Intro: Jharkhand battled instability for 13 years. The big question now is, will ‘Modi magic’ turn the tide to deliver a decisive mandate to restore political stability in the state.
Crying for political stability, it is unfortunate that the state has withered away in Jharkhand even without a proletarian revolution. Corruption and instability are the outcome of absence of sub-nationalism that was very much present against the British Raj, and at the time of demanding a separate statehood. Unfortuna-tely, the very fervor is missing at a time when the state requires it most for political stability and good governance. Who is to be blamed and who all are responsible cannot be fixed, but as an opportunity the 2014 Assembly election can help the tribal-dominated state to move in the direction of better if not good governance. It appears that people are distraught with all political experiments since 15th November, 2000, and hopefully this time, Jharkhand is going to deliver decisive mandate to get a stable government.
Polling will be held in the tribal-dominated State in five phases on November 25 and December 2, 9, 14 and 20. The Assembly election in the naxal-affected state is scheduled in five phases from November 25 to December 20 and the result will be declared on 23rd December. There are 5 Administrative Divisions, 24 Districts, 14 Parliamentary Constitue-ncies, 81 Assembly constituencies (except 1 nominated) and 24,648 Polling Booths. Out of all 81 Assembly constituencies, 28 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and 9 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes.
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Fractured Mandates Responsible for Political Instability
The faction-wars, failed political experiments, and inability to inspire confidence of the voters in them (the political parties) have been largely responsible for fractured mandates in 2004 and 2009 elections in Jharkhand. One of the primary reasons for such fractured mandates leading to political instability in the state could be due to the fact that both the national parties – the Congress and the BJP–have been reduced to faction-driven outfits in the state- and failed in inspiring the confidence of the voters in them. The faction-wars also led prominent members such as the state’s first CM Babulal Marandi to quit the BJP to float his own Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). His regional party along with Sudesh Mahto-led All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) party and Shibu Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) do have their strong base in the state, but have largely contributed to the fractured mandates in the state elections.
After becoming a separate state, Jharkhand has seen nine different Governments and eight Governors. The present ruling coalition led by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is the third government in the same house. Hemant Soren has been the fifth chief minister of the state after Babulal Marandi (once), Arjun Munda (thrice), Shibu Soren (thrice) and Madhu Koda (once) since the state was created on November 15, 2000. No single Party has crossed the desired mark of 43 seats so far, but in both the Assembly elections of 2005 and 2009, BJP emerged as the single largest party. It got 30 seats in 2005 and 18 seats in 2009. In 2009 election, JMM also got the same number of seats and this resulted in created more instability in the State.
In 2014 Parliamentary election, BJP had taken lead in 56 Assembly segments which is already indicating towards thumping majority provided it is maintained in the coming Assembly elections—BJP got 40% vote share whereas UPA including JMM and Congress got 34.7% vote share. Therefore, it is fare to say that today BJP has a strong base to come into power provided it can also reach out to people, especially in Dumka, Raj-mahal and some parts of Giridih.
BJP also won 3 Schedule Tribe (ST) seats out five reserved for ST. So, it will have to sharpen its focus in ST dominated areas. However, there are 14 Assembly segments in two Parliamentary constituencies of Dumka and Rajmahal which were won by JMM but from among the 14 seats, JMM got lead only in 9 Assembly segments and in 4 ST segments out of 7 ST segments in these two Parliamentary constituencies.
Political observers say that Congress is nowhere in the contest and that the fight now is only between Sibo Soren's JMM and the BJP. It is now very clear that this election in Jharkhand is BJP vs. all others and difficulty lies in getting a clear verdict by consolidating the society divided along different lines- religious, indigenous and migrants, and along geographic lines. There are also several groups among tribal’s who feel they have been marginalised. When such a divided society goes to poll, the outcome is a split verdict, and no single political party gets a majority. The present scenario of instability can thus be overcome if a political party is able to win peoples’ confidence and is able to project effectively the promise to deliver a stable and transparent development. In this sense, BJP has advantage because its extremely popular leader, Narendra Modi has become a new symbol of hope for aspiring India.
In the Assembly elections, the main issue is bad governance that has been caused by corruption and instability. But once again the corruption issue is being marginalized by announcing distribution of TV sets and free rice to the poor. Congress leader and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahai said at a press conference while releasing party's poll manifesto, “People who are not in the Income Tax category will be given 35kg rice every month and TV sets to BPL families to make them aware of what is happenings around the world”.
The issue of instability is also being addressed by some political parties to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to accommodate other political forces by creating Legislative Council. Congress Party has even promised to increase the present Jharkhand assembly strength from 81 to 140 seats and to set up a Legislative Council.
Taken in consideration, all the above factors will require in Jharkhand a new grammar of development strategy. There has to be a visionary social fabricator with a development mission which can economically unite the Tribals and ‘Dikkus' (the middle class outside the tribal rank). Riding high on the euphoric win in Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP can turn the tide in their favour by talking about the politics of performance, development and transparency to inspire confidence among Jharkhand voters.
Naveen Kumar (The writer is a senior political analyst and VP of Viplav Communication Pvt. Ltd.)