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Jharkhand - Stuck In a state of limbo

 

The state has never had the stability that is needed to take the development agenda forward
June 13, 2010 17:26
Tags : Jharkhand |chief minister |(JMM) government | BJP |
 

 Jharkhand - Stuck In a state of limbo Prayag Rai 

Veteran journalist and ex-Tata Steel employee

It is truly ironical that Jharkhand, a state flush with mineral and forest resources, is still waiting for a clean and development-minded government. As self-seeking politicians continue to trifle with the people, there seems to be little hope of the scenario changing for the better anytime soon.

Tangled in a maze of political instability and widespread corruption, the state is in the grip of a sort of paralysis. All development-related work has come to a virtual standstill. Jharkhand has been in existence for less than ten years but has already seen seven Chief Ministers and as many Governors, a fact that bears testimony to the extent of the political instability that plagues the state. It is hardly any surprise that real development has remained just a mirage and the issues concerning the people and their needs have hardly been addressed. 

Jharkhand, which was part of Bihar, came into being as India’s 28th state on November 15, 2000, and Ranchi was chosen as its capital. BJP’s Babulal Marandi formed the first government in the state. The government got coal, uranium, gold, brass and mica as natural resources. In fact, the Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana regions, which previously constituted what was known as South Bihar, had huge reserves of these and other minerals. 

Jharkhand primarily comprises Chhotanagpur plateau and the forest region of Santhal Pargana, and has a rich and unparalleled culture heritage. The topography of the state is such that it will never run out of natural resources. But having said that, one must also not forget that Jharkhand got more than its fair share of troubles as well. The foremost challenge was, of course, Naxalism. Governments came and went but the problem of Naxalism stood where it was. Not a single day passes when you don’t hear news of attacks on police stations or police contingents, and that too with deadly weapons like bombs and landmines. 

The railway infrastructure in the state that is such a necessary a lifeline to support the mining industry is perpetually under threat of Maoist violence. Several incidents of the railway system being disrupted by Maoists and its property being damaged have been reported in the last few years. The culmination came this year when Naxals actually ‘hijacked’ the Rajdhani Express and held its passengers ‘captive’ for a number of hours. When Babulal Marandi became Jharkhand’s first chief minister, he pushed the state down the path of development. His government did a lot to improve the basic infrastructure of the state, including roads, water supply and electricity generation and supply. However, the internal squabbles in the BJP eventually led to the removal of Marandi as chief minister. He was replaced by pertyman Arjun Munda on March 17, 2003. The development work that Marandi had initiated during his tenure suffered because the priorities of the new government changed. Jharkhand hasn’t quite recovered from that reverse. 

Two years later, on March 2, 2005, the Arjun Munda regime was replaced by a Shibu Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) government. The government fell on March 12, merely ten days after he was sworn in. Arjun Munda once again assumed the reins of power. He somehow managed to survive at the helm of affairs till September 18, 2006. The Munda government fell when several Independents members of the Vidhan Sabha withdrew their support. 

The next man to take charge of Jharkhand was Madhu Koda’s Congress-supported government that came to power on the same day. Heading a government with only five Independents behind the chief minister was a tough act to pull off. But Koda had other surprises in store. 

Corruption and embezzlement of public money were sort of institutionalised under his regime. He was personally charged with felony and amassing property worth Rs 20,000 crores. He went to jail and is currently fighting dozens of cases. His tenure as chief minister was a blot on the state. 

The Congress withdrew support and the Madhu Koda government fell on August 27, 2008. The next day, Soren was again sworn in as CM. This time around he survived longer than he did in his first stint – until January 18, 2009. 

The next Jharkhand Assembly election was held under Presid
net’s rule. The result, as expected, was fractured. Another round of horse-trading ensued and the BJP and JMM cobbled up a coalition government. That too fell a few days ago. In short, political instability has continued to be Jharkhand’s principal bane. It has prevented the development clock from ticking since the very day of state’s inception.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017