Monday, December 17, 2007

Ballia by-Election on 29th December

Bye-elections in Bhojpuri belt

Ballia MP Chandrashekhar died after a prolonged illness

Bikramganj MP Ajit Singh died in a road accident

The by-election to the Ballia Lok Sabha seat was necessitated following the death of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar. Samajwadi Party nominee and former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar's son Neeraj Singh has also filed his nomination papers.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) nominee Vinay Shankar Tewari filed his nomination papers for the by-election to the Ballia Lok Sabha constituency scheduled to be held on December 29. Tewari, son of former Uttar Pradesh Minister Hari Shankar Tewari, joined BSP recently.

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) candidate Virendra Singh has already filed his nomination papers.

Twenty-one nominations have been filed for the bye-election for Ballia Lok Sabha seat in the eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Those who filed their papers include Vishwamitra of Indian Justice Party, Bhim Raj from Rastriya Lok Dal, Tej Narain (Independent), Girishram from Lok Jan Shakti Party.y

Counting of votes for both Ballia and Bikramganj would take place on January 2, 2008.

P.S: Chandrashekhar, was born in Ibrahimpatti in 1927. He was an active member of the Socialist Party. Chandrashekhar was a prominent leader of socialists. He joined Congress in 1964. From 1962 to 1967, he was a member of the Rajya Sabha. He entered the Lok Sabha in 1977. As a member of the Congress Party, he vehemently criticised Indira Gandhi for her activities. This led to a split in the congress in 1975. Chandrashekhar was arrested during the emergency
and sent to prison.

After the emergency, he became the President of Janata Party. In the parliamentary elections, Janata Party did very well and formed the coalition government headed by late Morarji Desai. In 1988, his party merged with other parties and formed the government under die leadership of VP. Singh. Again his relationship with the coalition deteriorated and he formed another party, Janata Dal socialist faction.
With the support of Congress (I) headed by Rajiv Gandhi, he replaced VP.Singh and became the 11th Prime Minister of India in November 1990. His four-month-old government ended on March 6, 1991, from the floor of the Indian parliament as the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi withdrew support which led to his resignation as the Congress party accused Chandrashekhar of spying on Rajiv Singh. The party boycotted parliament and as Chandrashekhar`s government only had about 60 MPs, he resigned in a nationally televised address. He remained the caretaker Prime Minister. After Chandrasekhar's resignation, no one came forward to form a coalition government and the President dissolved Parliament and elections for the 10th parliament were announced for June 1991. Chandrasekhar remained as the caretaker Prime Minister.
His government lasted for 7 months.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at an election rally at Sriperumbudur near Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.

Chandrasekhar government handed over the investigation of the murder to the CBI on May 24 and it constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under D R Karthikeyan, who had earlier been in Sri Lanka during the time of the Indian Peacekeeping Forces. Unfortunately, Chandrasekhar's government failed to disclose whether there were any special reasons for them to appoint Karthikeyan to lead the SIT, who was by that time a sworn enemy of the LTTE.

Meanwhile, nine days after the assassination, on May 31, the Intelligence Bureau reviewed various scenarios and possibilities. According to its review, there had been 13 instances of bomb blasts in Tamil Nadu between 1986 and 1991. It became clear, according to the review, that Sri Lankan militants, including the LTTE and the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, took recourse to explosives to achieve their ends.

According to the IB's review, Rajiv Gandhi's murder was narrowed down to two possibilities - it was executed either by Sikh militants or the LTTE. But the government found that Sikh involvement in a murder in Tamil Nadu was unlikely, leaving the LTTE as the prime suspect.

Gandhi had disapproved of the Chandrasekhar government's refuelling facilities given to US war planes that were heading for the Gulf during the first war against Iraq.

Vikramganj by Election on 29th December

Does anyone need to know as to why Kanti Singh left Vikramganj constituency without fulfilling her obligations towards the voters who elected her. She is now a MP from Arrah constituency.

Meena Devi, wife of former Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] MP Ajit Kumar Singh will be the party's candidate for the December 29 by-election to Bikramganj Lok Sabha seat, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The by-election has been necessitated by the mysterious death of Singh, also chairman of NAFED, in an accident.

Bye elections for Ballia Lo Sabha seat will also take place on the same day.

Predicting the victory of Meena Devi by a comfortable margin, Kumar said that she was elected party's candidate on the recommendation of the local unit and JD(U) MLA from the constituency. People will vote for Meena Devi as her husband was a popular figure in the area and many steps initiated by the government in the past two years for the development of the state, Kumar said at the "janata durbar".

The RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has put up Ashok Kumar Kushwaha, belonging to the Kushwaha community, which has been fuming at Kumar after the expulsion of its leader Upendra Kushwaha from the JD(U).

It appears to be a contest between JD(U) and RJD. Candidates of the CPI-ML and the BSP are among the 12 in the fray.

Given the fact that Vikramganj is the former constituency of Kanti Singh. It would be revealing to note what Manushi wrote about her in Sept. 1996

Once upon a time Kanti Singh was the Minister of State in the Human Resources Development Ministry, called a meeting a few days after she got the job. Officials prepared themselves well, expecting that they would have to brief the first-time Minister from scratch. They needn't have bothered. The Minister sat through the meeting and asked a few questions. But every time she would say something, her eyes would swivel to Mr Kanti Singh, who sat beside her for the entire 75 minutes.

His manner was unintrusive, but the message was clear: in this ministry, it was the Ministers husband who wore the pants. But not just her husband. The few weeks that she was Minister apparently qualified her for a promotion.

From Human Resources Development, she was shifted to the far more powerful Coal Ministry. Yeh sab Lalooji ke chalte hua hai, she told reporters. That a housewife like Kanti Singh with hardly any experience of politics could rise to such a powerful office was testimony to the United Fronts commitment to the empowerment of women, say partymen. But in many ways, Kanti Singhs rise and rise is a metaphor for all that was wrong with the United Front(UF).

Those who were involved in the anti-Emergency movement in Bihar in the mid 70s say they never saw Kanti Singh on the scene, but we have to take Laloo Yadavs word for it that Singh came into politics at that time. Keshaw Prasad Singh, Kanti's husband, was an over seer with the Bihar Public Works Department in the 70s.

No one remembers Kanti as displaying any extraordinary talent for mobilisation, leadership or politics. But Laloo Yadav must have detected some spark. For in 1992, he thought she was politically mature enough to be appointed party General Secretary. Amid unspoken hostility, Kanti Singh was given charge and was later made to contest the assembly election.

In 1996, Laloo felt she could become a member of Parliament (MP). She was given the Vikramganj seat in west Bihar to contest from. Laloo not only went to Vikramganj himself to campaign for his protege, but also ordered four or five ministers in the state government to work for her. She had a formidable opponent Vashist Narayan Singh, a senior Samata Party candidate who had been close to Laloo at one time.

Though the election is under dispute, she won by a margin of 800-odd votes. Her name was recommended for a ministership and when Laloo felt she hadn't got her due, she was given a better ministry.

No one would have objected if Kanti Singh had been competent and talented and Laloo had tried to further her career. But when he was asked why H.D. Deve Gowda had appointed Kanti, he said: Because we needed a woman in the government. A mystified Maneka Gandhi asked the same question. Not only was she expelled from the party, but the party's womens wing pilloried her for it.

Laloo Yadav can be excused for defending Kanti. He needs reliable right-hand men and women in Delhi and the Coal Ministry has a direct bearing on politics (and finance) in Bihar. The UF was a hostage to then Bihar Chief Minister. So competence had to be defined by the yardstick Yadav set.

The net result was, India had a woman Minister of State for coal, but the decisions were all taken in consultation with : Laloo Yadav and Mr Kanti Singh. Those who can see things going wrong keep quiet. After all, wasn't Kanti Singh the embodiment of woman power? asked Manushi.

Kanti Singh was born in Pachhahar, village of Rohtas district. From 23 May 2004 to 28 Jan. 2006, she was Union Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Currently, she is the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in the Dr Manmohan Singh government under Rashtriya Janata Dal quota.

In February 2005 Bihar Assembly elections, Narendra Kumar Pandey alias Sunil Pandey of JDU won from Piro in Bhojpur district defeating Keshaw Prasad Singh, husband of Kanti Singh by over 35,000 votes.

Kanti Singh represented Vikramganj in 1996 and 1999 by defeating Vashishta Narayan Singh of JD(U).

P.S: Manushi should have also informed its readers as to whether Maneka Gandhi is the embodiment of woman power? What is her status in Bhartiya Janata Party?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paswan predicts premature death for Nitish Government

Ram Vilas Paswan's organised the Sankalp rally on 28 November, Paswan made a fervent appeal to the people to help him come to power. Paswan had booked 27 special trains to ferry his supporters from across the state. He had toured Bihar and held public meetings for a month to mobilise people to come to his rally.

His Lok Janshakti Party sought a chance after 15 years of Lalu-Rabri regime, and the last two years of Nitish government’s performance. He indicated that he wanted to widen his support base beyond the Dalits in his preparation for theassembly elections are due in 2010. He was of the view that due to the internal bickering within the JD(U), the Nitish government may die a premature death.

“I contested the Lok Sabha polls in 1999 with NDA and ensured that I won more than 30 seats. Vajpayee formed the government and I was given the ministry of telecommunication. However, despite my performance being outstanding, I was duped and shifted to the coal ministry."

Similarly, in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls I contested in alliance with the RJD and Congress and the UPA won 30 seats from here which helped it form the government. But Lalu duped me and grabbed the railway ministry. He also worked hard to get my candidates defeated at many places,” Paswan alleged.Lalu Yadav had held his party’s Chetawani rally at the same venue on the same date last month.

Cop killer arrested

Ara: The proverbial long arms of law appeared short enough for three decades, before they finally caught up with a criminal.

According to the PTI release November 27, 2007 Suraj Singh, who allegedly shot dead Bharat Lal Prasad, officer in-charge of Udwant Nagar police station in Bihar's Bhojpur district in 1977, was arrested from his native Karisat village. Superintendent of Police Umesh Kumar informed the PTI.

Now 48, Suraj, who plunged into the world of crime by shooting Prasad and a co-villager Jainandan Singh when they had gone to Karisat to settle a land dispute, dodged the law all along though the 13 other accused in the case either surrendered or were arrested and even sentenced for various durations for their involvement in the crime.

"He will be tried and police will seek his conviction," the SP said.

No weapons were found on Suraj at the time of his arrest, though police claimed that he was involved in several crimes all these years of absconding.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Who is Reshma Khatun?

Mokama MLA Anant Singh's involvement in the alleged rape and suspected murder of
Reshma Khatun deserves more attention. In the aftermath of the attack on the journalists, it appears that the MLA has succeeded in diverting the attention of the media from the case of Reshma Khatoon who had despatched a letter to various TV channels claiming that she was raped by the MLA and his associates Mukesh Singh and Bipin Singh.

Later a man, who identified himself as Reshma's brother Munna had called up NDTV to inform that she had been killed and her body dumped by the roadside in Shastri Nagar,Patna. The antecedents of Reshma and Munna are not known.

Moakama is the same area which witnessed a gruesome attack on Dalits in Belchi in 1978 that horrified public opinion. After Emergency and electoral defeat Indira Gandhi was isolated and unpopular but her response to this atrocity brought her center stage. In the face of the apathy of the Janata Party rulers, she moved into the country side in the monsoons that had made the roads impassable, reached Belchi on elephant back to meet victims of atrocities on Dalits late at night. Belchi and Mokama blocks of Barh Subdivision in Patna district. Emergence of likes of Anant Singh shows that not much has changed since 1978 despite India Gandhi and her party's return to power. Not surprisingly, Congress party is on the verge of extinction in Bihar.

Anant Singh is a MLA from the ruling Janata Dal (United) party, who was arrested Thursday afternoon for having an NDTV crew beaten up, has promised that he will get the NDTV correspondent Prakash Singh killed. MLA Anant Singh, a noted Patna don, is in custody but he says that's no problem, he will get Prakash Singh killed even if he remains in jail. Bihar is known for its criminal-turned-MLAs and Anant Singh is no different. Singh is a much-feared figure in Patna and is a known history-sheeter. He has two dozen criminal cases against him, including murder, kidnapping and extortion. A dozen of those cases are lined up for a speedy trial. Singh won his assembly seat from Mokama seat in 2005. Soon after he was released from Buxar Jail.

Prakash was at Anant Singh's house for an interview when the attack took place. He went Singh's house to get his comments on allegations that he is responsible for a rape and murder case of a woman in Patna.

But instead of a comment supporters and bodyguards of the MLA at his residence attacked the NDTV and ANI crew. They were beaten badly. The NDTV cameraman, Habib, escaped but the reporter, Prakash Singh, was held captive for almost two hours during which time he was beaten further. The police refused to respond initially but after journalists staged protests they went and freed the two journalists. Habib Ali has been taken to the Patna Medical College Hospital after he complained of chest pain.

Attack condemned

Leaders cutting across political spectrum strongly condemned the attack on NDTV correspondent and other mediapersons in Patna by a ruling JD(U) legislator on Thursday.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, while describing the incident as unfortunate, said he had asked the state police chief Ashis Ranajan Sinha to take immediate action and added that five persons, including the MLA Anant Singh, have already been arrested.
Two of those held are the MLA's supporters, one is a personal bodyguard and one an official guard. The Bihar government has also decided to hand over to CBI the case of alleged rape and murder of a woman, which had led journalists to query JD(U) MLA Anant Singh triggering a brutal assault on them. ''The state Home Secretary has been asked to recommend a CBI probe into the alleged rape and murder of a woman by Anant Singh's associates. A journalistic inquiry into this incident led to the unfortunate attack (on media),'' Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters. ''Those shedding crocodile tears over the attack on journalists and shouting from rooftops demanding a CBI probe are the people in power at the Centre. They are requested to use their influence to ensure that the CBI, which functions under the Prime Minister, takes up the inquiry,'' Kumar said.

Shameful incident

Asserting that his government was acting without ''fear or favour'', Kumar said Anant Singh and four of his associates were arrested and the case would be brought to its ''logical conclusion''. Two of the accused named in the FIR Mukesh Singh and Bipin Singh are absconding, Kumar said adding raids were going on to apprehend them and, if need be, police would move the court for attachment of their properties.

JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said the incident was condemnable and added that state government would take strong action. Rubbishing charges of lawlessness leveled by RJD supreme Lalu Prasad, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said ''this is not 'Lalu Raj' where criminals are given protection. We have already arrested the MLA and others''.

Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly Rabri Devi said the attack on the mediapersons is an assault on the freedom of the media. RJD has called a statewide Bihar bandh on Friday in protest against the attack. The RJD President described the incident as ''very shameful'' and demanded action against ''all the criminal elements in JD(U)''. LJP President and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan demanded stern action against the MLA. He criticised the Nitish Kumar government saying its claim to providing good governance was hollow. (

Prakash Singh recounts assault:

We wanted to get the ruling party MLA's version on allegations of his involvement in the rape and murder of a woman whose corpse was found yesterday, said Singh.

But when we reached his house Anant Singh's supporters attacked us under the watch of government appointed guards.

Some climbed over the gate and chased my colleagues. One car of the media was damaged and the keys of NDTV's OB van were snatched by the MLA's goons. My cameraperson Habib Ali managed to run away to get help.

I was held captive inside the MLA's house and was beaten repeatedly with rifle butts

It took the arrival of the police to rescue me and ANI cameraperson Ajay Kumar. His leg was injured because of the beating

It was only after the protests by the media that the MLA and four of his supporters were arrested and sent to jail for 14 days. They are charged with attempt to murder and under the Arms Act.

Many in Bihar would say that the trauma we went through today is a fact of everyday life here - living with goonda raj.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bhojpuri Workers Under Attack in Ludhiana Bomb Blast

The bomb blast in a Ludhiana cinema hall 14th October night caused the death of seven people and injury to some 40 people. The blast occurred inside the Shringar complex, housing three cinema halls, in the heart of city, where Bhojpuri film 'Janam Janam Ka Saath' was being screened. Six peole, including one child, were killed on the spot and 33 others injured in the blast. A majority of the victims were migrant labourers.

A representative of the Bihar government is likely to visit the families of the dead and injured. The multiplex has a capacity for 1,050 persons and being a festive Sunday evening, it was full.

Bhojpuri films were earlier shown only in a couple of Ludhiana movie halls, Swarn and Nirmal. Now they are also screened in theatres like Arora Palace, Basant, Society, Shingar, Deepak and many others. The Naulakha theatre strategically shifted to Bhojpuri films earlier this year.

Bihar and eastern UP’s migrant labour population is the primary audience for these films. Shingar, where the blast took place, is in the centre of the town’s famous hosiery industry where thousands of migrants work.

The audience was watching ‘‘Janam Janam Ke Saath’’ when the blast took place. The film has four of the hottest stars of Bhojpuri films: Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kissen, Naghma and Bhagyashree. Industry sources say the film has done business worth Rs 2 lakh in the first three days since its Friday release.

These migrant labourers constitute the backbone of Punjab's farms and factories, have often been targeted by terrorists in the past too.

The first attacks were made against labourers working for the Satluj Yamuna Link canal project in the 80s, during the heydays of terrorism. But that was mostly to scare them away and destabilise the ambitious venture. Later, it got bloodier and more vengeful. In one of the biggest strikes against those Punjabis have learnt to call 'Purbiyas', 30 farmhands from Bihar were massacred in Majat village, Ropar district, in May 1988. Twelve others were injured in the strike.

Soon, this was followed with the killings of 19 Bihari migrants in Lakhowal, Ludhiana.
A clear attempt had begun to instill terror in the minds of the hungry hordes coming in from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the search of livelihood and dignity.

This blast once again shows that labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continue to be soft targets sometimes to underscore misplaced regional nationalism.

Punjab Police has said that the Ludhiana multiplex blast could be the result of collaboration between jihadi groups and local Khalistani outfits like Babbar Khalsa International.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal denounced the bomb blast in a cinema hall here, and visited injured in the hospital. He also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs two lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the blast.

The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen. (Retd.) S.F. Rodrigues, PVSM VSM, have also expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in a blast incident in Ludhiana

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Who Killed Rizwanur Rahaman?

It was first in the Arena Multimedia Animation Academy where Rizwanur, a teacher, met his student Priyanka Todi in 2006. She was 23 and he 30. Riz wanur would stand at the blackboard in this very classroom teaching his students and Priyanka. But he never showed any sign of affection towards her. Every effort was made to ensure that their love remained a private affair.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee on 17 October has been compelled to remove five police officers, including the Kolkata police commissioner, a day after the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI investigation into the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rehman. The officers removed were Police chief Prasun Mukherjee, two deputy commissioners Gyanwant Singh and Ajay Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of the Anti-Rowdy section Sukanti Chakraborty and sub-inspector Krishnendu Ghosh. They were allegedly involved in the death of the computer graphics teacher Rehman who was pressurised to part with his wife, Priyanka, the daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi.

The Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe into the unexplained death of graphic designer Rizwanur Rehman whose body was found by the rail tracks last month. In a stinging rebuke to the ruling government Tuesday, Justice Soumitra Pal said the investigation conducted by the CID was "illegal".
The court has asked for a report in two months. The case has provoked immense public outrage with Rizwan's family alleging the state police were involved in the death.
The family said the police had been harassing Rizwan for marrying the daughter of prominent industrialist Ashok Todi.

Rizwanur Rehman was found dead besides railway tracks at Dum Dum far from his home in Park Circus in Kolkata on September 21. Two days later, Commissioner of Kolkata Police Prasun Mukherjee admitted that the couple were threatened by police officers after their marriage and Rizwanur was told to part with his wife. He had also admitted that Rizwanur and Priyanka were summoned to Lalbazar, the police headquarters, thrice on September one, four and eight.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had ordered a judicial inquiry on September 27.

On the same day, Rizwanur's mother Keshwar Jahan and brother Ruqbanur filed a writ petition in the Calcutta High Court seeking a CBI probe.

On Tuesday, Sadiq, a witness to the civil marriage of Rizwanur and Priyanka, and who had gone into hiding, told a TV channel that he had been threatened by a senior police officer who said he could damage his education and career.

In his letter to various human rights groups before his death, Rizwanur Rehman wrote: "On Tuesday, 11 September, she (Priyanka) spoke to me for the last time. She told me that her father wanted details of my collegemate Pompy Roy. Our friendship broke off in 2004 due to personal differences. May be my wife's parents wanted to influence her to say that I do not have a good character... I gave her details of Pompy's address on phone... That was the last I heard from my wife.”

Chairperson of West Bengal women’s commission Yasodhara Bagchi and its team met the mother of Rizwanur Rehman, whose mysterious death has led to a public outcry, and faced protests by local people who accused the Commission of helping those responsible for his death.Commission members had met Rizwanur's wife Priyanka at her father Ashok Todi, the owner of Rs 200-crore-plus Lux Hosiery Industries. She married 30-year-old Rizwanur on August 18.

The Todis allegedly pressured Rizwanur to sever connections with Priyanka, but he did not yield. Police said they are clueless about the family’s whereabouts. “We have been trying to get in touch with Ashok Todi,” said Gyanwant Singh, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).The Todis have been in the hosiery business for 35-40 years. The company, based in Calcutta, is giving national brands like Rupa Frontline a run for their money. Lux products have been endorsed by stars like Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Prosenjit.

He has braved the protests of Singur and weathered the uprising and police atrocities in Nandigram, but Bhattacharya is finding it hard to cope with the controversy and public fury generated in the Rizwanur Rehman case.

The residence of the Rehmans at Tiljala in east Kolkata was visited on 13th October by Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, followed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on 14th October besides state Congress leaders.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Energy situation in Bihar

Bihar has the per capita energy consumption of 75 KW as against a national average of 600 KW.

Energy Minister Bijeyndra Yadav said the crisis was due to a sharp drop in the availability of power from Central agencies like the NTPC. Against an average supply of 1100 MW per day, the state at present was getting a meager 660 MW, Yadav said.

The minister pointed out that in view of the festive season—Ramzan and Duss-ehra—the state had demanded an additional 200 MW per day and it was not being fulfilled despite repeated pleas. “I will raise the matter during the upcoming September 24 meeting of power ministers in New Delhi,” he said.

Since early this month large parts of the state, including capital Patna, have been witnessing severe power cuts. At many places angry residents have even resorted to violent protests. In a bid to derive political mileage out of the situation, the Congress and RJD have staged demonstrations and burnt effigies of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Recently, Congress workers in Bhagalpur smeared the face of a top Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) officer with black ink to protest the power cuts. The district administration immediately identified and lodged an FIR against the Congress workers. To protest the action, the Congress and RJD jointly called Bhagalpur bandh and burnt effigies of the Chief Minister.

The NTPC on its part has pointed out that due to annual maintenance work being undertaken at its generating units at Talcher, Farakka and Khalagaon, it was unable to meet the demand of the state.

Efforts of the state Government to revive its own defunct thermal units at Kanti and Barauni have not yielded results so far and for this too the state blames NTPC and BHEL, which have been entrusted with the responsibility of renovating the two units. Claiming that Bihar had the best track record as far as the payment of power dues to the NTPC was concerned, the minister pointed out that the present Government had cleared dues of Rs 400 crore accrued during the tenure of the previous RJD Government.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bihar has 2,60,612 local representatives

Bihar has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a cost of Rs.252 million. If implemented, this effort would surely build the capacity of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) to ensure transparency and accountability.

The plan entails linking eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat to the State-wide Area Network.

Top administrative officials and ministers have been provided with laptops as part of the e-governance drive. Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state's 38 district headquarters.

In the aftermath of independence, the first Act of Panchayt Raj, under the provisions of Bihar Panchayat Raj Adhiniyam 1947 was introduced, elections were held, and Panchayats were constituted. In 1961 Bihar Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parisad Act was enacted and in 1978,.

In the light of 73rd Amendment, Bihar Panchayat Raj Act 1993 was made but elections
couldn’t take place before 2001.

The present Bihar Panchayat Raj Act 2006, is unique in many ways. It has ensured 50% reservation for women in all the categories. 20% reservation has been given to Annexure- I category of Backward Community. The provision of Gram Kachahri has also been made a part of the Act.

Statistics of PRI
No. of Gram Panchayats in Bihar : 8463
No. of Panchayat Samiti (Block) : 531
No. of Zila Parishad : 38

Number of PRI Representatives

Member Gram Panchayat 115479
Mukhiya 8463
Panch 115479
Sarpanch 8463
Member Panchayat Samiti 11566
Member Zila Parishad 1162
Total 2,60,612

Monday, October 8, 2007

Will Nitish Government change Ara's plight

Arrah is a city and municipality in Bhojpur district in the state of Bihar, India. It is the district headquarters of Bhojpur district and is located 36 miles from Patna. It was constituted a municipality in 1865. Sulabh started in 1973 in this very municipality. Desite this insanitary conditions prevail in Arrah that can cause epidemic outbreak at any point time. So far Bihar Urban Development Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey has not been able do do much.

Now the state has received a sum of Rs 38 crore from the centre for solid waste management. Choubey has initiated steps for setting up a plant to generate 9.5 MW of power from 33 metric tonnes of waste. If this plant is based on highly polluting incineration technology than it is fraught with serious environmental consequences. This technology creates public health hazards which would be worse than the current mess.

Bihar is the first state in the country Bihar has abolished the Urban Land Ceiling Act and Agriculture Product Marketing Act. It has adopted the Model Municipal Act.

Will the new municipal act of Bihar and quick fix technologies for municipal waste change the state of affairs with respect to sanitation?

P.S: As per 2001 India census Arrah had a population of 203,395. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Arrah has an average literacy rate of 67%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 60% of the males and 40% of females literate.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mughalsarai stampede exposes Railway Ministry

Country's biggest railway junction. On October 5, a three-member inquiry team began investigations into October 3rd stampede at Mughalsarai station, where 15 women were killed and 48 people injured.

The team has been constituted by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. The team is led by Chief Commercial Manager Rajendra Prasad Bharadwaj, has CMO R P Singh and Deputy Chief Security Officer Tariq Ahamed as its other members.

The incident occurred when there was a sudden surge of people who came out of two trains, arriving almost simultaneously, on the staircase of an over bridge.

Fasting women had alighted from trains to go to Varanasi, 20 km away from Mughalsarai, for a bath in the Ganges on the occasion of 'jivit putrika vrat', a local festival.
A large number of women observe fast for their husbands’ long life. They had arrived from various places in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh to visit Varanasi.The mishap occurred when Gaya Passenger and Varanasi Ghazipur DMU arrived almost together at around 1.45 p.m. on platforms five and six, leading to a stampede on the overbridge.

They were on their way to take a holy dip in the Ganga at Varanasi The mishap was reportedly caused due to the railways authorities changing the platform of a train at the last moment.

Lalu Prasad Yadav reached the Divisional Railway Hospital at Mughalsarai and met those injured in the stampede and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the family of those killed in the stampede, besides giving railway jobs to at least one of their dependents.

Railway Ministry should pay more attention to expanding and upgrading it infrastructure. Asbestos roofs, congested and rickety staircases, waste mismanagement dot this public transport system, it is high time it is brought on track by taking administrative decisions beyond announcing ex-gratia.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Death Sentence in Krishnaiah Murder Case

More than 30 percent of lawmakers aged between 36 and 45 years faced criminal charges..

A former MP and JD-U leader Anand Mohan was sentenced to death by a local court in Patna which also awarded life imprisonment to his wife, also an ex-MP, on Wednesday in a murder case where the then Gopalganj District Magistrate was lynched by a mob 13 years back.

In a landmark verdict that is bound to have political ramifications, Additional Sessions Judge, Ram Krishna Rai also awarded Capital punishment to two others - Akhlaq Ahmed, a former MLA from Bikramganj and RJD leader and Arun Kumar in connection with the brutal killing of G Krishnaiah on December 5, 1994.

Besides Anand's wife - Lovely Anand, a former MP from Vaishali - those who got life term are Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla, a sitting JD(U) MLA from Lalganj, Shashi Shekhar and Harendra Kumar.

Anand Mohan, a former MP from Sheohar who was leader of the then Bihar People's Party (BPP) at the time of the murder, and his wife were accused of inciting a mob to lynch Krishnaiah.

It is for the first time that a former MP was being sent to gallows.

The Court on Monday held all the seven accused guilty under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting) and 427 (mischief causing damage).

''I am not very happy, because the conviction in an IAS officer's death case takes 13 years. Then you can imagine what the plight of an ordinary man would be like,'' said Uma Krishnaiah, wife of Krishnaiah.

Krishnaiah was lynched by a mob accompanying the cortege of a BPP leader Chotan Shukla on December 5, 1994.

The officer was pulled out of a car, beaten up mercilessly and then shot dead. The BPP is now defunct.

Underworld don

All the seven convicted were also fined Rs 25,000. The judge acquitted 29 of the 36 accused in the case giving them benefit of doubt.

Krishnaiah was done to death near Khabra, on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur town by the mob that was enraged over the gunning down of Chotan Shukla, an underworld don with political ambitions, and three others on December 4, 1994 when they were returning from election campaign for the 1995 assembly polls.

The seven convicts, all present in the court, soon after being sentenced complained about shabby treatment being meted out to them at the Beur Central Jail where they are lodged.

Anand Mohan said he, Akhlaq Ahmed and Arun Kumar were locked up in a cell without even a fan, while his wife Lovely Anand was kept in a ward along with mentally deranged women.

''As long as we are alive the court should ensure that we exist like humans'', Mohan told the judge, who said he would write to the jail superintendent and Patna district magistrate to see to it that they got amenties in accordance with the law.

Later speaking to the media, Mohan said if the 15 inspectors and two sub-divisional officers accompanying the funeral procession of Chotan Shukla could not save the life of the district magistrate ''what could I have done.''

Munna Shukla said he was with the body of his slain brother in the front of the funeral procession while the district magistrate was lynched by the mob in the rear.

''I simply do no not know who killed Krishnaiah,'' he said. (With PTI inputs)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Gopalganj District Magistrate Murder Case

On 1st October, a Patna court found Janata Dal(U) leader Anand Mohan and six others guilty of murdering the then Gopalganj district magistrate, G. Krishnaiyah, 13 years ago.

The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on 3rd October.

Besides Mohan, the others convicted are his wife and former Vaishali MP, Lovely Anand, JD(U) legislator Vijay Shukla alias Munna Shukla, former MLA Akhlaq Ahmad, former MP and JD(U) leader Arun Kumar and JD(U) leaders S.S. Thakur and Harendra Kumar.

Additional district and session’s judge (ADJ-1), Ramsreshtha Rai, ruled the accused persons guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 147 (rioting). All of have been remanded to judicial custody and sent to Beur central jail.

“We will challenge the verdict in the higher court. We are not guilty. The truth will come out in higher courts,” said Mohan.

No one from the JD (U), which is now in power in the state, was willing to comment on the convictions.

On December 5, 1994, Krishnaiyah was lynched and shot in the head by a mob carrying the body of Chhotan Shukla, a dreaded don and Bihar Peoples’ Party leader, who had been gunned down in a gang war the previous night near Muzaffarpur.

Krishnaiyah, a native of Andhra Pradesh who was in the IAS’s Bihar cadre, was on way to Gopalganj from Hajipur via Muzaffarpur after attending a meeting.

The frenzied followers of the don, led by Anand Mohan and Lovely Anand, then the Vaishali MP, stopped the IAS officer’s car near Khabra on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur, 60km north of Patna, on National Highway 28.

They dragged out Krishnaiyah, hurled stones at him and thrashed him with batons, farm tools and whatever else they had with them.

As the DM lay on the streets, Chhotan’s younger brother Bhutkun Shukla (another criminal who was later killed in a gangwar) shot him thrice in the head.

The trial of the case was going on in a Muzaffarpur court. But on the instructions of Patna High Court the case was recently transferred to the sessions court in the state capital for speedy trial.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Assault of Bhojpuri Wit on Union Home Minister

Media mostly blanked out the sharp attack on the Home Minister Shivraj Patil unleashed by Prabhunath Singh, JD(U)MP from Maharajganj who initiated the debate on the adjournment motion on the Hyderabad blasts in the Lok Sabha. He used rural wit and humour. Patil is known to pay more attention to his wardrobe than to the various bomb blasts and other unfortunate incidents in the country.

Here are two samples of Singh's wit, which duly hit the intended target, given the angry response of the ruling party members. Referring to the set pattern of minister's response to such acts of terror before getting back to `business as usual.

He said, Home Minister "is here and I am sure in his reply he will read out, like the Satya Narain Katha, whatever speech his officials have written for him and then wash his hands off the entire problem of terrorism." This had a number of Congress MPs on their feet, objecting to the reference to `Satya Narain Katha'. Amidst the bedlam, Singh explained that `Satya Narain is another name for Lord Vishnu and that it was an annual ritual in Bihar to have a pundit read out the story of Satya Narain before everyone goes back to doing whatever one normally does.

Later, Singh referred to the annual animal fair in Sonepur in Bihar and said how a cow, which gave 20 litres of milk, was sold for Rs 20,000 while another one with a calf thrown in went for Rs 25,000. "However everyone was surprised when a good-looking cow went for Rs 30,000, even though it yielded neither milk nor had a calf to go with it." On being asked the reason for such a high price for the barren cow, Singh said amidst loud laughter, "that that cow, like our Home Minister, did precious little but was good to look at."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Story of Ajit singh, Sunil Pandey, MPs & MLAs from Bhojpur

Bhojpur falls under three Lok Shabha constituencies. The MPs from these constituencies are:

Arrah- Kanti Singh (RJD)

Buxer- Lalmuni Chowbey (BJP)

Bikramganj-Late Dr Ajit Singh (JDU)

Dr Ajit Singh, the first time MP from Bikramganj passed away on August 1st, 2007 in “mysterious” circumstances. He was Chairman, National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), since 1998.
Press Trust of India reported that he was killed in a road accident at Sarsar village in Siwan district. Singh (45), a first time MP and chairman of NAFED, was critically injured when a private bus hit him and three others, including former Congress MLA Umashanker Singh, when the two leaders were standing on the road, police said. Bleeding profusely, the MP was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries during an operation."Singh had great blood loss and suffered a heart attack during the operation. We could not save him," doctors attending on him said.

Police said, the MP was on way to Gopalganj when he saw Umashanker Singh, ex-MLA coming from the opposite direction. The two stopped their vehicles for a talk when the bus rammed into them. Umashanker Singh alongwith the MP's driver and body guard were injured in the accident but, were stated to be out of danger. Ajit Singh was the younger son of late Tapeshwar Singh, a veteran Congressman.

Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav has sought a CBI probe into the “mysterious” death of party MP Ajit Singh, who was also the Chairman NAFED.Singh was knocked down by an empty bus while he was standing on a footpath and talking to an ex-MLA. Addressing a press conference here on 9 August, 2007, Ydav said Dr. Singh had twice expressed to him apprehension about danger to his life. He had even hired a bodyguard recently after he reportedly received threatening phone calls in the "multi-crore scam." Yadav alleged that after NAFED modified its mandate to funding public-private partnerships big money laundering had taken place and some individuals benefited with the help of bureaucracy. "Rules were bent and norms flouted to lend crore of rupees to such individuals."

“The CBI enquiry into the corruption (in NAFED) is going on and Ajit Singh was helping the CBI to book the culprits. In fact, he took steps to recover the Government’s (NAFED’s) money from the individuals who apparently have links with the underworld. All this should be investigated and the country’s money should be recovered.”He said although NAFED was meant to safeguard the interests of farmers and consumers, its management changed the policy, to invest in trade and industry for earning extra money.

Brief Overview of the Bhojpur Politicians

Bhojpur district has seven assembly constituencies.

Given below are the names of the MLAs from these Vidhan Sabha regions:

Sandesh - Vijendra Yadav (RJD)
Barhara - Asha Devi (JDU)
Arrah - Amrendra Pratap Singh (BJP)
Shahpur - Munni Devi (BJP)
Jagdishpur- Sri Bhagwan Singh (JDU)
Piro - Narendra Kumar Pandey [Sunil Pandey] (JDU)
Sahar - Ram Naresh Ram (CPI-ML)

In one of the cases, Sunil Pandey has been accused of barging into a police station and threatening Officer-In-Charge R P Sinha with dire consequences for refusing to provide him police security. Sinha had himself lodged an FIR. Charges were framed against the MLA in April 2005 in which six policemen, including the complainant and the Investigating Officer (IO), were witnesses. The court sent summons followed by warrants of arrest but none of the policemen turned up. Finally, in September, 2007 the court absolved the MLA for lack of evidence.

In another case , the MLA was charged with abusing and assaulting officers deputed to conduct the election of a school chairperson. The FIR was lodged by Labour Officer Siya Ram Singh, a designated Magistrate. Despite summons from the trial court, neither the complainant nor the IO appeared in the court .

Yet another case concerning assault and illegal confinement of a Dalit over a property dispute met the same fate as the IO refrained from turning up in court.
When contacted, Rohtas SP N H Khan acknowledged the lapse and said he would file a review petition for re-trial in at least one case. “I am personally probing the lapses. Responsibilities would be fixed,” Khan said.

The SP said that apart from the policemen, he is also probing the role of government’s Assistant Public Prosecutor Ravindra Prasad, who was handling all the three cases.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bihar ranks 21 in education

In case of Primary schools, the student-classroom ratio in Bihar (91), Jharkhand (69) and Uttar Pradesh (57) is very high।In a few states, such as Bihar (68.37 percent), Uttar Pradesh (44.19 percent) and West Bengal (35.24 percent), the percentage of Primary schools having 60 students per classroom is much higher compared to other states.The percentage of Primary schools having electricity connection remained as low as 0।91 percent in Bihar.

In absolute terms, the highest number of Primary schools without blackboard (8,848) was in Rajasthan, followed by 7,645 schools in Jharkhand and 5,535 schools in Bihar. States such as Bihar and Rajasthan had a little low GPI in Primary enrolment, indicating that the goal of UPE in these states may not be realised unless all girls are brought under the education system.

Except in Bihar, in all other states the share of girls’ enrolment at the Primary level has been above 45 percent. in Bihar, it is only 44.36 percent at Primary and 38.87 percent at the Upper Primary level.

The share of SC girls to total SC enrolment in case of Bihar has been only 40।40 percent which is also the lowest in the country.
Amongst the major states, the highest percentage of Pre-primary enrolment in Primary schools is noticed in the case of Karnataka (28.38) and the lowest 2.73 in Bihar.

State Education Minister Brishan Patel has said, that proper implementation of the proposed Common School System was one way to bridge the gap between the rich and poor.

The Common School System would be implemented in Bihar only after elaborate discussion and after seeking detailed public opinion.