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Bengal poll panel chief resigns, opposition slams Trinamool

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Kolkata: Putting into uncertainty the fate of the recently-held polls to four local bodies, West Bengal State Election Commissioner SR Upadhyay on Tuesday tendered his resignation.

Upadhyay, who has been facing severe criticism from opposition parties over the violence-marred polls to the municipal corporations of Bidhannagar, Asansol and parts of Howrah held on Saturday, tendered his resignation to Governor KN Tripathi.

Confirming the move, Tripathi said he has forwarded the resignation for the views of the Mamata Banerjee government.

“The state election commissioner came to me and handed over his resignation. I received his resignation and he pressed for it. I have sent the resignation letter for the comments of the government. I am yet to receive the views of the government,” Tripathi told media persons.

On whether he asked Upadhyay to continue, the governor said “No”.

The move comes a day after Upadhyay announced that the vote count for the three civic bodies, that was on Sunday put on hold following mounting protests over allegations of violence and rampant malpractices, will be held on October 9.

The SEC on Sunday indefinitely postponed the vote count scheduled for Wednesday to look into the allegations of malpractices.

The SEC’s decision on Monday announcing the new date of counting came barely hours after the ruling Trinamool Congress staged a demonstration at the panel’s office demanding the counting be held as scheduled on Wednesday and threatened to intensify the stir if its demand was not met.

Led by party secretary general Partha Chatterjee, a host of Trinamool leaders staged a demonstration at the SEC office for hours.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties hit out at the Trinamool over Upadhyay’s resignation.

“What can be more embarrassing for a state government than the resignation of an election commissioner unable to bear the humiliation and threat he was subjected to by the Trinamool,” said state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

“Being a minister, how can Partha Chatterjee participate in a demonstration against a statutory body? And not only that, he even publicly threatened the election commissioner which is a constitutional post,” added Chowdhury.

The state BJP, which has all through been questioning Upadhyay’s efficiency as the poll panel chief, hailed him for resigning.

“The way Trinamool demonstrated and threatened him is utterly shameful and embarrassing. Unable to bear the humiliation meted out, he has resigned. I congratulate Upadhyay for not bowing before the pressure tactics of the Trinamool,” said state BJP president Rahul Sinha.

West Bengal transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has been named interim state election commissioner and is slated to take over on Wednesday, according to sources.

(IANS)

 

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West Bengal celebrates Bangla Nababarsho (Bengali New year) by reopening Iconic single screens

"When we talk about Minar, Bijoli and Chhabighar there is a lump in our throat. We had been associated with Bengali cinema for ages, from Uttam-Suchitra blockbusters in the '60S and '70s to Tarun Majumder movies starring Rituparna Sengupta in early 2000 to Jeet-Koel starrers in the recent past,"

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Bengali Cinema,Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata, Apr 15, 2017: Bengal celebrates ‘Bangla Nababarsho’ (Bengali New year) on Saturday by re-opening three iconic single screens which had been part of its film heritage for a long time.

“Bijoli and Chhabighar, a part of the psyche of the Bengali film audience and the industry, started their shows on Chaitra Sankranti day (the last day of the last Bengali month) yesterday as Friday is the release date of new film, after renovating the interiors, projection and sound system in sync with modern trends.

“Minar, the third one of the chain, will screen films from early next week as some patch work after renovation remains incomplete,” Suranjan Pal, owner of the chain told, mentioned PTI.

The action is receiving a huge support as a long line of audiences could be seen to for a new Bengali film released on ‘Nabobarsho’.

“Many single screens have been shut down or changed to plexes over the past few years. But when we talk about Minar, Bijoli and Chhabighar there is a lump in our throat. We had been associated with Bengali cinema for ages, from Uttam-Suchitra blockbusters in the ’60S and ’70s to Tarun Majumder movies starring Rituparna Sengupta in early 2000 to Jeet-Koel starrer in the recent past,” Pal said.

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“We had never felt that the audience of Bengali cinema had stopped coming to the theaters but over time we had realized the need to adapt to changes. Hence the three theaters were closed on July 1 last year. We had initially thought of introducing two screens in each theater but later on we took the challenge to stick to the one screen format,” the owner said.

“The ornate exteriors of the three theaters have been retained,” he added. In sync with the times, the show timings have been altered and different films will be screened during different shows, Pal said.

Expressing joy over the development, Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee told “Minar, Bijoli and Chhabighar had been screening films of noted directors and noted production houses. Their reopening is a very good news especially after the good show by Bengal at the National Awards this year. It (reopening) will have a feel good factor.”

Chatterjee said, with a large number of Bengali films being released these days, many of them are forced to have short runs at theaters despite doing well at the box office. The opening of three halls will give a little more space to the makers and producers of such films” he said.

Bengali hero and Trinamool Congress leader Soham Chakraborty recalled that his first film had run for weeks in Bijoli. “These three theaters are linked to the culture and heritage of Bengali cinema. But I also wish that more such prominent closed theaters lift their shutters for the audience,” he said.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6

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TMC supporters in Tripura seek CBI probe into Chitfund Scam in Left-ruled state

Over 6,000 TMC workers led by top party leaders, including West Bengal's Minister of State for Panchayat and Public Health Shyamal Santra and MLA (Salboni) Srikanto Mahato, participated in the agitation

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TMC agitation in Tripura (Representational image) VOA

Tripura, Feb 23, 2017: Four policemen were injured as opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday organised a civil disobedience movement here to demand a probe by the CBI and ED into the activities of illegal NBFCs and chit fund organisations in Left-ruled Tripura.

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Over 6,000 TMC workers led by top party leaders, including West Bengal’s Minister of State for Panchayat and Public Health Shyamal Santra and MLA (Salboni) Srikanto Mahato, participated in the agitation.

A large number of security forces, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Uttam Majumder and West Tripura district police chief Abhijit Saptarshi, were deployed to deal with the agitation.

“Four policemen were injured in the scuffle with the agitators,” Saptarshi told IANS.

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TMC’s Tripura unit President Ashish Saha said over 14 lakh depositors were cheated by various Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and chit fund organisations, including Rose Valley.

“Without the probe by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and ED (Enforcement Directorate) the actual irregularities and wrongdoing would not be unearthed,” Saha told reporters at the agitation spot near Raj Bhavan.

The opposition party held the civil disobedience movement in support of their 11 demands, including withdrawal of demonetisation of high-value notes, restoration of tribal sub-plan schemes by the Centre, an end to crime against women in Tripura and government jobs to unemployed youths in a transparent way.

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TMC legislator Sudip Roy Barman alleged that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, his ministers and leaders of the ruling Left Front in Tripura are responsible for flourishing activities of these organisations.

“Sarkar promoted the business of Rose Valley; his party colleagues, including two ministers, are either involved or promoted the business of NBFCs and chit fund organisations,” Barman told reporters here.

He said: “The CBI and the ED are taking action against TMC parliamentarians and leaders in West Bengal but both the agencies are not acting in Tripura.”

He claimed a tacit understanding between the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.

He said they will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask for CBI and ED probes.

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Denying the TMC charges, CPI-M state Secretary Bijan Dhar said Tripura was the first state to enact laws to curb unlawful activities of chit fund companies and NBFCs and had repeatedly asked the CBIto investigate.

“The TMC leaders have no issue. They are playing an old record just to misguide the people,” Dhar told reporters.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist is a dominant partner in the Left Front that comprises four parties.

The Tripura High Court last year asked the state government to set up a Special Investigation Team to probe illegal NBFCs and chit fund organisations.

Meanwhile, SIT head and Tripura’s Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) K.V. Sreejesh told the media that the SIT is now probing 78 cases involving 48 NBFCs and chit fund organisations and had arrested 112 persons.

“We have seized bank accounts and attached properties of most of these organisations. We will soon complete our probe,” the officer added.

In 2013, the Tripura government referred 37 cases relating to chit fund companies and NBFCs to the CBI. The central probe agency, however, took up only five cases. (IANS)

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Fear Of Economic Volatility Raises as RBI Governor Decides To Resign

There has been widespread speculation that Rajan quit because of what some termed as “discouraging signals” from the government.

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Image Source: Financial Express
  • India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy
  • Raghuram Rajan helped stabilize India’s currency when the rupee was plunging and inflation was raging
  • Praising Rajan’s contribution, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed confidence his successor will be a “good person”

The Indian Central Bank governor’s decision not to seek a second term in office has raised concerns the country could face a loss in investor confidence and economic volatility. The widely-respected economist, Raghuram Rajan, is credited with making an important contribution to India’s economic turnaround after a choppy phase.In a signal of uncertainty looming ahead of his departure in September, the rupee fell to a one-month low Monday.

Rajan’s departure: not a big surprise

Rajan’s weekend announcement to quit came after weeks of speculation on whether the government will renew his tenure as head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In a letter to his staff, Rajan said he had been open to staying on to see through the reforms he had begun, but that “on due reflection and after consultation with the government,” he was returning to his “ultimate home in the realm of ideas.”

Widely feted as one of the world’s best Central Bank governors, the former International Monetary Bank economist helped stabilize India’s currency when the rupee was plunging and inflation was raging. As growth momentum returned, the country regained credibility among international investors, who had turned their back on emerging economies.

India’s economy is soaring

While countries like Brazil and Russia continue to face hard times, India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to calm investors Monday telling a television network “the country’s economy is driven by strong fundamental factors.” Praising Rajan’s contribution, he expressed confidence his successor will be a “good person.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan during a convocation ceremony for students at a university in Mumbai on January 9, 2015 Image Source: NDTV Profit

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Symbol of stability

The head of emerging market economics at JP Morgan, Jahangir Aziz, stressed that Rajan was a symbol of stability for many investors. “They have invested on the fact that India has managed to put together a reasonably strong story of macro-economic stability. Many of them associate that in part to the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan.”

Aziz said investors will watch to see whom the government appoints as Rajan’s successor and would like to see continuity in policies. “The need of the hour is to calm down market nerves,” he says.

There has been widespread speculation that Rajan quit because of what some termed as “discouraging signals” from the government.

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There was criticism of Rajan

Rajan was not without his critics, who said his refusal to slash interest rates, and a clean-up of bad loans he was pushing at state-owned banks, were choking private investment. The most vocal attack came from a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Subramaniam Swamy, who raised eyebrows with his comment that Rajan was “mentally not fully Indian” and complained that he had not acted to ease the heavy debt burden of many Indian companies.

Although India’s economy is growing at over 7 percent and has overtaken China as the world’s fastest growing economy, Rajan has repeatedly cautioned that India’s economic recovery still rests on fragile foundations.

Economist Rajiv Kumar at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research said fears about the impact of Rajan’s exit could be overblown and pointed out that stock markets did not tank Monday as many had feared. “It’s institutions that matter, and the RBI has known to be a very competent institution with huge inherent strengths,” says Kumar.

Meanwhile, the government ushered in more economic reforms Monday, announcing sweeping changes to rules on foreign direct investment by opening up its defense and civil aviation sectors to complete outside ownership, and loosening some restrictions on the pharmaceutical and retail sectors.(Source :VOA)

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