Jharkhand: The Political Laboratory

Posted on February 7, 2010

Avnish Gaurav:

Some of the deadly political experiments are performed in this part of the world. Interestingly there is no proper rule to curb such actions. Just nine years have passed since this place got a separate identity and there have been scams worth thousands of crores, roads are constructed after repeated ultimatums from high court, common life is paralysed on a regular basis on account of largescale bandhs and strikes. In an ironic twist this place boasts of the largest steel plant in Asia, is the largest producer of coal in India and has the largest explosives factory. This place is Jharkhand. Hope the image in your mind is no longer blurred.

Created as the 28th state of Indian Union, Jharkhand was the richest in terms of mineral wealth, was among the very few energy surplus Indian states and had enormous growth potential. But, sheer absence of a stable government has made a mockery of all projections and predictions. Currently Jharkand figures at the bottom of all indices, except for those concerning the naturally gifted ones. In 2009, the state manned the bottom space in Agriculture and Infrastructure, 15th in Macro Economy, Law and Order and Consumer Market, 16th position in Primary Health, 18th in Primary Education, and 12th in Investment Environment.

A single politician has resigned under duress thrice as Union Minister and twice as Chief Minister. The state has so far been governed from the bottom up, ministry by ministry, and district by district because of compelling alliances and independents calling the shots. The state has had a record six chief ministers, besides more than six months of President’s Rule in nine years of the state’s existence. Extremist violence is plaguing the politics of Jharkhand, and Naxalite menace has emerged as a scar on the face of Jharkhand politics.

What generally happens is ridiculous. No party ever gets a clear majority. Often the party in power at center garners the support of independents. Center makes special grants to Jharkhand of which the key beneficiaries are the ministers. Of course, this happens under various schemes and all, but the poor tribals of Jharkhand do not see a penny. This goes on for 2-3 years till the smaller fishes realize that they are not getting their share of the fodder. Divorce and yet another election..!! Visit this page again a couple of years later …

The common people (really don’t feel like using the word “common”) have eventually lost faith in political parties, who do not fail to cash in, on even this fact. They use the soil of this mineral rich state to carry out experiments to be replicated in other parts of the country. In a bid to save its government and the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the UPA’s political managers vacuum-cleaned all political allies who could save the government. Again, Jharkhand politicians proved handy. Shibu Soren who was embroiled in a murder case, was assured the CM post in lieu of voting for UPA. He ousted Chief Minister Madhu Koda, himself an independent who had earlier ousted another chief minister by “walking out” with the right numbers of legislators. Even child-games are not that non-serious.

A minority government was appointed by governer in 2005 that was finally replaced by NDA in a bollywood style drama. Talks have yet not died that NDA horse-traded the MLA’s for crores. For the first time, a Governor’s invitation to a party to form the government has been taken by the judiciary, leading to the first court intervention in the conduct of the legislature. The judicial intervention in the functioning of the Jharkhand legislature throws up important questions about the spheres of authority of the different wings of India’s democratic set-up. The intervention created a havoc in the political arena and a final conclusion is yet awaited.

One look at the background of the stalwarts in Jharkhand politics and you will know why the state richest in natural resources tells a story of a “what-could-have-been”.

Jharkhand politics is no longer politics. It is more like “You-cover-my-rear-and-I-cover-yours”. How long will it take for us to understand the actual need of the hour? Let’s take proper action before the dream actually goes sour.

The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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