JDU will be contesting the state Assembly elections alone wherein it will field its candidates in all 81 seats.

 

NEW DELHI: The Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal United (JDU) has picked a tribal face, Salkhan Murmu, to lead the party in Jharkhand in the run-up to the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November-December this year. The party is promising to work on the five mantras of the “Nitish Model” and to provide an alternative in the state.

Interestingly, the party, which is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre as well as in Bihar, will contest the elections alone and field its candidates in all the 81 seats. It has not been allowed to use the “arrow” symbol during the elections after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) filed a petition with the Election Commission as it has a similar (bow and arrow) election symbol.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Murmu, a two-term BJP MP from Mayurbhanj (Odisha), said: “We are promising to emulate the Nitish model of governance— ‘Sushasan’—in Jharkhand, which has not seen the light of development even after 19 years of coming into existence. People of the state, especially the tribals, have got a raw deal, despite the fact that there were as many as four chief ministers from this community—Shibu Soren, Arjun Munda, Hemant Soren and Madhu Koda. Tribals are feeling cheated.”

What is interesting is that both the BJP and JDU contested the elections in alliance at one point in time. The JDU had substantial presence in the state till about 10 years ago. In fact, JDU was part of the BJP-led governments in the past with some prominent ministers, including Ramesh Singh Munda, Gopal Krishna Patar (Raja Peter), Lalchand Mahato, Baidyanath Ram, Bachcha Singh and Jaleshwar Mahato. JDU’s senior leader Inder Singh Namdhari was Speaker of the Assembly for two terms.  “The dream and excitement with which Jharkhand was formed by carving out of Bihar, has been shattered. Both the BJP and the JMM got the opportunity to rule the state, but they failed to address the basic issues of Adivasis (tribals) and Moolvasis (original settlers). They have not got their due. We are offering an alternative to the people of Jharkhand, which will fulfill their dreams,” the Jharkhand JDU chief said.

Talking about the issues on which the JDU will seek votes in the Assembly elections, he said: “There are five main issues on which we are contesting the elections—land, language and culture, employment, displacement and migration and implementation of PESA, that is the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996. Besides, we are going to the people with five ‘mantras’ of the Nitish Model—Sushasan (check on crime, corruption and communalism), development with justice, women empowerment, prohibition (liquor ban) and public welfare (road, electricity, water, education, health).”

Nitish Kumar visited Ranchi where he addressed a state-level meeting of party workers on Saturday. Party vice president Prashant Kishor was also present on the occasion.

The party has also promised to implement reservation provisions—32% for ST, 14% for SC, 27% for OBCs and 10% for others (economically backward class)–if it came to power in the state. Murmu also alleged that the BJP government has tampered with the provisions of the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Paragana Tenancy (SPT) Act, which provide protection to the tribals, in order to favour big industrial houses.

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