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Biren Singh: From BSF barracks to Manipur’s CM 

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Imphal, March 15: Manipur’s new Chief Minister N. Biren Singh’s first love was football, which took him to the BSF. After resignation, he embraced journalism. Finally, he chose politics as a career.

As a young boy in Heingang, about 15 km from Imphal, he proved his mettle as a footballer and got recruited in the Border Security Force.

He resigned from the BSF to start a vernacular newspaper “Naharol gi Thoudang” although he had no formal training and experience in journalism.

The newspaper was a hit.

In April 2000, Biren Singh’s press was raided by police and he was charged with sedition for publishing — what authorities alleged — news supportive of extremists. He was arrested.

That’s when he decided he needed to change tracks.

“The inner call for serving the people more effectively was so strong that I gave up journalism that I had come to love so much,” recalled Biren Singh, who on Wednesday took oath as the Chief Minister.

He contested the assembly election in 2002 on a Democratic Revolutionary People’s Party ticket and was elected comfortably. Since then, there has been no looking back.

He joined the Congress in May 2003 and became a minister. He retained his assembly seat in subsequent elections.

Apart from holding important portfolios, he was also the Manipur government spokesperson. He came to be seen as a troubleshooter for Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

However, he soon revolted against Ibobi Singh and was seen as one of the dissidents who engineered a campaign for his ouster. Ibobi Singh sacked Biren Singh last year.

Biren Singh then quit the assembly and the Congress and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on October 17, 2016.

The 56-year-old politician is widely admired for his friendly disposition and is popular, particularly among journalists.

Biren Singh admits he never dreamt of becoming the Chief Minister.

“People voted against corruption and excesses of all sorts in the 2017 assembly election,” he said after taking charge.

“These will be looked into as promised. The cases of 1,528 victims of fake encounters will be probed and the guilty punished.”

He brushed aside Congress claims that it should have got the first chance to form the new government since it is the single largest group in the new assembly.

“It is a numbers game in a democracy. We have physically shown to the Governor the support of 32 legislators in the 60-member assembly,” the new Chief Minister said.

By Iboyaima Laithangbam

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Bank NPAs increased under Modi government: Congress

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Randeep Singh Surjewala

New Delhi, Dec 14 : The Congress on Thursday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his charge that banks were forced to give loans to select industrialists during UPA rule, saying bad loans increased in his regime.

The Congress also demanded a probe by independent agencies into the issue.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) Modiji said that NPA is the biggest scam. We agree with it but we want to know who gave birth to it,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here.

Attacking the Modi government, Surjewala said: “When the Congress lost power in 2014, as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), gross NPA of public sector banks in 2013-14 was Rs 2,27,264 crore.

“And as per PIB (Press Information Bureau) press release dated October 24, 2017, this has increased in June 2017 to Rs 7,33,137 crore,” he said. “The NPA in 42 months of Modi government increased by Rs 5,05,873 crore.”

He said the gross NPAs of scheduled commercial banks in 2013-14 was Rs 2,63,372 crore.

“And as per the rating agency CARE, gross NPAs of scheduled commercial banks has increased to Rs 8,29,338 crore. Thus, in 42 months of Modi government, it has increased by 5,65,966 crore,” he said.

Surjewala also said that under Modi government, a total of Rs 1,88,287 crore loans of the industrialists were waived off.

“In 2014-15, the NDA government waived loans of Rs 49,018 crore, in 2015-16 it waived off Rs 57,586 crore of loans and in 2016-17 it waived off Rs 81,683 crore loans of industrialists,” he said.

“If he described NPA as the biggest scam, he should then answer why is such a big scam happening under his nose?” the Congress leader asked.

“The Prime Minister must also tell as to why has his government waived loans of wilful defaulters worth Rs 1,88,287 crore in the last three years?”

He dared the government to order a probe by independent agencies into the same.

On Wednesday, Modi attacked his predecessor Manmohan Singh and the UPA government, saying some of its “people” had forced banks to lend to some industrialists, which he described as the “biggest scam”, bigger than the 2G, coal and Commonwealth Games scams.

The prime minister’s ‘antics’ are destroying democratic processes, he added.The Prime Minister is going against democratic processes, Surjewala says.

IANS

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Congress likely to get around 100 seats: Hardik Patel

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Hardik Patel
Hardik Patel PASS Leader(File Photo)

Ahmedabad, Dec 14: Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Thursday said the ruling BJP was set to lose the Gujarat assembly elections, and that the Congress was likely to get around 100 seats in the 182-member house.

“Official files have already started disappearing from the state Secretariat,” he said while talking to journalists after casting his vote in Viramgam in Ahmedabad district.

Patel said the Bharatiya Janata Party was likely to get around 70 seats.

“The BJP has already accepted defeat — that is why half of the government is out working in the elections.”

The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader also urged all eligible people to exercise their franchise.

“People should vote to throw out the arrogant from power in Gujarat,” he said.

Patel, who has been leading an agitation by the socially and financially privileged Patel community for reservations, dubbed his political activities as a fight also against the atrocities being inflicted on Dalits and the plight of the state’s farmers.

Over 20 million voters will choose their representatives from among 851 candidates in 93 assembly constituencies spread across 14 districts in the second phase of the state elections, which is currently under way.

IANS

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Rahul visits cyclone-hit, seeks Fisheries Ministry

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Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi (Photo- ANI)

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 14: Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi on Thursday visited fisherfolk in Kerala’s two coastal villages and one in Tamil Nadu affected by cyclone Ockhi and demanded a separate Ministry for fisheries.

“Today, farmers have a separate Ministry (at the Centre) but there is no such Ministry to deal with the fisheries sector. I would like to see a new Ministry set up to look into the needs of the fishery sector,” Gandhi said.

Everyone “should learn from their mistakes”, he added.

Gandhi arrived here on Thursday on a day-long visit to the coastal fishing villages in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which were affected by the cyclone on November 30.

A huge turnout of local fisherfolk at Poonthura and Vizhinjam heard the Congress leader patiently. These two villages accounted for the maximum deaths among fishermen — over 30 — in the cyclone. More than 70 are still missing.

“I should have come here before… Even though I was not physically present when the tragedy struck, I was here in spirit,” Gandhi told the villagers.

The Congress leader interacted with fishermen at both places and paid tribute to the dead.

From the airport here, he drove to Poonthura and then Vizhinjam. Later, he took a helicopter ride from the airport to a fishing village in Kanyakumari district in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

IANS

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