“He got more marks than me in exam”- Singhajit
By- Rinku Khumukcham
In 2016, around last week of June, I was curious to meet this person whom a friend of mine told me that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is his class mate during University days. I was not sure, so I went, tried to meet him. His brother-in-law said he will not give the interview, but I insisted on him saying that it will do good not only for him but for the entire people of the state. Finally, he agreed to talk to me. The morning I received a call from a close friend about his willingness to talk to me, I canceled all-important assignments and drive to Thoubal from where chief minister Okram Ibobi represents as an MLA. It was raining and I have to take shelter at a shop near the house where I was going.
“Are you the journalist who is meeting my brother?”, asked a lady where I took shelter in front of a shop just in front of his residence. “Yes aunty, I don’t have an umbrella, so waiting for the rain to stop”, I answered. She showed me her pleasant smile and provided me a plastic tool and asked me to wait for the rain to stop. After some time the downpour stopped. I proceeded to the house. The brother-in-law, an astrologer by profession, asked my identity. I told him every detail of me. He asked me to wait for some more time as his brother-in-law who helps Modi in MA is on the way. I was expecting this person in an air-conditioned car. But to my surprise, he came in a bicycle.
“I told my wife that the Prime Minister is a friend of mine whom I helped, but my wife made a mockery of me saying that Modi is everybody’s friend”, said Okram Singajit Singh, the close friend of Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Please don’t file any story that will affect the image of my friend - the first word I heard from Okram Singhajit. I assured him that nothing such will happen. “Over 1500 people were reported killed in fake encounters, as many as 100s including a youth has been detained under NSA, and people escaped from the custody are now outlawed, and talking about my friendship with Modi is a risk at this hour”, said Singhajiit before I started drilling his link with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Well, after, completing graduation from Thoubal College in 1980, Okram Singhajit Singh went to Gujarat to continue his Master Degree at Gujarat University, Ahamedabad. During the first few days of his University life, he saw a man standing near the main gate with a bag. “He never talked, but on the third day he started asking where I am from?”, Singhajit told me.
Narendra was the name he introduced and they soon become friends. Singhajit himself was a member of the RSS and Narendra at that time was a Pracharak of RSS. I don’t have that knowledge about the difference between being a Pracharak and a member of RSS, so I asked him about it. “Pracharak are similar to group leaders, they are our guides, and members are just followers”, Singhajit said. As according to Singhajit, Narendra Modi and he shared together what is being taught in the class and sometimes portion missed out by Narendra were also helped. Being a Pracharak of RSS, those days Narendra Modi was more than a wanted man of the Indira Gandhi Government and he had hectic scheduled in organization matters. Narendra, being from Ahmedabad that time understood Singhajit’s problem and most of the time he helped Singhajit with his requirement in studies like buying of notebooks, pen, etc. They studied together some times and argued about the topic to get better knowledge of the topic.
“I handed over the text to him and we studied together sometimes but he always scored more marks than me”, recounted Singhajit. In return for the service Narendra provided him blank sheets.
“During my stayed at Ahmedabad my brother use to send me around Rs 250/- per month. Every University students of that time were sent the same amount. Once as my brother was hospitalized he stopped sending me my monthly fee for two months”, Singhajit added. That time the mess fee was around Rs 70/- per month. The hostel warden sometimes asked him to clear the due as it was almost two months that he did not paid. At that time there were 30/40 Manipuri students studying at different institutions including Gujarat University. Singhajit asked his Manipuri friend to help him but nobody could help him as they too have their own problem. “It was one Saturday night, I spent a sleepless night, and I finally remembered him (Narendra), I made up my mind to ask him for help”, Singhajit said. Monday morning Singhajit went to university looking for Narendra. He used to wear khadi clothes most of the time and was always seen waiting near the university gate. “I was shocked as I didn’t see him at the place where we often met, but as I look around I found him standing on the second floor of the university building”, Singhajit recounted. As soon as he noticed him he went directly to him and said hello. Narendra replied with s smile. Greeted him. Before Singhajit could start, Narendra asked him to give his notes. Singhajit gave and reluctantly asked his favour as he was in need of money seriously. Narendra, that time didn’t have any money so told him to come to his residence.
“I went to Narendra’s place with a friend called Chabungbam Dhirendra, who later became a principal of Jiri College. We were received by his mother”, Singhajit said. They were served in the most courteous manner. As Narendra came out he asked Singhajit the required amount. “I need Rs. 400”, Singhjit said. Narendra gave him Rs. 800/- but Singhajit insisted saying that he only need Rs. 400. After a brief argument Singhajit was compelled to take Rs. 600 from him. After 10 days, Singhajit received a money order and went to Narendra’s house to pay back the money. Narendra refused to take the money saying that it was only a help from a friend but Singhajit insisted him to take it on the ground that he won’t be able to ask again if he didn’t take it.
“He was a very kind-hearted person and was very quick in learning. During exam time he will come to appear with beard covering his face and when the result was declared he will always score more marks than me”, Singhajit said. Singhajit, completed his MA in 1983 from Gujarat University. His seat number was 494 and class roll number was 4 in the final year. That year itself he came back to Manipur and started working as a lecturer in Manipur University on a contract basis. The same time after seeing an advertisement for the post of Principal at Canchipur College, Imphal, he applied and he got the post. Canchipur College was a government college and he could not bear the increasing financial pressures on his personal front. Since then left the job. In 2013 he re-established a school called Thoubal Public School, at a hired room at Thoubal Okram. Years had gone and he never cared about the political scenario of the country even though he was a Political Science teacher.
In 1986, when Singhajit went to Delhi for some work, he accidentally lost his important diary where contacts of all his friends were noted. That was one reason why he could not contact any of his university friends. He never knew that his friend was the Chief Minister of Gujarat as it was Narendra Modi and not Narendra. He never expected and so left it aside. In July, 2014, when Singhajit was at his school, he came across a booklet called “News and events”, and in that he found the name of his friend with some pictures. He went back home hurriedly and checked his certificates to look if the same person is similar to the one who once helps him during the University days. Yes, he was the same person. Out of anxiety he called his wife to tell the story. “Narendra Modi is every body’s friend and it could be yours’ too”, Singhajit’s wife Sorodhoni told him in a mocking way. Even his three sons didn’t believe him. In 2015, Singhajit thought of meeting Narendra and through a BJP worker identified as Bimola he narrated his story and asked her help to meet Narendra. On January 13, 2015, Singhajit received a called from Bimola saying that the Prime Minister has given him an appointment. Out of Enthusiasm, Okram Singhajit fled to Delhi on February 28, 2015. He stayed at his nephew’s place. His nephew Ningthoujam Kenedy was working at a call center and staying at a rented house at that time. Singhajit along with his nephew approached to the PMO seeking appointment through some Manipuri BJP workers. They could not get an appointment due to the Prime Minister’s hectic schedule. They waited for around 2 months and as they didn’t receive any communication from the PMO, his nephew Kenedy took leave and both went to the PMO office in the last week of April. There, with the help of some Manipuri working in the PMO, he filled the formalities of taking an appointment to the Prime Minister.
On May 2, 2015, Singhajit received a called from the PMO office stating that his appointment might be on May 8 or 9. Prime Minister Narendra Modi that time was having hectic schedule. He was visiting Kolkata on May 9 and later to Beijing on May 15 of the same month, the official from the PMO told him. But all of a sudden, at around 3 pm on May 4, 2015, the official from the PMO called him up and said that he can meet Prime Minister May 6. Later again, at around 8 pm of the same day, the PMO official called him to enquire on who is companying him. “I am coming with my nephew”, Singhajit said and give the details of his nephew. They were told to meet the Prime Minister at Parliament at around 1 pm of May 6, 2015. Without much difficulty they met Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, who is carrying the burden of the country. “It was only 10 minutes meeting, I took all my certificates, every documents to make him remembered that I am his old friend at Gujarat University”, Singhajit said. But I never know that the man who now runs the country will not be required such papers to recall or friendship. “I thought it was 30 years since we met the last time, but Narendra said we haven’t met for 32 years”, Singhajit said. They took picture together, talk about their days at the university and had tea together. Narendra Modi accidentally noticed Singhajit’s certificate tore at the border. He asked him to give and he himself tried to place it in good condition.
“It was just 10 minutes and the happiest moment of my life”, Singhajit said. Now my wife, children and some few relatives of mine who were skeptical of my friendship with Narendra Modi now has great respect for me. “It was ironic to find allegation and counter allegation about the degree certificate of Narendra Modi, who got more marks in exam than me even though I was the one who supplied him the teacher’s note”, Singhajit said.