The drama in Jharkhand
Jharkhand, one of the three new States that came into existence in year 2000, haas had six Chief Ministers in the eight years of its existence. Putting it differently, almost all the political parties that have a presence in the State – the BJP, the Congress, the JMM and the RJD – have had their men associated with ``governing’’ the State in these eight years. And that is not all.
Jharkhand, in fact, was ruled by Madhu Koda. Who is that? Well. Mmanu Koda happens to be a MLA. Well. How does that become significant? The answer is that Madhu Koda is just an MLA; his Jharkhand People’s Party had just one MLA until recently. And yet Madhu Koda managed to be Chief Minister of Jharkhand with support from the Congress, the JMM and the RJD.
He lost the job in August 2008 only because the Congress and the RJD were forced to tell Koda that their support to him cannot continue any longer because the two parties had committed to make Shibhu Soren the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in return for the support that Soren and other MPs from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha gave to the Manmohan Singh Government during the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.
Yes. Notwithstanding the fact that several details of the 123 deal between the Manmohan Singh regime and the Bush dispensation (the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal will now depend on which way Obama thinks!) are not known even to this day, the truth about the deal between Dr. Singh’s political managers and Shibhu Soren was confirmed within a couple of weeks after the confidence vote.
That the Congress had promised to make Soren, still a MP, as Chief Minister of Jharkhand was reported in the media during the week before the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha and the media also made it known that it was in exchange for the support that Soren had assured to save the Manmohan Singh-led secular-democratic-progressive-nationalist (I am running out of descriptive words of this kind) from falling after the Left parties announced that they no longer supported the regime.
Let me be honest. I did not want to believe that story. Despite my pathological aversion to the Congress party I thought that the venerable Dr. Manmohan Singh will not stoop as low as that to save himself and his regime. Moreover, Dr. Singh had taken a lot of pains, in July 2004, within months after he became Prime Minister, to obtain Shibhu Soren’s resignation from the Union Cabinet. Recall that sordid drama when the venerable Prime Minister, Dr. Singh, could not speak to his cabinet colleague Mr. Soren and ask for his resignation in the aftermath of a sessions court in Jharkhand issuing an arrest warrant in his name for a charge of murder.
Soren was not traceable for a couple of days. It was another matter that he remained a Union Cabinet Minister during those couple of days and accessible to only his private secretary. In any case, Soren agreed to resign, managed an acquittal in that murder case (involving the murder of his own former private secretary, Sashinath Jha) and ended up as the sixth Chief Minister of Jharkhand replacing Madhu Koda.
Soren, however, had to quit when he lost the by-election to the State assembly. And the irony was that Soren lost to Koda’s nominee. In other words, Madhu Koda is no longer alone. He has another MLA by his side now. And when Soren was forced to resign, Koda’s hopes must have revived once again. It is likely that he mobilizes some of his resources to garner support from wherever it comes so that he could become Chief Minister of Jharkhand again and shore up his resources again.
It remains to be seen if the Congress and the RJD, having had Governor Syed Sibtey Razi (a former Rajya Sabha member of the Congress) to recommend central rule for now and placed the State assembly under suspended animation, decide to renew their commitment to democracy once again and strike a deal with Koda! Let that not be ruled out.
And as for the people of Jharkhand, the adivasis who spent a lifetime and even more to ensure that Jharkhand is carved out as a separate State out of Bihar, they have two options: One would be to let things go the way they do and suffer in silence. This, however, is unfair and undesirable. The other option is to renew their battle for democracy and justice and while doing so take care to learn from their past mistakes and ensure that the Madhu Kodas and the Shibhu Sorens are prevented from snatching away the fruits of such struggles.