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JHARKHAND (28th province of the Indian Union)

Dr Dhuni Soren,England

The new state of JHARKHAND, the 28th province of the Indian union was curved out of Bihar on the 15th November 2000, the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, the legendary tribal leader of the century. It was rather long time coming but it did come at the end and was warmly welcomed by all with high hopes, aspirations and excitement.

There was a long campaign against unfair treatment,injustice and exploitation of tribal people and their region by the neighbouring provinces and the government of India. This in fact started in 1936 before the independence under the leadership of a bright young Oxford educated Adivasi Mr Jaipal Singh. He was in the Indian Civil Service for a period but was best known as an oxford blue who captained the winning Indian Hockey Team in the Olympics Games of 1928.Adivasi Mahasabha was formed under his leadership in 1938 to redress the grievances and injustice to the Adivasi people of southern Bihar in particular of Chotanagpur plateau and Santal Pargana area. Their intention was to campaign for autonomous region and eventually a separate tribal state within the Indian union. The leadership of the Adivasi Mahasabha soon realised that to fulfil their dream they must include all Jharkhandis living in the region.

With this in view, they changed the name of Adivasi Mahasabha to JHARKHAND PARTY in 1950and opened its doors to all.As a result of this non Adivasi jharkhandis began to join the party and the campaign for autonomy. It was a very clever political move and worked well in the post independent Bihar legislative Assembly Elections. The Jharkhand party fought the 1st post independent election in 1952 with a demand for a separate state and had landslide victory. This legitimized the genuineness of their demand. They also did well in the second election in 1957 and were the main opposition party during the whole period. But in the election of 1963 their fortune began to decline and merged with the All India National Congress Party.The party with long political experience and top political leaders of the post independent India exploited the weakness of Mr Jaipal Singh, the leader of Jharkhand Party and a sitting member of the Parliament and induced his party to join the Congress led government of Bihar and few of its leaders became Ministers.

This was perhaps the beginning of the political wheeling and dealings of the Jharkhand party. Many in the party were unhappy with the alliance with Congress party and the Jharkhand party started to break up in to different splinter groups and subsequent decline in its popularity. Mr Jaipal Singh and Mr N.E.Horo with liberal political outlook lacked interest in agrarian and trade union issues and were totally dependent on electoral politics for achieving their goal. The younger generation of followers wereimpatient and unhappy with this approach as they wanted early realisation of their political goal.

The next stage of the movement began with the formation of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in early 1970s under the leadership of a young charismatic Santal tribal leader Mr Shibu Soren. He came in to politics at an early age by accident after his fathera school teacher was killed by local non- tribal money lenders. He was born at Nemra village near Giridih in the district of Hazaribagh. This area had coal mines and some industries and he had seen the exploitation of the poor workers. At this stage he came in contact with trade union leaders with leftist ideology A K Roy and Binod Behari Mahto. Mahto brought his Kurmi followers and Shibu Soren his Santal followers from Dumka and Santal Pargana area and they were instrumental in forging an alliance in Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the epicentre of the movement shifted from Adivasi dominated area of Ranchi and Dumka to mining and industrial areas around Dhanbad, Bokaro and Jamshedpur.

The alliance with the non-tribal population of the southern Bihar strengthened the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Mr Shibu Soren was propelled to the position of the main tribal leader of the region and commanded highest respect, power and influence. He was a dedicated and very popular revolutionary leader and was affectionately called GURUJEE by his followers. But he lacked political acumen and started wheeling and dealings with the other major political parties to maintain his political clout and influence.

The political fortune of the Congress party declined in the centre stage and BJP formed a central government with the help of NDA partners in New Delhi in late 1990s. They wanted to gain power and influence in the provinces. Bihar was a hard nut to crack where Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav was riding high as Chief Minister. He was vigorously opposed to the idea of a separate Jharkhand state and was known to have said that only over his dead body.But the BJP government had a different idea to control him. They decided to cut him to size by dividing the Bihar state in two.

And so a new state of Jharkhand was born on the 15thof November 2000 due to political expediency rather than love and affection for the tribal people of South Bihar. They even tried to call the new state as Vananchal to put their seal of approval but it did not work and the state kept its original name of Jharkhand which was coined as far back as 1936. But they gained a lot politically by forming the first BJP government of the new state of Jharkhand under the leadership a young tribal leader Mr Babulal Marandi who had progressed through the party cadre. All jharkhandis welcomed the new state with open arms and excitement with high hopes and aspirations. But one person was perhaps not sounhappy. He was no other than Mr.Shibu Soren who campaigned and waged struggles for years but at the end he did not have the honour and privilege of heading the first government of the new state.This went to his old rival who had once defeated him in the past in the Parliamentary election from Dumka, the power base of JMM and Mr Shibu Soren. That propelled Mr Babulal Marandi a young tribal leader to a national stage of BJP as a giant killer and natural claimant to the crown of new state.

The new BJP government lasted for 3 years under the leadership of Mr Babulal Marandi and most of the development work in particular infrastructure were done during his administration. As a young leader he had foresight and vision and really wanted to do something for the new state. But he did not last long and was manoeuvred out of the post of Chief Ministerby his own party. He eventually left the party and formed a new party and is doing reasonably well for the new party. But his original BIP party is poorer without him. Since then Mr Shibu Soren of JMM had 3 short spells as CM and present Chief Minister Mr Arjun Munda of BJP is on his 3rd term. Mr Madhu Koda an independent M LA was a dark horse CM for a period with the connivance and support of an outsider political leader.

Since then very little has happened in the state famous for its rich mineral resources like Uranium, Mica, Bauxite, Granite, Gold, Silver, Graphite, Magnetite, Dolomite, Fireclay, Quartz, Feldspar, Coal (32% of India), Iron, Copper (25% of India) etc. Forests and woodlands occupy more than 29% of the state which is amongst thehighest in India. The industrial city of Ranchi is the capital and Dumka, in Santal Pargana region is a sub capital. Some of other major cities and industrial centres are Jamshedpur, Bokaro Steel City, Sindiri, Giridih, Gumla, Deoghar, Hazaribagh and Dhanbad.

The people of the new state of Jharkhand have not reaped the benefit of all these rich resources and their hopes, dreams and aspirations are far from fulfilled. But the politicians have had field days and made a record number of 8 governments with 2 spells of Presidential rules in the very short history of Jharkhand. Hopefully the long suffering JANTA JANARDHAN of Jharkhand will return a majority party in the next election in 2014 to form a stable government to harness the rich resources for the development and progress of the state and benefit of the mother India.


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