Jharkhand’s Babulal Marandi likely to ‘return’ to BJP on Feb 14

Source: hindustantimes.com

After the 2019 assembly elections, political circles in the state have been abuzz with speculations of JVM (P)’s merger into the BJP. Several developments within the JVM (P) in the last month also gave ample indication to that effect.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) chief Babulal Marandi is likely to rejoin Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 13-years after he left it over a leadership tussle. The homecoming of Jharkhand’s one of the most well-known tribal leader is likely to take place in the presence of central BJP leadership in Ranchi on February 14.

Leaders of both BJP and JVM (P) confirmed that Marandi is likely to return to the saffron fold at a grand function to be held in Ranchi, likely to be attended by BJP’s national president JP Nadda. However, none of the party leaders wanted to speak on the record about the development.

“Babulal Ji is a tall leader. Any decision regarding his party’s merger would be taken by the central leadership. As of now, the state BJP has not been informed about this. Media will be informed as and when a decision in this regard is taken,” said Jharkhand BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo.

Marandi, a former RSS leader and Jharkhand’s first chief minister, had quit the BJP in 2006 to form his own party JVM (P). However, his party’s performance has been in a continuous decline. It won 11, eight and three assembly seats in 2009, 2014 and 2019 state elections, respectively.

After the 2019 assembly elections, political circles in the state have been abuzz with speculations of JVM (P)’s merger into the BJP. Several developments within the JVM (P) in the last month also gave ample indication to that effect.

Marandi, the party’s president, first dissolved his party’s executive committee on the ground that it needed a restructuring. He then constituted a new executive committee, in which the party’s two legislators Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey were not included. He even expelled Tirkey for carrying out “anti-party activities”.

On Tuesday, the party also issued a show-cause notice to Yadav for alleged anti-party activities and gave him 48 hours to reply.

Sources said Yadav was likely to meet the same fate as Tirkey.

Marandi is reportedly removing all impediments to a legal merger. He is said to have met BJP’s national president JP Nadda last week to finalize the plans.

Sources in JVM (P) confirmed that following Marandi’s instructions, party’s district presidents had been appointed and leaders, workers and others were preparing to make Marandi’s return to the BJP, a big event.

Jharkhand govt trying to cover up killings of tribals for opposing Pathalgarhi movement: BJP

Source – outlookindia.com

The BJP on Thursday accused the JMM-led government in Jharkhand of trying to cover up the killings of seven villagers in West Singhbhum district for allegedly opposing ”Pathalgarhi”, a self-rule movement.

Supporters of the movement had allegedly kidnapped seven villagers of Burugulikera in Guddi block on January 21 and killed them for opposing their stir. The mutilated bodies were recovered from a forest around 4 kilometres from the village the next day.

Following the incident, BJP president JP Nadda formed a party delegation to visit the West Singhbhum district. The delegation comprised Jaswant Singh Bhabhor (MP from Gujarat), Samir Oraon (MP from Jharkhand), Bharati Pawar (parliamentarian from Maharashtra), Gomti Saai (Chhattisgarh Lok Sabha member), Joan Barla (LS member from West Bengal) and former Jharkhand minister and MLA Nilkanth Singh Munda.

The delegation on Wednesday met Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah and submitted the report on the incident.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, Oraon said the JMM-led Jharkhand government, of which the Congress is a part, “is trying to cover up the incident.”

“The state government got into action two days after the incident and is now trying to cover up the incident to safeguard the perpetrators of this heinous crime in which innocent tribals were killed,” he said.

Oraon said the incident took place after Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced that all cases against ”Pathalgarhi” activists will be taken back.

The Pathalgarhi movement is a name given to a tribal protest for autonomy to Gramsabha (village council). Its proponents want no laws of the land be applicable to the tribal people in the area and refuse to accept government”s rights over forests and rivers.

Its supporters carve their diktat on rocks in their areas of influence. The name ”Pathalgarhi” is derived from the practice of carving the edicts of the leaders of the movement on large stones called ”pathal” in local language, while garhi means carving.

The killings that took place days after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal coalition government assumed power in the state on December 29, triggered widespread outrage and CM Soren ordered an investigation by a special investigation team (SIT).

Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the killings, according to police.

Chaibasa, Lohardaga case: BJP holds silent protest.

Source – dailypioneer.com

The State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday held a silent protest near Raj Bhavan against the State Government’s action, in which it prevented a delegation of BJP to meet with the family members of victim. ‘

A delegation of BJP leaders also submitted a memorandum to Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu in this regard.

The State BJP showed aggressive stance against the State Government with allegations of deteriorating law and order after Hemant Soren became the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. BJP leaders led by former Chief Minister Raghubar Das, the State BJP Chief, Laxman Gilua and almost all MLAs of the party participated in the protest.  The BJP leaders also submitted a memorandum to Governor Draupadi Murmu, protesting against the mass massacre of seven tribals at Gudri in Chaibasa and stone pelting on a rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act in Lohardaga took place Thursday.

Rajya Sabha MP, Sameer Oraon, Senior BJP leader and Ranchi MLA, CP Singh, former Legislative Assembly Speaker Dinesh Oraon, Lohardaga MP Sudarshan Bhagat and Neera Yadav among the prominent faces of the party who were present at the Rajya Bhavan in a one-day silent protest. The party demanded to the Governor that the whole issue should be investigated by a High Level judicial committee.

Former Chief Minister, Ragubar Das said on the occasion that Chief Minister Hemant Soren had given clear indication after holding his first Cabinet meeting. “The government has fueled the anti-national forces which has involved in the killing of innocent tribals. The Government which is saying that it is pro tribal but massacre of tribal taking place in the Government,” he added.

The BJP leaders, who were holding placards in their hands, demanded the arrest of the accused.

A delegation of BJP MPs was going to meet the families of the slain tribals on Friday which was prevented by the State Police at Karaikela in Chaibasa District. Citing security, Section 144 has been imposed in the area. Angered by this action of the Administration, the investigation team staged a protest near Karaikela under Sonuva Police Station. The MPs shouted slogans against the State Government. After this they sat on Chakradharpur-Ranchi National Highway 75, which blocked the jam for one and a half hours. After seven hours of sit-in, the BJP leaders finally had to return.

Pawan Varma can go to any party he wants, says Nitish.

Source – thehindu.com

Two days after party leader Pawan Varma sent him a stinging two-page letter asking for his “ideological clarity on the electoral tie-up with the BJP for the coming Delhi elections”, JD(U) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday broke his silence to say, “if he [Mr Varma] wants to go to some other party, he has my wishes”. 

Mr Varma later said he would continue to speak what he “believes good of the country and for the party”.

On December 21, Mr. Varma,said in his letter that he was “deeply perplexed” over the development of ties with the BJP beyond Bihar. He ‘reminded’ Mr. Kumar of his confession to him, on more than one occasion, about his “grave apprehensions” of the BJP-RSS combine. He also mentioned about the “private conversations” he had had with Mr. Kumar on ties with the BJP.

“He [Mr Varma] is a learned man for whom I’ve a lot of respect, even if he may not have the same for me. But this is not the way to share such things in public… it is surprising…he says I’ve told him certain things in private…what if I should tell you what he had told me?”, Mr Kumar told journalists. “if he wants to go to some other party which is his decision… he has my wishes”, Mr Kumar said while coming out of a function organised at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary.

However, an hour later, Mr Varma responded to Mr. Kumar’s statement and told journalists that he would decide his next course of action after getting response to his letter from Mr. Kumar. “Awaiting reply of my letter to Nitish Kumar… will decide future course of action after that but I’ll continue to speak what I believe is right, what is good for the country and the party”, he said in Delhi. 

Though he was in Patna on Wednesday to participate in a function, Mr. Varma chose not to meet Mr. Kumar. 

Mr. Kumar said, “If he has any confusion he should have put it before me or at the party forum but there should not be any confusion in anyone’s mind about how the JD(U) as a party runs”.

Mr. Varma said in his letter, “In my first meeting with you in Patna in August 2012 you had spoken to me at length and with conviction on why Narendra Modi and his policies are inimical for the country… when you were leading the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ you had openly made a call for RSS Mukt Bharat. I remember your confession to me in private how the current leadership in BJP party has humiliated you. You maintained on more than one occasion, that the BJP is leading India into a ‘dangerous space’. 

Action likely

A JD(U) source told The Hindu that Mr. Kumar may take action against Mr. Varma and Prashant Kishor, who have of late been hammering him with tweets and letters, on January 27, when he would meet party leaders at his official residence, 1 Anne Marg.

State JD(U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh had said he would urge Mr. Kumar to take action against these party leaders.

Ceding Ground in Delhi for Smooth Landing in Bihar: Explaining BJP’s Generosity Towards Nitish & Paswan.

Source – news18.com

The Bharatiya Janata Party has sought to firm up its alliance for the Bihar assembly polls scheduled later this year by accommodating two of its allies from the heartland state in its Delhi election plans.

The BJP, which is the main challenger to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in the national capital, has left two seats for Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and one for Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. The JD(U) will contest from Sangam Vihar and Burari while the Seemapuri seat has been left for the LJP.

Both the regional parties had fielded candidates against the BJP in the Jharkhand assembly polls last year. There were also reports of the JD(U) extending help to BJP rebel candidate Saryu Roy who went on to defeat chief minister Raghubar Das in Jamshedpur.

In Jharkhand, the BJP also failed to firm up its alliance with its regional ally All Jharkhand Students Union, leading to a division of anti-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha votes. This was cited as one of the reasons for the BJP’s poor performance in the tribal-dominated state.

Some BJP allies have also been complaining of getting a short shrift from the NDA leader – both in states and the Centre. The saffron party under Narendra Modi has won clear majority in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, thus reducing its dependence on allies in running the government.

Shiv Sena, the oldest BJP ally, has already left the NDA to join hands with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra. Ties with the Shiromani Akali Dal have been strained over RSS’s attempts to expand Rashtriya Sikh Sangat – an affiliate formed to reach out to the Sikh community.

These moves have not gone down well with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee or SGPC, which coordinates with and is responsible for management of gurdwaras in the country. SAD feels RSS activities are impinging on SGPC activities that are inextricably entwined to the state’s polity.

Both Akali Dal and BJP’s Haryana ally Jannayak Janta Party have backed out of the Delhi polls. One constituency for which SAD had earlier staked claim, Harinagar, has been handed over to the BJP’s Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga. But elections in Punjab are some time away. And SAD, not BJP, has more at stake here.

However, the saffron party is taking no chances ahead of the Bihar polls. Having lost the JD(U) and consequently the elections to Lalu Prasad in 2015, it is extra cautious this time around. Nitish Kumar, on more than one occasion, has been announced as the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate.

Nitish had pulled a hard bargain ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to extract a few seats more for his party. As a mark of protest against disproportionate allocation of ministerial berths, his party did not join the Modi government.

The BJP, on the other hand, seems to be going the extra mile to accommodate Nitish Kumar and Paswan. Both in Bihar, and elsewhere.

Attack on Visva-Bharati students: Third accused arrested in Jharkhand.

Source – indianexpress.com

The third person, accused of attacking a group of students near a boys’ hostel on Visva-Bharati University campus in Shantiniketan last week, was arrested from Jharkhand on Sunday, police said.

“Sulav Karmakar, a student of the history department of the central university, was picked up from Godda in Jharkhand in connection with the incident that left at least two students injured on January 15,” an officer of Birbhum police said.

Earlier two persons — Achintya Bagdi and Saber Ali — had been arrested for their alleged involvement in the assault on the members of Left-leaning Students’ Federation of India (SFI) on January 15.

Karmakar was the third student named in an FIR lodged in this connection.

The attack took place a week after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta was heckled by the Left-leaning students when he came to deliver a lecture on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on January 8.

The injured SFI members of the university had alleged that the attackers belonged to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and that the assault was a fallout of the demonstration the Left students held during Dasgupta’s visit to the campus.

Denying the allegations, Bagdi had said that he belonged to the Trinamool Chhatra Parisahad (TMCP), which the TMC’s students’ wing had denied.

The TMCP had said that the accused were earlier its members, but had left the organisation.

Dasgupta, Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and others had to remain confined for over seven hours to a room of the central university, outside which hundreds of Left-leaning students staged a sit-in, accusing the politician of promoting hatred among communities.

The Visva-Bharati on Friday set up a three-member panel to probe the alleged confinement of the politician and the incident of assault.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha pleases BJP, keeps out rebel MLAs from panel.

Source – newindianexpress.com

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) firmly moved towards merger with BJP keeping out dissident MLA’s Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey out of prominent posts in the newly constituted working committee on Saturday. “Only those who are in support of JVM Chief Babulal Marandi on the issue of merger with BJP have been inducted,” sources said, adding “The merger is likely to take place by month-end.”

Yadav and Tirkey are, however, members of the 151-member working committee. In the last working committee, which was dissolved after the recent Assembly poll debacle, one of the oldest party members and Poreyahat MLA Pradeep Yadav was assigned the post of Principal General Secretary.

Notably, Yadav was in Marandi’s Cabinet in 2000 when Jharkhand was carved out as a separate State from Bihar with Babulal Marandi as its first Chief Minister. Yadav, who has been representing Poreyahat for around two decades, left BJP in 2006 when Marandi formed his own party JVM (P). 

“JVM (P) is all set for merger with BJP. Reconstituting the working committee is the first step forward in this direction,” said a party functionary requesting anonymity. Marandi, a former RSS leader, who resigned from his job as a teacher to work for the organisation was given a to contest Lok Sabha elections in 1991 and 1996 and proved to be a giant killer defeating JMM Chief Sibu Soren in Dumka in 1998.

The victory boosted Marandi’s profile and he was inducted in the Union Council of Ministers by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Bihar: People May Be Tired of Nitish, but a BJP CM Unlikely to Solve Problems.

Source – thewire.in

Last week, prominent Dalit BJP leader in Bihar Sanjay Paswan in an interview with the Indian Express claimed that people of Bihar are now “tired” of Nitish Kumar and need a chief minister from the BJP. “What I have gathered from my extensive tours in nearly 20 districts of the state is that people are now tired of Nitish Kumar. The state now needs a BJP CM, be it is Sushil Kumar Modi, Nityanand Rai, or anyone else,” Paswan, a and a Member of Legislative Council (MLC), told the newspaper.

BJP’s state spokesperson Nikhil Anand was quick to intervene, saying the remarks were Paswan’s personal views. Meanwhile, Janata Dal United (JDU) spokesperson and state information and public relations minister Neeraj Kumar said, “After Amit Shah made it clear that NDA would contest the elections under Nitish Kumar, there is no meaning in Paswan’s statement.” Indeed, on Thursday, while addressing a rally in Vaishali district of Bihar, Shah reiterated that the NDA will contest the next assembly election (due later this year) under the leadership of Kumar, adding the CM will be the face of the alliance.

However, it would be a mistake to believe that there is no substance in what Paswan actually claimed. It is a fact that the Bihar CM, unlike in previous elections, is facing an anti-incumbency sentiment. He is not as popular as he used to be a few years ago. In conversations with several observers of Bihar politics and visits to the state in recent years, I sensed growing resentment amongst people about Nitish Kumar’s rule. His image of Sushasan Babu (the Man of Good Governance) is no longer intact. This is something that he, his party and the BJP’s leadership are acutely aware of.

Signs of Kumar feeling under-confident can be also noticed in his party changing its slogan recently. It can be recalled that in 2015, ahead of the assembly elections, the JDU’s slogan was, “Bihar Mein Bahar Hai, Nitish Kumar Hai (Bihar is blooming, there is no alternative but Nitish Kumar)”. The slogan became very popular and played an important role in his return to power. However, in September last year, the slogan was changed to “Kyun Karen Vichar, Theek To Hain Nitish Kumar? (Why have second thoughts, what is wrong with Nitish Kumar’s rule?)”.

There is a marked difference in the tone and tenor of the slogans. The earlier slogan clearly indicated confidence, claiming there is no alternative to Nitish Kumar as far as the chief ministership of the state is concerned. The latest one, on the contrary, hints that Kumar and his party may be lacking confidence and acknowledges that people may be having second thoughts and that he is no longer invincible.

The BJP and other allies of the NDA also know this well and are hence trying to put pressure on him, albeit indirectly. Last year, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan also hinted that Nitish will be the face of the alliance, unless the BJP decides to bring in a different captain. Hence, the latest statement by the BJP leader should be seen in that context.

Reasons for Nitish’s declining popularity

There are several reasons for Kumar’s decreasing popularity. In recent years, several cases of misgovernance have surfaced. This includes, to name a few, Srijan scam, Muzaffarpur shelter home case, death of more than 100 children due to encephalitis, rise in crime in recent years and massive floods in several parts of the state, including the capital. These events have shattered Brand Nitish, the image of a leader who rescued Bihar from the “dark ages” and provided much needed good governance.

As with anywhere else, the media plays an important role in shaping a politician’s image. Local media and journalists played a crucial role in both portraying Nitish as popular and abled leader over the years and also now holding him responsible for the aforementioned events. However, in recent years, unlike his previous regimes, Nitish does have a similar level of control over local media. There was a time when “journalists in Patna often refer to Nitish as Bihar’s editor-in-chief instead of Chief Minister”. As per a report, nobody wanted to annoy the state’s ‘editor-in-chief’ even if the truth flew in their face and hence stories of alleged misrule in the state went unreported.

Assuming that people are really tired of Nitish Kumar, the question then is if a Sushil Kumar Modi or Nityanand Rai – or any other BJP leader for that matter – can provide a pro-people government? The answer is: a state government headed by a BJP leader is unlikely to be any different from the current one. There are two main reasons for this. The foremost reason is, barring a few years, the BJP has been an integral part of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in the state since 2005. Sushil Modi is perhaps the longest serving deputy CM of Bihar. Unlike parties like LJP, the saffron party has been a prime partner of the Bihar government and cannot absolve itself from the ‘misrule’ of the Nitish government.

The Jharkhand experience

Moreover, even if the BJP is voted to power with a clear mandate or have an upper hand in the government, there is no guarantee that it will act differently. Clues can be found in the way the BJP ruled in Jharkhand, where the party recently suffered a bad defeat due to its ‘anti-people policies’. During the 2014 assembly elections, the party argued that the people of Jharkhand are disillusioned by lawlessness, corruption and bad governance first during the regime of Madhu Koda and then Hemant Soren. If the BJP is given a clear mandate, it will bring development to the state, the party said. The people did so, voting in the BJP-led alliance. But the way the government functioned, forced the voters to unseat the BJP five years later.

Under Raghubar Das, anti-Adivasi and pro-corporate policies were brought in Jharkhand. Those who tried to protest and resist the policies were branded ‘anti-national’, charged with sedition and jailed. Incidents of mob lynching also increased in the state. Death due to hunger became a common phenomenon. Apart from tribals, Dalits and minorities, other sections of society also suffered. All this irked a large number of voters. So much so that five-time MLA and sitting CM Das lost his traditional seat. Moreover, Das’s former cabinet colleague levelled serious charges of corruption against him.

Today, the situation in Bihar is not very different from Jharkhand in 2014. While it would be a mistake to think people are not tired of Nitish Kumar, the bigger mistake would be to think that a BJP regime will solve the problems the state faces. That’s because the party and its leadership have been part of the problem equally. Denying that is nothing but cheating the people of Bihar.

Jharkhand BJP to revamp after poll debacle.

Source – outlookindia.com

The BJP in Jharkhand has started the exercise of looking into the reasons for the humiliating defeat in the recently held assembly elections. The party is planning to axe those district presidents who could not win a single seat in their respective areas. According to party sources, preparations are also underway to bolster the party units at the district levels to overcome the deficiencies that led to the debacle.

A top functionary of the BJP said the exercise to pick new state office bearers is on and is expected to be completed in 50 per cent of the districts soon. This time the party faced big reverses in Kolhan region (24 districts) where most of the functionaries are likely to be axed.

The party is planning to appoint new district presidents this time and will not elect them, as was the practice earlier, sources said. The party will first get a new state chief and then the district presidents will be appointed, sources added.

BJP spokesman Pratul Shahdeo told IANS that the party has begun reviewing performances of its functionaries and is looking into the reasons of the defeat. “We do this exercise after every election. This is a normal process,” he said.

Laxman Giluwa has already resigned from the party president post taking moral responsibility for the defeat though his resignation is yet to be accepted.

The BJP is also reviewing the performance of the members of Parliament who could not help win seats in their assembly constituencies, sources said adding that Jharkhand election in charge Om Mathur has sent a report to the the party high command in which he has questioned the role of MPs during state elections.

Apart from the new party president in Jharkhand, BJP is also yet to appoint its legislature party leader. Sources say that talks are going on for the merger of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) president Babulal Marandi with the BJP. If that happens, BJP may pick a tribal face for one of the two posts – legislature party leader and party president.

Stones Thrown In Jharkhand During BJP’s Pro-Citizenship Amendment Act Rally.

Source – ndtv.com

Giridh, Jharkhand: Stones were hurled at a rally in support of Citizenship Amendment Act organised by the BJP in Jharkhand’s Giridh on Sunday, prompting police to fire teargas shells to control the situation, officials said.

The incident happened at the Padam Chowk area when BJP workers from six assembly constituencies of the district took out a procession in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“Some anti-social elements pelted stones on a procession of the BJP. Few policemen and some of those participating in the rally suffered minor injuries, forcing police to use teargas to bring the situation under control,” Superintendent of Police Surendra Jha said.

Giridih’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rahul Kumar Sinha is at the spot and camping there along with Surendra Jha.

Taking part in the rally, former BJP state unit president Ravindra Rai told reporters that the CAA was not against any citizen of India.

“The CAA is for the minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have taken refuge in the country after fleeing persecution. They should be given citizenship. But the opposition is spreading confusion over the issue. No Indian should be worried about the CAA,” he said.