Jharkhand’s gain, BJP’s nemesis! That is how one can describe the result of Jharkhand Assembly election in December 2019. The act of BJP henchman Raghubar Das biting the dust and downing the shutters by bowing to the popular verdict happened in spite of all the big shots from the Central government hovering over this state like helicopter hawks. Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani and the irrepressible Amit Shah, among others, campaigned for him. Even Modi’s wooing the voters with his characteristic verbal fireworks and glorifying the Citizenship Amendment Act, went haywire before his audience who had come to see the helicopter triplet, a rural rarity.
The mandate given by the Jharkhandis was not exactly an anti-incumbency verdict. Rather, it had deeper roots. The ire of the Adivasis is not a small factor. It can erupt into volcanic proportion when occasion arises. Raghubar Das’s unpalatable display of wooing crony capitalism did not go down well with them. Amit Shah’s Chanakya strategy with bulldozing stage performance could not tempt the locals to fall for the promises of crumbs even as he addressed a dozen pre-election rallies.
Modi’s vociferous justifications about the abolition of Article 370 in Kashmir proved a damp squib before the Jharkhandis. This time, his open challenge at a meeting in Jharkhand to the Congress to confer Indian citizenship to every Pakistani must have been viewed by the electorate as a boomeranging act sullying the image of the Prime Minister of India.
The large tribal slice of Jharkhand’s population felt that it had enough and more of the foul play of Raghubar Das government which was acting at the behest of the Central government. His rolling out red carpets for business tycoons and industrial magnates by promising to give them tribal tenancy-mandated land on a platter was not digested by the Adivasis. Their ire was heightened when he went on to amend the century-old tenancy laws of Chotanagpur and Santal Parganas by pulverising Gram Sabha rights over resources and by making non-saleable land a commercial entity.
The Jharkhandis did not take kindly to Das government’s administering ‘death warrant’ to the tribal population by legislating the Land Acquisition (Jharkhand Amendment) Act, 2017. With this, vast tracts of non-transferable agricultural land could be acquired by the government for giving them to industries, corporate houses, quarries etc. The mandated provisions in the central Act of taking consent of the Gram Sabha, Social Impact assessment and consent of 70-80 percent of the affected families were done away with in the 2017 Act. Evidently, the new law was meant to exploit the rich resources of the 35-40% mineral rich Jharkhand by and for the capitalist conspirators.
No wonder, all hell broke loose like what happened in the All India resistance movement against CAA and NCR. All opposition parties under the leadership of Hemant Soren, erstwhile opposition leader, formed a united front and people of all categories and communities were out on the streets to protest, to demonstrate and to condemn the Act as anti-people, anti-tribal and anti-Jharkhandi. ‘Slogans like ‘Jamin bachao’, ‘Jivan bacahao’, Jharkhand bachao’ (Save land, Save lives, Save Jharkhand) rent the air foretelling the death knell of the Raghubar Das government.
And the death knell proved right. The lynching armies’ murderous attack on Muslims and tribals in the name of cow slaughter, sponsored attacks on Christian missionaries and Christian institutions and slapping sedition cases against rights activists for posting critical views on FB, condemning and incarcerating innocent tribals as Naxals also quickened the down fall of the Sangh Parivar-backed Raghubar government.
Thus, the eerie hour of darkness has been confounded and defeated by the combined efforts of political and human rights forces in Jharkhand. There is every hope that the young and vibrant Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, son of legendary tribal mass leader Shibu Soren, will prove himself to be the ‘Sher ka Bacha’ (Lion’s progeny), an appropriate description of himself in his own words during a post-election press interview.
(Published on 06th January 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 01)