Tough for some men to be out of the news and ex-Chief Minister O Ibobi will certainly come under this category. And not surprising, for remember it is not for nothing why a political figure can remain as the Chief Minister of a State for 15 long years. Not many have achieved this distinction and while O Ibobi may be out of power now, he is certainly not out of the news. Lady luck did smile on the man originally from Khangabok Assembly Constituency and no one would have thought that it would be possible for him to become Chief Minister in 2002, but the dice played out in such a way that he did go on to become the Chief Minister. Would it have been possible for him to become the Chief Minister, say if Rishang Keishing had not got defeated in the hustings at the hands of the late Wungnaoshang Keishing back then ? Would it have been possible for him to become the Chief Minister if other Congress heavy weights such as Radhabinod Koijam, Dr Nimaichand Luwang and others had not left the stable of the Congress ? Tough to say and moreover would he have lasted the first term in office if the then BJP led NDA Government had not come out with the stringent anti-defection Bill making it impossible for the Congress rebel MLAs to switch sides ? Ironic it is that it took the BJP to bail him out when some rebel Congress MLAs were putting up camps at Kolkata and Delhi to oust him, back in his first term as the Chief Minister.
The torch bearer of the Congress, that is what he became in later years and remember it was O Ibobi who the BJP went after full throttle in the run up to the recent Assembly election. A look at some of the front page campaigns launched by the BJP in all the State dailies before the Assembly election should more than testify this. Even today, after being out of office, the BJP led coalition Government in the State must be very wary of all his movements and deeply studying what he intends to do. There was a reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally flew down to Imphal to campaign for the BJP and why BJP president Amit Shah became such a regular fixture in the election campaign here. Not surprising that many Central BJP leaders camped at Imphal followed by their back room boys, the experts in reading the poll situation. If the Assembly election elicited such an interest in the people, then due credit must be given to O Ibobi for it was his presence that made the difference to the approach of the BJP to the Assembly election. Even today, Ibobi continues to evoke interest and this may be seen in the manner in which some of the Imphal based newspapers have gone to town highlighting his departure from Imphal with the Congress MLAs having left earlier. What is the agenda of the Congress MLAs in leaving the State enmasse is the natural question that may have been raised. A sure indication whether win or lose, O Ibobi will continue to grab the interest of the people here, at least for some more time, and that is saying a lot.
Source: The Sangai Express