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Church which hosted PM Modi in February says Bihar election result a ‘verdict against sectarian politics’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited for an event by the same church on February 17 wherein two members of the church were elevated to sainthood.

Church which hosted PM Modi, takes a dig at his ‘sectarian politics’
File Photo

The church which had invited PM Narendra Modi to celebrate the elevation to sainthood of two members back in February, has implied that the BJP’s defeat in the Bihar elections is a verdict against ‘sectarian politics’.In a pastoral letter, from the bishop to churchgoers – which usually deals with spiritual and administrative matters, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara – the Archbishop of Faridabad-Delhi Syro-Malabar Church, said that the victory of the Grand Alliance in Bihar ​is a verdict against “sectarian politics” and a “declaration by Indian conscience that it will not support political parties’ attempts to use caste divisions, religious intolerance and sectarian mindset as campaign tools,” says the Indian Express.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited for an event by the same church on February 17 wherein two members of the church were elevated to sainthood, which was also attended by Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the four-million strong Syro-Malabar Church. However, they now have “apprehensions” that some “ultra-religious fundamentalists have started questioning the very fundamentals of the Indian Constitution” and that could “disintegrate” the country and lead to “sectarianism”.Comparing various incidents in the recent past, termed as “incidents of intolerance”, such as Dadri lynching, the return of awards by creative lot in the country, killing of MM Kalburgi, the murder of two Dalit children in Haryana, the alleged desecration of the Sikh holy book and the ” the “restrictions on Greenpeace and (activist) Teesta Setalvad’s organisation” to the state of affair in an Islamic country he visited, the Archbishop expressed his opinion that the state should not interfere in an individual’s choice of religion, food habits and attire, which are “fundamental rights”.“Religious tolerance is the hallmark of Indian society. India neither has a concept of one state-one religion, nor the ruling party’s religion,” the Archbishop said, also trying to draw community’s attention towards issues of religious conversions and “ghar wapsi”, and expressing concerns the population policy to check Muslim and Christian population.

Fulfil people’s ‘massive mandate’ instead of grabbing bungalows, Lalu Prasad tells ministers

Patna: Amid reports of some RJD and JD(U) MLAs grabbing official bungalows of their choice in Patna, Lalu Prasad on Tuesday denounced such behaviour and reminded them of the “great responsibility on their shoulders to honour the huge mandate.”

“Why is there a scramble for the legislators’ residences? Everybody will get their house in accordance with the rule,” the RJD chief told a party meeting.

“World will be watching us … We have to understand the responsibility endowed on us by the great voters.

Lalu Prasad Yadav. PTILalu Prasad Yadav. PTI

Lalu Prasad Yadav. PTI

“People have given us massive mandate and we have to fulfil the commitment of service to the voters at all costs,” Prasad, who was flanked by deputy chief minister son Tejaswi Yadav and other senior RJD leaders, said.

According to media reports, many newly elected RJD and JD(U) MLAs had “claimed” bungalows of their choice even without without any allotment.

The reports named RJD MLAs Arun Kumar Yadav and Anil Kumar Yadav and JD(U) MLA RN Singh who had allegedly removed the nameplates of the occupants of the bungalows and put up their own to claim their chosen houses.

Prasad recounted his own experience of staying on for four months in the same peon’s quarter in veterinary college that he inhabited then even after becoming Bihar chief minister in 1990.

“I even held ‘Janata Darbar’ (interface with the general people) there during that period,” he added. Prasad cautioned RJD legislators and other elected party representatives of sting operations.

“You should be watchful of people wearing ties, luring you with offers and indulging in sting operation to tarnish image of the party and the (Grand Alliance) government,” he told party leaders.

He also asked the legislators and MPs to be watchful while speaking over mobile phones also.

“Even if you say yes yes … the speaker (the person on the other end) would record the conversation and give it to some mediapersons to run (as audio record),” he said.

“Lalu has seen many sinister games played by vested interests,” the three-time former chief minister added.

PTI

Mamata Banerjee invites Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal for Bengal Business Summit

The invite by Banerjee comes just days after she attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar in Patna, which was attended by Kejriwal as well.

Three leaders at Nitish Kumar’s oath taking ceremony

PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has invited her Bihar and Delhi counterparts Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal to the Bengal Global Business Summit here on January 7 next year.”Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal have been invited to Bengal Global Business Summit not because they are leaders of political parties, but as chief executives (chief ministers) of their states,” Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O’Brien told PTI. The invite by Banerjee comes just days after she attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar in Patna, which was attended by Kejriwal as well.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The TMC leadership had termed Banerjee’s attending the ceremony as a “mark of protest against authoritarian attitude of the Centre” and effort to “strengthen the federal structure” in the country. Kumar, also a top JD(U) leader and Banerjee had spoken over phone after the Bihar assembly elections results were announced. Kumar had thanked Banerjee for supporting the grand alliance in Bihar in its fight against BJP.Banerjee had also congratulated Kumar over Twitter and termed the victory of the Grand Alliance as “the defeat of intolerance”. JD(U) leadership had also extended its support to Banerjee in her fight against BJP and had said that along with AAP and TMC it would fight to strengthen cooperative federalism in the country.

Dalai Lama’s remarks on Bihar polls aimed at extremist groups: JD(U) leader KC Tyagi

Terming the remarks of the Dalai Lama as an attack on “extremist elements”, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said the Tibetan spiritual leader has been in India for long and is aware of the Indian culture.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s comments that Bihar poll results had “proved” that a majority of Hindus still believed in communal harmony was seized upon by the JD(U) on Sunday to say that it was an attack on “extremist elements”.The BJP, which suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of JD(U)-led Grand Secular Alliance in the Assembly polls, on its part played down the statement by the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace laureate, saying Bihar for long has seen communal harmony.”India has a long tradition of peace and amity. The people of Bihar in the recent Assembly polls have proved that a large section of the Hindu community still believes in peace and amity,” the 14th Dalai Lama had said in Jalandhar on Saturday without naming any political party or leader.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the remarks of the Dalai Lama as an attack on “extremist elements”, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said the Tibetan spiritual leader has been in India for long and is aware of the Indian culture. “The statement made by him has given a strong and befitting reply to the extremist groups in India.The results of the Bihar polls show that forces of tolerance are not only active but are in majority,” he told PTI.He pointed out that President Pranab Mukherjee too has flagged the issue of intolerance and the Bihar verdict has proved that “intolerance has been defeated.” “We have ensured that communal harmony in the state is maintained at all costs. We have worked to ensure that any attempt to disrupt the harmony is defeated…we fought the Bihar assembly polls on the agenda of development.”We won four states but lost in two. This is part of democracy…the grand alliance had the arithmetics in its favour. But the chemistry favoured us,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters here.Asked whether the Dalai Lama’s remarks on intolerance should be a matter of concern for BJP, Hussain said his statement “should not be misinterpreted.”Attacking the grand alliance constituents, Congress, JD(U) and RJD over the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, the BJP leader said, “The blame for the riots is on Congress. Lalu Prasad buried the file and Nitish Kumar did not go ahead with the probe. Let us not forget that.”

Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar to take oath as CM on November 20

“Leaders from all three parties of the Mahagathbandhan will form the Government in Bihar,” said Kumar.

Sixty four-year-old Kumar’s name was proposed by RJD parliamentary board chief Rabri Devi and supported by Congress General Secretary C P Joshi at a joint legislature party meeting of the three parties.

Nitish Kumar is set to take oath along with his new cabinet on November 20 at 2.00 pm. Addressing a press conference, Nitish said today that he was invited to form the government by the Bihar Governor. “Leaders from all three parties of the Mahagathbandhan will form the Government in Bihar,” said Kumar. He said the new government will live up to the expectations of the people of Bihar.Nitish Kumar, who along with RJD chief Lalu Prasad steered the Grand Alliance to a massive victory against BJP-led NDA in Bihar, was today elected as the leader of the legislature party of the alliance, setting the stage for his third term as chief minister. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sixty four-year-old Kumar’s name was proposed by RJD parliamentary board chief Rabri Devi and supported by Congress General Secretary C P Joshi at a joint legislature party meeting of the three parties. Lalu Prasad, who is barred from fighting elections due to his conviction in a fodder scam case, was present at the meeting marked by bonhomie among MLAs of the three parties who shook hands and hugged each other.

Bihar assembly dissolved, Nitish Kumar resigns as Chief Minister

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday submitted his resignation to Governor Ramnath Kovind after the cabinet decided to recommend the dissolution of the outgoing assembly

PTI
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday submitted his resignation to Governor Ramnath Kovind after the cabinet decided to recommend the dissolution of the outgoing assemblyKumar said that he has resigned from his post as the Chief Minister and a proposal has been sent to the Governor asking to dismiss the assembly immediately.”I gave my resignation to the Governor and he has accepted it,” said Kumar to media here.He further added that after a meeting of Mahagathbandhan in the evening, details of oath ceremony will be decided.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the Bihar Assembly election result, where Grand Alliance has claimed a thumping majority, Kumar resigns from his post. He would be sworn in again as the CM for the fifth time. The tenure for the current assembly will expire on November 29, however, the legislative assembly will be dissolved on November 14. Nitish Kumar, who led the Grand Alliance to a victory in the assembly elections, will stake claim to form a new government after a joint meeting of his party, the RJD and the Congress later on Saturday.

Rahul Gandhi meets Bihar Cong chief, reviews Bihar results

Sources said that Gandhi inquired in detail about the gains made by the party in Bihar during the meeting, which lasted for around 45 minutes.

Rahul Gandhi

Amid indication that Congress is likely to participate in the grand alliance government in Bihar, Rahul Gandhi on Friday met AICC general secretary CP Joshi and PCC chief Ashok Choudhari, a pre-cursor to his proposed consultations with newly-elected party MLAs on November 19.Sources said that Gandhi inquired in detail about the gains made by the party in Bihar during the meeting, which lasted for around 45 minutes. On specifics he also wanted to know why the party lost on some seats, which it had earlier bracketed in A category from the winnability point of view. They include seats like Govindganj, Ramnagar, Pranpur and Valmikinagar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress vice president will meet all the 27 newly-elected MLAs and five MLCs on November 19 to seek their views on participation in government and related issues. There is an indication that the party could participate in the alliance government in Bihar. The grand alliance has won 178 seats with RJD winning 80, JDU 71 and Congress 27.Besides that of Chief Minister, there are 35 more berths to be shared, which makes it one portfolio for five seats each. PCC chief Ashok Chowdhury, who met Gandhi today said that the defeat of BJP happened because “Rahul Gandhi played a key role in forging the alliance” and backed Nitish Kumar as the CM face of the alliance. “Moreover, he gave the state unit a free hand in deciding the party matters including candidates,” he said adding all this helped Congress win this number of seats in Bihar. Congress had contested 41 seats out of 243, as part of the Grand Alliance, and won 27. This is almost seven times more against just four seats that it secured in the 2010 polls in which it had contested all the 243 seats.In fact, Bihar is a first major victory for the party after the Lok Sabha polls in May last year that had plummeted its stock to the lowest ever– a mere 44 in the 543-member Lower House. The party had not done well in the Assembly polls of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.In Delhi, it had the ignominy of scoring a duck. Congress was a dominant force in Bihar till 1989 ruling it for most of the time since independence barring a few years including those after the Emergency which had brought the undivided Janata Party to power on the call of “Total Revolution” by Jaya Prakash Narayan. For over a quarter of a century, Congress has become a marginalised force in the Hindi heartland of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the wake of the Mandal and Mandir surge which saw emergence of the social justice forces and gave strength to the BJP.It is the general refrain in the party that the grand alliance could not have been possible but for the effective role played by the Congress Vice President. Leaders recalled that it was Gandhi who brought Nitish and Lalu Prasad together and played a key role of catalyst at a time when the RJD supremo was having reservations.The victory in Bihar is also being talked about as a good timing for Rahul to take over as party chief. The 40-minute meeting between Rahul and Nitish Kumar in Delhi months ahead of the polls played a crucial role and is being termed as “path breaking”, Congress sources said.

Nitish Kumar likely to be sworn in as Bihar Chief Minister on November 20

Following the grand alliance’s landslide victory in the Bihar Assembly polls, Nitish Kumar will reportedly take oath as Chief Minister of the state on November 20.

Following the grand alliance’s landslide victory in the Bihar Assembly polls, Nitish Kumar will reportedly take oath as Chief Minister of the state on November 20.According to reports, meeting of newly elected legislators of the grand alliance will be convened in Patna in which leader of the grand alliance will be elected.As per the constitutional norms, 36 ministers, including the chief minister, could be included in the new cabinet.The Mahagathbandhan won 178 seats in Bihar, a commanding two-third majority in the 243-member assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies had to settle for a mere 58 seats.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Bihar Elections 2015: The day after – unrest within BJP, party blames it on arithmetic

Amit Shah at the BJP parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi on Monday

PTI
A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) crushing defeat in Bihar, the unrest within the party over the leadership’s strategy appears to be growing. However, the BJP parliamentary board attributed the victory of the Grand Alliance to the transfer of votes among its partners, skipping discussion on action against any party leader. “The main reason seems to be that in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal – United (JD -U) and the Congress were fighting independently… We were wrong in thinking that the Grand Alliance won’t be able to consolidate votes due to other small and regional parties,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the meeting. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, besides other senior ministers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The defeat has caused ripples within the BJP, with some voices coming out in the open against the leadership’s way of functioning and others muffled. BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who went to greet JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar for his victory, said responsibility and accountability should be fixed at all levels. “It should be probed how many seats we won from constituencies represented by central ministers. We lost Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and it is business as usual… There was no initiative to probe and do course correction… It’s time for introspection and revisiting strategies,” the actor-turned politician told dna. Describing BJP as his first and last party, Sinha said he had come to greet Nitish Kumar, whom he considered a “tall politician like former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu.” Sinha also questioned the BJP’s strategy of not putting up a chief ministerial candidate. “It affected us on the ground. The PM is good at campaigning but a local hero should have been there,” he said. Refuting that his greeting Nitish Kumar was a defiance of the party, he said: “If the Prime Minister can ring up and greet Nitish Kumar, why not me?… I don’t think anybody can issue me show-cause for speaking the truth,” he said. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijavargiya used the dog analogy to attack Sinha. “When a car moves, a dog moves under it too; the dog believes the car is moving because of me. This party is not dependable on one person, it’s a whole organisation and there’s a big hierarchy here. Those who are out of it were on a ‘maun vrat’ are now speaking,” Vijayvargiya said. Some party leaders, according to sources, are of the view that the absence of an effective local face, the way the Prime Minister offered the Bihar package, “alienating” Muslims and “angering” Yadavs by the anti-Lalu and “jungle raj” rhetoric, had hurt the NDA. There is acknowledgement in the BJP that it could not break the caste arithmetic of the Grand Alliance in the absence of an anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar. While the vote share of the Grand Alliance has dropped from 45% in 2014, when the parties fought separately, to 41%, the NDA’s has reduced from 38% to 34%. Jaitley refuted the argument that it was a mistake to project the Prime Minister as the face of the campaign. “”The party collectively wins or loses elections,” he said. Asked if the Bihar verdict would spur a united opposition in Parliament, he said the government was hopeful that they would play the role of a “constructive opposition”. The government is likely to reach out to all parties, ahead of the winter session, to ensure the passage of crucial bills like GST. BJP MPs Hukumdev Narayan Yadav and Ashwini Kumar Choubey said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reservation comments had “agitated” the backward castes. However, the BJP denied this saying the election outcome cannot be based on one statement. Shah, who had a two-hour meeting with Bhagwat on Monday morning, is understood to have conveyed to him that the defeat was because of backward class mobilisation in favour of the Grand Alliance.

Bihar success makes Congress open for alliances

Party spokesman CP Joshi says party’s performance in Bihar has given a new found hope to the cadre

RJD chief Lalu Prasad at his residence in Patna on Monday

PTI
Upbeat after Bihar victory that has given adrenaline shot to its fledgling prestige, Congress is thinking in terms of replicating the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) model in other states, if the situation warrants so.”It will depend on the political situation and strength of the party in those states,” Congress spokesperson and general secretary, C P Joshi said.Crediting party vice-president Rahul Gandhi for being the architect of the Grand Alliance in Bihar that has put the party back in reckoning in Bihar, Joshi said, the results have given a new found hope to the party cadre and they have become buoyant.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also indicated that the Congress would be part of the government formation in Bihar.”We are committed to the seven-point programme of the Grand Alliance and we will make every effort to implement it. We owe to the people of Bihar,” he added.Riding the combined strength of Grand Alliance, Congress performed even beyond its most optimistic predictions by securing 27 seats of the 40 seats it contested on. The tally of 27 seats with a strike rate of 67% is an improvement upon its performance in all elections since 1995 when it had secured 29 seats while fighting on 320 seats in United Bihar.In 2000 assembly elections its tally fell down to 23 seats and in 2005 to only 10 seats. In 2010 elections it was virtually pushed into oblivion with just 4 seats.The results have also given a boost to Rahul Gandhi’s stature within the party and party leaders think that he has matured into a fine politician. It is expected to pave the way for increasing clamour for Rahul’s ascendancy to the post of party President, particularly among the young crop of leaders and cadre in the party.Joshi said that there is a general feeling among Congress workers that Rahul Gandhi should immediately take over as the party president.

BJP’s defeat in Bihar may inspire more ‘grand alliances’: Congress

Thanking the voters in Bihar for their mandate, Jaiswal said the people of the state had given a befitting reply to the communal forces.

Terming the loss of BJP-led NDA in Bihar polls as a “defeat of communal forces”, senior Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal on Monday said the victory of the Grand Alliance may inspire other secular forces to come together.Thanking the voters in Bihar for their mandate, Jaiswal said the people of the state had given a befitting reply to the communal forces. “People of Bihar have put their belief on the Grand Alliance of Congress, RJD and JD(U). This win would affect the politics of the entire nation… Inspire the secular forces to rally together and fight the communal outfits,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To a question if Congress would initiate a similar alliance for 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, he said the elections were still far off but the party may consider tying up with other political outfits to fight communal forces.On being asked whether his party would be part of the Government in Bihar, Jaiswal said Congress has been a part of the alliance and it would also be a part of the government but the final decision would be taken by party chief Sonia Gandhi.In an apparent dig at Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and AIMIM supremo Asaduddin Owaisi, Jaiswal said the reality of those who claimed themselves to be secular had come to the forefront after the Bihar elections.

Bihar election 2015: The see-saw in media’s coverage of polls

So sure was the media of leads, including Doordarshan that they forgot to check election commission’s website that was showing more realistic picture.

Eager Indians woke up on Sunday with almost every channel predicting a comfortable win for the BJP led NDA Alliance. The initial leads were showing BJP+ leading in around 70 odd seats and Grand Alliance consisting of JDU, RJD and Congress trailing far behind with leads on less than 50 seats. This was the situation until 9:06 AM. By that time crowd of supporters had started gathering at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. Many even started drenching each other in Gulal and firing crackers. Media started congratulating BJP leaders and what could be the reasons for Grand Alliance’s defeat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As media got into discussion who would be the chief minister – Nand Kishore Yadav or Sushil Kumar Modi, Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi staked claim, “If NDA agrees he is ready to be the CM.”In comparison, there was somewhat introspective silence at the JDU, Congress and RJD offices. Its leaders getting into a cautious mould and reluctant to commit defeat, albeit reluctantly. So sure was the media of leads, including Doordarshan that they forgot to check election commission’s website that was showing more realistic picture. Suddenly, within a space of five minutes the situation started showing dramatic change in fortunes. The leads now were showing Grand Alliance’s seat proportion increasing steadily. By 9:10 AM the Grand Alliance with 68 leads at had reduced the difference to just 5 seats.At around 9:17 AM, the Grand Alliance had surged on 75 seats and surging ahead with brute leads had crossed the half way mark by 9:50 AM.. Everybody was perplexed at the sudden turn of fortunes till it suddenly dawned that the initial leads for BJP+ were because of counting of postal ballots and votes polled at urban centres. A television commentator conceded that such a blunder has happened for the first time in last 30 years.As the time passed and counting started including semi urban pockets, mofussil town and rural pockets, the tally of Grand Alliance picking up strength and finally culminated into a massive win of more than two-third majority.

Bihar elections 2015: Party workers upbeat as Congress emerges as dark horse

“This is the victory of truth and the victory of harmony over anger, arrogance, division and a huge victory at that,” said Rahul.

Giving its best performance in the last 20 years as the Congress emerged a dark horse, the mood at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the nearby Youth Congress office at Raisina Road turned from upbeat to downright celebratory. Jubilant party workers paved the way for dhol-nagaras, which with their upbeat thumps, set the tone for the celebrations. Firecrackers were brought in plenty, and amidst the deafening roar of crackers and drums walked in a beaming Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.Showing an unusual confidence he asked the media, “Bring on the questions.” He then thanked the party workers in Congress, JDU and RJD. “This is the victory of truth and the victory of harmony over anger, arrogance, division and a huge victory at that,” said Rahul. As the Congress’s tally edged towards an unexpected 27 seats, party leaders started heaping praises on Rahul. “While chief minister Nitish Kumar is the architect of the victory in Bihar, Rahul Gandhi is the architect of the alliance,” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma. Congress had contested 41 seats out of 243 as part of the Grand Alliance. Right ahead of the polls, Rahul’s 40-minute meeting with Nitish in Delhi paved the way for the alliance, said Congress leaders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking on Modi and the BJP, Rahul said that the results were a strong message for Modi. “This is a message for Modiji, and it echoes through the country. And he must pay good heed to it. The country is telling him that the country cannot be divided by the RSS and the BJP. You cannot win an election by pitting a Hindu against a Muslim. We will show them in the times to come that this country does not belong to one caste or community; it belongs to everyone. The arrogance of the BJP and Modi should make way for real development,” said Rahul.A smug party worker at the Youth Congress office, said that he and his friends are saving up some firecrackers for later. “We are saving up to send some for our dejected friends on Ashoka Road,” he said.

Post-Bihar polls, India Inc wants Centre to focus on economic reforms

In a statement, CII too committed to working with the new government in furthering the state’s development agenda.
File Photo
AFP photo
Pledging its support to big-ticket investments in Bihar following the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance’s thumping victory, India Inc on Sunday sought a renewed focus by the Modi government at Centre on economic reforms. Biocon’s Chairman and MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said that the Modi government should now focus on its economic agenda and hoped the Opposition would also extend a helping hand.”With Bihar elections behind us, Modi govt can now give undivided attention to the economic agenda… Hope Opposition aligns with the government and the electorate,” she tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She further said the Congress also “needs course correction. Vitriolic rhetoric and opposing economic Bills is alienating the party from the electorate”.Congratulating Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Grand Alliance on an impressive victory, industry chamber Assocham said the industry looks forward to “a new beginning” in the state, which needs a renewed vigour for economic development. It further said that with elections now out of the way, “the industry expects the Centre and the state to work together to pursue certain economic reforms like the Goods and Services tax so that the Indian economy is able to achieve higher growth for the benefit of all citizens”.In a statement, CII too committed to working with the new government in furthering the state’s development agenda.”Our best wishes go to the incoming government, and I am sure the new government will dedicate itself to fulfilling the aspirations of the masses by leading Bihar to a new era of industrial development, economic growth and prosperity,” said CII President Sumit Mazumder.The chamber suggested that the new government leverage the PPP model, including FDI participation, to boost delivery of services and improve efficiency. British financial services major Barclays said Indian financial markets were cautious ahead of the election results, and a result against the BJP should lead to market weakness.”We feel that today’s results — the BJP’s big defeat — could be a material sentiment dampener in Monday’s early trade as this might be perceived as an additional stumbling block to the central government’s reform agenda,” it said in a release.The industry chambers said the focus will be on agri and food processing, infrastructure, manufacturing and MSMEs, ICT and e-governance, tourism, healthcare, education and skill development, and power and energy.Assocham said “the Indian industry would be ever willing to work with the new government in Bihar for ensuring that it receives the kind of investments and attention of big time projects and industrial projects that the state deserves”.On the results, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said, “Absence of any mechanism to take down the line various landmark initiatives and policies including Mudra Bank Yojna, Skill India, Digital India and Make in India campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi could be one of the causes.”CAIT added: “Undoubtedly, no connect with beneficiaries of all these innovative schemes played a major role in debacle of NDA in Bihar polls. If transformed in true letter and spirit, NDA could have come out with flying colours in polls.”CAIT National President B C Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal hoped that serious introspection will be made by the central government on implementing these schemes. Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) India Chairman T S Bhasin felt that Bihar can be a global hub for engineering export items of interest to small and medium enterprises.

BJP defeat in Bihar will be victory for India: Here’s why Narendra Modi will emerge stronger and tougher

The trouble with the Grand Alliance is that when the hurly-burly is done and the garlands binned, it is as strong as its weakest link, and really not that grand.

The BJP is an entity in itself and has not lost ground. It is the single largest party nationally and secured no less ground than in 2014. The JDU, on the other hand, is a bunch of sticks tied together sans common ideology, and was separately nowhere near the numbers of the BJP.

That’s how it flowed at the start and then the tide went out on the BJP and it is dropping to bronze position.

We can now project two scenarios in the fallout.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

In the first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi is going to realise that all his ducks are not in a row and this communal colouring will fade away… thankfully. It simply has to. Religion does not work as a campaign issue. And Indians don’t like not be made afraid. We will have a prime minister who is human again and not invincible. That will be good for the country at large and Modi will be compelled to get rid of the deadwood, the noisy wood and drop the loony fringe that has been given far too much rope. He will also have to listen to the voices of relative sanity that have been muted courtesy the adulation showered on Modi. And he can now lead from the front without being the unquestioned icon.

Five days from now he will be in the UK basking in the warm glow of hero worship. That display will now not sit well with the country. Forget all the NRI stuff  and come home!

It is in that way, a healthy defeat. The attention given to beef politics, communalism, Hindutva and the personal assaults by goon squads should reduce dramatically.

Think of it this way. If the BJP had won, the future could have been arrogantly bleak and this kick in the butt was needed. Now, we can have a real Modi and a marriage between the people and the government, not an assault on our secularism. Also, he will no longer keep silent when his frontline makes stupid remarks. On the contrary, the gurus, yogis, charlatans, religious kooks and motormouths like VK Singh and Mahesh Sharma will skulk away in the dark and should stay there.

So, while Modi and company might actually put their house in order, the Alliance has to test its mettle and its tensile strength might well depend on the Congress holding just enough seats to act as a self-indulgent spoilt child — conduct it has displayed frequently after being booted out of power. Are we going to see the sticks fall apart and Lalu Yadav flex muscle and turn the result into a farce as the disparate elements jockey for power?

Certainly, Nitish Kumar is the ‘undisputed’ leader for now, but he is in bed with Lalu and the cat at the feet is a Gandhi-led Congress which has found its way back into having a say. This trinity in the aftermath does not inspire confidence, and tawdry scenes of politicking and infighting are pretty much on the cards. One cannot see Lalu being silent and letting the power bus go past without wresting the wheel. Equally, the Congress is hardly likely to take a backseat amid its shrilly triumphant interpretation of its dozen seats.

In the coming weeks, this ball of wool may well unravel and Modi will exploit that to great advantage.

Why do I feel that Modi will have the last laugh? In this defeat, there is the seed of a victory for the country.

Bihar Elections 2015: Mahagathbandhan gets 12% more votes than NDA

While the Congress had won just four seats last time, its tally was 27 after taking into account winning and leading seats.

BJP’s NDA allies — the Lok Jan Shakti Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) — could manage only meagre vote shares of 4.8 % and 2.2 %, respectively.
File Photo
PTI
As verdict of people in Bihar gave it a thumping victory, the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance cornered the largest vote share of nearly 46% as against NDA’s nearly 34 %.On single-party basis, however, the BJP managed a face-saver with a vote share of nearly 24.8 % — higher than individual shares of 18.5 % for the RJD and 16.7 % of the JD-U. The number of seats fought was also highest in case of the BJP. BJP’s NDA allies — the Lok Jan Shakti Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) — could manage only meagre vote shares of 4.8 % and 2.2 %, respectively.The Congress, which fought elections as part of the Grand Alliance, also could manage a vote share of only about 6.7 %. As many as 6.68 crore voters exercised their rights during the five-phase elections in the state with 243 Assembly constituencies. Out of these, 38 were reserved for SC and two for ST.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of voters in the last Assembly elections in 2010 stood at 5.51 crore, when the BJP and the JD-U had fought together and won 91 and 115 seats, respectively. This time, JD-U forged the Grand Alliance with the RJD and the Congress, both of which have made remarkable turnarounds.While the Congress had won just four seats last time, its tally was 27 after taking into account winning and leading seats. The RJD had won 22 seats last time and it has emerged as the single-largest party this time with an estimated 80 seats after taking into account the seats where it was leading. Its ally JD-U looked set to win 71 seats, as against BJP’s 53, as per the latest available data from the Election Commission.The data showed that the BJP having got over 91.5 lakh votes on a consolidated basis, followed by RJD’s 67.9 lakh and about 62 lakh for the JD-U. Independents also got nearly 35 lakh votes (9.4 %) while the Congress polled over 25 lakh votes. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM failed to make any impact in its maiden Bihar elections, with just 0.2 %, or about 80,000 votes. This was much lower than even NOTA options chosen by the voters at 2.5 % (over 9.2 lakh votes).Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which had refused to join the Grand Alliance, got about 1 % votes (over 3.7 lakh) while Mayawati-led BSP scored better at 2 % (over 7.4 lakh).

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray calls Nitish Kumar, congratulates him for victory

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday called Nitish Kumar and congratulated him for victory after the trends indicating the mahagathbandhan’s lead in the countdown to the Bihar Assembly election results.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday called Nitish Kumar and congratulated him for victory after the trends indicating the mahagathbandhan’s lead in the countdown to the Bihar Assembly election results.Earlier in the day, the party said the defeat by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliances reflected directly on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “This is clearly a victory for Nitish Kumar as he has emerged as a ‘mahanayak’ in this election. We have been the monitoring the polls there and I can tell you that Nitish’s win was necessary for Bihar. The people have decided that they want him as their Chief Minister.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that just like party president Sonia Gandhi was held responsible for the Congress’ loss in the elections in 2014, this loss by the BJP-led alliances in Bihar reflected directly on Prime Minister Modi and he should take responsibility for it.Also read: Bihar Elections 2015: Decoding how Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav defeated Narendra Modi​”Prime Minister Modi should accept his defeat as a party’s loss always reflects on its leader. However, on behalf of the Shiv Sena, I congratulate Nitish and hope the Bihar results will bring a new turn for the nation,” Raut added.The Party wise breakdown after 10 rounds of counting shows RJD with 74 seats, JDU with 69, BJP with 63, INC with 15, LJP with five, RLSP with four, HAM with three, CPI with two and others with six seats.Meanwhile, putting up a brave face, the BJP branded the comeback by the Grand Alliance as ‘interesting’ and said they were ready to accept whatever was the mandate by Bihar.Earlier, however, the BJP-led alliances had taken the lead in the trends and celebrations had already begun in the BJP offices in Patna.

Bihar elections: Sharad Yadav claims victory for Grand Alliance

The Grand Alliance was poised to win the battle for the Bihar assembly, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said on Sunday.

Sharad Yadav in a file photo. PTISharad Yadav in a file photo. PTI

Sharad Yadav in a file photo. PTI

“We will get about 150 seats,” Yadav told the media as officials counted the votes polled to elect a 243-member assembly.

“It was a very tough fight, it was a straight fight,” he said.

IANS

As Bihar awaits results, only Lalu Yadav looks confident; Amit Shah not vocal, Nitish says ‘wait’

There were no prominent leaders in the BJP and JD (U) offices, but at the RJD office, there were many. Party supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav claimed that the Grand Secular Alliance will win 190 seats.

Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav

Counting of votes for the 243 seats in the high-stakes Bihar assembly elections will start at 8 am on Sunday (today). On Saturday, all attention was on Bir Chand Patel Path, which houses the offices of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal -United (JD-U). There were no prominent leaders in the BJP and JD (U) offices, but at the RJD office, there were many. Party supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav claimed that the Grand Secular Alliance will win 190 seats.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The man of the moment, chief minister Nitish Kumar, kept media at bay. He refused to say anything on the exit polls. “Wait till tomorrow,” is all that he would say. His body language showed that he is not as optimistic as Lalu Prasad. BJP president Amit Shah was also not very vocal. However, his party cadres were bubbling with confidence, following an exit poll that gave the party a clear majority and others predicting a neck-to-neck fight. “If you go by caste numbers, we were way behind. But thanks to the hard work by the PM as well as the party president, we have lured young voters across caste lines and all regions,” claimed election in charge for Bihar, Ananth Kumar. Lalu Yadav thundered against exit poll agency Today’s Chanakya for predicting a clean sweep for the NDA-led alliance. “There is desperation in the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The truth is that the Grand Alliance is winning 190 seats. TV channels are confused, but I am not. We will win 190 seats,” he said. He also announced that after forming a government, he will travel to Varanasi to fight the Prime Minister in his own constituency. In another corner of the city, Jatin Ram Manjhi, leader of BJP’s ally, the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), faces a peculiar predicament. He wants the Election Commission to change his election symbol from a landline telephone to a mobile phone next time. He told dna that several of his Mahadalit voters could not recognise the election symbol of the party. They had never seen a landline telephone and have pressed the wrong buttons. “Many of my voters, who are extremely backward, especially youngsters and women, have never seen a landline phone,” he said. Far away, in another corner of the city, a flurry of activity could be seen at the Sadaqat Ashram, the Bihar Congress headquarters. Staff here is expecting some Diwali bonus, in case the party, whose support base has eroded since 1990, fares well. Verdict for a majority of seats is expected by early afternoon on Sunday. Along the banks of river Ganga, another story emerges. Water in the river is receding considerably. Patches of land makes it difficult for boatmen to ferry daily vegetable supplies to Patna. Navigating their boats in receding waters, they are, however, enthused by Prime Minister Modi’s rejuvenation plans for the river. “We have traditionally been boatsmen, carrying goods and passengers. But the river waters are dangerously receding, hitting out our trade. We have heard a proposal to rejuvenate river transport, using boats to transport. We have voted en bloc not only to assert our social and political clout, but also for the rejuvenation of Ganga Mata,” says Avinish Kumar, while unloading 110 kg of vegetable sack from Hajipur.

Bihar Elections: NDTV exit poll predicts BJP win with 120-130 seats; CDS-Lokniti says late gains for Lalu-Nitish

New Delhi: An exit poll on NDTV on Friday predicted an edge for the BJP-led alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections giving it 120 to 130 seats in the 243 member House. A post-poll survey ( not an exit poll) done by Lokniti-CSDS for The Indian Express, points to a turnaround in favour of the Mahagathbandhan. A couple of weeks before the first phase of polling, the NDA was ahead in the electoral race in Bihar. The latest from this survey says the Mahagathbandhan may end up with roughly 42 per cent of the votes while the NDA will lag behind with around 38 per cent votes. This survey also says Lalu Yadav fared better than Nitish Kumar.

In the NDTV exit poll, the JD(U)-led Grand Alliance has been projected to get between 105 and 115 seats.

The poll showed that the NDA led in three phases — second, third and fourth — while the other grouping led in the remaining two phases.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In the first phase comprising 49 seats, the Grand Alliance has been given 28 seats and the NDA 20. In the second phase with 32 seats, the alliances have been projected to get 12 and 19 respectively.

The BJP-led alliance is tipped to get 28 seats in the third phases, which has a total of 50 seats. The Grand Alliance gets 21 seats.

The fourth phase, which has 55 seats, the JD(U) alliance is predicted to 21 seats, 10 less than the NDA.

Surprisingly, the last phase, where Muslims and OBCs were a major factor, the NDA is predicted to get 27 of the 57 seats giving it a big edge. The JD(U)-led alliance is tipped to get only 28 seats.

Overall, the “Others” has been given 8 seats.

On Thursday at the end of the polling, most of the exit polls predicted a close fight giving an edge to the Grand Alliance while one poll predicted a clean sweep for the NDA.

Today’s Chanakya too had predicted a win for the BJP-led alliance in Bihar with 155 seats (the highest any exit polls has given so far) and had given the JD(U)-led Grand Alliance 83 seats and others 5.

However, the NDTV exit polls can be more accurate in terms of numbers since their sample size is huge. Psephologist and former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said, “A sample size of 76,000 is something that is used for general elections.”

After the exit poll numbers, both the sides said they were confident of a victory.

“Feedback we have been getting from ground zero makes it clear that our alliance will win the polls and form the government there,” Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed had said.

He had said reports from different parts of the state made it clear for the Congress that the grand alliance comprising the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress would form the new government in Bihar.

Expressing similar hopes, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nalin Kohli had said his party was confident of victory.

“The BJP is confident of victory. The exit polls are showing wide variance, with some predicting a clear victory for the BJP and a few predicting a close call,” he told IANS.

Kohli expressed happiness over the participation of a large number of women in the electoral process.

“The increase in voting percentage and the participation of a large number of women voters is a positive sign and a victory for democracy,” he added.

Curtains came down on Thursday on the five-phase assembly elections in Bihar that pitted Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s BJP-led National Democratic Alliance against the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, with nearly 60 percent of the 1.55 crore electorate turning out to vote in the final round.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

Bihar polls: 56 percent turnout in final phase of the election

Patna: Around 56 percent of the 1.55 crore electorate voted till late afternoon on Thursday in the fifth and final round of the staggered assembly elections in Bihar, officials said.

Eight voters were injured when central paramilitary forces resorted to baton charge at polling booths in Araria and Katihar districts.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Four voters were injured at a polling booth in Jokihat assembly constituency in Araria, as security forces baton-charged villagers after someone attacked a security personnel on duty.

Similarly, security personnel had to use force at a polling booth in Katihar district to disperse anti-social elements trying to indulge in bogus voting, in which four people were injured, officials said.

Thousands of people – women outnumbering men – stood in long queues at polling stations from early in the morning, officials as well as witnesses said.

Polling took place in the last 57 of the 243 constituencies across seven districts: Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar in Seemanchal region, and Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul in Kosi region.

A total of 827 candidates contested on Thursday — with the battle mostly between contestants of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s BJP-led four-party alliance and the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Voting began at 7 am and was scheduled to end at 5 pm.

Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav voted in Madhepura and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain in Supaul.

The Jan Adhikar Party of expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav, is also in the fray.

However, Pappu Yadav, who was admitted at a hospital in Purnea, was scheduled to be taken to the AIIMS in Delhi on Thursday after his condition deteriorated.

Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur said polling was mainly peaceful.

The 57 constituencies cover some of Bihar’s most backward pockets notorious for poverty, illiteracy and mass migration.

Stray clashes took place between rival groups.

At some places, the electronic voting machines malfunctioned. Apart from that, it was a smooth exercise.

Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is also contesting from six seats in Seemanchal region.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking heavily on Modi’s appeal and the support of the upper castes – Brahmins, Bhumihar, Rajputs – and also hopes to gain the backing of other communities.

Allied with the BJP are the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha – both union ministers – and the Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

The Grand Alliance includes the JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad and the Congress.

The millions of votes polled in the staggered elections that began on October 12 will be counted on November 8.

IANS

Bihar polls: Grand alliance to move Election Commission over Amit Shah comment, BJP gets there first

However, the BJP top leadership has already reached the EC office and filed a complaint against the grand alliance, accusing it of ‘communalising the Bihar elections’.

Shahnawaz Hussain of BJP and KC Tyagi of JD(U)

The grand alliance will lodge a protest with the Election Commission on Friday against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s remark that crackers will burst in Pakistan if his party loses the Bihar Assembly polls. Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi condemned Shah’s remark and alleged that it was an an insult to the Dalits and the backwards in Bihar.”We will take this to the Election Commission and demand a ban against him from further campaigning in Bihar,” Tyagi told ANI. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the BJP top leadership has already reached the EC office and filed a complaint against the grand alliance, accusing it of ‘communalising the Bihar elections’.The Congress asserted that Amit Shah’s statement was an indication by the BJP of their impending loss in the elections, reports an English news channel.”India will celebrate and burst crackers before Pakistan when the BJP loses and we will defeat them with all certainty. I can tell you for sure that we are defeating them right now,” Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar told ANI.Addressing a rally in Raxaul on Thursday, Shah had said that crackers will be burst in Pakistan if the BJP loses in Bihar. The grand alliance had earlier alleged that after provocative speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and provocative newspaper ads and photos by the BJP president, this was the latest attempt to communalise the Bihar polls.

Rosberg on pole in Austin after rain cuts qualifying short | Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas Germany’s Nico Rosberg took his third successive Formula One pole position, with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton next to him on the front row, after a U.S. Grand Prix qualifying session cut short by rain on Sunday.

The grid places were decided by the positions in the second of the three qualifying sessions after the final phase was cancelled.

Qualifying had been postponed already from its usual Saturday slot when bad weather made track conditions too difficult.

Hamilton can wrap up his third world championship later on Sunday if he scores two points more than Rosberg and nine more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who qualified fifth but has a 10 place grid penalty.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Bihar Polls: EC directs District Magistrate to probe into sting operation of JDU leader Awadhesh Kushwaha

After the video of Kushwaha’s sting went viral on social media, he resigned from his position saying that the allegations are of serious nature and that he can no longer hold on to the position till he is proven not guilty.

Video Grab

Election Commission has directed concerned District Magistrate to probe into alleged sting operation involving former Bihar Cabinet Minister Awadhesh Kushwaha. One of the senior JDU leaders, Kushwaha was handling Urban Development and Registration as well as Excise and Prohibition ministry in Bihar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kushwaha told ANI that it was a conspiracy by his political opponents and that he will try to bring out the truth. After the video of Kushwaha’s sting went viral on social media, he resigned from his position saying that the allegations are of serious nature and that he can no longer hold on to the position till he is proven not guilty.JDU president Sharad Yadav said that Kushwaha will no longer be a JDU candidate from Pipra assembly constituency and that another nomination will be filed.BJP leader Giriraj Singh on the other hand said, taking a jibe on the Grand Alliance, “I think the bigger fish couldn’t be trapped, he (Avdhesh Kushwaha) was just a smaller one.”

The Bihar voter’s dilemma: A choice between the moral and the electoral

You can see almost all of Bihar on a 100-metre stretch of Beer Chand Patel Road in the heart of Patna. Since it is almost a  microcosm of the state, people on this road could be a fascinating sample for some poll punditry.

Is the BJP winning? Why is Nitish Kumar still popular? Is Lalu Prasad Yadav the demon his opponents call him?

Some of the answers are scattered on this road.

On either side of this road are offices of the major political parties, each just a stone’s throw away from the other. The BJP is sandwiched between the offices of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar’s parties; somewhere on the fringe is the Nationalist Congress Party. Almost a replica of the battle formation.

Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. PTI

Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. PTI

On the pavements outside the party offices and palatial bungalows of judges of the Patna High Court that dot the Beer Chand Patel Road, dogs, cows, hens, rickshaw-pullers, labourers, tea-sellers — who still use coal-fed choolhas instead of gas or kerosene stoves — compete for what Adolf Hitler one fought with the world: Lebensraum (living space).

Cows graze on the post-monsoon remnants of grass, dogs scavenge for food in the open dustbins and hens run around merrily before laying eggs that are then sold on the pavement shops. Amidst all this frenzy, several men — most of them rickshaw pullers and migrant labour — lie asleep on the sidewalks, clad in tattered vests and gamchhas (towels) that barely conceal their modesty after getting exhausted because of hard labour and the suffocating daytime heat.

You guessed it right: Patna is not Ahmedabad or Chandigarh; it is not even a Jaipur or an Indore. It is still a gloomy reminder of India’s teeming poor, crowded roads, dirty pavements and the fact that many Indians still live like animals and share their living space with them.

It stands to reason then that the people of Bihar would be upset with the state of their own living conditions; they would be eager to get out of this quagmire of poverty and pollution that has pulled them into the same bog as dogs, cows and poultry.

You guessed wrong.

Badlo sarkar, badlo Bihar (change government, change Bihar) is emblazoned on banners outside the BJP office in response to the Grand Alliance’s Bihar mein bahaar ho, Nitish Kumar ho. “The BJP supporters are roaming from colony to colony and village to village to convince people to vote out Nitish Kumar,” says Manish Kumar, a taxi driver waiting for his next passenger near a tea-stall on BCP Road. “But, Nitish is very popular; he is the best chief minister we have had. It would be difficult to vote against him,” he says.

Manish Kumar was born and brought up in Patna. He started out as a rickshaw-puller, graduated to three-wheelers before buying his own Swift Dzire, which he now drives between the airport and city.

The taxi driver’s life could be a metaphor for Patna’s development and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s enduring popularity in Bihar. For the world outside, Bihar may still be languishing at the bottom of many development indices, but for many of its residents, Nitish Kumar has helped bring it out of its dark past and put it on the path on the progress. It is symbolic of Bihar’s progress from rickshaw-pulling to taxi-driving.

Many economic indicators support Manish Kumar’s claim of Nitish Kumar being Sushashan Babu. Under him, Bihar has done consistently well on several indices. According to an Assochem study, at 9.3 percent the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of Bihar was the highest among Bimaru states between 2004 and 2012 and much higher than the national average. Bihar registered 13.9 percent growth in the industry sector during the past decade, an indication that people feel comfortable investing in Bihar. It consumed more electricity, spent more funds on roads and urban infrastructure. And its crime graph dipped.

Vijay Swaroop, a senior journalist with the Patna edition of Hindustan Times, recalls an interesting conversation with a rickshaw puller to chronicle the change. “A decade ago, goondas would snatch whatever money I had on the roads of Patna. Now I have no such fear,” Swaroop recalls the conversation he had a week ago.

Pre-poll surveys in Bihar have so far contradicted each other, oscillating between victory for the NDA and the Grand Alliance. But, they have been consistent with one finding: Nitish tops popularity charts and people have a lot of respect and love for him. In some polls, he even beats Modi.

Yet, this is not translating into euphoria for him or indicating a clear, decisive victory for the Grand Alliance. Patna is quiet, almost blasé about the election with nobody sure of the outcome.

Lalu Yadav has polarised the Yadavs in favour of the Grand Alliance, a trend Narendra Modi is trying hard to reverse with both with his call to the pride of Yaduvanshis and counter with references to jungle raj. Muslims, Kurmis and a small percentage of Mahadalits are united in their support for Nitish Kumar.

But this MY-plus-Kurmi combination has been neutralised by the upper caste voters, Paswans, Koeris and Mushars who are supporting the BJP.

It is almost like a Mexican standoff, each rivals has its gun pointed at the other’s head. But nobody is confident of pulling the trigger. Only the Extremely Backward Caste voters — considered to be more than 20 percent of the electorate — can break this deadlock. So, both parties are targetting them.

“The EBCs are silent. They have their cards close to their chests,” says Chandan Kumar Yadav, a spokesperson for the Congress. “Pre-poll surveys are contradicting each other because they do not know what the EBCs will do. Since their voting pattern varies from district to district, psephologists are not getting it right,” he says.

Many experts believe the EBCs will vote tactically, depending on who they want defeated in their region. ‘Badka dushman kaun (who is the bigger enemy)? — between Bhumihar and Yadav is the defining question for EBCs as they consider the option of governments that could be dominated by the two caste groups they consider inimical. For many of them, Nitish means Yadav raj and a BJP government implies the hegemony of Bhumihars. For EBCs, it is a classic case of being caught between the devil and the deep sea.

Some hints can be picked up from BCP Road. The rickshaw pullers who are happy that money is no longer snatched from them on the roads of Patna are scared that Lalu raj may return from the backdoor. But they know without Lalu, there can’t be Nitish Kumar this time. As Sanjay Kumar of CSDS says, both would have been reduced to 20 seats each and the BJP would have walked away with 160.

Choices, both electoral and moral, are tearing apart many voters. Welcome to an election that is being fought daily in the minds of many Biharis.

Bihar polls: Big win for NDA alliance, latest survey predicts

The latest Zee-JantaKaMood survey predicts NDA to win 162 seats while ‘Grand Alliance’ will get only 51 seats.

The NDA alliance has got a major boost ahead of the first phase of assembly elections in Bihar to be held on October 12. According to the latest pre-poll survey done by Zee News and survey agency JantaKaMood, the BJP-led alliance is going to win thumping majority in Bihar with 162 seats in its bag, done three-day before the first phase of elections. The poll finds NDA alliance to be the frontrunner with 162 seats. Nitish Kumar and Lalu led ‘Grand Alliance’ inching towards all time lowest with just 51 seats out of total 243 seats in Bihar. According to the survey, there are 30 seats where there is a close contest, meaning any party can win from these seats.In the overall percentage share of votes in the state, the NDA alliance will get 54.8 percent. The ‘Grand Alliance’ is likely to garner 40.2 percent while others will get 6 percent of voting share.This is the third survey in less than a month and all of them have predicted big-win for NDA alliance.The NDA alliance has edge over its rival on all caste combinations except Yadav where the ‘Grand Alliance’ is likely to get more votes. Among all caste combinations, the new poll finds 65 percent of Forward Caste voting going in favour of NDA alliance. It has positive impressions on Dalit and Mahadalit where NDA is likely to garner 57 percent of votes but ‘Grand Alliance’ will get 36 percent only.In overall Other Backward Caste (OBC) voters, 55 percent view NDA alliance favourably and only 40 percent roots for ‘Grand Alliance’. But among Yadav voters, ‘Grand Alliance’ has an edge with 50 percent while NDA alliance is likely to get 45 percent.The NDA alliance has continued to fade with Muslim voters favouring ‘Grand Alliance’. Overall, only 35 percent Muslim respondents in Bihar are rooting for NDA, while ‘Grand Alliance’ likely to garner 58 percent.In Bihar CM’s home district – Nalanda, the NDA has gained considerably with 54 percent of votes while 40 percent favouring ‘Grand Alliance’. There are seven assembly seats in Nalanda district where NDA alliance bagging five seats. On two seats, there is close fight means it can go to any party. The survey was conducted on all 243 assembly seats with a very big sample size conducted on October 5 to 8. A total of 54,411 respondents out of 10 lakh people were approached on phone by survey agency JantaKaMood, a survey start-up by IITians with high end analytics and technology at its core. The margin of error is 1.6 percent and confidence level is 99 percent meaning that consistency is very high.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Bihar polls: Lalu files bond in case against him over ‘casteist’ remarks

Since the RJD chief has signed the bond, no action will be taken against him till the investigation in the case is completed.

Prasad has agreed to laid down conditions like visiting police station whenever called, assist police in investigation

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who was booked for allegedly making casteist remarks during a poll meeting, has signed a bond agreeing to conditions such as visiting police station when called and assisting cops in the investigation of the case. Prasad, who has been charged under bailable sections of the IPC, signed the bond paper under relevant sections of the CRPC two days ago, Vaishali Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kumar said today.Since the RJD chief has signed the bond, no action will be taken against him till the investigation in the case is completed, the police officer added. By signing the bond paper, Prasad has agreed to laid down conditions like visiting police station whenever called, assist police in investigation and not tamper with evidence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A case was registered against Prasad on last Tuesday for his alleged casteist remarks after the Election Commission prima facie found them violative of the model of conduct for the Assembly elections in Bihar. In a poll meeting at Raghopur on September 27, the RJD supremo had allegedly described the Assembly elections as a direct fight between “the backward castes and forward castes” and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the Grand Secular Alliance to defeat the BJP-led NDA.The Election Commission has issued notice to Prasad to file his reply in the case by October 6.

Saudi Hajj disaster toll questioned

Officials from several countries say they believe more than 1,000 people died in last week’s stampede near Mecca during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Viral video shows Indian worker being brutally beaten up by Saudi engineer

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A shocking and extremely disturbing video has gone viral on the internet which shows an Indian worker in Saudi Arabia being brutally beaten up by a Saudi engineer.

Screenshot from video.

Screenshot from video.

In the video, a man is seen apologising and shouting in pain as another man mercilessly slaps him and even uses his belt to continuously flog him. The attacker is even seen spitting on the victim.

According to Zee News, the victim is an Indian worker who was engaged in the Grand Mosque expansion work in Mecca. The video was initially shared by Canadian journalist Tarek Fatah on Facebook with the caption: “Saudis beat an Indian to pulp.”

This video showing the brutal assault on the worker comes just weeks after a Saudi diplomat was accused of confinement and rape of two Nepalese women in India.

The video’s authenticity has yet to be verified.

You can watch the video showing the assault by the Saudi engineer here:

Saudis beat an Indian to pulpAre we surprised then when a Saudi diplomat rapes Indian and Nepalese woman in Delhi as a matter of his right?

Posted by Tarek Fatah on Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mecca crane collapse: India toll rises

The death toll of Indians killed in the crane collapse in the Muslim holy city of Mecca rises to 11, India’s foreign ministry has said.

Mecca crane crash: Nine more Indians reported dead

Spokesperson for Ministry for External Affairs Vikas Swarup confirmed on Twitter that 9 more Indians have been reported dead.

Pilgrims walk near a construction crane which crashed in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia September 12, 2015.

Reuters
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday rerported that nine Indian pilgrims were reported dead after the morgue was opened this evening after the Mecca crane crash incident. Helpline numbers have been issued by the MEA. The 24-hour helpline numbers are: 00966125458000, 00966125496000. Toll free number for pilgrims in United Kingdom is: 8002477786.Spokesperson for Ministry for External Affairs Vikas Swarup confirmed on Twitter that 9 more Indians have been reported dead.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MEA earlier declared two more deaths of Indians in the accident. A total of 11 Indians have reportedly died in the incident till now. Also read: Mecca crane collapse ‘act of god’, says engineer

dna Must Read: From latest on Jhabua blast to Mayweather’s victory over Berto- Top 5 stories at 1 pm

1. Bihar polls: Sulking Manjhi has no option left, shouldn’t be taken seriously: CongressTalking a jibe at the NDA over the ongoing tussle over seat-sharing for the Bihar Assembly polls, the Congress Party on Sunday said that Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi is left with no other option as he has betrayed his former boss Nitish Kumar in the past. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
2. Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, minister heckled on way to Jhabua explosion siteMadhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Cabinet colleague Antar Singh Arya were allegedly heckled on Sunday while they were en route to the site at Petlawad town where a massive blast caused by mining explosives left 89 people dead.Chouhan and Arya were stopped at the new bus stand square close to the tragedy site by angry protesters, including Congressmen, who came out on the roads in large numbers shouting slogans against the state government and district administration, alleging that it had not taken appropriate steps to prevent the tragedy, eyewitnesses said. Read More
3. JNU polls: After win in DUSU polls, now ABVP makes comeback in JNUOpening its account at the Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union polls, the All India Students Federation (AISF) won the presidential post, the results for which were declared on Sunday.Left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) which swept the polls for last two years, lost the top post by a margin of 67 votes and could manage only two seats, Vice President and General Secretary.The BJP-led Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parisahad (ABVP) which swept the Delhi University polls yesterday, made a comeback in the JNUSU Central Panel after 14 years and grabbed the Joint Secretary position by defeating the AISA candidate by a small margin of 28 votes. Read More
4. Engineer says Mecca crane collapse ‘act of god’An engineer of the construction site near Mecca’s Grand Mosque said that the collapsing of the crane was “an act of God”, according to reports. A massive crane smashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday and killed at least 107 people, including two Indian women, ahead of the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The incident left hundreds severely wounded too. Read More
5. Floyd Mayweather beats Andre Berto in his final fight, ends career unbeatenloyd Mayweather Jr. cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats with a unanimous decision over fellow American Andre Berto on Saturday in what he has repeatedly said would be the final fight of his career.Mayweather, 38, easily outboxed his younger opponent over the 12 rounds to retain his WBC and WBA welterweight titles and improve his perfect career record to 49-0, matching the benchmark set by former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Read More
With agency inputs

Two Indians killed, 15 injured in crane crash at Mecca’s Grand Mosque

New Delhi: Two Indians have been killed and 15 others injured in the crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in which more than 100 people have died, the External Affairs Ministry said on Saturday.

A picture taken Grand Mosque crane after it crashed into it. AFPA picture taken Grand Mosque crane after it crashed into it. AFP

A picture taken Grand Mosque crane after it crashed into it. AFP

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Indian officials from the Indian Consulate in Jeddah have been on the ground and have set up a 24X7 helpline to provide information and assistance.

They have been monitoring the situation through the night, Swarup said.

“Regrettably we have been informed that 2 Indians have been killed in the unfortunate accident,” he said.

“We have received reports that 15 Indians have been injured and are being assisted in various hospitals. These include 11 from the Haj Committee of India and 4 from Private Tour Operators,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said.

Over 100 people died when a massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque yesterday with scores more injured, days before the annual haj pilgrimage.

A part of the massive crane collapsed as a result of strong winds and heavy rains, media reports said.

PTI

At least 107 killed by falling crane at Grand Mosque in Mecca | Reuters

RIYADH At least 107 people were killed when a crane toppled over at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence authority said, less than two weeks before Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage.

At least 238 people were wounded, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence body said.

“All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location,” General Suleiman al-Amr, director general of the Civil Defence Authority, told al-Ikhbariya television. Strong wind and rains had uprooted trees and rocked cranes in the area, he said.

A statement by a spokesman for the administration of the mosques in Mecca and Medina said the crane smashed into the part of the Grand Mosque where worshippers circle the Kaaba – the black-clad cube towards which the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims face to pray.

Pictures circulating on social media showed pilgrims in bloodied robes and debris from a part of the crane that appeared to have crashed through a ceiling.

Saudi authorities go to great lengths to prepare for the millions of Muslims who converge on Mecca to perform the sacred pilgrimage. Last year, they reduced the numbers permitted to make the haj pilgrimage on safety grounds because of construction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque.

The haj, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been prone to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims rush to complete rituals and return home. Hundreds of pilgrims died in such a crush in 2006.

Saudi authorities have since spent vast sums to expand the main haj sites and improve Mecca’s transport system, in an effort to prevent more disasters.

Security services often ring Islam’s sacred city with checkpoints and other measures to prevent people arriving for the pilgrimage without authorisation.

Those procedures, aimed at reducing crowd pressure which can lead to stampedes, fires and other hazards, have been intensified in recent years as security threats grow throughout the Middle East.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Roche and Christian Plumb)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Must Read: From Army strikes inside Myanmar to fire on British Airways plane

1) Army strikes inside Myanmar again, kills three militantsNearly three months after launching surgical strikes to avenge the death of 18 of their fellow soldiers, Indian security forces once again carried out daring strikes, some three kilometres inside Myanmar, killing three cadres of Manipur-based People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Read More<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Las Vegas: British Airways plane catches fire, miraculous escape for 159 passengers on boardBritish Airways jetliner engine caught fire as the airplane was departing on a London-bound flight from Las Vegas on Tuesday, forcing the pilot to abort takeoff, but all 172 passengers and crew escaped the smoke and flames that quickly enveloped the plane. Read More3) Maharashtra government springs two surprises on Maria’s appointmentOn Tuesday morning, the state government surprised everyone by shunting Rakesh Maria out as police commissioner and appointed him as Director General (Civil Defence and Home Guards). The government was reportedly upset by Maria’s over-involvement in the murder case. By evening, however, the government further sprang a surprise, saying that even though Maria will no longer be in charge of the Mumbai police, he will continue to monitor the Sheena case. Read More4) US Open: Serena defeats sister Venus in quarterfinals; continues pursuit of Grand SlamSerena Williams kept her bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam intact by outslugging older sister Venus 6-2 1-6 6-3 in a power-packed quarter-final at the US Open on Tuesday. Serena entered the match with a 15-11 head-to-head advantage over Venus but the high number of losses to her 35-year-old sibling represented the most posted by any opponent against the world number one, who knew she was in for a tough fight. Read More5) Queen Elizabeth becomes UK’s longest-reigning monarchQueen Elizabeth, who ascended the throne aged just 25 as her exhausted country struggled to recover from the ravages of World War Two, has made history on Wednesday becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Read More

dna Must Read: From death in Andhra Pradesh to latest in US Open- Top 5 stories at 9am

Here is a curated list of top 5 stories at 9am.

1. Heavy Rains lash Andhra Pradesh, 19 killed in lightning strikeNineteen people died after they were struck by lightning in separate incidents in five districts of Andhra Pradesh which was lashed by heavy rains on Monday.The incidents occurred in Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari, Prakasam and Nellore districts. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Madhya Pradesh: Congress’s lone Muslim MLA Arif Aqueel threatens to quitCongress’ lone Muslim MLA in Madhya Pradesh, Arif Aqueel has threatened to resign over “humiliation” he is facing in the party unit, prompting the state leadership to seek intervention of the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to retain him in the party fold. Read More 3. Germany frees up funds for refugees, speeds up asylum proceduresThe German government decided to free up additional three billion euros ($3.35 billion) for federal states and municipalities to help cope with this year’s record influx of refugees , a joint statement by the ruling coalition issued on Monday said. Read More 4. US Open: Grand Slam-seeking Serena reaches quarters against VenusSerena Williams moved within three wins of achieving the fourth women’s calendar-year Grand Slam by routing fellow American Madison Keys on Sunday and setting up a US Open quarter-final clash with sister Venus.Williams beat the 20-year-old Keys 6-3 6-3 in 68 minutes to book a 27th professional career showdown with her older sister, who advanced with a 6-2 6-1 fourth-round victory over Anett Kontaveit, 19, of Estonia. Read More 5. Rahul Gandhi to hold talks with leaders of non-Congress ruled states Rahul Gandhi has convened a meeting in New Delhi on Monday of Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leaders of states where the party is in opposition.The meeting will take place a day ahead of the Congress Working Committee meet, which has been called to discuss the current political situation. Read More With agency inputs

Bihar Polls 2015: Sharad Yadav meets Mulayam Singh Yadav; says grand alliance will remain intact

After their meeting, Sharad Yadav told media that the grand alliance is still on and seat sharing will be discussed later.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
After a brief meeting between Samajwadi Party and JD(U), all is reportedly well between the Janata Parivar parties. On Thursday morning, SP, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, had announced exit from the grand alliance saying it felt “humiliated” at being allotted a paltry five seats and deciding to contest the elections on its own.After their meeting, Sharad Yadav told media that the grand alliance is still on and seat sharing will be discussed later. “We talked about the state of affairs of nation and also talked about the upcoming Bihar polls. We will talk about the issue of seat sharing later. Grand alliance will remain as it was before today,” said Sharad Yadav on Thursday evening. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In Bihar the party will contest separately. The bigger parties in the alliance did not consult us while declaring seats due to which the SP felt humiliated. This is not the ‘gathbandhan dharma’,” SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav had said on Thursday morning. Speaking to ANI, RJD Chief Lalu Prasad said that if Mulayam Singh is upset, we will try to make things right. “Mulayam ji is our guardian, more than that he is our relative, he must have been upset due to some reasons. If Mulayam ji is upset about something, we will definitely try to make things right. We all need to together fight against the poison of communalism in the nation,” said Lalu. SP is the second party after Sharad Pawar’s NCP to have quit the alliance over allocation of a handful of seats to them by the major players in the coalition.Under the arrangement initially announced by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad recently, JD(U) and RJD were to contest 100 seats each and Congress 40, leaving the rest three in the 243-member assembly for NCP. Dissatisfied, NCP walked out.Though Samajwadi Party has been a marginal player in Bihar politics, its presence in the alliance would have led to greater consolidation of secular votes. It had fielded 146 candidates in the last elections and garnered 0.55 per cent of total votes polled.

Indrani Mukerjea saga: When Alyque Padamsee played cupid for Peter Mukerjea

Seth writes that Peter was so smitten by Indrani that he left behind his then girlfriend Sapna with this friends and went away with Indrani.

Indrani and Peter Mukerjea

In wake of the murky Sheena Bora murder case, well-known columnist and TV personality, Suhel Seth wrote about his first meeting with accused Indrani Mukerjea in a guest column on The Telegraph. Seth writes that he has known Peter Mukerjea for 25 years and recounts how Indrani and Peter met.In the column, Seth writes that he first met Indrani at the The Library Bar at the President Hotel, where he was invited by Peter, Sumantra Dutta (a former STAR executive) and the late Murli Deora. Indrani was escorted by Alyque Padamsee.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the time, Seth says Indrani was separated from her husband (not identified by name in the column) and also mentioned her daughter Vidhie.Seth writes that Peter was so smitten by Indrani that he left behind his then girlfriend Sapna with this friends and went away with Indrani. Two days later Seth got a call from Peter saying he was very serious about Indrani and was considering marrying her. The wedding took place 3 months later in their home at Pochkanwallah Road. Seth writes that only Vidhie attended the wedding from Indrani’s side and none others from her family were seen.Once Peter and Indrani started INX, Seth was in touch with less frequently. “Indrani, in the meanwhile, had morphed from this Calcutta girl to the Grand Dame of Bombay in her new avatar as a media tycoon,” he writes.A few years later, Indrani and Peter sold their venture and moved to the UK where Vidhie was studying. Seth recalls last seeing them three years ago when the couple visited MumbaiSeth wrote characterises Indrani as “driven and deeply ambitious” and Peter as “the indulgent husband”.

PM Modi should have first visited a mosque in India: AIMPLB

“Before visiting a mosque in some other country, it would have been better if Modi had visited a masjid in India,” the board said.

“Before visiting a mosque in some other country, it would have been better if Modi had visited a masjid in India,” the board said.

Image Courtesy: Twitter
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi could have chosen to visit a mosque in the country before visiting a mosque in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It charged the basic tenets of the Constitution like secularism, justice, freedom, equality and fraternity are being compromised with and efforts are on to convert India from a secular state to one based on a particular religion.”Before visiting a mosque in some other country, it would have been better if Modi had visited a masjid in India,” AIMPLB Working General Secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rehmani said at a press conference here. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was asked to comment on Modi’s yesterday visit to the historic Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque at Abu Dhabi in UAE where the Prime Minister is on a two-day visit. The Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque is the world’s third largest. “After the change of power at the Centre, attempts are being made to promote a particular religion at the cost of secularism,” Rehmani alleged.”In order to protect the secular fabric of the country, a “Deen aur Dastoor Bachav Tehrik” (Save Faith and Constitution Movement) was launched today,” he said.He said the Sachar Committee has clearly established that Muslims in the country are backward educationally as well as economically as compared to other segments but no effort has been made by the present government to ameliorate their condition.

PM Modi begins UAE trip with visit to historic Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque

Abu Dhabi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday began his two-day trip to the UAE by visiting the historic Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque, the world’s third largest.

After his arrival, Modi, on first public engagement here, visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a key place of worship in the UAE and known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

PM Modi arrives in UAE. PTIPM Modi arrives in UAE. PTI

PM Modi arrives in UAE. PTI

The mosque is third largest in the world after the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia. It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The mosque can accommodate around 40,000 people. The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007.

The first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UAE in 34 years, Modi was earlier received by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi along with his five brothers at the airport, in a departure from protocol. The last dignitary to be received by him was the King of Morocco in May this year.

PTI

LIVE | PM Modi arrives in Abu Dhabi; set to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque soon

This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the gulf nation in 34 years.

Image Courtesy: PM Modi’s Twitter Page

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport on Sunday for his maiden official visit to the gulf nation. Upon his arrival, he was received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.There was a ceremonial greeting for Prime Minister Modi, who was accompanied out of the airport by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Prime Minister Modi then met with the UAE dignitaries and exchanged pleasantries with them. This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the gulf nation in 34 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our shared values and strong bilateral ties provide an important basis on which the UAE and India can elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership,” Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE provides an opportunity to chart a new course in our partnership for the 21st century. We look forward to a productive exchange of ideas covering a wide range of economic, political and security issues of mutual interest,” he said ahead of Modi’s two-day visit.17:00 IST Sunday, 16 August 2015His first public engagement is a visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a key place of worship in the UAE and known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The mosque is third largest in the world after the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia. It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.Read the full story here: PM lands in Abu Dhabi; set to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand MosqueIndian ambassador to UAE, TP Seetharam, had said on Saturday that Prime Minister Modi’s visit can open up great possibilities and deepen existing relations. “The diplomacy gets a boost when the Prime Minister of a country comes for a visit. A visit like this would open up greater possibilities for the huge Indian community here,” Seetharam said.

Pamarthy Shankar, Telugu daily cartoonist, wins Grand Prix World Press Cartoon Award

Hyderabad: Pamarthy Shankar, a cartoonist working with the prominent Telugu newspaper ‘Sakshi’, has won the Grand Prix World Press Cartoon 2014 Award for sketching Nelson Mandela.

Shankar, who has worked as a cartoonist in several Telugu newspapers since 1998, was presented the award at Cascais in Portugal on July 11, 2015, by World Press Cartoon Director Antonio Antunes.

Pamarthy Shankar. YouTube screengrab

Pamarthy Shankar. YouTube screengrab

A Nelson Mandela caricature drawn by Shankar after the death of the iconic South African anti-apartheid leader in December 2013, fetched him the award for the year 2014, according to the website of the Portugal-based organisation.

The award ceremony was supposed to be held earlier this year but got delayed due to elections in Portugal, Shankar told PTI.

Shankar’s caricature has been displayed at a World Press Cartoon exhibition at Cascais in Portugal along with the top 50 works by other cartoonists in 2014, according to the organisation’s website.

The World Press Cartoon awards are presented in three categories every year, namely general, caricature and political, according to the website.

Other cartoonists who won awards in the caricature category are Alfredo from Argentina, who won the second prize for sketching late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as well as Iranian cartoonist Yaser Khanbarai, who won the third prize for sketching US President Barack Obama, according to the organisation’s website.

The Grand Prix World Press Cartoon 2014 Award’s jury comprised of globally renowned cartoonists like Adriana Mosquera Soto, Rainer Ehrt, Ferruccio Giromini, Antonio Antunes and Jaume Capdevila, it said.

The World Press Cartoon exhibition showcases the best international cartoons published every year, which includes, works by finalists of each one of the three categories, in addition to prize-winning works as well as works which received honourable mentions.

“Visitors to the exhibition can see the original caricature of Nelson Mandela by Indian artist Shankar Pamarthy who won the Grand Prix World Press Cartoon 2014,” the organisation’s website said.

PTI

PM Modi congratulates Leander Paes, Sumit Nagal for Wimbledon wins

Nagal entered the history books as only the sixth Indian to win a Grand Slam junior title.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today congratulated veteran Leander Paes and youngster Sumit Nagal for their respective triumphs at the Wimbledon tennis Grand Slam in London.Paes combined with Martina Hingis to clinch the mixed doubles title, his 16th Grand Slam overall, yesterday.Seventh seeded Indo-Swiss pair drubbed the fifth seeded Austrian-Hungarian team of Alexander Peya and Timea Babos 6-1 6-1 in the lop-sided summit clash which was over in just 40 minutes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was Paes’ eighth mixed doubles title and second with Hingis. They had won the Australian Open early this year. The 42-year-old Paes has eight men’s doubles crowns in his Grand Slam collection.Earlier, Nagal entered the history books as only the sixth Indian to win a Grand Slam junior title after winning the boys doubles trophy at the Wimbledon with partner Nam Hoang Ly. The Prime Minister tweeted his appreciation for the teenager.The 17-year-old Nagal and his eighth seed Vietnamese partner overcame the fourth seeds Reilly Opelka and Akira Santillan 7-6(4) 6-4 in the title clash that lasted 63 minutes.Yuki Bhambri was the last Indian to taste success at the top level in junior tennis when he won the Australian Open boys singles title in 2009.

Maoists torch 32 vehicles on first day of bandh in Bihar’s Gaya

Gaya (Bihar): Heavily armed Maoists torched 32 vehicles, including tankers and containers, on the Grand Trunk Road in this district on the first day of their two-day Bihar and Jharkhand bandh on Monday.

However, nobody was injured in the attack which took place on the route which connects Kolkata to New Delhi in the wee hours and traffic has been restored.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

A group of over 50 Maoists set ablaze 32 vehicles on the GT Road near Bishunpur and Taradih villages, Patna Zonal Inspector General (IG) Kundan Krishnan said.

Among the vehicles were four tankers filled with LPG and one with diesel. The Maoists torched the cabins of the drivers of these tankers, but the fire did not spread to the tanks, he said.

The attackers allowed a family to move to safety before torching their car, he said.

The Maoists have called the bandh to protest the killing of their Bihar Jharkhand Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee member Sarita alias Urmila Ganjoo in an encounter with CRPF on May 16.

The IG said police teams and Gaya SSP and DIG reached the spot and the burnt vehicles had been removed.

Krishnan also said that special operations to check Maoist activities in the area would be considered in the wake of the two-day bandh in the Left wing extremism affected areas.

In another incident, armed Maoists destroyed a mobile tower at Panapur in Saran district of the state.

PTI

VIDEO: ‘Smallest theatre’ in India tour

A theatre that fits inside the sidecar of a motorbike has been playing to thousands of people across India.

Hand it to Rahul

With Sonia backing him to the hilt, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi sticks to his grand plan of rebuilding the party from scratch and marginalising its old guard.



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