As poll nears, Jharkhandis look for stability, development

As poll nears, Jharkhandis look for stability, development

As poll nears, Jharkhandis look for stability, development

After its formation, Jharkhand will go to the hustings a second time. This time around, what would be fresh in the minds of the electorate is the political uncertainty in the years following the 2005 assembly polls. Will the electorate deliver a clear mandate for one party or the other? Will the popular government be able to push the state on the path of development in a state often described as backward?

Though one will not have to wait long to have the answers, the experiences of a past marred by controversies, corruption and political uncertainty before the state was finally brought under President’s rule on Jan 19 this year in the wake of the defeat of the then chief minister Shibu Soren are too glaring to be glossed over.

Some lows

As many as seven legislators lost their membership to the state assembly under the anti-defection law on Aug 13. This meant little as the state had already come under President’s rule and was awaiting fresh election.

This apart, at least seven legislators, a majority of who served as ministers in successive governments enjoying pelf, power and political authority, are facing corruption charges. Among them, while former chief minister Madhu Koda is charged with amassing huge wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, two former ministers, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai, are in judicial custody in cases relating to disproportionate assets.

Formed only nine years ago, Jharkhand has seen six chief ministers. Four of them were during the outgoing assembly itself, largely because of Independent legislators switching loyalty from one side to other, giving the Soren government a short-lived 10-day rule (March 2005) and the Arjun Munda-led NDA government 17-months only.

Worse, the functioning of the governor under President’s rule came under a cloud after the CBI crackdown on two close aides of former Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi. Subsequently, an IAS officer Avinash Kumar was suspended on the charge of amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income. Kumar was appointed as officer on special duty (OSD) to Razi after the the imposition of President’s rule.

Some highs

This has left political observers to look for the highs of democratic values in the outgoing assembly. Against the backdrop that no political party or a coalition of political parties being in a position to form an alternative government since the imposition of President’s rule, the mainline parties namely BJP, JD(U), Congress and JMM  resigned to the fresh elections.

Apparently emboldened by the recent victories in Maharashtra, Arunanchal Pradesh and Haryana, the Jharkhand Congress leadership is exuding confidence that the party would come to power with the kind of governance the state experienced during President’s rule. “The state witnessed execution of welfare and development schemes at a pace like never before and the people now believe the pace would increase further if the party comes to the power,” said state Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu.

On the other side of the political fence, BJP state president Raghubar Das put up a brave front: “There will be no impact of the outcome of polls to the three states in Jharkhand. People have made up their mind to teach a lesson to the UPA which was instrumental for political instability. The drubbing the UPA received in the Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand early this year stands testimony to the fact.” The UPA had to contend with only three seats as against 13 seats in the 2004 general elections.

How the political situation pans out in the state in next few days would be interesting to watch as key UPA constituents, namely the Congress and the JMM, and the BJP have gone public, saying the parties would go to polls on their own. Under such circumstances it is anybody’s guess which party or combination of parties will reach the magic figure of 41.