The induction of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Manipur led by N Biren Singh on March 15, 2017 not only ushered in a new government. On a hind side it has been a game changer for the state of Manipur in many respects. After 15-year-long leadership of Okram Ibobi Singh, the state has witnessed an unprecedented change in every aspects.
From being a state that was used to bandh and curfew with a drop of a hat, the state has moved on to become one of the fastest developing state in the country (at least that’s what the government say). Bandh and counter bandh are things of the past for now. The children of the state and the daily wage earners can now peacefully look forward to a new day without the fear of being chased away by different groups espousing varied ideology and demands. At the backdrop of this development, it would be prudent on the part of the common citizens to appreciate and comprehend what really has changed during the leadership of the BJP-led government under N Biren Singh.
One of the obvious and most visible achievement of this government if not the best change for the people of the state of Manipur is the revival of communal harmony. The long nights of communal enmity and distrust is the thing of the past for now. The intermingling of communities of the hills and the valley has certainly returned. Throngs of young people from the valley reached hill places like Lamka, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati town each year during festival such as Shirui Festival and Orange Festival without a tinged of being away from home. At the Shirui Festival 2019 one could see young men and women from Imphal, Jiribam and thoubal converging in singing and dancing with the locals. This act of youths coming together without any inhibition of being different in culture, language and religion to make merry is an encouraging trend. This bonhomie speaks volumes about the uncontainable and ‘un-restrainable’ longing of the youths of the state to be one that has been denied to them for too long. By bringing in a sense of security with the right narrative of brotherly love, the present government has undoubtedly succeeded in ushering in communal harmony that has been denied to the people of the state by the past many governments.
Although a meaningful ‘decentralisation’ of development in the state is still a long way to go to an extent, it must be admitted that this government has done a good job in attempting to strive for reaching out to the hill areas. The fact that the chief minister himself was bold enough to denounce ‘meitei centric’ politics, speaks volumes about the enlargement of the idea of Manipur and a dawn of inclusive Manipur ( However faint the ripple may be) in the political narrative of the state. The government’s initiative in the long run will definitely enhance in strengthening the bond of friendship between the various communities living in the state. The leadership of the present government must hasten the political class and the common man into realising the inevitable reality of living together harmoniously with empathy for each other’s cultural and economic needs.
A state perpetually ravaged by communal discord for too long, economic dependency and difficult terrain can never expect to have the kind of development that state like Delhi are witnessing today. Yet, the good thing about the people of Manipur is that, we never expect much from the ruler who so ever the ruler may be. Schemes like “STARTUP MANIPUR” “LAIRIK TAMHANLASI”, Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT) and “MeeyamgiNumit” (People’s day) that has been doled out by the government are revolutionary and innovative in nature. Since the success of the above schemes are already felt by and large especially in the valley, follow ups to each scheme must be immediately introduced. The schemes though successful in the valley, it is yet to see its full benefits in the hill districts. With a little more innovative and pragmatic inputs the hill people can definitely benefit the schemes in totality.
The highways in the state have definitely improved. Travelling from Jiribam to Imphal, Mao Gate to Imphal or to and from any district headquarters have changed. The rotten serpent like roads are giving ways to smooth black topped highways. However, the quality of the work desired much to be improved especially in the hill districts. Highways are the gateways for any infrastructural development. The development of road is seminal in bridging the hills and the valley not just physically but connecting the hills through roads is synonymous with connecting the hearts. The different projects that are being implemented by the government must be executed with a missionary’s zeal. Keeping in mind the utmost important role that road plays in the lives of the people.
Few chief ministers in the history of Manipur seems to have come on board as many capable or dynamic young leaders as much as the present chief ministers. This has made at times uneasy and exhibits a fractured government. But true democracy has never been ‘a one voice – one-man shows. The internal wrangling should be managed and construed as unavoidable necessity of democracy.
The task for the Biren-led government for 2020 seems to have all set: Avoid media hackling, don’t take it personal, they are doing their job. As much as they write what seemed hard on the government be firm in your belief. People expect a generous, forgiving chief minister who can overlook at times. Your stature is not lessened in the eyes of the people you love and people who love you just because a journalist vehemently disagree with you. AFSPA is a serious issue for the state. Take it up with the central government.
(The writer is a professor in the Dept of English, Jamia Millia Islamia – The views expressed is the writer’s own)Manipur government, Biren singh government, Bjp government in Manipur