Updated on 15 Mar 2021, 9:42 am
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh (PHOTO: Facebook)
Four years hence, we look back at the achievements, trials and tribulations of the BJP-led coalition government headed by N Biren Singh, a former lieutenant of the previous chief minister O Ibobi Singh. It was on March 15, 2017 that a hastily cobbled together coalition under the leadership of N Biren Singh took oath as the chief minister even if the BJP won only 21 seats as against 28 seats of the Congress in a house of 60. The Congress MLA Th Shyamkumar who took oath as a minister in the BJP-led government was always under the guillotine while the coalition partners NPP and Naga Peoples Front (NPF) was playing pressure politics to extract their pound of flesh. The NPP got away with plum portfolios for all its MLAs, while the NPF played extractive politics even if only one of its MLAs got a ministership. Only last year, NPP got another minister, while another was made the chairman of Hill Areas Committee of the Legislative Assembly. Meanwhile, it became a herculean task to manage and appease the BJP MLAs who were left out in the cold but often emboldened by internal dissidence throughout the years. The simmering war within the ranks of the party only cooled down as BJP increased its tally under the leadership of Chief Minister N Biren Singh with successes in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections. Yet, there is still the fate of 12 ruling MLAs hanging in balance in the office of profit case actively pursued by the opposition Congress.
In fact, Chief Minister N Biren Singh was never at peace as he continued to manage the push and pulls of coalition politics in the last four years. And, one is often surprised with the ingenuity of his missions like Go to Hills and Go to Village through which he had been able to steer governance into new standards in the backdrop of the volatile political chaos and upheavals. Through the Go to Hills mission and personal interventions, he had been able to bridge the hill-valley divide although the result was mostly in terms of personal space rather than the community level. N Biren Singh had been able to gain the trust of the hill people with his mission and interventions, but somehow it is not reflected in hill-valley relations as such. Yes, the N Biren Singh-led government was able to end the four-month-old blockade of United Naga Council on the highways of Manipur and also the vexed problem of Churachandpur agitation against the controversial bills regarding ILP, but it was not that conclusive and it still remains a thorn in inter-community relations. As a part of the Go to Hills mission, cabinet meetings were held in the district headquarters of the old districts, but he has not been able to hold it in new districts carved out during the old regime due to UNC pressure so far. The Kamjong cabinet meeting were more of an ambush, according to UNC.
Yet, the greatest achievement of the four-year-old government has been the Go to Village mission which has helped usher in a new style of governance in the state, not seen elsewhere. It is a mission where one takes the government to the people right at the village level instead of villagers coming to government offices for delivery of services and benefits under the various schemes of both central and state government schemes. A total of 2,691 villages, including all 2,582 census villages were covered in less than 1 year. Over 3.02 lakh applications, forms and grievances were received and two-thirds of these (2.05 lakh) were addressed, according to government statistics. This is in fact the crowning glory of the N Biren government.
UNC demands immediate withdrawal of the term 'cabinet meeting at Kamjong on January 15, 2021' from cabinet records