Jharkhand :
New Act in the Political Theatre of Opportunism and Corruption

Jharkhand is witnessing a new act in the theatre of the absurd that has marked the state’s politics in the decade since its formation. In the past ten years, the state saw seven governments, with the state’s ruling parties appearing willing to display dizzying political gymnastics in keeping with every opportunistic compulsion. Once again, the Jharkhand government was pushed to the brink of anarchy as partners of the opportunist NDA Government as well as the Congress manoeuvred among each other, displaying their total absence of scruples and principles as they blithely made and unmade partnerships.
The drama began with the Chief Minister and JMM Chief Shibu Soren (who is the Dumka MP and yet to be elected an MLA) unaccountably led his party to vote in support of the Central Government on the cut motion moved by the Opposition. The JMM’s alliance partner in the Jharkhand Government, the BJP, reacted to this “betrayal” by announcing its withdrawal of support, but then shamelessly turned around to withdraw this threat in exchange for the possibility of a BJP leader as the next Chief Minister, even as the Congress hinted at a new alignment of the JMM-Congress-JVP. Shibu Soren offered an absurd explanation for his cross-over on the floor of Parliament by pleading confusion induced by Alzheimer’s!  
Meanwhile a factional struggle within the JMM also unfolded, with various contenders vying for the CM post and five JMM MLAs raising the banner of revolt against JMM’s cross-voting on the cut-motion. Time was running out for Shibu Soren to get himself elected to the Jharkhand Assembly – which he would have to do by June 30 to remain CM. He found it difficult to get anyone in his own party or among his allies to vacate a ‘sure seat’ for him to contest.
The drama has for the moment reconciled itself with the BJP and JMM coming to a tenuous agreement to share the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis. According to the agreement, BJP leader Arjun Munda will become the Chief Minister of Jharkhand for a third time, taking over after May 25 when Shibu Soren is expected to resign. As per a deal clinched, after 28 months of leading the government, the BJP will make way for a JMM Chief Minister for the next 28 months. Given the past experience of such opportunist seat-sharing agreements between the BJP and its allies in UP and Karnataka, the JMM can however hardly feel reassured.
The present episode has underlined the self-serving and corrupt character of ruling class politics in the state. Before the last Assembly elections, the multi-crore mining scam involving former CM Madhu Koda had exposed how the entire ruling structure in Jharkhand is mired in corruption and implicated in facilitating corporate grab of the state’s precious resources at the cost of the livelihood and lives of its adivasi people. The CPI(ML) has called upon the Jharkhand Governor to take steps for convening an immediate session of the State Assembly. The party will observe “dhikkar saptah” in Jharkhand from 18 to 24 May to mobilize public opinion against the ongoing mockery of democracy in Jharkhand.
PS: As we go to press, the political drama in Jharkhand is getting more and more curious. Shibu Soren is keeping everybody guessing as to whether he will really resign on May 25. He is also hinting at a possible renewed alignment of the JMM with the Congress !