Jharkhand Elections: On The Defeat Of The BJP And The Revival Of Status Quo

The famous Italian social scientist Vilfredo Pareto talks about the idea of the “circulation of elites” in his theory of ‘regime change’. In this, Pareto argues that changes in the regime occur not when rulers/government are overthrown from below, but when one elite replaces another. What we have been witnessing in our country, since 1967, is the same.

(L-R) Amit Shah, PM Modi

The Jharkhand Assembly results also proved Pareto’s idea of “circulation of elites”. The results from Jharkhand again establishes the fact that the status quo would be maintained in Indian politics, and it is not possible for the Modi-Shah combine to replace the status quo in such a diverse and pluralist India. Since the first general election, Congress remained in power absolutely till 1967, about which Rajni Kothari coined the term “Congress System“.

But, with Rammanohar Lohia’s idea of the anti-‘Congressism’ alliance, the ‘Congress System‘ got its first major setback in the 1967 Assembly elections in which non-Congress governments were formed in seven states. Again, the ‘Congress System’ came back in 1971.

Lalu Prasad Yadav

The 1977 elections were an ‘abnormal’ election. But again, the ‘Congress System’ continued from 1980 till 1989. The second major change in Indian politics occurred in 1989 when Congress was replaced by the Janta Alliance and led to the start of the Mandal era which completely changed the political dynamics of the Hindi heartland states with the rise of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, Sibu Soren in the then-South Bihar (now Jharkhand), etc.

These people and their parties were the ‘new elites‘ and have been responsible for the tectonic shift in Indian politics. This was the period when the Other Backward Castes took the center stage in Indian politics. The ‘Congress System’ suffered big losses due to Mandal politics. The rise of BJP or the Kamandal (a metaphor for Hindutva politics) politics was the interchange of parties for the old Congress loyalists castes like the Brahmins in UP and Bihar, and the Thakurs in Uttar Pradesh.

The first serious challenge to these new elites, or the regional chatrap, in the Hindi heartland, was in 2014 when Narendra Modi decimated the regional parties, and BJP won 73 out of 80 seats in UP, 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar, and 12 out of 14 seats in Jharkhand.

The assembly election results of Jharkhand in 2014, Uttar Pradesh in 2017, and the parliamentary election results of 2019 was somehow proving that the change in Indian politics which happened in 1989-90 and remained constant till 2014 was changing and the status quo is being replaced by the BJP system which is nothing but the replica of the Congress system of the 1960s to 1970s during Indira Gandhi’s period.

(L-R) Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati,

But, after the 2019 General elections, the three assembly elections results proved to us that the status quo and the regional parties, which gained ground during the 1990s, would remain the major power centres in their own states, and the Congress would be the fulcrum of opposition unity against the BJP.

The victory of Jharkhand for JMM-Congress, the opposition alliance in Maharashtra and the resurgent Congress in Haryana shows that the idea of Congress-mukth Bharat (Congress-free India) or the idea of decimation or non-existence of regional parties is a eutopia.

With the results of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Haryana what is clearly illustrated is that the parliamentary elections of 2019 was possibly just an ‘abnormal’ election due to the ‘Balakot effect,’ like the 1984 election, which happened just after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

The 2014 election can be considered a ‘normal election’ because the BJP won mainly because of anti-incumbency against the ten-year Congress rule. The graph of the BJP has decreased significantly, state-wise, since December 2017 when it was controlling 71% of the votes of the Indian population.

Now, it is hardly controlling 34%, or 13 states, including alliances. What we are witnessing is a situation like in 1999, when the BJP, under Vajpayee, was in power at the centre and in major states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, etc., the opposition was in command.

 

The results of Jharkhand clearly signals that the absolute rule of BJP is just a eutopia, and the idea of “circulation of elites” would remain strong in Indian politics. As Vilfredo Pareto argued ‘‘the role of common masses in these changes are only of supporters and followers of elites.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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