The tribal state of Jharkhand blew hot and cold as it offered the BJP 12 of the state’s 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 but handed over the crown to Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha for a second time in the assembly polls. The year also saw a string of incidents where helpless people were lynched by violent mobs on suspicion of petty theft and performing witchcraft.
Imbued with a sense of nationalist pride after a string of bold measures taken by the Modi government in Jammu and Kashmir, the electorate handed 12 seats to the BJP-led NDA but upset the saffron alliance’s applecart in the assembly polls where the BJP finished second after the JMM. As the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance stormed to power after a five-year hiatus, which saw the BJP-led Raghubar Das government complete its full term, a first in Jharkhand’s history, Hemant Soren, the son of legendary tribal leader Shibu Soren, was sworn-in as the chief minister on Sunday.
Soren took oath at a grand ceremony attended by political bigwigs and regional satraps, in a show of unity that many believe could be a harbinger of a broad-based anti-BJP alliance, amid the uproar over the new citizenship law. “Let’s all unite and take Jharkhand to new heights, working for the all-round development of all sections of society. Let’s begin a new era of peace and prosperity,” the 44-year-old Soren asserted shortly after taking oath.
The JMM-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance won 47 seats against the BJP which, ploughing a lonely furrow, could win only 25 seats. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won 30 seats and emerged as the single largest party. The Congress clinched 16 and Lalu Prasad’s RJD one.
Among those in attendance at the oath-taking function were Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, TMC boss and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh counterparts Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, DMK leader M K Stalin, his sister Kanimozhi, and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.
Jharkhand hogged national limelight over a string of extrajudicial killings, including of Muslim men, that provoked accusations of the state having become a “hub of lynching” incidents that also echoed in the power corridors of New Delhi and the two houses of Parliament. Tabrez Ansari, a young man aged 24 years, was tied to an electric pole and beaten up mercilessly in June over suspicion of motorcyle theft. Married just a couple of months ago, he died a few days later.
The incident provided fodder to the opposition that mounted a scathing attack on the BJP, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi terming it a “blot on humanity”, and questioned the “silence” of “powerful voices” in the saffron camp. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the incident, but took exception to the entire state being held guilty and everybody put in dock.
“The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too. Guilty should get severest punishment but for this the entire state has been pronounced guilty and everyone put in dock, which is not right,” he told the Rajya Sabha.
“But some people in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state. None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand,” Modi said.
More cases of lynching were reported during the year four elderly tribal people were beaten up by a mob over suspicion of practising witchcraft in Gumla district, while similar incidents took place in Bokaro, Dumka and Koderma disticts.
The state was also in the news for another wrong reason crimes against women. In a blatant display of monstrosity, a toddler was raped and beheaded in the steel city of Jamshedpur in July. Four months later, a 25-year-old law student was gang-raped in Ranchi.
A Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) woman leader filed an FIR against party MLA Pradip Yadav in May, accusing him of sexual harassment during the Lok Sabha elections. Yadav later surrendered in a Deoghar court. Left-wing extremism claimed the lives of 11 police personnel during the year, while a few Naxalites were killed in encounters and several others either arrested or surrendered to police.
Campaigning for the assembly elections in the state, Home Minister Amit Shah had asserted that Naxalism has been “buried 20-foot under the ground”. However, the success of the Raghubar Das government, the only one to complete its full term in the state’s 19-year-history, in containing the menace, seemed not to cut much ice with voters.
Some good news came in on the sports front, as the state’s ace archer Deepika Kumari returned to form, winning gold in women’s individual recurve event at the 21st Asian Championships held in Bangkok in November.
Jharkhand’s 30-year-old cricketer Shahbaz Nadeem also shone as he became the 296th Indian player to earn a Test cap on October 19 at his home ground the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi.
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Source: Financial Express