BJP eyeing Jharkhand regime change to weaken Opposition, let corporates plunder resources
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, who leads a coalition of Opposition parties in the state, has refused to overturn laws shielding its abundant natural resources from corporate groups keen to exploit them
After being on the backfoot following JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar’s decision to snap ties with it and form a new mahagathbandhan government in Bihar, the BJP has resumed efforts to pull down the Hemant Soren-led coalition government in Jharkhand and return to power in the state.
The saffron party is reportedly willing to shell out over Rs 20 crore to MLAs belonging to the coalition led by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in the state, up from Rs 10 crore earlier, to walk away from the coalition of national and regional Opposition parties in power since 2019 in the eastern state, carved out of Bihar in 2000 as India's 28th state.
Even as sleuths of the CBI were deployed in Bihar to try and destabilise the Nitish Kumar-led government, some senior BJP leaders from Delhi are said to have descended in Ranchi last week and established contact with some legislators. Although they have yet to succeed in their mission, the game, it would seem, is on.
Hemant Soren himself has dropped hints that the BJP could resort to any mischief to regain power in Jharkhand. One of the prime reasons for the saffron party’s desperation to dislodge him from power is to oblige its corporate friends who are keen to gain unfettered access to the state’s abundant natural resources.
Some big corporate groups already have a footprint in the state, but they view laws such as Tribal Land Tenancy Act as an obstacle in their grand expansion plans.
Adivasis across the state, particularly those from Dumka area, had virtually revolted against such a move initiated by the earlier Raghubar Das-led BJP government. Hemant Soren is firmly against any such move, which is why he’s acutely disliked by corporate houses and the BJP is determined to throw him out of power at the earliest.
The failure of the earlier mission to get coalition MLAs to cross over has evidently infuriated the BJP’s leadership. It is worth recalling that recently, five persons, including three coalition MLAs from Jharkhand, were arrested by the Kolkata police from Howrah with a huge amount of cash being recovered from their vehicle. This money was evidently part of the BJP’s kitty to topple the Jharkhand government.
If sources are to be believed, the BJP’s leadership has now amended its modus operandi; instead of delivering the money to amendable MLAs in Ranchi, it would be handed over to their link persons in Delhi itself, so that they wouldn’t face the danger of getting exposed and caught.
Soren has gone on record to say, “Attempts to topple our government are not new. The BJP has been making such attempts ever since it was voted out of power in Jharkhand. We hear about this every other day”.
JMM has 30 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly, while the Congress has 17 legislators and the RJD one. BJP has 26 MLAs in the House.
Some time back, JMM MLA Ramdas Soren had accused a former party leader of attempting to topple the Hemant Soren-led coalition government. He had even lodged an FIR against Ravi Kejriwal and Ashok Agrawal at Dhurwa police station in Ranchi. Kejriwal, incidentally, served as JMM’s treasurer till he was sacked and expelled from the party. He once used to manage the business and financial interests of the Shibu Soren family.
Avinash Pande, AICC general secretary in charge of Jharkhand, has also alleged that the BJP was trying its best to effect a change of government in the state. “The MLAs are being intimidated and central agencies are being used to create confusion in the government and to destabilise the coalition,” he said.
According to intelligence sources, once the current phase of operations to target mahagathbandhan leaders in Bihar is over, the BJP’s focus will turn to Jharkhand.
Besides other reasons, the BJP’s top leadership is keen that all potent Opposition leaders like Hemant Soren, who pose a political threat to PM Narendra Modi, must be divested of power as far as possible.
Views are personal