State of exception

Intrigue has returned to Ranchi with the fall of yet another government in Jharkhand. After Shibu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha pulled out of the government led by the BJP's Arjun Munda, it is anybody's guess whether the remaining blocs in the state's typically promiscuous politics will eventually hammer out yet another expedient deal to bid for power in the existing assembly, or opt for elections. The next step in Jharkhand's political future could, indeed, lie with Governor Syed Ahmed, and it is to be hoped that he will be mindful of avoiding any whiff of partisan behaviour in this state so ill served by its messy politics.

Jharkhand attained statehood on the basis of a long and vibrant struggle to bring social and economic betterment to its people by addressing the mismatch between widespread deprivation and a region blessed with natural resources. That struggle was also propelled by the desire of its people to attain political representation. The record since statehood eventually came in 2000, however, has belied these hopes. It would be misleading to blame it all on fractured mandates. For, the fact is that alliances in Jharkhand have been especially transactional, even mercenary. The two national parties, the BJP and the Congress, have been part of practically every one of the eight governments in these 12 years whether within government or offering outside support and to them must be apportioned blame for failing to enforce accountability from their allies (and the allies, like the JMM, have flitted back and forth between the two national parties). Indeed, a pact to look away from the excesses of their allies and even their own governments has been too readily conceded by the BJP and the Congress as a price for power. This expediency is not born of difficult circumstances, it is plain laziness in crafting a more imaginative and responsible politics.

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