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Nitish Kumar sworn in Bihar chief minister, Tejashwi his deputy

PATNA, Aug 10: JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Wednesday took oath as Bihar chief minister for the eight time in a ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Patna. RJD's Tejashwi Yadav was administered the oath of office as deputy chief minister.

The no-frills ceremony comes a day after Nitish snapped ties with the BJP-led NDA and joined hands with the RJD to form a Mahagathbandhan' government.

Moments earlier, Nitish spoke to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad before taking oath. "Laluji welcomed Nitish's decision and conveyed his wishes to him," the RJD chief's daughter and MP Misa Bharti said. Lalu is recovering from an illness and stays with his daughter in Delhi.

Stripped of power in Bihar, the BJP on Wednesday staged a massive demonstration condemning the betrayal of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose similar volte- face five years ago had helped it join the government through the proverbial back door.

The `Maha Dharna' (massive demonstration) staged in front of the party office at Birchand Patel Marg was attended by all BJP MPs and MLAs from Bihar who vowed to expose the 71 years old JD(U) leader through agitations scheduled at district and block levels later this week.

Nitish Kumar, who was once the bete noire of Yadav, had allied with him before the 2015 assembly polls in Bihar and the alliance swept the elections. Now again seven years later, he has joined hands with the RJD after breaking his alliance with the BJP.

Nitish had on Tuesday quit the BJP, stripping the party of power, before resigning and staking a claim to form a new government, armed with the support of the Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance).

The 71-year-old JD(U) leader first took oath as chief minister in 2000, when he headed an NDA government that lasted only a week. He was back in 2005, this time with his coalition having won an absolute majority in the assembly polls.

The NDA won a landslide victory under his leadership in the assembly polls five years later. Kumar stepped down in 2014, owning moral responsibility for the drubbing of JD(U) in the Lok Sabha polls, but returned less than a year later when he was sworn in for the fourth time.

In 2015, Nitish was back as CM, with the Grand Alliance then comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress winning a comfortable majority. He resigned in July 2017, citing irreconcilable differences with the RJD, and got sworn in again less than 24 hours later, when he formed a new government with the BJP.

Nitish was sworn in for the seventh time in November 2020, when the NDA retained power, though his own party saw a major fall in its tally for which it blamed a conspiracy by the BJP.

Nitish Kumar's Dumps BJP; Joins Hands With Tejashwi; Oath On Wednesday

PATNA, Aug 9: Nitish Kumar will take oath as Chief Minister of Bihar tomorrow at 2 pm, after he ditched the BJP on Tuesday and announced a new "Grand Alliance" which includes Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition parties.

"Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) of seven parties, one Independent will work closely," Nitish Kumar said after his second meeting with the Governor today. In the first one, he resigned as Chief Minister of the government which consisted of his party, the Janata Dal United or JDU, and the BJP; less than an hour later, he returned to the Governor, accompanied by Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition leaders, to state that they should be invited to form the next government based on their combined strength.

"I have resigned, I have informed all my MLAs," said Nitish Kumar after his first session with the Governor. He said the decision to split from the BJP - for the second time in nine years - was based on the feedback he received this morning at an interaction with his party's legislators.

Even as his party was meeting, Tejashwi Yadav, age 32, held a parallel session with his MLAs, where it was agreed that they would support Nitish Kumar in a new government. Tejashwi Yadav will serve as Deputy Chief Minister and take oath along with Kumar. "The BJP betrays all its allies and intimidates others," he said at the news briefing with Nitish Kumar.

The BJP has accused Nitish Kumar of "betraying the mandate of the people" by switching partners mid-term. This is an established trait of Nitish Kumar's however, and one that has triggered vast criticism of his ideological flexibility and willingness to trade principles for power.

Till 2013, Nitish Kumar was in partnership with the BJP, though it was a fractious collaboration once it became clear that Narendra Modi would emerge as the BJP's main leader. He cut the chord with the BJP and in 2015 formed the government with Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Lalu Yadav, a Bihar veteran politician, is Tejashwi Yadav's father. In 2017, Nitish Kumar stomped out of the three-party alliance, claiming that the insatiable corruption of Tejashwi Yadav as a minister could not be tolerated by him.

After he reunited with the BJP, the parties have exchanged public criticism on issues large and small. In June, Nitish Kumar contradicted the Prime Minister by stating that while the centre had refused to conduct a caste census, in Bihar, the counting of castes would in fact take place. Tejashwi Yadav backed him fully on this move.

Nitish Kumar's anger with the BJP breached the danger mark over reports that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was foraging within the JDU for defectors. The Chief Minister felt that RCP Singh, a senior leader from his party, who had joined the union cabinet, was being used to turn the JDU against him. He therefore refused to extend RCP Singh's term in the Rajya Sabha, which meant that the latter had to resign from PM Modi's cabinet. On the weekend, Nitish Kumar's aides publicly accused RCP Singh of corruption; in protest, he quit the JDU.

Nitish Kumar felt that RCP Singh was part of a second conspiracy by the BJP to attenuate his standing, the first being the BJP's tacit support of another regional leader, Chirag Paswan, to serve as a vote-cutter for Nitish Kumar in the last general election. Chirag Paswan put up his party's candidates against the JDU; it was the BJP who gained. As Nitish Kumar thundered against Chirag Paswan, the BJP refused to criticise him.

The BJP's senior leaders from Bihar are flying to Patna to discuss the fallout. They include Sushil Kumar Modi and former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Nitish Kumar felt that Amit Shah was attempting a repeat of the Maharashtra model in Bihar and ended the BJP alliance to pre-empt that. Uddhav Thackeray was forced to quit as Chief Minister after Eknath Shinde, a senior leader from his party, the Shiv Sena, instigated a huge revolt in partnership with the BJP. Eknath Shinde was rewarded by the BJP with the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

'One Leader Alone Cannot Tackle Problems Of India': RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

NAGPUR, Aug 9: One leader can not face all the challenges before this country and a single organization or party can not bring about change, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Tuesday.

This thought was at the base of the Sangh's ideology, he said, adding that the country got independence only when the common people took to the street.

Mohan Bhagwat was speaking at a centenary programme of the Vidarbha Sahitya Sangh, a Marathi literary body, in Nagpur.

"One thing at the base of the Sangh's ideology is that a single leader is not supposed to tackle all the challenges before this country. He can not even do that. Howsoever big the leader may be," the RSS chief said.

"One organization, one party, one leader can not bring about change. They help bring it. Change takes place when the common man stands up for it," he added.

India's freedom struggle began way back in 1857, but it succeeded only when there was a massive awareness and "the common man took to the street," Bhagwat said.

The revolutionaries too contributed to the freedom struggle and Subhas Chandra Bose created a huge challenge before the British, but the main thing was that people acquired courage, he said.

"Not everyone went to jail, some people stayed away, but there was a widespread feeling that the country must become independent," the RSS chief said.

The RSS wants the Hindu society to become capable of fulfilling its responsibility, he said, adding that "leaders do not make society" but society creates leaders.

"All things take place through a change in society and the RSS is organizing society," Bhagwat said.

People should not give the "contract" to improve the country's condition to others but should take up the responsibility themselves, he said.

"Don't give this contract to even the Sangh. Do your job yourself....people will have to learn this," Bhagwat said.

Derek O’Brien to Naidu: ‘You would’ve tried hard to get PM to answer one question in your tenure…didn’t happen’

NEW DELHI, Aug 8: With M Venkaiah Naidu presiding over Rajya Sabha session for the last time on Monday, TMC MP Derek O’Brien narrated a tragedy from Naidu’s childhood and said one day, the outgoing Vice President would reveal in his autobiography why he, coming from an agricultural family, was not on the Chair the day the farm bills were passed in 2020. O’Brien in his speech also said one day, Naidu would reveal why he “couldn’t get PM Modi to answer even one question in five years”.

Speaking of the agricultural families in undivided Andhra Pradesh just after India’s independence, O’Brien said the number of bullocks owned by a family used to determine their financial status.

“One such family owned eight pairs of bullocks. So far so good. But one day, one of these animals… they went totally nutty and the bullock gorged a lady in the stomach. The lady was carrying a baby — a one-year-old boy. The lady was taken to the hospital and she passed away… And the child lost his mother at the age of one. This is your story, sir, of an early loss.”

This account from Naidu’s childhood made the V-P tear up.

The TMC MP continued: “And from that early loss, you have done whatever you have done which we can find not only in Wikipedia entries but in a glorious career you had.”

He went on saying that on September 20, 2020, the day on which the controversial farm bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Vice President, who hailed from an agricultural family, was not on the chair.

“So, this child who lost his mother in these tragic circumstances of this agricultural family. Cut to September 20, 2020. To me that was a very important day in my outlook about you, and may be you’ll answer that question someday in your autobiography… On September the 20th, 2020, the day this house passed the farm bills, you were not on the chair… you were not,” he said.

O’Brien said Naidu had always urged the Opposition and the government to talk to each other and resolve issues. He, however, added, “No one is perfect. You would have tried hard to get our honourable Prime Minister to perhaps answer one question in your full tenure. That didn’t happen.”

The TMC MP ended his speech for Naidu by appreciating the “great food you served us and the great host you are”.

Jagdeep Dhankhar Is New Vice President, Defeats Margaret Alva

NEW DELHI, Aug 6: Jagdeep Dhankhar, former Bengal Governor, was elected as the Vice President on Saturday. He bested Opposition's Margaret Alva to emerge winner.

The BJP-led NDA candidate won the election comfortably with 528 votes against Ms Alva's 182, the voting for which took place earlier today. The Vice President is also the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Dhankhar secured 74.36 per cent. He has the highest winning margin in the last six vice presidential elections held since 1997.

The returning officer of the vice presidential election said of the total 780 electors, 725 cast their ballots but 15 votes were found to be invalid. The turnout was 92.94 per cent, he said, adding that a candidate needed 356 votes to get elected.
The Trinamool Congress, which has a total of 36 MPs, including 23 in Lok Sabha, had abstained from the election. However, two of its MPs had cast their ballots. As many as 55 MPs did not vote in the vice presidential election held from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday.

Margaret Alva congratulated Dhankhar on the win. She also thanked leaders of the Opposition, and MPs from across parties who voted for her in this election. "This election is over. The battle for protecting our Constitution, strengthening our democracy & restoring the dignity of Parliament, will continue," she posted on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with BJP chief JP Nadda, went to congratulate Dhankhar on on his election as the Vice President.

Dhankhar had the support of several other non-NDA parties - Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal, Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Akali Dal and the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Aam Aadmi Party and the nine MPs of Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray faction supported Ms Alva.

Dhankhar will be the second vice president from Rajasthan after Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who held the office between 2002 and 2007.

Joyous scenes were also reported from Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu, the hometown of Dhankhar. Celebrations also took place at the state BJP headquarters in Jaipur where people danced to the beats of dhols and distributed sweets.

'Congress Under Siege': Party On Police Build-up Outside Party Office

NEW DELHI, Aug 3: Heightened police activity outside the Congress party's headquarters and chief Sonia Gandhi's residence following the sealing of the offices of a company linked to the party's leadership was an attempt to intimidate the opposition, Congress leaders said on Wednesday.

"@INCIndia is under siege. Delhi police has surrounded our HQs, and homes of INC President & ex-President.This is the worst form of vendetta politics. We will not submit! We will not be silenced! We will continue to raise our voice against injustices and failures of Modi Sarkar!" senior leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

At a news conference, he called the moves "politics of revenge and threats" and took a shot at Union Home Minister Amit Shah. "Who controls the Delhi Police that is trying to stop our protest day after?" he said.

Congress leaders said they would go ahead with a planned protest on Friday outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence over rising prices.

"It is an attempt to intimidate. If you continue intimidating people like this, there will be a revolt," Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge said.

The road to the Congress party's headquarters was briefly blocked on Wednesday, with the Congress alleging this has become a norm rather than an exception, while the police said barricades were put up and its personnel deputed to avoid any untoward situation.

This came soon after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) temporarily sealed the offices of Young Indian (YI) in the Congress-owned National Herald office in Delhi as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation.

According to police sources, the temporary seal in the Young Indian office was put in order to "preserve the evidence" which could not be collected as authorised representatives were not present during the raids on Tuesday.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh shared a video showing heavy police presence outside the Congress headquarters and the road sealed for traffic.

"Delhi Police blocking the road to AICC Headquarters has become a norm rather than an exception! Why have they just done so is mysterious...," Mr Ramesh tweeted.

A senior Delhi police officer told a news agency, "We have received inputs from our special branch that some protesters might gather at the Congress Office situated on Akbar Road. So, as a preventive measure, we have put barricades and deputed our personnel to avoid any untoward situation."

On Tuesday, the ED raided the head office of the National Herald newspaper here and 11 other locations as part of its probe.

The ED had earlier questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the case.

Accused Of ₹ 1 Crore Kickback, Rape Threat, Sanjay Raut Denies Claims

MUMBAI, Aug 1: The case in which Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut has been arrested is a ₹ 1,000 crore scam in Patra chawl redevelopment project, the Enforcement Directorate has said. The agency has claimed that Raut and his family have benefited from money to the tune of ₹ 1.06 crore -- up from the 83 lakh it earlier claimed. The ED has also accused him of threatening a key witness in the Alibaug land deal with rape and murder.

The woman, Swapna Patkar, has apparently filed a complaint on July 22. She claimed that the rape and murder threat was typed on a sheet of paper, which was inserted in a newspaper delivered to her on July 15, according to a news agency.

Raut was arrested late last night by the ED on charges of money laundering and was placed in the agency's custody for four days by a court in Mumbai. The Sena MP has claimed that he is being framed as part of a political vendetta.

"This is nothing more than political vendetta. Since Sunday morning, freedom was taken away," Raut told reporters. Pointing out that he is a heart patient, Raut said he is not even allowed to go out.

In court today, the agency claimed that Raut was summoned thrice for questioning but he appeared before it only once. During this time, he tried tampering with key witnesses, the agency claimed.

In its charges against Raut, the agency said the money collected for the redevelopment project from 2010-2014 "were siphoned off by Rakesh Wadhwan and Sarang Wadhwan and thereby the project remained incomplete".

"Out of the siphoned amount, Pravin Raut received around ₹ 112 crore in his account and proceeds of the crime amounting to about 1.06 crore was directly received by Sanjay Raut," the ED told the court. A property was purchased in Alibaug using the tainted money.

Pravin Raut, a former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, was the "front man" of Sanjay Raut, the agency claimed.

During 2010-2011, "Rs 2 lakh was transferred every month from accused Praveen Raut to Sanjay Raut," the agency claimed. Praveen Raut has even funded Sanjay Raut's trip abroad, the ED told the court.

In April, the ED attached assets worth over ₹ 11.15 crore belonging to Mr Raut's his wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates. The attached properties are land held by Pravin Raut at Palghar, Saphale (town in Palghar) and Padgha (in Thane district). The assets also include a flat in Mumbai's suburb Dadar held by Varsha Raut and eight plots at Kihim beach in Alibaug jointly held by Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar, a "close associate" of Sanjay Raut, the ED has said.

Sena chief and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has solidly backed Raut, calling him a "hardcore Shiv Sainik of Sena founder Bal Thackeray".

"I am proud of Sanjay Raut. What crime has he committed? He is a journalist, a Shiv Sainik, is fearless and speaks what he does not approve of," Thackeray said.

Leaders of the Congress have also spoken in Raut's support.

"The only crime Sanjay Raut has committed is that he has not been cowered down by the politics of intimidation of the BJP party. He is a man of conviction and courage. We are with Sanjay Raut," tweeted Congress's Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.



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