First footballer set to become Chief Minister

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From playfields to corridors of power, Nongthombam Biren Singh, 56, has a chequered career.

Before joining active politics Biren Singh was a national football player while he was serving in the BSF. He is also a former editor. Today he is set to become the chief minister of a first ministry led by BJP in the state. “It was a vote for change and I will bring change and good governance in Manipur,” a beaming Biren said immediately after he was elected leader of the 21 BJP MLA elects this evening.

Hailing from Luwangsangbam Mamang Leikai in Imphal East, Biren has been representing Heingang constituency since 2002. He was elected for the first time on the ticket of Democratic Revolutionary People’s Party and later on joined the Congress. He went on to become the minister for irrigation and flood control during the second term of Okram Ibobi Singh led Secular Progressive Front coalition.

After resigning from the BSF, Biren took up journalism and edited a morning vernacular daily, Naharolgi Thoudang. “I must become an MLA to serve the people effectively. So I am resigning from journalism,” Biren Singh had said during announcement of his decision to join active politics.

While he was an editor Biren was sent to jail for publishing a statement made by the father of social worker Thounaojam Iboyaima.

He was arrested on April 14, 2000 by the police from his office at Naharolgi Thoudang in Imphal for publishing a speech made by Iboyaima, who allegedly encouraged extremist armed groups. Police charged that the statement published in Biren’s newspaper was “seditious and anti-national.” Iboyaima Singh, 84, was also arrested. Both of them were jailed.

After he joined the Congress in May 2003 Biren was appointed minister of state for vigilance. He retained his seat in 2007 elections and given the charge of irrigation and flood control minister and youth affairs and sports.

Biren, who was a close aid of Ibobi Singh later on, became a strong critic of the chief minister. He defected to BJP in October 2016. He is now a spokesperson and co-convener of BJP state election management committee.

He had a tough fight with sitting BJP law maker Thongam Biswajit Singh for the top post. Finally Biswajit gave way for Biren to become the chief minister.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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