Missing report from Ranchi: political logic at large

As Centre recommends President’s rule for Jharkhand — a third time in four years — it’s time political parties, especially BJP and Congress, learn not to seek out opportunistic alliances and dalliances

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | January 17, 2013



Carved out of Bihar, the new state of Jharkhand hit India’s political map on November 15, 2000. In just over 12 years, it should have ideally had its third government in place. Instead, 12 years, two months and as many days old, the state looks set to have its third stint with President’s rule on Thursday.

And continuing our date with dates, the cabinet’s comes just two days shy of the first time the President’s rule was imposed on the still-fledgling state — on January 19, 2009.

On Thursday, the union cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, discussed the report of Jharkhand governor Syed Ahmed, who recommended imposition of President's rule while keeping the 82-member state Assembly in suspended animation, PTI reports. The cabinet decided to accept the governor's recommendation and refer the matter to the President for necessary action, a minister, who attended the meeting, said.

While it is easy to blame Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and its maverick, forever-rebellious chief Shibu Soren for largely triggering the tamasha and orchestrating what in political parlance has come to be known as musical chair governance in Ranchi, the two major national parties cannot exactly escape unscathed. Having played with fire, they cannot expect even fingertips, if not fingers or in fact the whole hand, to be singed.

While President’s rule was imposed in 2009 after no party came forward to form the government after Soren, carrying the chief minister’s calling card for the second time then, failed to enter the Assembly following his defeat in Tamar bypolls, the second one came on June 1 the following year after both the Congress and BJP gave up efforts to form an alternative government following Soren’s resignation.

In 2010, the Soren government was reduced to a minority on May 24 when the BJP, with 18 MLAs and JD(U) with two, withdrew support after Soren voted against cut motions sponsored by the opposition in Lok Sabha on April 27.

Soren had his revenge, and his seat in the game of musical chair, on January 8 this year, withdrawing support to the 28-month-old BJP government led by Arjun Munda and reducing it into a minority.

Soren, though, is hardly the archetypal sore thumb, despite the main political parties’ contention that he sticks out like a sore index, middle, ring and little finger besides the thumb. What he does is embody the opportunistic politics played by almost all parties in some form or the other, and the dangers of alliances and dalliances without a common minimum programme — as seen by Morarji Desai, VP Singh, Deve Gowda, Chandrasekhar and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime ministers, besides scores of card-decks toppling over in states.

Post-new year farce in Ranchi, both the Congress and the BJP should look at JMM’s own failure to grow much beyond being a biggish marginal player even in Jharkhand to realise that people do not get tickled by opportunism beyond a point. For a start, the parties’ high commands could ask their local leaders to fall in line. They could subsequently pull up their own stinking socks and play a game beyond running two-year coaching classes in the name of governance and immediate gains.

If this latest round of badly scripted drama has taught the nation anything, it is that nothing had been learnt from previous lessons. Time to change the textbook, perhaps.

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