Intro: Despite being the mineral storehouse of the country–with almost 40 per cent mineral reserves–Jharkhand that could ideally have been an economic powerhouse since its inception in 2000 is reeling under corruption, rise in naxalism, and still craves for stability – both financial as well as political.
Jharkhand-The land of Birsa Munda and Siddhu Kanhu, those who laid their lives against the imperial British regime that gave birth to Ulgulan movement (the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist struggle that created panic in the hearts of the moneylenders, landlords, dacoits, contractors, missionaries and the British imperialists)-is visible on the world map for to two reasons- its rich mines and beautiful locations. But due to corruption and political instability, Jharkhand state has emerged as a hot naxal belt with 22 of its 24 districts affected by naxal insurgency. As a result, both these sectors have been equally hit by naxalism which has now become the biggest challenge for the state. Every day, one can find the regional newspapers filled with reports of violence. Marred with several other developmental issues all due to its political instability, on 15th November, Jharkhand was still in a celebratory mood marking many occasions throughout the state on the occasion of its state day. Formed along with Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand in the year 2000 by the then NDA government, the state even today lags behind its contemporaries in development.
After Haryana and Maharashtra, it is election time for Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand. Though elections are the festivals of democracy, but unfortunately for Jharkhand, the political experiments have failed miserably in restoring stability: as a result, naxalism is on rise and people are witnessing huge political turmoil since its formation. Let us try to understand what will be the issues dominating in the upcoming Assembly elections. With 24 districts and 81 Assembly seats the issues vary accordingly. Adivasis have been the main inhabitants of the land. Since the adivasis are too much attached with the Mother Nature so they are more concerned about protecting their natural resources as it’s directly linked to their survival. Jal, Jangal aur Jamin ki ladai is an outcome of this struggle as big businessmen and industrialists are acquiring these resources for commercial exploitation. There are wide concerns for Chotanagpur Tenacy Act(CNT Act)-The Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, enacted in 1908 after the Birsa Movement, to govern land issues and prevent land alienation, is supposed to be the Magna Carta for tribals.
Mining and corruption go hand in hand in the state. Every morning one can find hundreds of people carrying sacks laden with coal on their bicycle on the highways at Ranchi, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and Dhanbad. The mining policy is a complete failure in the state.
Naxalism is another big challenge which has hindered the growth of the state. The naxalists extort huge sums as levy from mining and construction companies. One of the key reasons for naxal spread is lack of political will-power. The governments which have come to power subsequently have never taken stern steps to curb it .The deep and dense forests of Ghatsila, Saranda, Bundu, Tamad, Latehar, Gharwa, Palamu are the ideal breeding grounds and shelters for naxal activities. The inefficient bureaucracy also has failed to check it.
Heathcare has not been given much attention till now. Large numbers of women are found to be anaemic in lack of proper nutrition. Infant mortality rates are high. Chidren lack balanced diet. And the condition of the government-run hospitals is not good.
Jharkhand which is proud to have given the first captain to Indian hockey team, Jaipal Singh Munda, the pesent captain of Indian cricket team Mahendra Singh Dhoni and a range of sportspersons has no adequate infrastructure such as sports university.
Primary, secondary and higher education is in a dillapilated state. Many children and young girls are trafficked from here to metropolitan cities to work as labourers and become victims of sex racket.
The soul reason for all the problems in Jharkhand is political instability. When elections are round the corner, it is the regional issues which should matter most. The other issues should be the land acquisition policy, illiteracy, police atrocities, lack of proper rehabilitation schemes, unemployment, corruption etc.
This time, Modi magic is expected to turn the tide in the favour of Bharatiya Janata Party in Jharkhand. As the chances of the Congress party are dismal, in the coming Assembly election, political observers predict, the fight will be mainly between Modi versus regional parties. The Congress seems to be on the backfoot after the recent humiliating defeats in the two states (Maharashtra and Haryana). It does not seem to be a formidable force any more. BJP which is talking about full majority seems to be in high spirit after winning the recent assembly polls. Its enthusiasm levels are high and the hope of winning has increased. And where BJP has made an alliance with All Jharkhand Students Unions party chief Sudesh Mahto (the divison of seats is 73+8); JMM and Congress have decided to part their ways.
|After releasing Party manifesto at BJP’s office in Ranchi, Party president Amit Shah said, ‘if voted to power, the BJP will work in providing stability and transparency in the State.’
Hemant Soren is banking on account of his recent performance. The main vote bank of JMM is the adivasi community, so in its manifesto it has promised to give preferences to local people in jobs. Other important things in its manifesto include construction of smart villages, making agriculture an industry, providing homes, 50% reservation to women in all jobs etc.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik)-led by Babu Lal Marandi has decided to go to the polls with Trinamool Congress which has no support base in Jharkhand. Congress on the other hand has partnered with Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United). The key candidates in this election are Arjun Munda, Raghuvar Das, Saryu Rai, CP Singh, Hemant Soren, Babulal Marandi, Sudesh Mahto, Gitashri Oraon, Sukhdev Bhagat. Since BJP has given tickets to candidates based on their winnability, this has created a sense of discontent among the party workers. Many candidates have come into the fold of BJP just before the elections in order to get tickets.
During the Lok Sabha elections the social networking sites were all buzzing and trending with Modi and Namo chants. But it seems to have faded a bit. Still BJP has taken a safe side and it is banking on Modi magic for its fortunes in the state. It did not take the risk to project any regional face. The star campaigners for BJP include Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President Amit Shah, HRD Minister Smriti Irani, MP Manoj Tiwary besides PM Modi.
In its election manifesto BJP has promised to distribute laptops and tablets to students who pass matriculation. This can woo young voters. BPL families have been promised rice at 1 rupee per kilo and common salt at 25 paise per kilo. Old agricultural loans would be remitted.
The local people would be given preference in industries and private companies. BJP has alos launched its membership drive where anyone could become its member and volunteer by calling toll-free number 1800-260-2020. Sources reveal that BJP may go for a non tribal CM keeping in line with the trend it has set in previous elections.
The Election Commission of India has made archer Dipika Kumari its brand ambassador to create awareness regarding voting amongst youth. Extra security personnels have been deployed in every nook and corner of the state in lieu of the polls.
The commission is vigilant to prevent any unlawful activity in the state, following which it has sincerely appealed to the people to come out in large numbers to vote which in turn would raise the voting percentage.
Prabhat Kumar (The writer is pursuing Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication at Central University of Jharkhand)