Late July 1999 Bihar

  • LALOO LURES PASWAN AIDE - Telegraph, 27 July 1999, Eastern News.
  • LALOO, CONG IN SEAT TALKS - Telegraph, 28 July 1999, National News.
  • �PURNEA TERROR� POISED FOR COMEBACK - Telegraph, 28 July 1999, National News.
  • STORMY BIHAR SESSION LIKELY ON AUDIT REPORT - Telegraph, 29 July 1999, Eastern News.
  • CONTRACT KILLERS HELD IN BIHAR - Telegraph, 29 July 1999, Eastern News.
    Telegraph, 29 July 1999, Eastern News.



    Patna, July 28
    The Bihar Assembly is likely to witness stormy scenes over the government�s reluctance to table the comptroller and auditor-general (CAG)�s report on the state�s economy in its monsoon session beginning on August 2.

    The report, submitted to the government recently, has cited excess expenditure and other irregularities in almost all departments. The government is apparently buying time to table the report in view of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly election slated for early next year.

    A government source said the finance ministry was yet to go through the report. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Sushil Modi said he would mount pressure on the government to table the report from the first day of the session. He alleged that even last year the CAG report was tabled only after specific instructions from the Governor.

    The deplorable condition of the state�s economy came under severe criticism recently when a finance commission team visited the capital. The team, headed by chairman A. M. Khusro, found that the government had spent only 40 per cent of the funds allocated under the Eighth Plan.

    The team also found that the state was spending less than 50 per cent of the allocated funds every year despite presenting a deficit budget and resorting to supplementaries.

    Citing an example, sources said although the state contingency fund began with an allocation of just Rs 1 crore, over Rs 300 crore have been been spent with periodic revisions. However, the state finance department is yet to regularise the Rs 209 crore lying unutilised since 1987-88.

    Financial experts are also worried about the sorry state of public sector undertakings (PSUs) in the state. According to finance department sources, 43 of the 50 PSUs are in the red. Of these, 28 have been identified as "defunct" and only two reaped marginal profits. The experts said of the 50 PSUs, 22 were not paying their employees regularly. The period for this irregularity of payment ranged from three to six months.

    The state government has also been criticised for not being able to finalise project reports for some PSUs in consonance with the Companies Act, resulting in functional bottlenecks.

    Sources said non-clearance of 535 accounts by the PSUs have resulted in cumulative losses over Rs 1,000 crore against assets investments of Rs 650 crore. The PSUs are waiting for another loan instalment of Rs 1,400 crore.

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    Telegraph, 29 July 1999, Eastern News.



    Dhanbad, July 28
    Four gangsters arrested from the Dhanbad taxi stand yesterday said Jamshedpur, Bokaro and other industrial cities in south Bihar are set to witness a spurt in killings before the Lok Sabha polls.

    The accused, who are being interrogated by the police, said hired killers would target well-known personalities to whip up a fear psychosis.

    Initially, the police were not aware that four members of an inter-state car-lifting gang arrested yesterday were dreaded professional killers working for the Brajesh Singh and Dhumal Singh gangs of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Interrogation revealed their Uttar Pradesh links. Two of the arrested, Utpal Ghosh and Prakash Mishra, have been identified by the police as ace shooters of the Brajesh Singh gang.

    They are allegedly involved in a number of killings in Jamshedpur and the coal belt. They are also wanted by the Mumbai police in connection with the sensational J.J.Hospital shootout. Investigating officers of the Dhanbad police, who are interrogating the gangsters, said both Ghosh and Mishra were at present residing in Bokaro steel city�s sector three area. The other two have been identified as Mrityunjay Kumar and Pappu Agarwal�both drivers and bodyguards of the late underworld don, Shakaldeo Singh, who was gunned down in January this year.

    Inspector-in-charge of Dhanbad police station A. Z. Kamal said the criminals were on an assignment. Utpal Ghosh confessed that he had arrived from Jamshedpur yesterday itself. He said he met Brajesh Singh at Jamshedpur before arriving here. Kamal said the gangsters first tried to hire a "new Maruti van" from the taxi stand for Jamshedpur. As there were no new vans, they settled for an Ambassador.

    Ghosh confessed that he took shelter in Shakaldeo Singh�s house when the police were looking for him in connection with a murder in Jamshedpur.

    Police sources feel that they had been hired for killing a "big-shot" in Jamshedpur. The Dhanbad police has contacted its counterparts in Uttar Pradesh for more information about the gang.

    Poll stricture: Six senior Bihar officials, including three district magistrates and two commissioners, have been transferred and debarred from election-related duties in future on the Election Commission�s directives, adds PTI. The commission had found that these officers were lacking requisite skill in election-related duties.

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    Telegraph, 28 July 1999, National News.



    Patna, July 27
    Even the dank cells of the Beur jail have failed to daunt controversial Janata Dal leader and former MP Pappu Yadav�s dream of staging a political comeback.

    Dubbed as the terror of Purnea, the former gangster�s hopes rest on the assumption that the electorate will ride the crest of a sympathy wave to vote him back to power.

    "I will contest the Purnea seat and public sentiment will help me sail through," Yadav said recently. He said no amount of political machination by RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav would be able to turn the tide against him.

    Pappu Yadav was arrested by the CBI in June in connection with the murder of the CPM legislator from Purnea, Ajit Sarkar.

    An alleged mafia don, Yadav had a running feud with the CPM legislator as the latter had organised thousands of landless labourers against the landlords in Purnea. Sitting MLA Madhavi Sarkar, widow of the slain leader, alleged that her husband was on Yadav�s hit list as he had exposed the MP�s mafia links.

    According to the CBI, Yadav had hired sharp-shooter Ranjan Tiwari to eliminate Sarkar on June 14, 1998. CBI investigations revealed that Ranjan met an undertrial Surajbhan Singh in Patna jail in January 1998 and Singh reportedly asked Tiwari to work for Pappu and D.P. Yadav. Pappu Yadav later met Tiwari in Delhi.

    CBI sources said Pappu Yadav and Tiwari went to Purnea together in April where Tiwari put up with one of Pappu�s relatives. He introduced himself as Ashok Mehta. After killing Sarkar, Tiwari left for Siliguri, the CBI alleged.

    However, Pappu Yadav�s spirits continue to soar despite being charged with political assassination. The don co-ordinates his operation from behind bars and hundreds of people from Munger throng the Beur jail everyday to keep him posted on the developments in Purnea.

    His still maintains contact with the Ananda Marg which commands a formidable base in the Purnea-West Dinajpur side of Bihar-Bengal border. Former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav often call on him, fanning his political ambition. Yadav is happy that the Janata Dal and the Samata party have merged for it professes to "make things easier for him."

    Yadav, who has a dozen criminal cases, murders and cases of intimidation and illegal assembly pending against him, resents being called a "don." "When you work for the poor, false cases are filed against you to tarnish your image," Yadav said. His first battle, however, is to obtain bail.

    Last week, he complained of high blood pressure and poor heart condition and prayed to the court that he be shifted to a hospital. The CBI, however, dismissed his plea.

    Hundreds of Janata Dal workers from Purnea staged a dharna in the city recently to mount pressure on the RJD government to grant him bail but this too failed to yield fruit. "There is no concrete evidence against me to support the CBI charges. The agency is politically motivated," he alleged.

    Despite his efforts to obtain bail before the polls, it may be a rough ride ahead for Yadav. With the Samata Party-Janata Dal merger, the BJP may not concede the Purnea seat to him since his party has an MP from Munger.

    Observers said given his track record, even the Janata Dal would be reluctant to field him from any constituency. In that case, the only option for Yadav would be to contest as an Independent candidate from Purnea.

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    Telegraph, 28 July 1999, National News.


    New Delhi, July 27
    Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav today met CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, his CPI counterpart A. B. Bardhan and Congress leaders Madhav Rao Scindia and Ahmed Patel to finalise electoral strategies in Bihar.

    Though none of them disclosed the number of seats they planned to clinch, sources close to the RJD chief said he was inclined to leave 20 out of the 54 seats for the allies.

    He may leave 12 seats for the Congress, five for the CPI, two to the CPM and one for the Marxist Coordination Committee. Party sources ruled out any alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

    However, the alliance partners are still bargaining for more. Congress sources said, initially the party wanted up to 27 seats, while the CPI hoped for 13, having identified eight to nine winning constituencies, while the CPM had picked four.

    Laloo Yadav told reporters that he had no differences with Mulayam Singh Yadav. "We have cordial relations and both parties are very much in the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha," he said while hinting that the RJD might spare one or two seats for the Samajwadi Party in Bihar.

    The RJP chief said he was hopeful of working out a seat-sharing formula with the Congress and the Left parties by the first week of August. He said it was the "historic responsibility" to crush the "communal" forces led by the BJP.

    He added his priority was to ensure that non-BJP votes are not split in Bihar. He predicted the BJP will be wiped out of its stronghold in south Bihar and the rest of the state.

    Laloo Yadav said if veteran film actor Dilip Kumar, who was targeted by the Shiv Sena, wanted to contest from Bihar, the RJD would offer him any seat he wanted. He said he would again contest from Madhepura.

    Both Laloo Yadav and working president Ranjan Yadav said the Congress was "very reasonable" and that they did not find any hitch in reaching an early agreement. Bardhan said though there were difficulties over some constituencies, every effort was being made to solve them.

    He played down the importance of the number of seats the CPI would get by saying: "What is more important is how many seats can be won by secular parties."

    He said the split in the Janata Dal, with its Bihar leader Ram Vilas Paswan siding with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, would not affect the RJD�s electoral prospects in the state. "Where is the Janata Dal? Where is Samata in Bihar?" he asked.

    Party secretary D. Raja said politically the CPI had agreed to fight the BJP along with the RJD and that the problem of seat adjustment will be sorted out.

    In the 1998 parliamentary elections, the CPI and CPM contested separately and drew a blank. Asked how many seats the CPI will contest in Bihar.

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    Telegraph, 27 July 1999, Eastern News.



    Patna, July 26
    RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav today hit back at his political adversary Ram Vilas Paswan by roping in one of the latter�s close aides, Sukhdeo Paswan, a former MP from Araria.

    Paswan, who joined the RJD today, said his decision was prompted by his mentor�s truck with the BJP-Samata Party combine. He said he thought it prudent to join the RJD as some Janata Dal leaders had surrendered to communal forces. He also submitted a list of 35 Dal leaders from Araria near Purnea, who joined the RJD with him.

    Political observers here said Paswan�s defection to the RJD was intended to drive home the message that after the merger with the Samata Party, the Janata Dal would cease to espouse the Dalit cause.

    In his bid to expand his caste base, the RJD chief has been targeting influential backward caste leaders in the state. Koeri heavyweight and former MP Shakuni Chowdhary was the first leader to quit the Samata Party early this month and join the RJD.

    Sukhdeo Paswan is the second most important Paswan leader in the RJD after Pitambar Paswan, the state unit president. Janata Dal sources said Sukhdeo Paswan was maintaining a low profile since he lost his seat to the BJP from Araria. Party insiders said he decided to quit after the Dal�s merger with the Samata Party because it was not possible for him to contest on a Janata Dal ticket. However his departure was a blow to the party, sources said.

    Laloo Prasad Yadav today said since its inception in 1977, the Janata Dal had been divided on communal lines. Some of its leaders owed allegiance to both the Janata Dal and the BJP.

    Citing an instance, he said Dal president Sharad Yadav had advised him not to stop L.K. Advani�s rath in Bihar despite political rivalry.

    The RJD today demanded that the Wadhwa Commission report on the killing of Australian missionary, Graham Stewart Staines, be made public.

    Laloo stand

    RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav today reiterated that he was not ready to concede the south Bihar seats to Congress. "We will fight the seats together," he said, reports our Patna correspondent.

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