BJP’s CM candidate
IFP Editorial: If the BJP leadership is really keen on getting a majority of its own to ensure stability and pursuit of its goals, it must also take care of ensuring a strong leadership and absence of internal dissension.
Updated on 7 Jan 2022, 10:11 pm
PM Modi (L) and Manipur CM N Biren Singh (Photo: Twitter)
Behind the mad rush for the ultimate ticket with so many contenders, the fog over who is going to lead the next BJP or BJP-led government in the state is slowly clearing up in the public domain mainly with the utterances of BJP central leaders and observers who had been camping in the state for the last few months in the run-up to the 2022 general elections. The important question today on everyone’s lips has been whether the BJP is going to put up a chief ministerial face in the 2022 elections or not.
In 2017, the party did not have one as it was fixated on overturning the tables on the15-year-old Congress regime. Somehow, N Biren Singh got lucky with the defeat of a few old war horses like former Union Minister Th Chaoba Singh. And, the Biren government was plagued more by internal dissension rather than by allies or Congress design. Yet, he managed to weather the internal storms and brought the coalition so far. If the BJP leadership is really keen on getting a majority of its own to ensure stability and pursuit of its goals, it must also take care of ensuring a strong leadership and absence of internal dissension.
People are talking of the Assam style in which no CM face was projected and ultimately led to Himanta Biswa becoming the CM and Sonowal shifted to Centre. Whether such a model could be applied to Manipur is open to question, as circumstances and political dynamics are different now. In the 2017 assembly elections, ‘winnability’ was a major factor and BJP pulled out all stops in its singular objective of unseating the 15-year-old Congress regime and except for few, many of the BJP candidates were first-timers.
The all-out effort in 2017 elections could produce only 21 MLAs in the 60-member Manipur assembly and it was forced to hastily cobble together a fragile coalition of parties and MLAs, including a Congress deserter, while the single largest party Congress with 28 MLAs were denied a chance. As such, the attention of the party was most of the time consumed in managing the fragile coalition and also in tackling the infighting among the power centres within the party. This situation, the party wants to avoid it this time around.
The current mood of the party leadership combined with the utterings of party observers at public and closed meetings hints at N Biren Singh continuing as the leader, although certain elements within the party had been toying with the idea of new leadership. The state Incharge of BJP Sambit Patra and Election Co-incharges had also been hinting at Biren Singh returning as CM.
Even National President JP Nadda himself had hinted in his address at the Kakching Youth rally about the incumbent N Biren Singh returning as CM again, just short of announcing him as the CM face. So far, BJP’s campaign has been talking about progress on many fronts through the efforts of a double-engine push with a special focus on the achievements of N Biren Singh and his innovative ventures like Go to Hills or Go to Village mission.
To expect an announcement of sorts on January 4 from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself would have been awkward as the public meeting at Hapta Kangjeibung was a purely government affair and not the party’s, even though the said meeting was attended by mostly BJP supporters.
But on January 6 at the virtual conference, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was very clear on the question of the next leadership as he appealed to the people of Manipur to vote for BJP in the2022 elections so that a BJP government led by N Biren Singh returns once again to continue the ‘good work’ of the double engine combine. So now, it is left to the parliamentary board of the party to make a categorical official statement on the CM face for the next assembly elections to show its resolve and avoid future dissension.