ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jharkhand Movement and Parliamentary Elections

The increasing inroads that the BJP has made in south Bihar electorally is of grave significance, especially given that the idea of a separate state of Vananchal, the BJP's election promise, is so removed from the tribals' concept of Jharkhand.

Politics in the Jharkhand region has not been in the interest of its tribal people though they constitute a significant group in central India. They have not been able to use the political opportunities to turn the tide in their favour. The last three elections repeat the same story. It is, nevertheless, important to analyse the voting behaviour and the election results of the region to ascertain the direction of the political processes. Since statehood to south Bihar was once again made a poll promise by practically all the major political parties in the last parliamentary elections, it becomes expedient to examine the political temper of the electorate and determine as to what kind of political autonomy will be in the interest of the people.

The political history of Jharkhand spans about a hundred years since the colonial times, when the tribal leaders like Birsa Munda wanted to free their land and people from the oppression of the outsiders. This struggle for socio-economic and political freedom had seminally begun as early as 1832, with many revolts like the Kol and the Bhumij rebellion of 1832-34 and the Santal insurrection of 1855. It gave rise to the Jharkhand movement for greater political autonomy, more specifically since 1938 with the formation of the Adivasi Mahasabha and the Jharkhand Party in 1950. Since then this subaltern movement has passed through the ethnic and pan-tribal phases to the stages of tribal nationalism and regionalism. The State Reorganisation Committee did not accede to the tribal leaders’ demand for a separate Jharkhand state in 1956, comprising the present 18 tribal districts of Bihar and the seven contiguous districts of Orissa, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh on the grounds of the minority status of the tribal population, linguistic heterogeneity of the area and the apprehensions of regional imbalance.

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