A common refrain among the Meitei MLAs at the height of the current crisis as they were pressured to go to New Delhi was that the state Chief Minister, N Biren Singh should also be present to place Manipur’s particularly that of the Meiteis to the BJP leadership. Their private homes and official quarters were stormed severally by their own constituents, Meira Paibis and youths of all hue while asking them to go camp in the capital till a definite resolution of the crisis is brought about, instead of staying and waiting for a solution to drop from the skies in Imphal.
Public delegations sought them out and made them take pledges and for those BJP MLAs who had been camping there long before the unrest began, assurances were sought through the phone. These four/five MLAs are still camping in the capital non-stop and if someone wants to meet them they have to travel there. However, all this time Chief Minister N Biren Singh stayed back in Imphal and if he had to go there he never halted there in New Delhi.
A chartered plane was waiting at the tarmac ready to bring him back even at midnight. But then, he also never got to meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was always engaged somewhere else and had to contend with meeting the Home Minister. And he always chose to stay back in Imphal even under pressure from several quarters, including the MLAs who were supporting his government. He instead instructed the MLAs camping there to seek an audience with the ‘always’ absent Prime Minister while he never ever ventured out of Imphal as if he was guarding something precious, whatever it is.
Maybe, he wants to be here always at arm’s length with the crisis simmering and sporadic incidents of gunfights and clashes off and on, as he is a hands-on guy who prefers to engage himself to the smallest detail. Or maybe, it is the chair that he is guarding zealously and not staying far from it. Who knows, even with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah as a keen benefactor the chair is still shaky as the Opposition had been crying foul and baying for his head.
This time, it must be important for him to stay in New Delhi for more than four days at a stretch. Yet, we find that rather strange and it must have been a burden for the person charged with guarding the all-important chair. Well, he left Imphal on Monday and the next day attended a function of unveiling the crest of the Indian Navy’s stealth missile destroyer named IMPHAL in New Delhi. There also, many were asking what he is doing attending a celebratory function while Manipur still burns. But, he had to attend as it was a celebration of Imphal and Manipur by the Indian Navy.
Yet, he could have come back to Imphal the same night. The day next, he facilitated the signing of a peace agreement between New Delhi and a valley-based armed group and it was his responsibility to wrap up things properly. Still then, he could come back on Thursday but did not. He met the Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday. Is he waiting for an opportunity to get an appointment with the Prime Minister? Of that, we are not very sure. Or did he have an aside with the Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh during the Indian Navy function on Tuesday about the jets supposedly promised with regard to the poppy fields and waiting to ensure it. Who knows?