Jharkhand Elusive Stability
As expected, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren alias Guruji (66), who was anointed as the seventh Chief Minister of nine-year-old Jharkhand on December 30, won the vote of confidence on January 7 in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly. But how stable his government is going to be is a matter of debate. We produce three relevant interviews.
“We will serve as a watchdog” —Babulal Marandi
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) headed by state’s first Chief Minister Babulal Marandi has emerged as a major political force to reckon with. Out of the 25 seats contested, JVM won 11 and remained second in 10 seats. Uday India takes an inside view of his mind. Excerpts:
Despite being the largest pre-poll alliance winning 25 seats, why the JVM-Congress combine lagged behind in government formation?
That the Congress-JVM combine was the first preference of electorate is evident from the results. Mandate for forming the government was in our favour, but we were for a clean and corruption-free government. Since we did not yield to the hard bargaining and pressure tactics of the so-called secular parties, they sided with BJP.
What will be your (JVM’s) role now in Jharkhand?
We will serve as a watchdog and strong opposition. Good deeds of the government will receive our constructive support while we will protest its wrong doings and anti-development initiatives from streets to assembly. We will concentrate on strengthening our organisation so that JVM emerges as a viable alternative in the next elections. I am not in the race of grabbing power anyhow because I don’t believe that everything is fair in love, war and politics.
How do you see the association of BJP and JMM?
It’s is a marriage of convenience devoid of any ideology, principle or commitment towards the masses. When I joined hands with the Congress as a pre-poll ally, BJP branded it as ‘unholy and opportunistic’. Now when they (BJP) in power hunger have formed coalition with their long-term political foe, whom they have been accusing of state’s backwardness and corruption, they should justify their stand and tell the masses what compelled them to tie the knot with JMM and how its ideologies and values are different from others. The same BJP was gunning for Soren’s head and had termed him criminally tainted when he was inducted in the UPA’s Union Cabinet in 2004. It appears that the self-proclaimed party with a difference has turned indifferent towards its oft-repeated principles and values.
Who is responsible for the present state of affairs in the state?
The BJP is squarely responsible for state’s ills and sorry state of affairs. In 2003, it compromised with corrupt ministers to remain in power. In 2005 it hijacked independent MLAs and confined them at Jaipur to grab power to which I was dead against. And in 2009, they have again compromised to enjoy power.
Will the Shibu-led coalition government be a stable one?
I am not an astrologer to make predictions. My good wishes are with them but I am sure the government will fall due to its own contradictions, as formation’s constituents have no ideological similarities.
Your tie -up with the Congress was for elections only or will it continue in future too?
We will play a long innings together. My ultimate objective is state’s development–whether I am in power or not.
“BJP committed to good governance” —Raghubar Das
State BJP president and legislature party leader Raghubar Das has been inducted in Shibu Cabinet as Deputy Chief Minister. A four-term MLA from East Singh, Das (55) has earlier handled departments of labour, building construction, finance and urban development as cabinet minister. He outlines his priorities to Uday India. Excerpts:
BJP has always been known for anti-JMM stance. What prompted you to side with Shibu Soren for government formation?
In the present fractured verdict, there could not have been a better coalition than this. Since the voters had refused to give reins to a single political party, what is wrong if two single-largest parties having equal number of seats have joined hands for providing a stable government? Respecting the nature of verdict a government had to be formed and we came forward. All the coalition partners are determined to start a new era of development in the state and the government will complete its full term. We will work on the basis of common minimum programme drawn up in consultation with all alliance partners.
What will your priority be as Deputy CM?
Over 50 per cent population of the state lives below poverty line. Through our welfare measures we will ensure for them a life with dignity. Industrial development keeping ecological concerns in mind will be our priority. We are committed to fulfil our promise of providing clean, corruption-free transparent government where timely and proper utilisation of development funds would be ensured.
What are the reasons of party’s poor performance this time?
We are yet to sit and analyse the ‘likely’ reasons of ‘unlikely’ defeat. Primarily, it appears, we faulted in selection of winnable candidates. Scanning of party ticket contenders should have been more systemic and thorough. I think our message might have not reached the electorate in the desired manner.
“Naxalism cannot be crushed by bullets” —Sudesh Mahto
All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) was founded in 1986 as a non-political outfit and registered as a political party in early 2009. AJSU has made a stronger comeback with five MLAs. Its president and legislature party leader Sudesh Mahto (35), a three-time MLA from Silly seat in Ranchi district, was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister. Earlier he has served as in-charge of home, road construction, building construction and sports, youth affairs & culture departments. In an exclusive interview to Uday India, Mahto speaks about his future plans. Excerpts:
Congress was offering you CM’s post then why did you align with the BJP-JMM coalition by getting just Dy CM’s post?
We believe in marching ahead and assuming responsibilities step-by-step. At present AJSU party does not have the mandate to occupy the post of CM. Politics over creation of separate Jharkhand state was being played for nearly 50 years. The BJP while in power at the Centre respected the public sentiments and responded positively by creating this state in the year 2000. JMM and the BJP have real concerns for the state that is why we sided with them. AJSU believes in using power for the public and not the public for power like other parties.
Is AJSU planning to become a part of NDA?
At present we don’t have such an invitation or proposal before us. When we receive such a proposal, our party will discuss and deliberate with open mind.
As Jharkhand nomenclature parties, JMM and AJSU have the same constituency to target. How will both the parties cope with each other’s growth ambitions?
See the bright aspect of the issue. With similar thinking and ideology both the parties will grow and deliver better to the masses. At present, all major political parties–BJP, JMM, Congress and JVM have MLAs with AJSU background and they have almost the common agenda for state’s development.
At least 18 of the state’s 24 districts are reeling under Naxal problem. How will you deal with growing Maoist menace?
Naxalism is not only the state’s problem. It has penetrated deep in 13 states and over 200 districts of the country. Since they have interstate operations, a policy action at Government of India level also is required for curbing the menace. Since the problem is related with unemployment and poor governance in rural India, it cannot be crushed by bullets. We will have to go to the roots of the problem.