the Narmada, one in Goa, another near Delhi. With the support of our JV partners, we are confident of delivering as per the requirements of our clients,” he added.
 
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Seven coaches of Amrapali Express derail in Bihar, no casualties

 
Seven coaches of Amrapali Express derail near Khagaria
 
Seven coaches of the 15707 Katihar-Amritsar Amrapali Express derailed near Khagaria in Bihar in the early hours of today but none of the passengers was injured, officials said.
 
The mishap occurred around 1.15 am when the train had just left from a stop at Pasraha station in Sonepur division of East Central Railway (ECR) and was still moving at slow speed in the outer yard.
 
ECR spokesperson Arvind Kumar Rajak told NetIndian that the derailed coaches included five second class sleeper coaches, one AC 3-Tier coach and one AC 2-Tier coach.
 
He said all the passengers of the train, including those travelling by the affected coaches, were first taken to Barauni in the remaining coaches. At Barauni, all 1360 passengers of the train were accommodated in a new rake and sent on their onward journey this morning.
 
Mr. Rajak said that two accident relief trains were rushed to the scene and had managed to re-rail al the derailed coaches. Normal traffic was expected to be restored by early this afternoon, he said.
 
District administration and police officials as well as emergency personnel also rushed to the spot immediately.
 
Some trains were delayed and others diverted as a result of the accident.
 
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Nitish Kumar announces plan to impose liquor ban in Bihar from April 2016

 
Nitish Kumar announces plan to impose liquor ban in Bihar from April 2016
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced plans to impose a ban on liquor in the state from April 1, 2016 in fulfilment of one of his promises during the recent elections to the state legislative assembly which saw the "Grand Alliance" formed by his Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress win an overwhelming majority.
 
"My government is committed to fulfilling the promises made to women during he election campaign," he said at a function here yesterday.
 
He said he had instructed the Chief Secretary and other officials concerned to start work on drafting the new policy so that it could be implemented from April 1 next year.
 
He said there were large numbers of complaints from women about the problems arising out of the addiction to liquor among men in their families.
 
Mr. Kumar said people from the low income groups were the worst-hit because of the consumption of liquor. It affected not only their health but also the economic condition of their families, especially the education of their children, he said. He said men's addiction to liquor led to tension within families, and women had to bear the brunt of such problems.
 
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Mr. Kumar said the government would make efforts to ensure that such families lived happy lives again, that they spend money they saved by not consuming liquor on their children's education and nutrition. 
 
He said the policy would make women in the state happy and help the development of families. He said women's self-help groups had already done good work in curbing consumption of liquor, which had helped create the atmosphere for such a ban by the government.
 
He said the state government would find other ways of making up the loss of revenue from excise duty arising from the ban.
 
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Nitish Kumar sworn in as Bihar CM, Tejaswi Yadav is Deputy CM

 
Nitish Kumar sworn in as Chief Minister of Bihar for fifth time
 
Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was today sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fifth time in his political career after leading the "Grand Alliance" comprising his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress to a resounding win in the recent elections to the state legislative assembly.
 
Mr. Kumar, 64, was administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Ramnath Kovind at a ceremony at the historic Gandhi Maidan here, watched by thousands of supporters and dozens of leaders from several non-BJP parties.
 
This is the first time that the JD (U), the RJD headed by former Union Minister Lalu Prasad and the Congress have come together in an alliance in Bihar.
 
Along with Mr Kumar, 28 others took oath as Ministers in the new government, including Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, sons of Mr Lalu Prasad. Tejaswi Yadav, 26, was named as Deputy Chief Minister in the allocation of portfolios announced later.
 
The "Grand Alliance" ended up with 178 seats in the 243-member assembly, while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), finished with just 58 seats.
 
Among the "grand alliance" partners, the RJD became the single largest party in the assembly with 80 seats, while the JD(U) bagged 71 and the Congress got 27.
 
The BJP ended up with 53 seats on its own, while its allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP) picked up two seats each and and the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular) one. Among the others in the fray, the CPI (ML) won three seats and independent candidates bagged four.
 
Apart from Mr. Kumar, the Ministry includes 12 members each from the JD (U) and RJD and four from the Congress.
 
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, Oommen Chandy of Kerala, Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, Virbhadra Singh of Himachal Pradesh, S. Siddaramaiah of Karnataka, Tarun Gogoi of Assam, P K Chamling of Sikkim, O Ibobi Singh of Manipur and Nabam Tuki of Arunachal Pradesh were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu represented Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the event. Mr. Lalu Prasad and JD (U) President Sharad Yadav were among the prominent guests at the function.
 
Also present were CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D. Raja, former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Congress leaders Ghuulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, DMK's M. K. Stalin, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi.
 
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi were also present.
 
In the allocation of portfolios, the Chief Minister retained the portfolios of Home, General Administration and Information & Public Relations with himself.
 
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Mr Tejaswi Yadav, the new Deputy Chief Minister, will be in charge of Road Construction and Building Construction Departments. His brother Tej Pratap Yadav has been given Health and Environment & Forests.
 
Mr. Abdul Bari Siddiqui has been given the Finance portfolio, while Mr Bijendra Prasad Yadav, who held Finance in the previous Nitish Kumar government, will now handle Energy.
 
Mr. Ashok Choudhary, the state Congress president, has been given Education and Information Technology. Another Congress leader Madan Mohan Jha was put in charge of Revenue while JD (U) MLA Rajiv Ranjan Singh will handle Water Resources.
 
Jay Kumar Singh of JD (U) will look after Industry, while Manju Varma, also of JD (U) has been given Social Welfare.
 
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JD (U)-RJD-Congress "grand alliance" storms to power in Bihar with resounding win

The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, romped to power with a resounding victory as votes were counted in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly on Sunday.
 
Nitish hails verdict as victory of Bihar's swabhimaan
 
The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, romped to power with a resounding victory as votes were counted in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly today.
 
As results for all 243 seats became available late tonight, the "grand alliance" or "Mahagathbandhan" ended up with 178 seats, well past the two-thirds mark, while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now in power at the Centre, was far behind with just 58 seats.
 
Among the "grand alliance" partners, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of former Union Minister Lalu Prasad won 80 seats to end up as the single largest party. The JD (U) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won 71 and the Congress 27.
 
The RJD's performance is particularly impressive, given the fact that many political observers felt that its presence was a liability for the JD (U).
 
The BJP ended up with 53 seats on its own, while its allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP) picked up two seats each and and the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular) one.
 
Among the others in the fray, the CPI (ML) won three seats and independent candidates bagged four.
 
In terms of vote percentage, the RJD got 18.4% of the votes, the JD(U) 16.8% and the Congress 6.7%.
 
The BJP secured 24.4% of the votes cast, the LJP 4.8%, the BLSP 2.6% and HAMS 2.4%. Independents garnered 9.4% of the vote, while the CPI(ML) got 1.5%.
 
The campaigning for the elections was marked by sharp and bitter exchanges of barbs among the main contestants.
 
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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 Mr. Nitish Kumar and his foe-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
 
The results will be seen as personal setbacks to Mr. Modi, who had campaigned extensively in Bihar and addressed more than 30 election rallies, and for BJP President Amit Shah, who had fashioned the party's strategy for the elections.
 
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.
 
The Election Commission had set up 65349 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a freee and fair poll.
 
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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 were 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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JD (U)-RJD-Congress "grand alliance" romps to power with overwhelming win in Bihar elections

The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, romped to power with an overwhelming victory as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly on Sunday.
 
Nitish hails verdict as victory of Bihar's swabhimaan
 
The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, romped to power with an overwhelming victory as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly today.
 
As counting trends became available for all 243 seats, the "grand alliance" or "Mahagathbandhan" had won or was leading in 178 constituencies, well past the two-thirds mark, while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now in power at the Centre, was far behind with wins or leads in just 59.
 
Among the "grand alliance" partners, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of former Union Minister Lalu Prasad was ahead in 80, the ruling JD (U) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 71 and the Congress in 27.
 
The RJD's performance is particularly impressive, given the fact that many political observers felt that its presence was a liability for the JD (U).
 
The BJP was leading in 53 constituencies, while its allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) was ahead in three, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP) in two and the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular) in one.
 
Among the others in the fray, the CPI (ML) won two seats and independents were ahead in four.
 
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 Mr. Nitish Kumar and his foe-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
 
The results will be seen as personal setbacks to Mr. Modi, who had campaigned extensively in Bihar and addressed more than 30 election rallies, and for BJP President Amit Shah, who had fashioned the party's strategy for the elections.
 
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.
 
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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.
 
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 were 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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