Jharkhand Movement - New Fillip

With the growing complexity in the politics of the Jharkhand region, basically identified with the Jharkhand movement for autonomy, its dominant leadership faced a setback just before the last Lok Sabha polls when 4 former JMM(S) MPs were charge-sheeted in the `pay-off' scandal. Jharkhandi forces faced another major debacle as BJP swept the parliamentary elections. In place of the 6 MPs of the earlier united JMM, JMM(S) just managed one MP seat and that too with a narrow margin. Congress somehow managed to get one seat. The lone MP of CPI from this region in the last parliament was defeated this time. The mentor of Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC), AK Roy was pushed to the third position in Dhanbad where Laloo preferred to field a JD candidate from this constituency and incidentally the ticket was given to a mafia don and an ex-BJP leader Samaresh Singh.

Just after the polls many political pundits tried to analyse the result as a beginning of the end of the Jharkhand movement. In spite of a gain in seats, BJP had a 5% loss in votes. Vote share of the Congress and JMM also fell. Even with an 11% increase JD couldn't manage to win even one seat. The immediate reason for this phenomenon is that unlike earlier elections, this time JMM could not make any adjustment with JD or the left resulting in division of anti-BJP votes. Of course, the growing crisis of the JMM leadership has been a major cause for such a result but a stagnation in the Jharkhand movement has also played a role in it.

Assessing the present situation, the Jharkhand Regional Committee (JRC) of our party felt that firstly, there are prospects for a way out of the present stagnation in the Jharkhand movement because its objective basis still exists. Secondly, the Jharkhand issue in the real sense receded to the background in these elections. BJP's victory and its building a social base among a section of the tribals in the region is a primary reason for its success in communalising the movement. Thirdly, the basic reason for our poor performance in the elections is subjective, in particular, an erosion in our mass base and not identifying ourselves with any specific social force of the region.

The JRC has decided to launch a Party consolidation campaign. The target of this campaign was to eliminate the alienation of Party leadership from Party ranks and the isolation of the Party from the broad masses. It was emphasised to firmly establish our class line and intensify the class movement. Tasks like educating a batch of prospective cadres, reviving the mass organisations with particular emphasis on JHAMKIS (to reshape it as a peasant organisation with a Jharkhandi particularity), carrying out deeper social investigation and streamlining the Party structure with particular stress on Party branches etc., were undertaken to advance the campaign.

After the LS elections, the demoralised and disintegrated Jharkhandi forces from different streams have gradually started a process of interaction towards reunification. Meanwhile, on August 9, Laloo government extended the tenure of the undemocratic body of Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council (JAAC) for the second time for another six months. To consolidate its electoral gains BJP has declared a series of agitational programmes to champion the slogan of 'Vananchal'. The declaration for a separate state of Uttarakhand by Deve Gowda and Laloo's outright rejection for such a state for Jharkhand have provoked a fresh debate on the justification for such a state. The arrest of 4 ex-MPs of JMM(S) has further aggravated its leadership crisis. To come out of this crisis JMM(S) hastily organised a one-day Rail Roko in the region. The issue of Jharkhand autonomy has gradually resurfaced in the course of these events. CPI has decided to come out of the JAAC and its councillors have resigned. We have welcomed the move. A Janata Dal faction led by Inder Singh Namdhari has come out openly against the JD leadership in support of a separate state of Jharkhand. The last JRC meeting decided to rise to the occasion and to have a more effective intervention in the developing situation.

JOHAR, a human rights organisation is taking initiative to reunify the Jharkhand movement. Different grassrootist forces with NGO background virtually dominate this move and are trying to develop a tribal revivalist trend. They are interested to have a close interaction with us but without our party banner. So, it has been decided that JHAMKIS, at present our peasant wing, should be utilised to intervene in this forum.

JMM(S) sent a letter inviting us to an all party meet convened by them. It was decided not to participate in the meet but rather pose a few relevant questions to JMM(S) through a letter. The basic question posed was about their attitude towards Congress(I) and the BJP and whether they too were invited to the all-Party meet or not. Moreover, our assessment was clearly spelt out. It was stated that the 'pay-off' scandal was a by-product of the unholy nexus with Cong.(I) and that JAAC was the illegitimate child of an unprincipled alliance with JD.

It was decided to hold a seminar on "Communalisation of Jharkhand Movement and the Role of Left and Democratic Forces". It was planned to invite leaders of Jharkhandi forces and pro-Jharkhandi JD leaders in addition to left leaders. On September 30, this seminar was held at Ranchi. Com.Jayant Rongpi was present as the chief guest in this well-attended seminar along with Com.B.Mehata of CPI and Com.Gurudas Chatterjee of MCC (Marxist) and one district-level leader of JMM(M). A joint committe, Jharkhand Rajya Sangharsh Samiti, with CPI, MCC and CPI(ML) has been formed. Invitations were also sent to JMM(S) leaders and pro-Jharkhand JD leaders. Even though they showed their willingness initially, they did not turn up due to party pressure from above. However, we are keeping our door open for such type of forces. This seminar has opened the door for a joint left initiative on the Jharkhand issue in the near future. As a beginning a joint delegation of left leaders would be meeting the Union Home Minister on October 25 and place a demand for the creation of a separate state. On November 15, a joint convention at the regional level has been planned which will be followed by district level programmes. However, our debate with CPI shall continue which calls for only a non-BJP joint front while we are for a non-BJP as well as a non-Congress joint front. It was also decided that at the present juncture we should demand for the dissolution of JAAC which is a total fraud and raise the demand for a separate state.

It can be expected that in the next phase of Jharkhand movement the left will again come to the forefront and of course with the prominent role of our party.