By Arun Srivastava
When the voters across the country have been exhibiting their inclination towards Congress and ensuring the victory of its candidate even from the seat which was traditionally held by the anti-Congress force in Maharashtra, the defeat of its nominee Bajrang Mahato from Ramgarh in Jharkhand has certainly not come as a surprise. Of course this has caused some concertation in the Mahagathbandhan circle as it cast bad omen on the alliance. In fact people have started cautioning Hemant Soren to maintain distance from the elements who are out to give a bad name to his leadership and the alliance.
This certainly does not implies to demean the victory of the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) candidate Sunita Choudhary who won the seat by more than 23000 votes. The AJSU Party had tied up with the BJP for the by poll. The by-election was necessitated after the disqualification of Congress legislator Mamta Devi, following her conviction in a criminal case. The Congress has fielded Mamta Devi’s husband, Bajrang Mahto, from the seat while the AJSU Party has nominated its leader Sunita Choudhary.
Long before filing of the nomination, a section of the state Congress leaders had vehemently opposed party fielding Bajrang. Mahato. Some senior leaders have even argued that since his wife Mamta has been disqualified as she was convicted in a murder case, it would be naïve to expect that he would get sympathy votes. People will reject him. Moreover since the AJSU candidate was in the fray, the accusation of perpetuating the hate and divisive politics, which is levelled against BJP, could not be stuck on the AJSU.
But the present bunch of state Congress leaders ignored the word of caution. For quite years the party has failed to gain its ground due to the wrong priorities of the leadership. The leaders are more busy infighting their own party leaders than trying to reach out to the people.
The credibility of the Congress leaders has always been suspect in the eyes of the common people. Only on July 30 last year three Jharkhand Congress MLAs were arrested with crores of cash from Howrah in West Bengal. They were carrying this money in their cars. They were given this money to support the BJP move to dethrone Hemant Soren government and install a B JP led government. They were the gullible players of the Narendra Modi-era Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) game to take over state governments by toppling those run by opposition parties.
This was also alleged that they were in close touch with the Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. It is alleged that the BJP leader bribed these MLAs with the mountain of cash and approached at least one other Congress MLA in that state through them, to give a shape to their operation Lotus.
These MLAs were also remanded to police custody till August 10, and the state police reportedly transferred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in Jharkhand, a parallel investigation is to follow. What was most surprising was another Congress MLA Kumar Jaimangal filed a first information report (FIR) at a Ranchi police station claiming that the arrested MLAs were acting at the behest of Sarma. The police had filed complaint against MLAs Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Bixal Kongari for cheating, criminal conspiracy and sedition. Jaimangal has even alleged that he was offered Rs 10 crore to topple the Soren government.
What was most despicable was the state Congress simply for suspending them, did not take any strict disciplinary action against them. They continue to hold complete sway over the party. They were termed as indispensable. Some leaders confided that the central leadership did not intend to intensify this case as it would further harm the party. Certainly shocking indeed, let the tainted legislators would not smear the face of the party, but initiating action would damage the prospect of the party. Nonetheless strange argument.
The Congress leaders of Jharkhand have been traditionally soft towards the BJP. The reason is most of the leaders are from upper castes hailing from Bihar and eastern UP. Their class interest is akin to that of the BJP leaders. They have made huge fortune and emerged as the strongmen of the state by exploiting the poor tribals. Most of these people had descended in the state with empty hand and n lo penny in their pocket. Now they are the uncrowned kings of the state.
It is worth mentioning that a significant number of such leaders and legislators had voted for BJP’s Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu defying the party instruction. Congress house in Jharkhand has never been in order. The sectoral interest of the leaders always modelled their actions. The affiliation or the emotional attachment of the leaders did not have much relevance.
Some experts try to make a point that coalition politics is not working effectively in the state. But it is entirely otherwise. A coalition can work only when the allies have a convergence of ideas and interest. But it is not the case with Congress leaders of Jharkhand. The central leaders of Congress must do some soul searching; why the BJP and RSS during the rule of Ragubar Das, could consolidate their gains and explore new areas. But the state has not made any strive? BJP uses all the resources at its command but the Congress leaders are busy consolidating their personal gains.
There is no doubt that the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi has enticed and motivated the people to come out in favour of Congress in other states; the recent results of the by polls are testimony to it, it miserably failed to any impact in Jharkhand. There is no need to be astonished, the state Congress did not make any collective effort to take the message of the Rahul’s counter narrative to the people. Every individual leader was busy to use it for boosting his personal image and gains.
The bourgeoning middle class and the poor people are restless to have their voice heard by the political establishment of the state. But unfortunately the system is occupied with its own contradictions and has no time to listen to them. The Ramgarh defeat has sent a distinct message that ignoring the voice of the Moolvasis (adivasis) and needs of the common people, the Congress cannot aspire to hold its existing base, least to think of emerging as a major force. (IPA Service)