Battle For Jharkhand
Two phases of Jharkhand Assembly polls are over. Around 70 per cent votes in the first phase and 65 per cent votes in the second phase were cast. With this the fortunes of many political stalwarts have been locked inside the EVMs. 20 Assembly constituencies have so far undergone polls. Although these elections were a big challenge for the Election Commission as many places in Jharkhand are Naxal affected, ballet has undermined the bullets of the Naxals so far. Administration is all geared up for the next three phases of polls, given what just happened in the Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh.
On the one hand, there are the ambitious regional parties, on the other there are national parties like BJP and Congress which are leaving no stone unturned to be on the winning side. There are 81 seats in the Assembly, and all the strategists of various political parties are doing their best to eke out that winning formula. According to the BJP state president Ravindra Roy, “Even after 14 long years, Jharkhand has remained undeveloped, the reason for this lack of development is that no single party managed to win majority on its own.” Taking a dig at the present-day government, Ravindra Roy said, “Neither the Adivasis nor the non-Adivasis of the state have benefited from the Hemant Soren government. Even today, Jharkhand is lagging behind in every aspect.”
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supremo, Shibu Soren, on the other hand, is very confident of victory in these elections. He considers JMM to be the saviour of the state and insists that it has done lots of development works in the state. That’s why people’s faith in JMM has increased, he maintains.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, Trinamool Congress, and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) are also in the electoral race with all their might. According to the national general secretary of AJSU, Roshan Lal Choudhry, “The party is contesting on all the Assembly seats and this time too our agenda will be education, forestation and development. Roshan Lal Choudhry himself is a candidate from the Barkagaon seat. His brother Chandra Prakash Choudury was a minister in the previous government. Jharkhand Vikas Morcha president Babulal Marandi has been regularly organising meeting in the state, and making a connect with the people to form an honest and strong government. JVM national general secretary Mantosh Soren claims that his party would do well on most of the seats, as people of the state have realised the cunning ways of other parties. He insists that Babulal Marandi government was proved to be the strongest chief minister. He added, “Marandi honestly worked for the development of the state and this time as well, he wants to provide to the people of the state, a stable government.
If the political pundits of the state are to be believed, the regional parties may be wiped out in these polls. Here it is noteworthy that BJP got 18 seats in the 2009 Assembly elections, resulting in a government, which had Jharkhand Mukti Morcha as a coalition partner. BJP leader Arjun Munda became chief Minister with JMM’s Hemant Soren becoming his deputy, but this government fell in 2013 and President’s Rule was imposed in the state. Afterwards, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha formed the government along with other coalition partners. Hemant Soren was crowned as the CM. The term of the present Assembly expires on 3rd January 2015, so the Election Commission declared the polling dates.
STRONG GOVT. WILL COME TO POWER: SAMRESH
One of the heavyweight and influential leaders of Jharkhand and this time an independent candidate, Samresh Singh has been representing Bokaro Assembly area for the last many years. He was also a minister during the BJP regime. Sanjay Sinha spoke to him on the present political situation. Excerpts:
Assembly polls are going on in the state. What will be your role, after these elections?
Ans. We will form a strong government in Jharkhand. As far as my role is concerned, I will abide by the verdict of the people and perform every duty that I will be given.
Do you think that just like in Maharashtra and Haryana, ‘Modi-magic’ will work in Jharkhand as well?
Definitely. Narendra Modi’s working style is influencing every part of the country, how can Jharkhand remain aloof. If the people of the state want development, they have to vote for the BJP.
What will be your first priority for Bokaro?
Inclusive development, establishing AIIMS in the state, employment for the youth, health, education, and bringing in investment from other states will be amongst our first priorities.
JMM has a vote bank of its own in Jharkhand. Approximately 28 per cent of the rural tribal voters are with JMM. But gradually, JVM and the Congress are making a big dent in this vote bank. In the last Assembly polls, JMM got 18 seats, and JVM won 11, whereas Congress managed to win 14 seats. JVM hopes to increase its numbers this time, because most of the urban and rural areas in the state are strongholds of Babulal Marandi. One of the heavyweight Adivasi leaders he has left no stone unturned in the campaign. It is quite possible that regional parties may adopt a formula of coalition due to the apprehensions they might have about BJP. Political analysts believe that if regional parties form a coalition, they might go on to form the government too. Otherwise, just like in Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP may just have the last laugh here as well and form its government.
The new generation of voters to play a key role
The last general elections are a testament to the fact that the new generation of voters will play a deciding role in the formation of the new government in the state. That’s why all the political parties are trying to woo the young voters. Sanjana Sinha, a student from Ranchi, said: “Now no party can misguide the youth. Political parties have exploited the youth for a long time in the past. But now they have become aware. We will vote for those who will provide us with employment opportunities. Mere promises will not work.” Parties are using social media to connect with the youth. According to a survey, there are approximately 10 lakh new, educated young voters in Jharkhand this time, which will be a deciding factor.
Situation of women pathetic
In the political battle in the state, the condition of women is sad. In the 2005 and 2009 Assembly polls the ratio of men, women candidates was loaded against women. Statistics reveal that in the year 2005, 1296 male candidates were in the race for 81 Assembly seats, whereas the number for female candidates was just 94. 85 of them had to incur heavy loss; some of them even lost their security deposits. Only 5 women candidates managed to win. In 2009 elections, 1205 male and 107 female candidates contested the polls, out of which 94 female candidates could not even save their security deposits. This time too, it is quite hard to imagine that the number of women candidates will increase. Only 18 female candidates have got the tickets.
By Sanjay Sinha from Ranchi