The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hardly had any base in Manipur in 2015 but Thongam Biswajit Singh could foresee its rise in the state that has a diverse population. So, he joined the party from the Trinamool Congress and started working to build its base and then strengthen it.
Some senior leaders, including now Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, had felt Biswajit was risking his political career for a party that did not have a single seat in the Congress-dominated Manipur then.
But Biswajit proved everyone wrong the very next year when the BJP had sprung a surprise by winning 21 of the state’s 60 seats to eventually form a coalition government. Ahead of that election, he was the BJP’s lone MLA in Manipur and he was instrumental in bringing several Congress legislators, including now-caretaker chief minister N Biren Singh, to the BJP’s fold.
Fast forward to 2022, the party had a thumping victory, bagging 32 seats to secure a majority. One person credited with changing the BJP’s fortunes in Manipur is Biswajit.
“He came from the TMC and contributed immensely to the BJP’s massive growth in Manipur. We all know this and we must acknowledge it,” the Assam CM had said recently in Imphal.
“When he was joining the BJP, I wondered what made him take this huge risk. He said the BJP has come to Assam and we will work hard together to form a BJP government in Manipur. He could visualise the BJP’s rise in Manipur,” Sarma had stated.
Biswajit Singh was disqualified in 2015 for defecting to the BJP from the TMC. He fought a by-election and won with a handsome margin. His former TMC colleague Khumukcham Joykishan, who also got elected on a BJP ticket after the by-elections the same year, had defected to the Congress ahead of 2017 state polls.
Biswajit, a four-time MLA from Thongju constituency, has a humble background. As a young boy, he helped his family to eke out a living by collecting the wild “Kouna” (water rush plant), widely used in Manipur for making handicraft products.
Despite being the senior most BJP MLA in 2017, he made a sacrifice and supported N Biren Singh while the latter was being appointed as the chief minister.
In 2016, while Biswajit was serving as the general secretary (administration) of BJP Manipur, he was arrested and sent to jail by the then Congress government for protesting against maladministration in the recruitment of Manipur Police personnel but he succeeded in streamlining the recruitment process.
He had exposed several corruption cases and scams of the Congress regime. He was the binding force that kept the various alliance partners of BJP, NPP and NPF together.
The BJP central leadership is yet to decide who will be the next CM of Manipur.