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Jharkhand Power Race - Money allured Voters, Scams allured Politicians!
"If anybody or group that always daunts others about crossing the ethical limits, it is the politicians of India. But, it has also been a fact that the politicians – be it a national or a village level player – they never go by any ethics but only by one desire – holding power by any means and exercising it for solely individual or personal benefits. And, what is more shocking is that Politicians today are rather allured by corruption and scams than giving people an option of transparent governance. This is what observers found in Jharkhand during the recent elections as the polls witnessed huge flow of unaccounted money and finally parties with completely differing ideologies (only as claimed in public) grouped together just to hold a part of power."
Gladson Dungdung : December 31, 2009
If anybody or group that always daunts others about crossing the ethical limits, it is the politicians of India. But, it has also been a fact that the politicians – be it a national or a village level player – they never go by any ethics but only one desire – holding power by any means and exercising it for solely individual or personal benefits. And, what is more shocking is that Politicians today are rather allured by corruption and scams than giving people an option of transparent governance. This is what observers found in Jharkhand during the recent elections as the polls witnessed huge flow of unaccounted money and finally parties with completely differing ideologies (only as claimed in public) grouped together just to hold a part of power.
In the Assembly polls hold in Jharkhand recently, ‘The people of Jharkhand’ did not give a clear mandate to any political party or alliance, which surprised many people across the country precisely because there was a hue and cry on some thousands of crores’ corruption prior to the election and it was also an assumption that the people were fed up with the corruption, instability and uncertainty under the governments formed by the unholy alliances of small parties and independent MLAs. So, the expectation was for a clear mandate. Unfortunately, everything went just the opposite. The corruption icon Madhu Koda’s wife Geeta Koda, Enos Ekka and many other candidates with a tainted public image for alleged involvement in corruption won the election. In fact, among 81 elected members, 59 (73 %) have tainted public image with pending criminal cases like murder, kidnapping and theft. Therefore, what kind of governance is expected from these people other than corruption, crime and corporate terror?
The fact of the matter is the people did not give their mandates to the corrupt and tainted candidates but they got elected only because our democracy is on sale, which was clearly seen during the election. Now, even the voters counted and bargained their votes as it was a chance in five years. There is a major shift noticed in the villagers’ minds. The slogan “no development, no vote” changed into “no money, no vote”, which the political parties sincerely respected by openly distributing cash and kinds in the villages. According to Narottam Kumar of Dharampur village under the Mandu assembly constituency in Hazaribhagh district, a candidate of the national party gave Rs.50,000 to the villagers, carpets and Rs.10,000 to women group and provided liquor to men. Similarly, in Singhbhum region Rs.1000 packed in envelops distributed to each family and even the first time contesting independent candidates spent Rs. 5 to 10 lakh rupees and secured 5 to 15 thousand votes. Was the last huge scam became the allurement for the candidates?
According to the latest report, the corporate houses have spent more than Rs.300 crore in Jharkhand Assembly Election by giving money to the political parties so that they can buy the votes and bring policies in favour of them. Interestingly, the fourth realm of the democracy -the Media also adopted the culture of “coverage package”, with the principle of “no money, no news”. The media houses had told to the candidates that if they want good election coverage, they must pay them in forms of ads. Now, it is socially accepted that a candidate can buy the votes, voters can sell their right to vote and the elected members are free to bargain for money generating miniseries. But the most shocking fact is the Adivasis who are known for their honesty are also involved in buying and selling the democratic rights and also favouring the corrupt politicians.
Ironically, the holy priests are also in the part of unholy business of democracy. Will you be surprised if someone tells you that the corrupt politician Enos Ekka won the election and Benjamin Lakra with a clean image contested on the ticket of the Congress lost election only because the holy priests wanted that to happen? It is fact that the holy priests mobilized the people in favour of Enos Ekka on the basis of the work and benefits that he has ensured for the holy priests when he was minister before going to jail. Indeed, many Congress candidates lost the election only because the holy priests wanted to teach a lesion to the Congress. They believe that the Congress is the real culprit for Adivasis plight, which is of course not wrong. But the question is will they welcome the operation white hunt of Sangh Parivar against the Christians only because they hate the Congress? If the Christians are attacked in Jharkhand, they should not cry foul or pray to the almighty God to save them because they have handed over their houses to the devil for taking care of.
However, the things in the state have gone extremely wrong despite the strong secular forces prevailing in the state; the communal forces could able to grab the power. In the Jharkhandi market of democracy, the Congress, JVM, AJSU and JMM are the gainers and the BJP, JDU and RJD are the losers but the biggest loser is the BJP, who has lost 12 seats despite having favourable climate for winning the election. Ironically, the BJP was not ready to concede the moral defeat and formed government with the JMM, AJSU and JD(U). The BJP has become shameless party, who can do anything for grabbing the power. The Congress-JVM alliance did not go for any kind of horse trading despite emerging as the biggest alliance with 25 seats. It seems that they are looking for the long term politics. If they could be able to maintain their alliance, they would be in the driving seat next time.
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Jharkhand is really an unfortunate state, where an independent MLA can become the state head, any one can manipulate the public opinion for grabbing power and swallow the huge public money. Take the example of the BJP, who defended its tie-up with tainted JMM leader Shibu Soren though they had tirelessly criticized the Congress for giving him ministry in the UPA-I. The BJP president Nitin Gadkari defended the party’s decision of supporting JMM leader Shibu Soren to form the next Government in Jharkhand saying that stability and interests of the people of that state were the only concerns. Gadkari said it was Congress and not Soren who was responsible for corruption in politics. But he forgets that the JMM was the part of Madhu Koda government and not the Congress. It was supported from the outside but of course the Congress can not be given a clean chit. Both the parties – BJP and JMM seem to be the power hungry therefore they can justify everything. Another twist is Bandhu Turkey, who is supporting Sibu Soren to ensure that the investigation on purchase of games and sports materials for the national game halted. Most important question is will the BJP who tirelessly cries foul on the issue of corruption, shield Bandhu Turkey?
Guruji Sibu Soren is also unique in many ways. In the Assembly election of 2005, he had ensured the defeat of the JMM by adopting the dynastic politics and now he became another Jai Prakash Narayan in giving secular certificate to the BJP, who was the key player in the demolition of Babri Mosque, Gujrat riots and Kandhmal violence. He repeatedly said, “BJP is not a communal party”. After joining hands with the BJP, now he knows that the BJP is a secular party at least better than the Congress. The question here would be if the BJP is a secular party why he was the part of the Congress alliance earlier and also did not go for the pre-poll alliance with the BJP? Can he be allowed to portray a lion as a lamb merely to grab the power? Most of the MoUs (54) are signed by Arjun Munda to sell forests, rivers and lands of Jharkhand in the hands of the MNCs and Sibu Soren fought to save these. Will he be able to save land, forest and water with the BJP supported government? Can he say that the BJP is not a capitalist party or only the Congress sold the Adivasis resources? How long Sibu Soren will carry on unholy politics for grabbing the power?
Jharkhand has been victimized by unholy politics right from the beginning. The state has witnessed the unholy politics brought by the BJP, flourished during the regime of the UPA and supported by the JMM. In these circumstances, Jharkhand can be saved only through two ways – i) a new regional party emerges with the understanding of Jharkhandi culture, socio-economy and politics of the indigenous people and ii) the almighty God, who can throw light over the power hungry and corrupt politicians for resurrection of the state. The unholy politics must be stopped if the state has to address the people’s issues, engineer its destiny and grow with prosperity. Though Sibu Soren seems to be enjoying on his political move at this moment but he must be ready either to be jailed or leave the chair of the chief minister within next 6 months because he would be surely facing investigation agencies and one more Tamar test (election) as well and Jharkhand would be on sale, loot and robbery once again. Indeed, the future of Jharkhand seems to be dark under the unholy politics.
(Author Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand)