Nongthombam Biren is surely an ambitious man. No one would have thought he would become the Chief Minister of the state in the prime of his political career. As luck would have it, he turned out to be the most experienced politician among the elected BJP MLAs this term even though he had recently defected from Congress party, as many of the political heavyweights have not been elected. Yet, it is for sure that he had aspiring and spinning policies in his mind once he gets the opportunity to be elected to the top post. It is quite evident in his announcements and utterances as the first BJP Chief Minister of the state. He has been spewing out long pent up feelings and aspirations into policies every day. He has come up with new ideas and policy shifts in his utterances after being sworn in, significant among which was region specific budgeting taking into consideration geographical or topographical factors and the hill valley divide in terms of development whosoever’s fault it may be. The hill based civil society organizations have been blaming the state government and the valley for the lack of development in the hills, as they were duped by hill based contractors and leaders who had been siphoning the funds meant for the hills. Yet, they are blinded by the old wife’s tale of oppression by the valley based leaders spread by vested interests. In Nongthombam Biren’s announcements, everyone knows that he is trying to reach out to disgruntled elements and development starved populace in the hills of the state. But still, it is a new idea in the development narrative of the state. N Biren was a trusted lieutenant of his predecessor Okram Ibobi Singh during his Congress days and a trouble-shooter as well. He has long been dreaming of the day he would become chief minister of the state and a vision has been shaping in his mind on how to deal with the multifaceted problems of the conflict ridden state. Yet, questions are there on the tongue of everyone concerned with the future of the state. Can Biren Singh bridge the gap between the government and the people or usher in good governance in the state? Could he soothe frayed tempers in both the valley and the hills? Or is he going to be another Okram Ibobi in the making? Deeds, not words, should mark his tenure in office as chief minister. One of his significant announcements has been about corruption. Yet, the establishment of an anti-corruption cell under a Manipur Police Service officer in the Chief Minister’s secretariat turned out to be lame excuse, in a state where corruption and nepotism has take roots. Mechanisms like Lok Ayukta and an independent Vigilance Commission could perhaps be instrumental in an effort for checking corruption at all levels. But, the cell is a joke and nabbing a peon is nothing. When one talks about corruption, it should be from the lowest to highest level including the Chief Minister himself. The BJP had talked about investigating scams like the Loktak Development Authority and others. Yet, action is still not forthcoming. Promises or words not followed by action are always taken in bad taste. And also, the Chief Minister seems to be in a hurry with rapid announcement. He needs to take it slow and seek realization of the policies that he had already announced.
Leader Writer: Irengbam Arun