Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar resigns

PATNA: A day after his party JD (U)'s poor show in the Lok Sabha elections, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar resigned on Saturday. The JD (U) had managed to get just 2 seats out 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Kumar's resignation has come amid reports of dissent in the party following the poor show in the general elections. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stakes high for Lalu in this phase of Bihar polls

Seven Lok Sabha constituencies of north Bihar - known for its fertile land and high rate of poverty and migration - go to the polls May 7 and this phase is crucial for RJD chief Lalu Prasad whose wife Rabri Devi is in the fray.

Two out of four seats that RJD won in 2009 fall in this fifth and penultimate phase of elections in the state. Lalu's personal stake is also high as his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi is in the field for his traditional seat of Saran.

More than 10 million voters will elect their representatives in Hajipur, Saran, Maharajganj, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Ujiyarpur.

Lalu's RJD had won the Saran and Maharajganj seats when it contested alone last time.

With the Congress joining hands with it and Lalu claiming that his traditional social support base of his castemen Yadav and Muslim is intact, this is a big challenge for RJD whether it will improve its performance or its rival the BJP-led alliance and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD-U, which is contesting alone this time, will stop its revival gameplan.

Lalu himself had won from Saran but was disqualified after being convicted in a multi-crore fodder scam last year.

JD-U won four of the seven seats while its then ally Bharatiya Janata Party had won one seat.

Both the parties are contesting the polls without each other's support for the first time since 1996, after the JD-U ended its 17-year alliance with the BJP last year.

Like the last four-phase polls that ended more or less peacefully, the caste factor will be again at play.

BJP's hopes lie with a wave in favour of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

"Nothing will work this time except the Modi wave, every one from upper caste to backward castes and Dalits to Mahadalits are supporting the BJP for Modi," BJP candidate from Saran Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a former union minister who is contesting against Rabri Devi, told IANS over telephone.

After being defeated twice in 2004 and 2009 by Lalu, Rudy is confident to win this time thanks to the Modi wave.

"Even Lalu's castemen are supporting Modi," he said.

Rudy frankly admitted the BJP is banking heavily on Modi, and his party hopes to win more seats than in 2009.

Leaders of JD-U are also sure to retain all the party's seats.

Probably sensing the difficult challenge, Lalu has been campaigning vigorously in Saran and neighbouring areas like Maharajganj for last few days.

"Laluji has been working overtime by campaigning for 15 to 16 hours, addressing 10 to 12 election meetings, to ensure the victory of party candidates, including Rabri Devi," a RJD leader close to him told IANS.

Prominent leaders in the fray are LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Rabri Devi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Prabhunath Singh, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Salim Perwez, Sahid Ali Khan, Lovely Anand and Rama Devi.

The BJP is confident of support from the upper castes - Brahmins, Bhumihar and Rajputs - and also hopes to garner support of backward castes and Dalits, thanks to its alliance with the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha.

JD-U is banking on Nitish Kumar's development card and his social engineering of extreme backward castes, Mahadalits and Muslims.

In Maharajganj, Prabhunath Singh of RJD is seeking re-election. Last year, he defeated JD-U's P.K. Shahi in the by-election by over 135,000 votes.

In 2009, he lost as the JD-U candidate to Uma Shankar Singh of the RJD. The latter died, necessitating re-election. Prabhunath crossed over to the RJD Aug 7, 2010.

In Hajipur, JD-U candidate and sitting MP Ram Sundar Das, 93, is contesting against Ram Vilas Paswan.
Source: IANS

Unhappy with Bihar CM, over 50 JD-U MLAs in touch with BJP: Sushil Modi

Patna: Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi Tuesday said over 50 legislators from Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United are in touch with his party as they are unhappy with the Chief Minister.

The Nitish Kumar government would fall due to internal contradictions after the end of Lok Sabha polls, said the Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former deputy chief minister.

"Over 50 JD-U legislators are in touch with the BJP because they are unhappy with Nitish Kumar. They are also helping BJP candidates in polls to ensure their victory," he said.

Sushil Kumar Modi said most of the JD-U's 116 legislators were against Nitish Kumar's decision last year to end the alliance with the BJP.

However, Modi made it clear that the BJP would not do anything or make any attempt to cause the fall of the state government. "This government will fall due to its own contradictions," he said.

Last week during campaigning in Bihar, BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan predicted that the Nitish Kumar government would fall after the Lok Sabha polls.

Earlier, another senior BJP leader, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, said the state government would not survive after May 21.

Speculation is rife that if the JD-U performs poorly in the Lok Sabha polls, it is bound to impact the state government.

According to JD-U leaders, some BJP leaders have been instructed by the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to disturb the state government after the polls.

"But we are confident that the poll outcome will prove wrong and the JD-U will perform better than expected," said a JD-U leader close to the chief minister.

In 2009, the JD-U won 20 of 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar and its then ally the BJP won 12 seats. While the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) bagged 4 seats, the Congress and independent candidates shared two seats each.
Source: Zee News

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Aamir Khan disappoints Bihar's Mountain Man's family

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has disappointed the poverty-stricken family of Bihar's 'Mountain Man' Dasrath Manjhi, as neither did he provide financial help to them nor send his team to inquire about their requirements.

Dashrath Manjhi is known for single-handedly cutting through a hill to make a road.

His son Bhagirath is sad and pained after he failed to save his wife Basanti Devi, who died due to lack of medical care last month.

"If hero (Aamir) could have provided financial help as he promised us, my wife may not have died. She died because of our abject poverty. Aamir has proved himself like leaders or officials, who promised help that never reached us," Bhagirath told IANS over the phone of a local NGO member.

Bhagirath said that he managed to perform 'shradh' (a ritual performed after a death) Friday thanks to financial help provided by Bodh Gaya-based People First Educational Charitable Trust.

"It was they (Trust) who spent money to perform my wife's shradh. I have no money to do that," he said.

Aamir Khan, who visited their village for his TV show "Satyamev Jayate" in February, promised to provide financial help to Dashrath's daughter-in-law Basanti and son Bhagirath.

In early March after Aamir's visit hit the headlines, Shafi Ahmad, state co-ordinator of Aamir's production house, said a team would soon visit the Dasrathnagar Dalit tola near Gahlaur in Gaya district, around 100 km from here, on behalf of the actor-filmmaker as he had requested that their requirements be taken care of.

Aamir, during his visit, also assured Bhagirath and Basanti of help. Nearly two months after Aamir promised to help Basanti she died due to lack of proper medical treatment.

Both of them had told Khan that they have been left in the lurch, ignored by politicians and officials despite repeated assurances of help.

Bhagirath said that Basanti's death sent shock waves through the village as it happened despite assurances of help from Aamir.

However, the Trust that helped Bhagirath conduct Basanti's shradh, has opened the Dasrath Manjhi non-formal school in Gahlaur. The school is being run by Basanti's daughter-in-law Laksminiya Devi.

Both Bhagirath and Basanti used to work in the village primary school as cooks for preparing the mid-day meal for children. Both of them were paid Rs.1,000 a month.

Working day and night, Dasrath Manjhi had single-handedly carved out a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and 30 feet wide passage through a hill near Gahlaur with a hammer and chisel. He died in 2007 after battling cancer.

The hill was between Attari and Wazirgunj blocks in Gaya district. Manjhi began his uphill task when his wife was injured and he had to take a detour around the mountains to reach the nearest hospital.
Source: DNA

Friday, May 2, 2014

Race for Bihar’s Saran gets hotter

The electoral battle for Saran constituency, where former CM Rabri Devi of the RJD faces a stiff challenge from former Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the BJP, heated up on Friday when top leaders of the three major parties in the fray held rallies and attacked one another.

Ms Devi’s husband and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is apparently banking on a revival of his previously gainful formula of Muslim-Yadav social coalition, flaunted his secular credentials at a massive rally by recounting how he had got BJP stalwart L.K. Advani arrested in Bihar during the Ram temple movement in October 1990. Explaining the contrasts between “Mandal and kamandal” (Mandal Commission and a pro-Hindutva BJP), he told his audience of his struggles to ensure reservation benefits for the backward castes.

Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain hit out at both the RJD and the JD(U) for “using Muslims as vote banks,” saying Bihar’s Muslims would no longer be deceived by the two regional parties.

“I am the only Muslim MP of the BJP in the Lok Sabha. This has posed terrible problem for both Lalu Prasad Yadav and chief minister Nitish Kumar when they try to present the BJP as an enemy of the Muslims,” he said.

CM Nitish Kumar of the JD(U), who also addressed a rally in the constituency, dubbed both the RJD and the BJP as unworthy parties that had little real concern for Bihar’s development. “The party that looks keen on a division of India and the other party that goes about with a lantern (RJD symbol) in the age of electricity will not succeed in their evil efforts,” said Mr Kumar.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Airing on Nepal FM stations: Ad jingles for Bihar politicians

And what does Nepal have to do with the democratic exercise in India as such? Nothing. But its 104 FM radio channels do, as Bihar has several constituencies bordering Nepal and these radio channels can be heard there.

Valmikinagar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Sheohar and Sitamarhi are being bombarded with political messages from across the border. The sloganeering on Modi is followed by one on the RJD and the Congress, as candidates of some 14 constituencies along the 750-km Bihar-Nepal border vie for airspace.

It works out cheaper too. For every 100 in Indian rupees, publicity worth 170 in Nepalese currency is assured.

Rajdevi and Indrani FM channels are among the most popular for their views on Indian politics and politicians. They offer multiple language packages, too. So it is Bhojpuri for Champaran, Vajjika for Tirhut and Maithili besides Hindi and English for other areas.

Nepalese FM radio stations have gained in prominence due to the absence of competing Indian FM radio stations along the border. Over the years, Jaleshwar FM, Rajdevi FM of Gaur Market, Radio Mithila, Madhesi Radio, Radio Today, Janakpur Radio, Garhi Mai radio, Bhojpuri Radio, Sanskar Radio, Sanskriti Radio, Narayani FM and Radio Birgunj have gained popularity in Indian villages.

“FM stations in Nepal air popular Bollywood and Bhojpuri songs and are very interactive, that is why they are popular in border areas. Local merchants and clothiers too air their advertisement through them,” said advocate Janak Singh, who lives in Raxaul, from where the Nepalese town of Birgunj is barely half a kilometre away.

Ram Singh Yadav, a shopkeeper in Nepal’s Jaleswor, opposite Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, says he regularly tunes in to Nepalese FM radio stations to compare prices on either side of the border to book profit.

With the EC fixing the maximum poll expenses at Rs. 70 lakh, many independent candidates have found Nepal FMs to be a cheaper way out. “It worked out to our advantage, even in areas which were not accessible otherwise,” said Manoj Paswan of the RJD in Motihari.

In last assembly polls, the EC had shown its annoyance over poll campaigning from across the border and asked information and broadcasting ministry to coordinate with Nepali authorities to restrict FM operators from airing propaganda in favour of candidates.

To their credit, Nepali authorities requested all FMs stations along the border to stop beaming such messages, but there is no law that can bar them from favouring candidates.

Source: Hindustan Times

In the run up to next phase of LS polls, NDA seeks to consolidate Paswan votes in Bihar

The NDA has started pushing harder than ever for a consolidation of Paswan votes ahead of the next phase of polling in Bihar, which includes seven seats. Hajipur (SC), Ujiyarpur, Saran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Maharajganj and Muzaffarpur go to polls on May 7.
Scheduled Caste Paswans account for over five per cent of the state population. Ujiyarpur alone has over two lakh Paswans, known as traditional rivals of Yadavs. And BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi has held public meetings there, besides in Hajipur, Sheohar and Chhapra (Saran), all targeted at consolidation of the Paswan votes.
The acrimony between the Yadavs and the Paswans had subsided during the RJD-LJP alliance in the last LS and Vidhan Sabha elections, but the two have since split and many Paswans are now aggressovely rallying behind the BJP-led NDA. “First, we have seldom been on the same side of the political divide. Now that our caste leader and national Dalit face Ramvilas Paswan is with BJP, we have all the more reason to vote as a block in response to the Yadav vote consolidating in RJD favour,” said Mukesh Paswan, a Hajipur resident.
Paswan voters are upset with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his JD(U) for leaving them out of the Mahadalits list that includes all Bihar Scheduled Caste groups excluding this most dominant block after Ravidas. Nitish government had started about a dozen schemes such as free distribution of land to landless Mahadalits to build houses, benefiting over 3 lakh families so far.
LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan often speaks against categorisation of Mahadalits by Nitish.
A senior BJP leader said: “Our field reports post-polling in 27 constituencies suggested solid Paswan support in our favour. This can convert into victories on seats having triangular contest. Though the Paswan population varies from 50,000 to two lakh in a constituency, they can change the equation in our favour.”
Amit Paswan, a driver, said: “It is Narendra Modi all the way for us. I have spoken to my relatives in Naubatpur in Pataliputra and they voted for BJP. We have hopes of regaining our caste pride with LJP’s chances of winning some seats. If Ramvilas Paswan becomes minister, we will feel empowered. It is about pride just as Yadavs desperately want Lalu back”.

BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha national president and former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan told The Indian Express: “While Ramvilas Paswan coming with us is an important factor, stronger hints of Paswan consolidation with NDA is because of their neglect by ruling political class for years. They are also very religious and somewhat influenced by the nationalistic ideology of Narendra Modi”.
Source: Express