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

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Jharkhand : Numbers Game


The 61-year old demand for a separate tribal homeland of Jharkhand finally bore fruition when parliament passed the Bihar Reorganisation Bill last month. The proposed state, carved out of 18 resource-rich districts of Bihar, will become a reality on November 15, a day observed in these parts as Birsa Munda Jayanti. Even as the modalities of the political transition are being worked out, with Ranchi emerging as the unanimous choice as the new state's capital, what is also coming into focus is the complex game of numbers that has recently come to characterise so much of India's democratic functioning.

The new legislative assembly will have a total of 82 MLAs, and the magic number required by any party or coalition to sustain its claim to form the government and to demonstrate its majority in the assembly is 42. Some front-runners for the position of chief minister have clearly emerged – Shibu Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Soren); Babulal Marandi, union minister of state for forests and environment and BJP MP from Dumka; Karia Munda, BJP MP from Khunti in Ranchi; and Bagun Sumbrui, Congress leader and a minister in the Rabri Devi government in Patna. None of them, however, has the requisite number of MLAs. The result is the prospect of endless rounds of negotiations and horse-trading, with politicians on all sides recalling past favours and half-forgotten poll commitments and promises.

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