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Nearly 9.5 lakh Bihar voters chose NOTA

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Patna: Around 9.5 lakh voters in Bihar chose not to vote for any candidate in the assembly elections and pressed the “None of the Above” (NOTA) button on the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

According to statistics released by the Election Commission on Sunday night, a total of 9,47,276 voters chose NOTA — 2.5 percent of the total votes polled.

The Grand Alliance of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress won a whopping 178 of the 243 seats, leaving the BJP and its allies with just 58 seats.

Congress also made impressive gains winning 27 seats out of 41. It had won only 4 last time.

Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM won only one of the two seats he contested and lost in all the 19 others it fought in.

But amid all the euphoria and boost the result gave to its national campaign against the BJP and Modi, the Congress has a worry. The Bihar results showed that a viable and credible anti-BJP front could take shape and that the Congress may not be the fulcrum of it. That would end the Congress position as even the main opposition party.

‘This mandate is against Modi’

The mandate in Bihar is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will impact national politics, RJD leader Lalu Prasad said on Monday.

“The mandate we have got is to fight Delhi, Modi,” the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and the former chief minister told the media, a day after the Grand Alliance routed the BJP combine in assembly polls.

“Communal and fascist forces are ruling Delhi. To keep them in power even for one more day will amount to breaking up the country,” he said.

“This is my view, others may agree or not,” he added.

The RJD leader reiterated that the sweeping victory of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the RJD and Congress over the four-party combine of the BJP would impact national politics.

Lalu Prasad blamed the Modi government for rising prices of food and even train and air travel.

“Traders and businessmen are terrorized today. Nobody is feeling safe. Everyone is terrorized.”

He said the reason why the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the 2014 Lok Sabha election was because its leaders “fooled everyone” with false promises.

“They talked about ‘achche din, achche din’ but such bad days have come.”

He also criticized political pundits and analysts who called him “chara chor (fodder thief)” and “criminal” in television debates, saying his win would mark a return of “jungle raj” in Bihar.

“We have taken this in bad taste,” he said. “I want to tell all these people to try to understand Bihar better. Ultimately, people are the best judge.”

Lalu Prasad again thanked the people of Bihar for giving the Grand Alliance a landslide win and said the coalition government in the state “will work fine under Nitish Kumar’s leadership”.

“We will use Bihar’s resources properly, we will also fight against Delhi for our rights.”

(IANS)

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NDA’s defeat is no setback for economy: Arun Jaitley

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New Delhi: After NDA’s defeat in Bihar, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the loss will not hamper the economic reform process in Bihar. “I don’t see it as a setback to the economy and structural reforms will continue. They should continue at a rapid pace”

He said the government would continue with reforms by taking executive actions and also in the Budget, which would be declared in February next year.

“Our commitment is the states which need to develop more we have to help them more,” he added.

While NDA managed to get only 58 seats (BJP 53) in the 243-member Bihar assembly, Mahagathbandhan comprising of RJD,JD(U) and Congress got a whooping 178 seats.

The Finance Minister said that the “index of opposition unity” was one of the major factors that led to the triumph of the Mahagathbandhan in the Bihar assembly elections.

He admitted that some irresponsible statements by certain BJP members changed the narrative, leading to their loss.

When quizzed about the loss he said, “I don’t see it as a setback to the economy at all. If under Nitish Kumar, Bihar grows and grows well, we have already announced economic package for the state, certainly we are going to help.”

On the specific question of the pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, he hoped that Bihar would support the legislation.

In an interview with a magazine on being asked whether Bihar election was a referendum on the policies of the Centre, Arun Jaitley said, “The word referendum is loosely used.Every election is not a referendum. A state election is not a referendum. You are not contesting on one issue.”

 

 

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Ram, Krishna, Shakuni, Prahlad, Netaji all in Bihar battle

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Patna: What do Ram, Krishna, Shayam, Shiv, Shatrughan, Arjun, Shakuni, Subhash Chandra Bose and Prahlad have in common — all are candidates contesting the Bihar battle of 2015 assembly elections.

There are many candidates named after Hindu god Ram, while in many places Shayam and Krishna are contesting against Shiv.

Candidates with names of other mythological icons like Arjun, Shatrughan, Shakuni and Prahlad are also in the fray.

“Many parties have fielded candidates named after Ram. There is hardly one among the 243 assembly constituencies without a candidate named after Ram. In some constituency, candidates named after Ram are fighting against each other,” said Ranjeev, a political activist.

It is not only the NDA — comprising the BJP and its allies LJP, RLSP and HAM — but the grand alliance of the JD-U, the RJD and the Congress also has a number of Rams as candidates. Even the Left parties have fielded a number of Rams.

“The large number of candidates named after Ram reflect the respect, devotion and popularity of him more than other god,” said RLSP’s media in-charge Chandrabhusan Kumar.

The BJP has nearly two dozen candidates named after Ram — Ramji in Raniganj constituency, Ram Sunder Yadav in Phulparas, Ram Lakhan Singh in Teghda, Ramanand Ram in Bakhri, Ram Devi Mahto in Madhubani, Ram Janam Sharma in Paliganj and Ram Preet Paswan in Rajnagar.

Candidates in BJP’s allies LJP, RLSP and HAM also have candidates named after Ram, including former chief minister and HAM president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is contesting from two assembly seats — Makhdumpur in Jehanabad district and Imamganj in Gaya district.

HAM state president Shakuni Choudhari is contesting from Tarapur and LJP candidate Prince Raj — the son of party chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s younger brother Ram Chander Paswan — is contesting from Kalyanpur.

The LJP has fielded a candidate from Sikandara named after national icon Subhash Chandra Bose.

The grand alliance is also not behind as far as candidates with mythological names are concerned.

The JD-U has fielded Ramanand Singh from Parbatta, Ram Chandra Prasad from Gurua, Ramai Ram from Bochahan and Ram Sevak Singh from Hathua.

It has fielded Shayam Razak from Phulwarisharif, Krishna Nandan Verma from Ghosi, Krishna Kumar from Amnour, Shatrughan Mandal from Sikti and Prabhunath Ram from Agiaon.

Lalu Prasad’s RJD also has candidates with mythological names in this Bihar battle of 2015.

The party has fielded Prahlad Yadav from Suryagarha, Kunti Devi from Atri, Ramanuj Prasad from Sonepur, Ramanand Yadav from Fatuha, Ram Vishnu Singh from Jagdishpur, Laxmi Narayan Yadav from Chiraia and Sita Ram Yadav from Khajauli seat.

The Congress has Ramdeo Rai in Bachwahara, Mangal Ram in Chenari, Purnmasi Ram in Ramnagar and Surendra Ram in Bathnaha.

Around 66.8 million people are eligible to vote in the five-phase assembly polls from October 12 to November 5. Votes will be counted on November 8.

(IANS)

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Upper castes, Pappu Yadav: Decisive factors in Bihar poll?

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Rajesh Ranjan "Pappu Yadav" at his house in New Delhi on 04/05/2009. A special CBI court convicted Pappu Yadav in the Ajit Sarkar murder case. Photo by Shailendra Pandey/Tehelka

Upper caste voters and the Jana Adhikar Party of Pappu Yadav may significantly influence results of the coming Bihar assembly elections. While the JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine has been leaving no stone unturned to give the electoral battle a forward versus backward caste character, recent voting patterns, however, indicate that the BJP-led NDA enjoys an advantage on this count too.

Contrary to the calculations of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and one of his predecessors, Lalu Prasad Yadav, upper castes constituting 14-15 percent of the total voters may turn out to be important factors given their monolithic pattern of voting as shown in the April-May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the by-elections later on. In the parliamentary poll 78 percent of upper caste voters had cast in favour of the NDA, the highest in the overall voting pattern by any social group.

Various opinion surveys are pointing out that this time too, the trend is likely to remain the same although there are murmurs of discontent among the upper castes against the Narendra Modi government’s failure to increase the minimum support price of agricultural commodities and the prime minister’s attempt to amend the land acquisition act. In addition to the upper caste voters, the Vaishyas, constituting about six percent of the electorate, are likely to remain on the NDA’s side.

Contrary to this picture, the Yadavs, constituting about 14 percent of the electorate, are now a divided lot. During the 2014 parliamentary election also, the Yadav votes got fragmented and a significant section had voted for the BJP. But this time, the scenario has become more complicated for Lalu Prasad Yadav as the popularity graph of Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, a former RJD stalwart and now the leader of the Jana Adhikar Party, is showing continuous signs of increase.

Pappu’s outfit is now an important constituent of the Third Front led by the Samajwadi Party and he draws his strength mostly from the younger sections of Yadav voters. Although much of the national-level media has described him as a ‘vote katwa’ (spoiler), Papuu may show unexpected results in the Kosi belt comprising the districts of Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsha and in the neighbouring Muslim dominated Seemanchal region comprising the districts of Araria, Purnea, Katihar and Kishengunj.

Together, these two regions have 37 assembly seats. As the NDA is weak in this region the JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine could hope to consolidate its tally from here had it not been for Pappu’s presence. In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, the BJP could not open its account in the seven seats of these two regions. The Kosi belt has 13 assembly seats. Of them the BJP has only one – Saharsha.

These are the two areas both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav were targeting, given the latter’s famous formula of Muslim-Yadav combination. Recent years have however witnessed the rapid decimation of the influence of Sharad Yadav, the JD-U president, in the Kosi belt and the gradual passing off of the mantle to Pappu. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Pappu and his wife Ranjita Ranjan had won the Madhepura and Supaul seats. The most interesting part of their victory was the fact that while Pappu had won as a RJD candidate, his wife won on the Congress ticket. It showed that they can attract Yadav votes irrespective of party affiliation.

On the whole, the NDA is aiming for an upper caste-extreme backward caste(EBC)-Dalit consolidation. It has reasons to be optimistic in this segment as in the last Lok Sabha poll, 42 percent of the Dalits and 53 percent of EBC voters had voted for the NDA. Interestingly the EBC voters constitute 24 percent of the state electorate. Moreover, for making inroads into the Yadav camp, the BJP-led NDA has this time nominated 26 Yadav candidates. In addition, Pappu’s outfit is contesting 64 seats. So, all eyes will be fixed on the electoral behavior of the Yadavs.

This community’s leadership question is now at cross-roads. It enjoyed a modicum of sober leadership during the time of Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav. But its next messiah, Lalu Prasad, is a convicted man now.

Rabri Devi, Lalu’s wife, lost in the 2005 assembly poll. In 2010, she lost in two seats and in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll she again lost in Saran. Lalu experimented by fielding his daughter Misa for the Pataliputra parliamentary seat in 2014. But Misa also lost, though the constituency has a large Yadav concentration.

(by Amitava Mukherjee ,IANS)