There is unseemly speculation on who would be Manipur’s next chief minister after a resounding victory for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent assembly polls, winning a clear majority of 32 out of 60-seat assembly.
N. Biren Singh, who headed the BJP campaign and is the sitting chief minister, would appear to be an obvious choice but for maverick Thongam Biswajit Singh who had won the first-ever seat for BJP in this NorthEastern state in two decades.
Biswajit first came into prominence in 2012 when he won the Thongiu constituency on a Trinamool Congress ticket.
But then he switched side over to BJP, along with another TMC MLA, Kh Joykishan Singh.
He then braved the disqualification under the anti-defection law and subsequent disqualification but was re-elected in a by poll in 2015 on a BJP ticket.
As luck would’ve it, before the 2017 assembly polls, a prominent Congress face, Biren Singh, too defected to BJP.
Some equations were engineered and BJP outsmarted the Congress to head the government in Manipur and Biren Singh was rewarded with the post of chief ministership.
But Biswajit remained a maverick, cutting across different factions in the part, and his charisma never waned. More so with various ministerial portfolios under his best, including the one of PWD. Only 47, he is a a charismatic presence amongst youth of the State.
He also won the 2022 assembly polls by beating Congress’ Seram Neken Singh comfortably from the Thongiu seat.
Biswajit was in the Capital recently along with the chief minister N Biren Singh and state chief A. Sharda Devi for an audience to central leadership of the BJP party.
A section of the BJP leaders and MLAs in Manipur are reportedly keen that Biswajit becomes the new chief minister. Biswajit is now back in Imphal and told reporters at the airport: “The meeting with central leaders was to celebrate the victory of BJP in the recent Manipur election. There was no discussion on who will be the leader of the state BJP legislature.”
Biswajit cited the ongoing Parliament session as the reason for the delay in the selection of the Manipur BJP legislature party leader. He said it was a mere speculation that Biren would continue as the chief minister.
As per Sharda Devi the decision would only be taken after the central party observers arrive in Imphal soon.
It could be that the Central party leadership hits upon the formula which it exercised in Himachal Pradesh, replacing Srabananda Sonowal with Himanta Biswa Sarma as chief minister and shifting the former to Union cabinet as Union minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Minister for Ayush in the Indian government.