TODAY -

Nongthombam Biren: the People’s Chief Minister
Two Years Of People-friendly Governance

Seram Neken *

 Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on his maiden visit to Ukhrul :: April 11 2017
Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on his maiden visit to Ukhrul :: April 11 2017 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam



On this day two years back, was sworn in a visionary sportsman-turned-journalist-turned-politician elected from Heingang Assembly Constituency as the 12th Chief Minister of Manipur. The first BJP Chief Minister in Manipur, Shri Nongthombam Biren Singh, former Editor of Naharolgi Thoudang Daily had started his career as a footballer and got recruited in the Border Security Force (BSF) playing for its team in domestic competitions. He resigned from the BSF and turned to journalism. In spite of having no formal training and experience and driven by his intense desire to write and serve, he began the vernacular daily Naharolgi Thoudang in 1992 and worked as the editor till 2001.

In 2002, Biren Singh switched his career to politics under the banner of Democratic Revolutionary Peoples Party (DRPP) and won the Assembly Election from Heingang Assembly Constituency, joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in 2003 and retained the assembly seat in 2007.

In May 2003, he became Minister of State, was later appointed Minister of Irrigation & Flood Control (IFC) and Youth Affairs & Sports (YAS) in the State Government. In 2012, he again retained his Assembly seat for the third consecutive term. Serving as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, he quit the party in 2016 and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formally on 17 October 2016, and later became the Spokesperson and Co-convener of the Election Management Committee of BJP Manipur Pradesh only to become the first BJP Chief Minister in Manipur on 15 March 2017.

On switching his affiliation to the BJP, Shri Biren clearly put up his seven point political mission pledging to work for protecting valley areas by inserting suitable provisions to Constitution of India; for having topographical need based budget provision in the Budget to develop backward hill areas; not compromising existing boundary of Manipur while negotiating militant groups; for bringing issues of militant groups under Suspension of Operation (SoO); for developing highways into 4-lane and for dedicating Highway Protection Force; for inviting insurgents for dialogue; and for setting up Manipur Regiment and for creating adequate job opportunities for educated youths.

Amidst the usual coalition trickeries and leadership race among party stalwarts, Shri Biren dared to execute his vision of a unified Manipur and the dream was almost realized. The first registered achievement of the new Chief Minister was his tactful solution to the Churachandpur imbroglio, the remnant of the ILP Movement in the state. The long economic blockade sponsored by some hill based groups came to an end under his initiative. It was followed by the ‘Go to Hills’ Mission, which was quite timely and fruitful in bringing back the lost emotional integrity among the various communities in Manipur. The existent Hill-Valley divide was to a great extent diminished under the able initiative of Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

Having the bulkiest written constitution based on the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, India is acclaimed the biggest Democracy on Earth. Indian Constitution has been praised worldwide for catering to the needs and aspirations of a multitude of communities, cultures and peoples with their kaleidoscopic and cosmopolitan characters. Thanks to the framers of Indian Constitution, who had toiled hard to grasp the beautiful aspects of constitutions prevailing in different countries of the time, and fitted to suit the needs of this diverse land into a compact political structure termed as ‘Union of India’.

Federal system in India is unique, in the sense that it creates a centrifugal tendency whereby different regions with varied characters tend to submit to the unionism of India as a Nation. However, Indian Democracy nowadays has become a subject of criticism across the globe because of the ever widening gap between the rulers who are supposed to exercise the power bestowed upon them by the people, and the ruled who elect their representatives for a fixed tenure.

The shorter the gap between the people and the government, the healthier is the Democracy. In the City States of early Greece, people themselves made laws and executed them. It was the Direct Democracy, which was suitable for small territory with small population. People itself collectively acted as the government. With the increasing size of population and territory, the concept of Direct Democracy became impractical. Nations around the globe had to adopt the representative form of government, as if Democracy became synonymous with representation.

Today, election of representatives has become the essence of Democracy. Wherever and whenever the elected representatives work in tune with the people’s aspirations, the governance is said to be good. When the people’s representatives fall short of responding to people’s sentiments, Democracy will surely invite criticism in this modern liberal world. Hence, in order to save the very spirit and true essence of Democracy in India, there is strong need to shorten the gap between the people and the rulers in all states of India.

Meeyamgi Numit (People’s Day) orchestrated by Shri Biren Singh has been the envy of his colleagues across India for the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh even emulated the format and arranged his own ‘Peoples Meet’. Such a regular rendezvous with the people is one encouraging trend in Indian Democracy which strives to tackle the apparent disconnect between people and government. Addressing people’s grievances with an emotional touch, the political institution of Meeyamgi Numit hears the voice of the voiceless people and provides easy access to ministers and bureaucrats.

On this day, people irrespective of their political, social, educational and economic status approach the Chief Minister to air their grievances sincerely. Right from the poorest of the poor to those from the remotest corner of Manipur, people of all sections can directly speak out their views personally to the Chief Minister. In Manipur, 15th of every month is People’s Day and 10th of every month is scheduled especially for the ‘Hill People’.

The incumbent Chief Minister of Manipur, who has the passion and enthusiasm to be in touch with his people and who has the wisdom of winning people’s hearts, is seen doing extra home work to rebuild the much needed rapport between the people and government, as well as between the hill and the valley brethren of Manipur. Shri Biren appears to have the strong belief that emotional integrity is foremost in bringing about development in Manipur. In reality, Manipur has long been deprived of progress and growth only because of the impending mistrust among communities, and between the governed and the government.

Amidst the much-talked about VIP Culture followed by forerunner heads of states in Manipur during the last few decades, ‘easy accessibility’ by the people and ‘open reach-out’ to the people have become the unique characteristics of the present office of Chief Minister in Manipur. It is now opined at various circles that the Manipur Chief Minister has become the most accessible Head of State since Manipur became a part of India in 1949. He has the strength to listen to the voice of the people seriously and is responsive to his people as much as possible.

Even though Meeyamgi Numit cannot accommodate all citizens of the state and cannot fulfill all aspirations of the people, this very institution has dramatically minimized the decades-old existing trust deficit on the government to a great extent. People have now begun to feel that their government is working and listening to them.

Democracy, in the real sense of the term, demands a government – that is both responsive and responsible to the people residing in the state. Shri Biren, who is worthy of being titled “ The People’s Chief Minister”, may be regarded as an apostle of good governance in Manipur, for he has been able to dwindle the magnitude of rulers-ruled disconnect and hill-valley divide to a certain extent.

In recognition of the uniqueness in his leadership, N. Biren Singh was awarded Champions of Change Award in 2018 for his exceptional work to the nation. The award was conferred by the Vice-President of India Sri. Venkaiah Naidu at Vigyan Bhavan New Delhi.

Among the innovative initiatives of the Chief Minister Biren, mention may be made of people-oriented programes like the ‘Let’s Go to Village’ Mission, reaching out to the villagers in the nook and corner of Manipur; ‘Chief Minister’s Health Assistance to the poor and needy; provision of benefits to differently able persons; ‘Go to Schools’ programme; and ‘Start-up Schemes for young entrepreneurs’.

Even though the myriad of issues cropped up in Manipur and lack of state resources coupled with the instable number in the political game have posed as big challenges to Shri Biren’s leadership, he has steered the drive tactfully for the last two years, and still has the dynamism, activism and commitment for a big change towards positive growth. We, the varied peoples of this unique land, need to support to and extract from his governance as much as possible for a better future.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Imphal-based Senior Columnist and can be contacted at nekenseram(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on 15 March, 2019.



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