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CM Soren and divisive politics

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Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Chief, Hemant Soren is resorting to politics that is not just divisive in nature but also shows appeasement of minorities.

By RITESH KASHYAP


Nothing can stop a bad idea whose time has come. This metaphor looks apt on the present state of Indian politics where regionalism is purposefully made a centre-stage of one’s politics and others necessarily be made ‘enemies’ in order to achieve the political goals. The recent addition to this conundrum is Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. 

Hemant Soren is doing politics over language and trying to create rift not just between the residents who have been living in Jharkhand but also those who come from outside. This would sound like the stories coming out from the state of Maharashtra where the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray or Shiv Sena of Uddhav Thackeray where the non-Marathi speaking people are targeted every now and then. Soren has targeted Bhojpuri and Magahi, terming them “imported languages” from the adjoining state of Bihar. It seem that the Chief Minister forgot the fact that once the present Bihar and Jharkhand were one state and they continue to share much of culture. 

His government has now ordered the removal of Hindi, Bhojpuri and Magahi as regional languages from its employment policy. On the other hand Jharkhand government has also ordered the inclusion of Urdu as a regional language and this raised the eyebrows of many over the chief minister’s intentions.

Sources say that Hemant Soren seems to have forgotten that he formed government with the support of the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and both the parties have expressed their reservation on the issue. Even Congress MLA Purnima Niraj Singh from Jharia tweeted, “Languages and dialects make this country; they don’t divide it.” 

Experts say that Soren is the larger partner in coalition. He is now eating down the political space of his alliance partners. Even the congress ministers in the Jharkhand government had complaint to their high command in Delhi about the oblivion behavior of the Jharkhand Chief Minister towards them. 

“Language is connected with the people and it could be Bhojpuri, Magahi or something else. We all are Indians and staying in the same country. We can't differentiate between people on the basis of languages. The Bhojpuri and Magahi speaking people living in Jharkhand have equal rights just like the locals living in Jharkhand," said Aditya Vikram Jaiswal, President, All India Professionals' Congress of Jharkhand.

Politics of Appeasement 

Another controversy has struck the Jharkhand political space when a separate space was allotted in the assembly for the muslim member for the exclusive purpose of offering namaz. The supporters of the government have called it a move to strengthen ‘secularism,’ the opposition parties have attacked Soren of appeasing the muslims. 

But Hemant Soren has played smart here. The separate room for offering namaaz in the Assembly has been allocated through the speaker’s office and not from the chief minister’s. The notification was issued on September 2 by the Jharkhand Assembly Secretariat that was signed by Under Secretary Navin Kumar. The circular was small and crisp saying, “In the New Vidhan Sabha building, room number TW-348 is allotted for offering namaaz. This is by the order of the Assembly Speaker.”

Currently, the Jharkhand Assembly has four muslims out of the total 81 legislatures. In 2019 Assembly polls ,the JMM-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance won 47 of the 81 seats in the assembly elections, with the JMM winning 30 and where Congress won 19, RJD-1 CPIML-1, NCP-1 seats respectively . The BJP bagged only 25 seats and its alliance partners AJSU -2 and Independents won 2 seats in the Assembly elections. On the other hand Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), which won three seats later party under Babulal Marandi has merged his party with BJP. But two of its legislators, Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey joined the Congress.

The Bhartiya Janata Party which is the key opposition party protested against this decision of the Speaker and change in the employment policy of the state in the assembly and outside. They called the namaz room allocation as undemocratic and unconstitutional. BJP would dare Hemant Soren to establish a ‘Hanuman Mandir’ inside the assembly. 

Controversies Galore 

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which is headed by Hemant Soren and the Jharkhand government is not new to such kinds of controversies. Recently the Jharkhand Cabinet has dropped Hindi and Sanskrit from the list of mandatory languages that candidates appearing for exams conducted by the Jharkhand Staff Selection Commission (JSCC) for Grade III and IV for the government jobs have to clear.

As per the Jharkhand's new employment policy, the candidates seeking jobs in the State should have knowledge of local culture, language, and tradition besides attaining at least 30 percent marks in a regional and tribal language which will be added to the scores while preparing the merit list. The regional and tribal languages which any candidate could opt for state-level examination are- Mundari, Kharia, Ho, Santhali, Khortha, Panchpargania, Bangla, Urdu, Kurmali, Nagpuri, Kurukh and Odia. Urdu has been retained as one of the languages in the 12 language papers while Hindi and Sanskrit which were there earlier have been dropped.

Bad Politics is Contagious 

Soon after the Jharkhand episode, a Samajwadi MLA and party leader Irfan Solanki has now asked for a separate room for offering namaz from Yogi Adityanath government. He is supported by a Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader. However, Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has not just rejected this demand but has also said that such demands have no justification, be it assembly, Parliament or any other government office.

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