Bihar made history this week with Nitish Kumar’s coalition returning to power in a landslide victory. Counting took place on Wednesday after an arduous six-phase assembly election that started back in October. Kumar’s JD(U) coalition won an overwhelming 206 seats. The biggest winner was the JD(U)’s partner, the BJP, which bagged 91 of those seats. The opposition alliance of the RJD and LJP got a meager total of 25. And the Congress was virtually wiped out in Bihar with a grand total of four seats.
In other news, there were indications of yet another big scandal this week, this time involving corporate loans. On Wednesday, the CBI announced it was investigating a racket in which a firm called Money Matters allegedly paid bribes to secure big corporate loans from lending institutions. The agency also said it had arrested eight officials from the companies involved. Those arrested include employees of LIC Housing Finance, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of India, and of course, Money Matters.
And as the CBI’s probe widened it claimed the real estate firms that got the loans used them to inflate the prices of their stocks and then sell them off. That’s got market regulator Sebi into the fray. It’s going to launch an investigation of its own into how shares of the companies named have been traded. Sebi will also check if the companies have stuck to corporate governance norms.
The proposed Navi Mumbai airport project will finally take off. On Monday, environment minister Jairam Ramesh joined aviation minister Praful Patel to announce a compromise that will allow construction to begin. As part of the deal, one coastal river will be diverted instead of two. And developers will plant 678 acres of mangroves in place of the 98 acres that will be cut down. Monday’s compromise put an end to a three-year long deadlock between the civil aviation and the environment ministries. The Navi Mumbai airport is considered crucial because the city’s existing airport is expected to reach the limits of its capacity by 2013.