Typing Test


But even if the Modi magic has its limits and cannot work at the same level everywhere, 2017 showed that 2014 was no flash in the pan. The BJP is now the natural party of government, and the performance of the Congress will depend on how well it is able to combine with other Opposition parties. Manipur will vote in 38 of its 60 Assembly constituencies on Saturday in the first of two phases. This election is shaping up into something new for Manipur's polity, a direct contest between two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress is seeking to defend its 15 year record in power, while the BJP fancies its chances in a State that has generally voted favourably for the party ruling at the Centre. The four month long blockade by the United Naga Council of highways leading up to the valley has dominated the discourse in the run up to the elections. The Manipur elections are important for both national parties. The Congress is seeking to retain its hold as the only party that has electoral support across various ethnic and geographic regions in the State, while the BJP is keen to get power in another northeastern State, after its victory last year in Assam. A contest between the Congress and the BJP in Manipur is welcome, as both parties do not represent any specific ethnic groups, unlike other parties in the fray in previous elections. But the BJP lacks a grassroots base in Manipur and largely comprises leaders who have defected from the Congress. This has resulted in a political campaign largely made up of accusations and counter accusations of corruption, besides the blame game on the ongoing blockade. The decision in early December 2016 by the Okram Ibobi Singh government to notify the formation of seven new districts, creating 16 districts in the State, was momentous. It allowed the Congress to seek support from the hill areas for this decision, as the new districts in the hills made for better administrative access in areas far from the valley. However, it resulted in the intensification of the blockade sponsored by the UNC, severely hitting normal life in Manipur. The persistence of the blockade has led to some degree of disaffection owing to the inability of the Congress government to bring it to an end, even if the government's defence that any punitive measures against the UNC would have led to violence cannot be summarily dismissed. The Congress blames the Centre for not prevailing upon the UNC and other Naga groups to end the blockade, while the BJP blames the Congress for precipitating the crisis. In a State where insurgent groups remain active and that is still dependent on Central transfer of resources to shore up its economy, the electorate would have welcomed a genuine discourse on such issues in the run up to the elections. Sadly, this did not happen. The loss of Mosul is perhaps the biggest military setback for the Islamic State. Iraq's second largest city, Mosul was the jewel of the IS's military gains, a place where its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared his 'Caliphate' in June 2014. In less than three years, the IS's territory has shrunk. It once controlled huge swathes in central and eastern Syria and north western Iraq, but its influence is now limited to some pockets, through sustained military operations in which several actors such as Kurdish and Shia militias, Iraqi and Syrian armies and the U.S. and Russian air forces were involved. A few weeks ago, the IS lost the ancient city of Palmyra to the Syrian army. And now, it's been practically defeated in Mosul. Iraqi troops have already captured the Mosul airport and major administrative buildings, and liberated population centres. What remains is isolated resistance by small groups of jihadists. It was a prolonged campaign. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi ordered the Mosul offensive in October 2016, and the troops,