In Manipur, BJP uses development plank to paper over other problems with govt

Image for representation. Women supporters hold BJP flags as they welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi (unseen) during his visit to Imphal on January 4, 2022.

Image for representation. Women supporters hold BJP flags as they welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi (unseen) during his visit to Imphal on January 4, 2022.

The BJP is going into the Manipur elections with the slogan, “Hanna Hanna BJP, Henna Henna Chaokhatpa”, which roughly translates to “Again and again BJP - More and More Development” banking on the track record of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh’s government.

Elections in the State is scheduled for February 27.

The anti-Biren Singh camp in the party has been batting for an Assam model within the State, where incumbent Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal was replaced with Hemant Biswa Sarma after the BJP won the State for the second time. In the last 10 days, however, the party has tried to settle the question, with both Union Home Minister Amit Shah and its president J.P. Nadda endorsing the Chief Minister.

Speaking at a virtual function, inaugurating 29 infrastructure works worth ₹ 2,450 crore, Mr. Shah said, “Once more you must give us the opportunity to form a BJP government under the leadership of Biren Singh. Our government has ended a blockade and bandh regime and now we promise to deliver a drug-free Manipur.”

Mr. Nadda also made a similar statement at a recent public meeting. And Mr. Biren Singh’s loyalists have been dutifully circulating both the videos.

‘Two big achievements’

Two-term MLA Rajkumar Imo Singh, who quit the Congress to join the BJP following differences with former Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, said the BJP government’s two big achievements were bringing peace and ending the blockade/bandh regime and bridging the hill-valley divide.

Mr. Singh, who is also the son-in-law of the sitting Chief Minister, said, “I am not saying that the hill and the valley today stand in harmonious symphony, but I can say that the Biren Singh government’s confidence building measures such as holding Cabinet meetings in the hills has worked”.

He claimed that there was a “pro-incumbency” factor working for the government. “I believe we will manage to get an easy majority on our own,” he asserted.

As a course correction, the government, under fire for the arrest of journalists and activists who are critical of his government, in October last launched a public grievance redressal programme- ‘CM Da Haisi’ (Let’s tell the CM)- where people whose work has been stuck due to bureaucratic wrangle can directly register a complaint with the Chief Minister’s Office. So far, the government has claimed, it has reached and resolved 50,000 complaints.

Though it by any stretch is not an easy election for the BJP or Mr. Biren Singh. There could be a backlash against the BJP’s excessive Hinduism push in the State that is now casting shadow over the Meitei culture. The dissension of allies with the BJP, particularly with Mr. Biren Singh, could also affect the party’s final tally.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 12:33:44 am |