The South Asia Channel
PM Modi’s BJP defeated in Bihar elections; ISIS kidnaps and kills seven in Zabul; Death toll from factory collapse rises to 53
India PM Modi’s BJP defeated in Bihar elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a major loss in legislative assembly elections for the eastern state of Bihar, according to poll results released on Sunday (NYT, BBC, WSJ, NDTV). An alliance of regional opposition parties, known as the Janata Dal (United), won 178 seats out of 243, while ...
PM Modi’s BJP defeated in Bihar elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a major loss in legislative assembly elections for the eastern state of Bihar, according to poll results released on Sunday (NYT, BBC, WSJ, NDTV). An alliance of regional opposition parties, known as the Janata Dal (United), won 178 seats out of 243, while the BJP won just 58. Many political observers – and Modi himself – had cast the elections as a referendum on Modi’s first 17 months as the country’s leader. The charismatic prime minister was the centerpiece of the BJP’s campaign, with the party not even naming any candidates for chief minister. In the final weeks of the campaign, Modi and the BJP had attempted to appeal to far-right Hindu nationalist sentiments, but those appeals only managed to drive away poor voters more concerned with improving their living conditions. This is the second consecutive major defeat for the BJP, with the party suffering an overwhelming defeat in the Delhi elections earlier this year to the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party. Modi now heads into the winter session of parliament to push for his legislative agenda with weakened momentum and facing an emboldened opposition. The loss also hurts the BJP’s chances of taking control of the upper house of the national parliament, the Rajya Sabha, where it currently does not have a majority. The leader of the winning alliance, Nitish Kumar, will remain as Bihar’s chief minister.
Protester killed in clash with government troops in Kashmir
A protester was killed as government troops and angry crowds clashed in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday (BBC, ABC). Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting the state to speak about his proposed $12 billion aid package for the war-torn region. Soon after Modi’s departure, protests erupted in the city of Srinagar, demonstrating against India’s heavy-handed military presence in the region. Government troops fired tear gas canisters and live bullets to disperse the crowds, according to a local police officer. However, news of the death only brought more protesters out onto the streets. Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, with each country controlling a portion of the territory. Modi hopes to bring greater economic development to the region and to integrate it more with the rest of India, but Kashmiri separatist leaders say that the problem is inherently political and reject an economic solution.
Boeing partners with Tata to make Apache fuselages
U.S. aviation giant Boeing announced on Monday that it will enter a joint venture with India’s Tata Advanced Systems to manufacture fuselages for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in India (TOI, Reuters). The joint venture will expand to compete for manufacturing contracts for additional Boeing platforms, both commercial and defense, according to a statement by Boeing. Boeing has partnered with other companies from the Tata group in the past to supply parts for other aircraft, including the Boeing 787-9 civilian airliner, the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter, and the P-8I maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft. “Over the last 12 months, we have doubled our sourcing from India and are committed to continue that journey,” said Pratyush Kumar, President of Boeing India.
Bonus Read: “NATO ponders future of Afghan mission as fatigue, frustration mount,” by Krista Mahr and Sabine Siebold (Reuters)
Bonus Read: “Initial MSF internal review: attack on Kunduz trauma center, Afghanistan,” by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
ISIS kidnaps and kills seven in Zabul
A Zabul police official reported on Sunday that ISIS militants kidnapped and killed seven people, including three women, amid fighting between the group and Taliban insurgents (Reuters, TOLO News). Zabul Deputy Police Chief Ghulam Jilani Farahi said police have identified the victims who were abducted on Oct. 1 from Rasani village in the Gelan district of Ghazni province. “Daesh fighters brutally killed these people and their dead bodies have been carried to Shah Joi district hospital,” Farahi reported to Reuters by telephone. Groups associated with ISIS have made growing inroads in Afghanistan recently, and was cited as a reason to delay American troop withdrawals from the country.
Rival Taliban groups battle in southern Afghanistan
An Afghan official reported on Sunday that Taliban insurgents loyal to rival leaders Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and Mullah Mohammad Rasool have been fighting in Zabul province (Post). Rasool was elected to lead a faction of the Taliban last week by separatists who do not support Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who assumed power after the death of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar. According to an unnamed veteran Taliban official, it is unclear how much support there is for Rasool. However, fighters in Rasool’s faction have reportedly been joined by ISIS militants. “It is obvious that Mullah Rasool’s group can’t face Akhtar Mansoor alone so they need IS. We said that before and now it has been proven,” the Taliban official said. 50 insurgents on both sides have been killed over the course of two days of fighting, according to an Afghan official.
President Ghani calls off deal with convicted banker
On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rescinded the government’s multimillion dollar real estate contract with convicted felon Khalilullah Frozi after facing public outcry (NYT, Reuters). Frozi, former chief executive of Kabul Bank, is serving a prison sentence of 10 years after being convicted of defrauding the bank of $900 million. The cancellation came days after senior government ministers appeared on national television with Frozi to sign an agreement for the development of a new township in Kabul. “All parts of the court’s verdict on conviction of Khalilullah Frozi and his liability to pay back the loans are unalterable and binding,” Ghani said in a statement. Officials close to Ghani said the deal with Frozi had taken place without the president’s knowledge, and he ordered an inquiry as soon as he learned of it.
Death toll from factory collapse rises to 53
The death toll from last week’s factory collapse in Lahore, initially reported as 21, has risen to 53 (Post, ET). Rescue team spokesman Jam Sajjad Hussain said Monday that Pakistan Army, police, and a group called Rescue 1122 have cleared approximately 80 percent of debris and retrieved 100 living workers from the rubble. High resolution cameras and search dogs were carried into the collapsed building on Sunday to search for survivors, and the footage indicated that there could be two more bodies underneath the rubble. “We can now use heavy machines but their use will be restricted to select portions of the building,” said District Coordination Officer Muhammad Usman. The rescue operation is expected to conclude in a day.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images