GUWAHATI: N Biren Singh, who was sworn in as chief minister of the BJP-led government in Manipur on Wednesday, appealed to the United Naga Council (UNC) to lift the economic blockade enforced on two national highways since November 1.
“I appeal to the UNC to lift the blockade on humanitarian ground as innocent people are suffering. We all can sit together and sort out differences,” he said at the BJP head office in Imphal following his swearing-in.
Lifting the blockade, which was put in protest against the creation of seven districts by the previous Congress government without consulting the Nagas, was a poll promise made by the BJP. Biren said the new government would work towards ensuring good governance and equal development in the State. “It will be a government of one Manipur. There won’t be any discrimination against any religion, caste or community,” he said.
Earlier, governor Najma Heptullah administered the oath of office and secrecy to him and eight other ministers from the BJP and its allies. The State’s former top cop Y Joykumar of the National People’s Party (NPP) was sworn in as deputy chief minister. The ministers are Biswajit Singh (BJP), L Jayantakumar Singh, L Haokip and N Kayisii (all of NPP), L Dikho (Naga People's Front) and Karam Shyam of Lok Janshakyi Party (LJP). Th Shyamkumar, a Congress MLA who defected to the BJP, was also sworn in.
Outgoing chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress also attended the ceremony. BJP president Amit Shah and some Union ministers were on their way to attend the function but their aircraft developed technical snag mid-air, prompting the pilot to fly it back to Delhi.
Biren’s life has been a fairytale. One of Manipur’s first footballers to play outside the State, the 56-year-old Biren was a key member of the BSF team that won the Durand Cup in 1981. A few years later, he resigned and worked as the editor for a vernacular daily in Manipur.
He made his debut in electoral politics in 2002 when he got elected to the Legislative Assembly from Heingang constituency on the Democratic Revolutionary Peoples Party ticket. However, a year later, he defected to the ruling Congress. The then chief minister Ibobi, who incidentally went on to serve for three terms, roped in the services of Biren by making him a Minister of State. But for reasons unknown, he fell out with Ibobi last year and resigned both from the Assembly and the party. Later, he joined the BJP.