2017 : CCpur-Biren Govt Bhai, Bhai The reality in 2023

Six years back he was the hero. Come to the present, that is six years hence and today he is an untouchable. It was on July 14, 2017 that many in Churachandpur hailed Chief Minister N Biren as Pu Biren, a term used for those one holds in esteem. Today the unspeakable is the case and the slogan used by a participant during a recent rally at Aizawl and earlier the unprintable words used at Churachandpur just a few days before May 3 should depict how fast the image of a man or a Chief Minister can change. On July 14, 2017, just a few months after assuming office as Chief Minister of Manipur, Biren took the first Cabinet meeting beyond Imphal, to Churachandpur.  Besides ringing out the message that the BJP led Government is a Government with a difference, the Chief Minister conveyed the message that he is ready and willing to take everyone along with the idea of Manipur as a distinct geo-political reality. That Churachandpur was the epicentre of the 2105 storm against the three Bills passed in the State Assembly during the time of the Congress Government, made the first Cabinet meeting there all that more significant. Those in the media may recall the red carpet welcome rolled out for the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers at Churachandpur and the feel good factor that it generated. Back then it was all about ‘Kuki-Chin-Biren Govt Bhai, Bhai’ or Kuki-Chin-Manipur Bhai, Bhai’ but come to 2023 and it is ‘Kill all Meiteis-our oppressors’ in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh while at Imphal and the valley districts of Bishnupur, Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West, it is all about ‘Annihilate the narco-terrorists-the Kuki-Chins.’ After Chura- chandpur, the Cabinet went to Kangpokpi where Kuki-Chin MLAs including some of the present 10 MLAs who have raised the separate administration call, turned out in their best to give a rousing welcome to the Chief Minister and his men. Back in 2017, the Chief Minister had called the first Cabinet meeting at Churachandpur a historic day complete with all the promises of the coming of a new Government which is committed to the development of the hill districts.
Inclusive governance were the two words mantra that the Chief Minister used to score a point with the people and it did go down well with the Kuki-Chin folks of Churachand-pur. It was the same at Kangpokpi later too. This was in 2017, and fast forward to 2023 and there is the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) and Kuki Inpi, Manipur which have outrightly rejected the proposed Peace Committee on the ground that they cannot be part of any exercise that involves the Chief Minister of Manipur. From hero to villain, it has been for the Chief Minister in the span of just 6 years and while the term villain may be qualified by the prefix ‘perceived’, it stands that the task ahead can be anything but easy. The first and foremost task before the State Government is restoration of peace and normalcy. The question here is how to go about it. This is where the Chief Minister will need positive and productive counsel. This is not the time for N Biren Singh to look for only Yes Men, but genuine people who can command the respect and trust of the people, from either side of the clash divide. Reach out to eminent personalities, people who have been talking the language of peace and normalcy and not the war mongers. Manipur has burnt for too long and such a situation cannot be allowed to go on like this longer. As stated many times here, too many people have met senseless deaths. Too many houses have gone up in flames. There cannot be any winner and the only loser will be the people and Manipur.