December 31, 2017 2:17:22 pm
Political drama and firsts, hardships caused by a months-long blockade, deadly floods and stellar performances by its sportpersons — Manipur saw them all in 2017. But the biggest development was the institution of a BJP government, the first in the northeastern state, though after much drama. The state’s sportspersons made a mark at various events.
Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won a gold medal at the world championships in the US. Boxer Mary Kom claimed her fifth gold medal at the Asian Confederation Women Boxing and Championship in Vietnam. Eight members of the Indian football team for the U-17 FIFA World Cup were from Manipur. The state’s senior women’s team won the National Football Championship for a record 18th time defeating Railways in the final.
On the political front, in the elections held in March, Manipur threw up a hung assembly with the ruling Congress bagging 28 of the 60 seats and the BJP making giant strides to muster 21. The BJP had no members in the outgoing House. But with the support of 12 other MLAs, BJP formed the government led by Nongthombam Biren Singh.
One of the major achievements of the Biren Singh government was bringing to an end to the 139-day-long economic blockade along the state’s two national highways from the midnight of March 19. The blockade was imposed by the United Naga Council on November 1, 2016 to protest against the creation of seven new districts by the then Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government in the state.
The blockade on two national highways — NH-2 and NH-37 — led to steep rise in prices of essential commodities and severely affected the normal life in the state. It also became a major issue in the assembly polls. The new government also set up the first Anti-Corruption Cell at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in March for people to lodge complaints related to corruption through a dedicated number.
Singh chaired the first ever Cabinet meeting outside the state capital on July 14 at Kuki-Zomi dominated hill district of Churachandpur. The state was hit by flash floods in which at least 20 people were killed.
This month, Imphal Centre of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said Manipur received its highest rainfall in 2017 since 1956. Cyclone Mora also hit the state in May.
In one of the largest mass surrenders, at least 68 rebels including four women belonging to different militant groups laid down their arms in August. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama visited Manipur for the first time on October 17. He also attended a civic reception.
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