Resort politics: Ball is in Jharkhand Governor’s court

In recent weeks, the BJP seems to have set its sights on the ruling United Progressive Alliance in Jharkhand

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, August 31, 2022, 08:25 PM IST
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Jharkhand political crisis: UPA MLAs reach Raipur from Ranchi | ANI

Resort politics now seems to have become a regular feature in India. Parties unsure of the loyalty of their legislators lug them to safe places in chartered flights where they believe the rival groups out to poach them cannot establish contact. If at one level it underlines the venality and immorality of the present-day MLAs, at another level it reveals the deleterious role money and other allurements play in suborning loyalties of peoples’ representatives. Without exception, all parties indulge in horse-trading, in the Aya Ram-Gaya Ram business. However, of late the ruling party at the centre has shown an extraordinary penchant for winning over rival legislators to form its own governments in various states. No doubt it is immensely helped in its objective by the ready availability of various investigative agencies at its disposal.

In recent weeks, the BJP seems to have set its sights on the ruling United Progressive Alliance in Jharkhand. What has further caused jitters to the Hemant Soren government is the ongoing controversy over the tenability of the BJP charge that the chief minister had violated the office-of-profit provision and thus become disqualified to continue in his post. Some weeks ago, on receiving a memorandum for his dismissal from the opposition legislators, state Governor Ramesh Bais had referred the matter to the Election Commission. Even though the EC had since conveyed its decision in a sealed cover, the Governor seems in no hurry to disclose the finding.

Meanwhile the suspense over the fate of the Soren government has caused a virtual paralysis of the administration. In the 81-strong Assembly, the ruling combine has 49 members. With 30 MLAs the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is the largest group followed by the Congress which has 18 members while the Rashtriya Janata Dal has a solitary MLA. Three Congress MLAs are in Kolkata on court orders after they were caught a couple of weeks ago with large bundles of cash. It was alleged that the money was part payment for their switching to the BJP. Meanwhile, the threat of topping the JMM-led alliance government has brought governance in Ranchi to a complete standstill. Survival alone preoccupies the government. But the more important question is the refusal of the Governor to disclose the decision of the EC on the tenability or otherwise of the charge against the CM of violating the office-of-profit stipulation. The delay in clearing the air has aggravated anxiety in the ruling alliance, turning its focus away from even routine administrative matters. On a closer look at the charge against Soren, and going by the precedents available, it is more than likely that the EC has given a clean chit to the CM. Notably, Soren had withdrawn the application to renew the mining lease which was first granted to him more than a decade ago when he did not hold any ministerial post. The Jharkhand Governor owes it to the people of the state to end the uncertainty, though admittedly there is no constitutional stipulation as to the amount of time he could take to pronounce his decision. This only further confounds the confusion in governance in the State.

The entitled middle class

The seamier side of the middle class has been on full display in recent days. Two incidents in the tonier condominiums in the National Capital Region exposed the ugly side of the so-called educated class which still harbours feudal tendencies, refusing to acknowledge economically weaker sections as worthy of respect and dignity. In the first incident a foreign educated woman lawyer is seen on video hurling the choicest abuses at the security guards and even slapping one of them --- all for the alleged delay of three to four minutes in their opening the main entry gate. The gutter language she uses reveals more about her than the guards whom she seems to put down so mercilessly. On a complaint by the security guard, she was arrested on charges of criminal intimidation and threats of bodily harm, etc. After she had spent four days in prison she was bailed out. It is unlikely she will be able to easily put behind the evidence on tape of her true inner self which to say the least is rotten, unwomanly and does her foreign degree a great reputational harm. The second such incident a few days later happened in a residential complex in Gurgaon. A resident angrily slapped the security guard for delay in rescuing him from a stalled lift. The guard was not at fault but the entitled resident thought so, and used his hands freely nonetheless. On a police report he too was arrested and later freed on a personal bond. Both incidents reveal a sense of entitlement the relatively better off sections feel over the menial workers. Uninformed by the first principles of democracy of liberty, fraternity and equality, our middle classes tend to treat the poor and the weak as biped cattle to be denied their right to due self-respect and dignity. Happily, the videoed evidence and the positive police action could serve as a lesson to the middle class to be less insolent, less impatient towards the poor and the weak.

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