The groundswell of support for the BJP was unmistakable in the state elections held in February, 2017 that secured 325 of the total 403 seats in the U.P. Vidhan Sabha. In the neighboring Uttarakhand, the BJP captured an astounding 57 of the 70 assembly constituencies. This phenomenon could certainly be read as an extension of the support the BJP enjoyed during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it bagged 73 of 80 seats in U.P.

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BJP is attributing the recent assembly elections victory to voters transcending the lines of caste and religion and voting for the agenda of development. But is it so simplistic? Can Indian voters ever rise above caste and religion? In the current scenario, it seems a bit far-fetched. Development is sure a catchy word these days and yes, a good perception has been created by the Modi government, even though work on the ground may not match the rhetoric.

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I have personal recollections of Shri Syed Shahabuddin (SS) who passed away on 4 March 2017. As a curious M.Phil. student of International Studies on the JNU (New Delhi) campus, I had a few occasions to engage with him. The year was 1979; the Janata Party was basking in the glory of its victory in 1977; Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the foreign minister and had reportedly persuaded SS to give up his lucrative Foreign Service for politics.

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On October 3, 2013, a special CBI court verdict, after 17 years of protracted legal procedures, slapped Lalu Yadav with a five-year jail sentence and a hefty fine of Rs. 25 lakhs. The CBI Judge Pravas Kumar Singh had also pronounced the quantum of sentence for 37 of the 45 convicts in what was known as the Animal Husbandry Department (fodder scam) that amounted to Rs. 930 crore.

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The year 2017 started in Bihar on a good note. The cities of Patna and Gaya were hosts to the Sikh and the Buddhist festivities. The Sikh pilgrims representing all over the world congregated at the Gandhi Maidan to celebrate the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Govind Singh; the Buddhists had their Kalachakra (Time-Cycle) celebration in the august presence of the world class religious leader, the Dalai Lama.

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Death of a nonagenarian former Member of the Lok Sabha from Vaishali, Mrs. Kishori Sinha, occurred in Patna on 19 December 2016. As all Biharis are bound to be touched by the biography of this illustrious widow of a past Chief Minister of Bihar, Satyendra Narain Sinha, it should afford us an opportunity to be introspective about the status of women, and the prospect of leadership among them in Bihar.

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The decision to demonetize the big denomination notes has shown the mirror to our society and the sooner we accept the fact that the hideous face staring ominously at us is US, the better would it be. The mirror does not lie, so we cannot seek comfort in denial which has been the standard mode of coping with uncomfortable truths. At heart we are a deeply, incorrigibly corrupt society made doubly worse by our ingrained hypocrisy. The predisposition to be corrupt is fixed like an attribute fixed in our genes. This masked trait unfolds given a favourable environment.

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