Any other candidate for Manipur CM?

It has to be clearly spelled out without any ambiguity and with reason. The public wants a stable government, be it of BJP or Congress.

It is interesting to note that Chief Minister N Biren Singh had kicked off the campaign for the ensuing assembly by-elections with an appeal for bringing back a stable BJP government for another 10 years. He didn’t say a BJP-led coalition government, at all, which makes it all the more interesting.

Stability was certainly not a feature of the three and a half-year-old government with push and pull factors of dissension within the party itself and pressures of coalition partners including newly acquired friends from the Congress. After a yearlong honeymoon period, dissension within and without became a perennial feature of the government, pushing brakes on development activities and on governance. His another major headache was to gain acceptability among the die-hard Sanghis, Hindutva ideals or ethos, as he struggled. Yet, Biren Singh went on with his missions undeterred by the internal disturbances. Although there were many, his most successful mission is so far ‘Go to Village’ which took the government to even the remotest of villages and brought about new policy interventions as ignited by public feedback during the Go to Village sessions. Of course, the first mission given birth after swearing in as the new Chief Minister of the state ‘Go to Hills’ have so far been able to bridge the hill-valley divide and return of trust to the state from the hills. CMHT, a health insurance scheme was another feather in his cap albeit with its loopholes. The latest feather on N Biren Singh’s cap is the launching of e-office in government offices to usher in transparency and a paperless governance. With all his faults, there is no doubt that N Biren Singh had brought a change in governance. Maybe, he needs to stop being extra-sensitive to criticism and the contours of free speech.

One of his greatest achievements is bringing the Inner Line Permit system to the state to regulate the entry of non-Manipuris to the state, after convincing the central leadership of the necessity to preserving the identity of the indigenous population and its ethos and culture. The challenge facing him now is the Delimitation Commission. States, including Manipur, had objected to the last delimitation exercise citing several reasons including doubtful Census figures. The Centre is determined to continue with the delimitation exercise as it has moved a proposal to amend the RP Act to give legality to its March 6 order. The state Chief Minister N Biren Singh had objected to a delimitation exercise based on ‘wrong’ Census figures and has called for delimitation on a fresh Census figure without controversy. The previous Congress regime had also objected to the delimitation exercise on 18 November 2005, after an all-party meeting. Another fact is that, there is mismatch between Census 2001 data and Electoral Roll 2020 prepared by the State Election Department. 2001 Census data exceeds the voter list enrolled in 2020 in many of the age groups, according to experts.

Inspite of these factors, if BJP really wants a return of BJP government in the state it needs to free itself from the hardcore Hindutva values as against secular values and an indication of stability of any future government it wants to install in the state. So, the question remains, who is going to be the Chief Ministerial candidate of the BJP in 2022 Manipur assembly elections. Is it going to be N Biren Singh again or someone other? It has to be clearly spelled out without any ambiguity and with reason. The public wants a stable government, be it of BJP or Congress.

First Published:Sept. 11, 2020, 9:22 a.m.

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