Manipur’s caretaker Chief Minister N Biren Singh was Sunday confirmed to lead the state for a second term by BJP central leadership. While there were speculations about Th Biswajit Singh being the prospective Chief Minister, there are numerous factors that pushed N Biren Singh to the top spot.
1. Manipur elections 2022:
Many experts expected the 2022 assembly polls to be a close contest with either the BJP emerging as the single-largest party or the assembly heading towards a hung assembly.
The position of a hung assembly became stronger when the JD (U), NPP, NPF, and the Kuki People’s Alliance decided to contest the Manipur elections on their own with the BJP going solo for all the 60 seats.
When the candidate list came out, there was a lot of violence and vandalism reported mainly by prospective BJP candidates and their supporters. This convinced many people that the BJP may not have it easy in its quest for returning to power.
However, in a clear masterstroke by N Biren Singh and the party leadership, the party not only emerged as the largest party, but also came out on top by winning 32 seats.
Soon after, the JD (U) with 6 seats, the NPF with 5 seats, and the Kuki People’s Alliance with 2 seats also decided to join the government, which was a clear victory for the N Biren Singh government.
2. Dismantling of Congress
While Th Biswajit Singh claimed that he was the one who brought the BJP into Manipur, the real movement only began only after N Biren Singh switched from the Congress.
This was further illustrated by the first five years of the Biren Singh government where every few months, a strong Congress leader would join the BJP, thereby strengthening the BJP and in return weakening the Congress Party.
Biren Singh opened the floodgates for the BJP such that the party now rules the state with an absolute majority.
3. Bridging the gap between the hills and the valley
While Manipur continues to be divided between the hill and the valley districts, N Biren Singh has tried to bridge this gap through various initiatives. His ‘Go To Hills’ campaign became extremely popular and was known for starting several developmental projects, including the new districts that have emerged in Manipur.
Singh also reminded the people of Manipur time and again that in order to develop, the hills and valley have to join hands. This perhaps was the reason why the NPF, despite its stance of the AFSPA, continues to support the BJP even today.
4. Not conceding to BJP dissenters
Even though N Biren Singh was new to the party, he made it very clear from the beginning that he would take the party in the direction PM Narendra Modi has envisioned.
The BJP witnessed a lot of exits pre-elections this year, including party veteran like Chongtham Bijoy Singh. This would have meant the leadership crumbling under pressure but Biren Singh refused to pay attention to this and continued to work towards strengthening the party while turning a blind eye towards criticism from such leaders.
This showed people that the party was not held hostage by the views of party leaders even if they were old timers.
5. Tech-savvy CM
Rarely a day would go by without Biren Singh tweeting about what the government has been doing and without him showing immense gratitude towards efforts of the Central government in the state.
Amongst all northeast CMs, Singh could easily be one of the most active political leaders on social media, making sure he is always visible to the people.
His ability to communicate in English and Hindi apart from Meitei, and his constant way of reminding leaders of the region of the role played by PM Modi in development of the Northeast, definitely bore fruit.
N Biren Singh would possibly have much less popularity among the central BJP leadership had he not been so active and committed towards the BJP’s goal.
During the second wave of the pandemic, Biren Singh did not just lead from the front but made sure that every step of the way the Central government got its due share of credit too.
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