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The Fault in Our CM’s Star!

by Aribam Bishwajit
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The years 2014 and 2015 witnessed a transformative shift in Manipur’s socio political landscape, ushering in a new era defined by heightened internet connectivity. Gone were the days when nefarious incidents, such as fake encounters, lurked in the shadows, unchecked and unchallenged. The ascent of social media platforms, beginning with Orkut and soon followed by Facebook, gave millions the ability to connect, disseminate, and spotlight egregious acts of injustice.
The ubiquitous presence of camera-equipped mobile phones morphed ordinary individuals into vigilant sentinels. Whether it was actions by state forces or central security units, the populace was no longer a passive spectator. Instead, they became proactive documentarians, able to capture and expose misconduct almost instantaneously. The digital realm, thus, stood as a testament to the invaluable role of the internet in fostering transparency and accountability.
During Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s tenure, the incidence of fake encounters surged and subsequently waned. The internet played a pivotal role in this trajectory, holding both individuals and institutions accountable.
While Ibobi may not have fully harnessed the potential of the digital age, his successor, Mr. Biren, astutely recognized and leveraged its power. Though he asserted that peace in Manipur was primarily his achievement, many could see through the hyperbole. Regardless of political posturing, credit must be given where it’s due: Biren did launch initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between hill and valley communities, ushering in an era of tentative hope. While some of these efforts bore fruit, others fell short of their mark.
Indeed, his tenure began on promising notes, with some measures even offering a beacon of hope to numerous families. However, a closer examination reveals a series of shortcomings and missed opportunities, overshadowing the few successes.
Despite the Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide victory in the 2022 Manipur Legislative Assembly polls, which marked the onset of Singh’s second term, the jubilation was short-lived. His assurances of a more stable legislative environment were quickly undermined by emerging incidents of divisiveness and unrest.
While Biren was quick to criticize his predecessor, O. Ibobi, for perpetuating a divide between the hill and valley people, his own tenure reflects a similar tale. Any claim of successfully bridging this divide came crashing down following the May 3 incident and the subsequent violence that has gripped Manipur. A violence so profound, the state had never witnessed anything of its magnitude in its history.
The faith and trust once placed in the Manipur Government have been shattered. With violence raging for over four months, the beacon of hope that once shone brightly is now dimmed. The inefficacy of state lawmakers, their frequent shuttles to Delhi seeking guidance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, all lay bare the administration’s inability to manage its own affairs. Despite Shah’s assurances during his visit to Manipur, tangible solutions remain elusive. The once-respected civil society organizations have lost their sheen, further deepening the crisis of confidence.
The months gone by have been nothing short of a litmus test for Biren’s leadership. And as events have unfolded, the verdict is clear: his governance has fallen short. Even assistance from the central leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, remains conspicuously absent, casting doubts on their commitment or capability to resolve the crisis. It’s becoming evident that Biren’s bosses fall short of effective leadership, leaning more towards the “lackluster leader” category.
Biren, despite the commendations from his party, finds himself at a defining juncture. His conspicuous failure to safeguard the lives and well-being of his constituents, especially in these turbulent times, raises pressing questions about his leadership. When over 170 lives are lost and chaos ensues, how much longer can the people of Manipur be expected to wait for decisive action? Can they continue to place their trust in the likes of CM N Biren Singh, the state’s lawmakers, or even in the central leadership, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi? History, often an unrelenting judge, seems poised to remember N Biren Singh not for any laudable feats but for glaring inadequacies.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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