Fourteen years, nine chief ministers, three stints of president rule, 14 chief secretaries and 10 Director General of Police – this is the governance story of the Indian state of Jharkhand, which was carved out from the southern hilly districts of Bihar into a separate entity.
The Modi Sarkaar slogan was blatantly copied by the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha by shouting loudly for Hemant Sarkaar. Be it any Sarkaar but people of this mineral rich but politically impoverished state are fed up of successive ‘Khichdi Sakraar’.
The state is voting to elect a new government in anticipation of ‘Ram-Rajya’ but would their dreams come true is a million dollar question. Rich in minerals, Jharkhand is grappling with the ‘red-terror’ of Naxalism. Of the 24 districts, 16 are infested with Naxalism. They are not only hindering development activities but have also made attempts to run a parallel government in which they have been succeeding at times.
Jharkhand has over 40% of country’s mineral resources that include iron, copper and coal. It has large deposits of Bauxite. But despite of a rich base, the states polity has become a ‘curse’ and the land bad name over the years.
Because of ensuing political instability, it has been suffering and lagging behind in all developmental parameters that include health, child welfare, education etc.
In call in tribal Jharkhand evokes much support for a political party that appeals more on sentiment than on a positive development agenda. Among its voters there is a underlying perception that a only tribal leader can help the community because a Brahmin will only uplift Brahmins and a Muslim will bring cheers on the faces of Muslims only. Agenda of Development is not on the radar.
Jharkhand has the dubious distinction of being the only state in the country where a legislator without a party (an independent legislator) did become the chief minister. Where governance went to the dogs, the man without a party set up records in corruption, trampled all democratic norms and yet he has earned the honourable title of being a former chief minister of an Indian state.
The most prominent tribal leader from Jharkhand has been Shibu Soren, popularly called ‘Guruji’, someone who has a long history of practicing politics of convenience. Once close to BJP, Soren became the coal minister of the country in Congress led cocktail government. In 2009, Soren was made Chief Minister but when he contested an assembly seat to get formally elected to the Jharkhand legislature, Guruji lost by a whopping 10,000 votes from Tamar assembly seat.
A BJP led government has had three stints in Jharkhand, with the longest tenure was headed by Arjun Munda, who remained in the hot seat from 11 September 2010 to 18 January 2013 (860). Another BJP government led by Babulal Marandi ran a term for 858 days, before the leader rebelled, ending his term.
While Jharkhand is in the process of electing its new government, others are watching with a bated breath whether any party attains a majority or the looming red terror will force upon another Khichdi Sarkaar.