Jharkhand: Politics of uncertainty
Sharique N Siddiquie
No wonder that the captain of Indian cricket team Mahendra Singh Dhoni belongs to Jharkhand because the politics of the state is very similar to the sport, full of glorious uncertainties.
So, the 14th Lok Sabha elections are no exceptions to these uncertainties.
Till the year 2000, the politics of Jharkhand was centered around the creation of the state. On 2nd August 2000, the bill to create a separate state of Jharkhand to be carved out of Bihar was passed in Lok Sabha by voice vote with two key allies of ruling NDA strongly opposing the measure and the opposition Rashtriya Janta Dal and the CPI-M demanding it to be referred to a parliamentary committee. The state finally was born on November 15, 2000 with its capital as Ranchi.
In the past nine years of its creation, Jharkhand has gone through many crests and troughs in terms of political scenario and has seen as many as six Chief Ministers which is a record of sorts.
All the major political parties of the state have their issues and agendas in place now. Let’s take a look at the various issues that can have an impact during the election in this politically fragile state.
Like everywhere else in the country, development is a major issue in Jharkhand as well. The state has also suffered the mis-governance of Lalu Yadav before its creation but recovered significantly.
Since all the major industries in Bihar came to Jharkhand, it proved to be a boon for the development of the state. But the political instability in state has slowed down the process of development.
The Congress-JMM combine would like to play up various development programmes of Central government like National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and loan waivers to farmers to garner votes.
On the other hand, NDA, comprising BJP and JD(U) would like to showcase high points of previous NDA government and would also present the current Nitish Kumar led government of Bihar as example of good governance to woo voters.
Jharkhand has a tumultuous political past. Ever since its creation, it has not seen any stable government. Even now, the state assembly is in suspended animation as the ruling UPA could not decide the seventh Chief Minister of the state.
With Shibu Soren loosing to Gopal Krishna Patar, alias Raja Peter, by almost 9,000 votes in the crucial Tamar by-election, state became unstable politically.
Even though, Soren tried his best to make either his wife Rupi Soren or son, Durga Soren, replace him as chief minister but the move could not fructify, as both allies, Congress and the RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who himself had earlier made his wife Rabri Devi succeed him as Bihar chief minister, rejected the idea of making a non-legislator don the top chair.
So the issue of political instability will dominate the elections. NDA will leave no stone unturned in proving UPA guilty for this instability and is looking set to gain from this issue.
On the other hand, UPA will have to face adversity from within as its key ally RJD is fighting alone in the state on three seats including strategically important Chatra constituency with strongman Nagmani as its candidate.
Also, the absence of a Chief Minister in the state in UPA’s regime may also work against the ruling coalition.
Corruption is another major issue in Jharkhand. The prevalent corruption in various departments of the state administration is hurting the common man. So, he is likely to exercise his franchise keeping in mind this issue.
Also the involvement of various state leaders, like JMM supremo Shibu Soren in corruption cases will have an impact on the voters.
Jharkhand, analogous to Bihar is divided between have and have-nots. This divide has created the problem of Naxalism and counter-Naxalism.
The two main groups of Naxalites, the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) and the Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist (People`s War) merged to form the united Communist Party of India, Maoist or CPI (Maoist) in September 2004.
Naxal violence became frequent in Jharkhand after that as both groups were the most powerful ones, accounting for about 88 percent of the countrywide Naxalite violence and 90 percent of the resultant deaths.
The problem still persists though weakened by the politics of Lalu Prasad Yadav which divided the group between Yadavs and non-Yadavs. Every political party shall have to evolve a strategy of tackling this menace to garner backward votes.
Looking at the past of Jharkhand, the result of this election is expected to be as dramatic as a Twenty20 cricket match. Just wonder, who proves to be “Dhoni” here!