Biren's Idea of Manipur and Governance: Revisiting his private member's resolution discussed in the Assembly
A historical Private Member’s Resolution was discussed in the Manipur Assembly on March 20, 2002.
Disagreement among people has been the central point upon which politics, in its classical sense, address. People disagree in almost every matter. They disagree about how they should live. How resources are distributed, how disagreement should be resolved and so forth. This has been the characteristics of human society since ancient times. For those who seek to address this complex matter would call politics as science. Science, through which human beings attempt to improve their lives and create an ideal society. Human diversity and scarcity of resources being the inescapable truth of our existence, politics is thus inevitable. Navigating through these fundamental features, government policies and visions should reflect the importance for bringing harmony and unity in the society.
Underscoring the above understanding of politics and statecraft, a historical Private Member’s Resolution was discussed in the Manipur Assembly on March 20, 2002. The resolution, addressing an intricate but critical issue was moved by N Biren Singh, the current Chief Minister of Manipur. Epitomising the emergence of democracy with the downfall of feudalism, the Resolution addresses the remnants of feudalism being prevalent among few, thereby, causing disharmony in the society. The central focus of the resolution is revisiting the idea of constructing artificial barriers between people under different social categories in several parts of the world during different historical contexts. Mahatma Gandhi’s encounters in his travel in First Class Compartment train in South Africa to the practice of slavery in the West, the resolution highlights the practices of discrimination and disunity as an antithesis to equality. The resolution negates the argument which suggests that the state of Manipur belongs to any particular community but preaches that Manipur belongs to all the people residing in it.
In the concluding remarks, it stresses that a resolution must be taken to remove the feeling of hatred and suspicion and it should be replaced by love and forgiveness by forgetting the past misdeeds and a new step must be taken for a better and peaceful society where we can coexist in harmony.
Fifteen years is a long time for vision and ideas to get diverged. But his idea of Manipur remains the same as he preached in his Resolution of 2002. Since 2017, after assuming the responsibility to serve as the chief minister he started four programs which resonates the 2002’s Resolution. The programs are Meeyamgi Numit, Hill Leaders' Day, Go to Hills and Go to Village. These programs also form the cornerstone of his idea on governance.
Taking forward the idea of inclusive governance based on citizen-centric administration in the state, regular and structured interaction with the public was started. “Meeyamgi Numit” and “Hill Leaders' Day” are efforts in this direction. These interactions were unheard of in the history of Manipur. To break the deep rooted divide between the Hill and Valley communities, the new Government under the initiative of “Go to Hills” has been travelling even deep into interior hill areas. Under the leadership of Biren, the entire cabinet has also travelled to all the hill districts to take the government closer to the people. Regular Cabinet Meetings are also being conducted in the District HQs. Shirui Lily Festival and Barak Festival, local festivals in the past, were declared as State Level Festivals with national and international participation. A two-day long First State Level Ginger Festival cum Business Summit was held at Parbung village of Pherzawl district on April 20 -21, 2018 to boost ginger production and facilitate marketing to the farmers. To further improve the connectivity between hill and valley, new buses were procured and bus services between Imphal and various hill destinations have started. Several other projects to improve the economy and communication between the hills and valley have been taken up under the leadership of CM Biren.
The objective of these programs was to bring the government to the people instead of people coming to the government, explain to the people and ensure benefits of government programs directly at the village level. Also, to re-emphasis the idea of Manipur where inter dependence and co-existence has been the undercurrent of the history of this erstwhile independent kingdom. The programs are an attempt to revisit and narrate the linguistic and cultural affinities between plain and hill communities of Manipur.
These accounts narrate his reasoning on governance and his idea of Manipur. His long and enormous experience as a Minister in previous governments and as a public leader who had worked untiringly and contributed for the welfare of the people of the state since 1990s, would have been the reason for his charismatic performances as the Chief Minister in the last 4 years.
If I have to recall his famous interview before his joining BJP in late 2016, he is a leader who has always been guided and dictated by his conscience. His conscience was very clear from his early days when he entered electoral politics in 2002, to serve the people. His passion to work for the larger interest of the state was repeatedly undermined under INC and hence he left INC. With the same dynamism and energy to serve the people of the state, he joined the BJP in October and contested the 2017 election as a BJP candidate. Having immense experience as a minister in previous governments and as a public figure who had worked tirelessly and contributed for the welfare of the people of the state since 1990s, he was chosen to lead the government as he became the chief minister of the BJP-led government of Manipur.
His experience as a public leader for more than a decade and some key elements of Manipur’s history, geography, economy and society formed his political understanding, so his electoral campaign was based on protection of territorial integrity of the state, bringing unity between hills and valley; and to fight human right violations. And, it still remains the fundamental principle in his political journey so far, apart from major policies and reforms he brought during his stint as minister in Indian National Congress (INC) period and as a chief minister under the BJP-led government since 2017.
His understanding of Manipur’s historical, social and geo-strategic importance shapes his policies and programs. Today, Manipur is witnessing a new herald of development and peace both in the hills and valley under his leadership. With the imprint of uniform development and progress, both in the hills and valley, unlike other former chief ministers of the state, history will be kind to N Biren Singh.
(The views expressed are the writer's own)