TODAY -

The Art of the Dunce: Nongthombam Biren hasn't a clue

Laifungbam Debabrata Roy *

CM N. Biren Singh at a joint Hill Leaders' Day and Meeyamgi Numit on February 26 2018
CM N. Biren Singh at a joint Hill Leaders' Day and Meeyamgi Numit on February 26 2018 :: Pix - IT News



That the latest uproar and ridicule that the present chief minister of Manipur is being subjected to is of his own making, is perhaps the biggest modern myth in this State of legendary and mythical figures.

Ever since he took his seat just a year ago, every move that he has made exposed a singular lack of a direction or vision that would reveal a person who is knowledgeable and has a grasp of state matters. He moved in fitful jerks, forward and backwards, swiftly changing his position on many matters of import to the State.

He fiddled along with an 'anti-corruption cell' that is perhaps the most secretive, unaccountable and opaque anti-graft exercise seen anywhere. The cell disappeared totally and was claimed to have been moved into one of the most corrupt departments, the Vigilance Department, where it completely vaporised.

His "go to hills" campaign is often touted as his biggest achievement, by himself and his fans and followers. It caught the imagination of both the gullible and conspiring opportunists.

The motorcade he led to the northern hill station Ukhrul district headquarters soon after he took office was an unbelievable circus, like the Rio carnival, in sheer vulgarity and ostentation. Yet, as the months passed, all that the people had were virtual monetary packages and promissory announcements.

The much tooted 'rapprochement' between the people of the 'hills' and 'valleys' are yet to be proven in the unresolved districts creation fracas with the Manipur United Naga Council or the fallout from the three 'ILP' bills that failed to get Presidential nod, and ended up in a totally avoidable loss of many lives.

Next, he cooked up a clueless exercise called 'miyamgee numit', in which he sat for one day every month holding an ad hoc darbar at his official residence cum office for individual supplications and complaints from sundry malcontents, manipulators, and maleficent persons.

The vast majority of these, again, secretive complaints and follow up, if any at all, were to do with routine functions of government that failed to be performed. This initiative reveals a man who loves to play to the gallery for popularity but without any idea about how to run an efficient modern government.

Without a clue about how to encourage and facilitate a street market, he then announced an "Imphal Night Plaza" stretching along a normally deserted section of the National Highway, in front of the old British Residency, now the Indian governor's residence cum office in Imphal. This was done despite sound advice that a place for a night market already exists in the traditional market streets of Imphal. The night plaza died quickly, which he was quick to blame on the weather.

He also took a bold but hapless initiative to hold cabinet meetings in the district headquarters of the so-called hill districts of Manipur. After a couple or so meetings in Chandel, Ukhrul and somewhere else, that too was quietly pulled out. No one, least of all himself, knew what was actually concretely achieved or accomplished by those meetings.

Soon after the rains ended last year, he made an announcement on Facebook that he is going to start roads repairing, maintenance and construction work. He did start, but not in a way that is sustainable or effective.

Take for instance the Imphal to Jiribam national highway. Black topping was started by a private contractor firm from outside Manipur, and it progressed rapidly. Traffic resumed at higher speeds and volume as a consequence.

The old rickety bridges began to collapse at Irang, Makru, etc. He didn't think bridges mattered. Back to square one. Roads, to Biren, are meant only for motorised vehicles. No enhanced modern provisions for slow moving transport or pedestrians! No cycle lanes, no broadening and improving of sidewalks.

He then went on an "inauguration spree", seeking out anything and everything he and his ministers could inaugurate for his government's first birthday bash. He even tried to inaugurate projects far from completed, such as the Thoubal Multipurpose Project and Iril Irrigation project at Dolaithabi, and the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Moreh. He had to retract those decisions very soon after they were taken.

Biren has inaugurated his second year on a disastrous note. After announcing his latest blundering caper "go to village", he trotted off to Madhavpur Village in far off Gujarat State situated a the opposite end of India, and started a fire!

Well, one could say that he's so desperate to show that he's doing something that he's even ready to start a fire. Biren is arguably the first chief minister of Manipur to have mastered the art of the dunce.




* Laifungbam Debabrata Roy wrote this article for IT News
This article was webcasted on April 01, 2018.



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