Thursday, 18 August, 2022
HomePoliticsCongress firms up grand alliance of five parties in Jharkhand

Congress firms up grand alliance of five parties in Jharkhand

Text Size:

After its poor performance in the state in 2009 and 2014, the Congress expects a majority from this new alliance in the BJP-ruled state.

New Delhi: The Congress has firmed up a ‘mahagathbandhan’ with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Communist Party of India for next year’s Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand.

The grand old party has been seeking to forge a ‘grand alliance’ with anti-BJP parties in the state, which sends 14 MPs to the Lok Sabha, because it has performed poorly in the state in the past two general elections, winning a solitary seat in 2009 and drawing a blank in 2014.

In 2004, the Congress had won 6 seats, the JMM 4, the RJD 2, and the CPI one seat, with the other seat going to the BJP. In 2009, the BJP managed to win 8 seats, the JMM 2, the Congress 1, and the JVM(P) 1; the remaining two seats were won by independent candidates.

Also Read: What suits Narendra Modi and Amit Shah better— Rahul Gandhi or a faceless mahagathbandhan?

Congress leaders involved in the negotiations said an understanding had already been reached with these parties, and an announcement would be made soon.

“We have been launching agitations on the ground together and will contest together in 2019 to defeat the BJP,” R.P.N. Singh, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader in-charge of Jharkhand, told ThePrint. He, however, refused to divulge the modalities of the alliance, saying they’re still being worked out. Party sources say the Congress expects the fresh alliance to bag a majority of the seats.

The situation since BJP won

After its victory in the 2014 assembly elections, the BJP has been seeking to mobilise non-tribal votes to counter the JMM, the dominant party in the state. To this end, the saffron party installed a non-tribal chief minister, Raghubar Das. Tribals constitute around 28 per cent of the state’s population.

Das’s tenure has been marked by controversies. In 2016, he announced a domicile policy that defined ‘locals’. This triggered protests, as the policy was projected as a move to equate moolvasis (original inhabitants) with those who came in recent years.

The decision to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act to enable tribals to use their agriculture land for commercial purposes and to enable the use of land for social welfare projects of the government also led to controversies. Political adversaries projected these amendments as a move to sell tribal land to corporates.

Also Read: Mahagathbandhan not quite so ‘maha’ as cracks appear between Congress and regional parties

This prompted the Governor to return the amendments, causing embarrassment to the ruling party. Worse, many BJP MLAs have publicly criticised the government’s moves.

Cornered on tribals’ land rights issues, the government is now seeking to whip up passions on the issue of “Bangladeshi infiltrators”. Das announced last month that he had written to the union home ministry to revise the citizens’ list in the state, like the NRC in Assam, to identify Bangladeshis illegally staying in the state.

Jharkhand is also witnessing increased instances of communal violence and lynching incidents involving cow vigilantes.

Opposition parties claim there is strong anti-incumbency against the BJP. The JMM retained the Silli and Gomia assembly seats in the assembly bypolls held in May.

“The bypolls have already indicated that a united opposition can fight the Modi government better,” said a senior Congress leader.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular