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Rediff.com  » News » Ibobi scripts Cong hat-trick in Manipur, silences critics

Ibobi scripts Cong hat-trick in Manipur, silences critics

March 06, 2012 19:22 IST
Okram Ibobi Singh was almost written off after last year's crippling economic blockade in Manipur but the 61-year-old warhorse scripted a spectacular hat-trick for the Congress in the strife-torn state.

Singh, who faced severe criticism for his handling of the over three-month-long economic blockade late last year leading to prices of essential items touching the sky, shrugged off the anti-incumbency by focusing on development activities undertaken by his government.

The clear victory, with an improved tally of seats than 2007, was the only solace for the Congress as the party suffered setbacks in Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Known as a soft-spoken leader, Singh is also credited with bringing political stability to Manipur as very few chief ministers in the state could complete their terms before he became chief minister in March 2002.

Although Opposition parties including Naga People's Front and Manipur Congress and Trinamool Congress highlighted alleged failures by his government, Singh focused mainly on charting a new path of peace and development in the insurgency-infested state during his rigorous campaigning.

With Tuesday's win, Singh joined the ranks of Congress chief ministers of Delhi (Sheila Dikshit) and Assam (Tarun Gogoi) who had led the party to victory for three consecutive terms in assembly polls in their states.

Opposition Trinamool Congress, Naga People's Front, Manipur State Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of Indian-Marxist, Janata Dal-United and the Bharatiya Janata Party had formed an alliance ahead of the polls to check the Congress but their efforts did not fructify.

Singh, who hails from the politically important Thoibal district led from the front banking on development plank while calling upon insurgent groups to chart the path of peace and amity in the state.

Singh had come under severe criticism for his handling of the economic blockade that began on August 1 and resulted in skyrocketing prices of essentials commodities, petrol, diesel, LPG and medicines. But despite widespread resentment, he managed to sail through the electoral battle with a comfortable majority for the Congress.

Various non-government organisations and human rights groups criticised him for failing to convince the Centre to withdraw the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur.

Born to Okram Angoubi and Lukamani Devi on July 19 in 1948 in Thoubal Athokpam, Singh, a graduate in arts, was first elected to fourth Manipur Legislative Assembly as an Independent candidate in 1984. He was chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Board from November 1985 to January 1988.

In 1990, he was re-elected to the fifth Manipur legislative assembly on a Congress ticket and became the industries minister. He was again elected to the assembly in March 2002 and became the chief minister.

Singh was also a known social worker having keen interest in establishing schools, clubs and cooperative societies in the rural areas. He was an active student leader and held position of secretary in Athokpam High School from where he did his schooling. Singh has one son and two daughters.

In the 2007 assembly polls, the Congress had won 31 seats in the 60-member assembly, but this time the tally improved further.

For Rediff Realtime News on Manipur poll results, click here 

 

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