Can it last?

The first step towards ending weeks of political uncertainty in Jharkhand has been taken with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) agreeing on a power-sharing arrangement on a rotational basis that will enable them to form a government together. Under the deal, the BJP will lead the government for 28 months after which it will make way for the JMM, which will then head the government for the subsequent 28 months. Jharkhand was plunged in crisis three weeks ago, when a miffed BJP pulled out support to the JMM-led government in the state, after JMM chief Shibu Soren voted against the BJP-sponsored cut-motions in the Lok Sabha. The past few weeks have seen Jharkhand politics sink to a new low. Despite their recent squabble, the two partners seem to have patched up differences. But what has kept them together is not programmatic understanding but a shared fear that if they failed to settle their differences, there was a possibility of President’s rule in the state if the impasse persisted. And that would have meant a free run of the political field for the Congress.

The agreement is welcome. It has broken the weeks-long deadlock, paving the way for the BJP-JMM combine to get back to the task of governance. There is little to indicate, however, that the deal will hold as neither partner trusts the other. It is said that there are deep divisions within the JMM over allowing the BJP to head the government first. How long before they pull the rug from beneath the new government? It does seem unlikely that the government will be stable. Political uncertainty might have reduced somewhat with the power-sharing agreement but it has not gone away.

Ten years ago when Jharkhand became a separate state, its people — mainly tribal — hoped that free from Bihar’s domination life would improve for them. But Jharkhand’s rulers have failed them repeatedly. The quality of governance is among the lowest in the country, rural poverty has assumed shocking proportions, and crime and corruption has worsened over the years. Politicians have been busy jockeying for power, instead of attending to the problems of the people. A new government which will take charge soon, must provide Jharkhand with good governance, and put welfare of people at the top of its agenda.

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