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

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Elections in Jharkhand

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This is in response to the editorial “Message from Jharkhand” (EPW, 28 December 2019). It explored the proximate and indirect factors that have contributed to the electoral defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Jharkhand assembly elections. The election results have come at a crucial juncture of the political economy of the country, especially the state of Jharkhand. The main determinants for the BJP’s defeat include the decision to go into the elections without an ally, anti-tribal legislations, lynching, religious polarisation, and development deficit. The editorial has highlighted that “of these factors, the anti-tribal attitude has been the most dominant” (p 7). It has located the fact that “the tribal state nomenclature to Jharkhand is, in a sense, a misnomer. It adds no additional value other than the symbolic one.” This is a refreshing insight and goes a long way in redefining the dominant discourse, that is, understanding and labelling Jharkhand as a tribal state.

There is a mismatch between the title and the content of the editorial. To illustrate, in the title, there is a “message;” however, the substance hardly corro­borates or comes closer to the same. The word “message” in the title raises two inevitable clarifications: (i) message for whom and from whom, and (ii) what is the message. It is true that the concluding remarks partially answered both these questions by saying that the “new government takes note of this paradox and works out policies and programmes that include people in the margins” (p 8). However, the message lacks clarity and precision. The negation of local and regional aspirations over the heavy reliance on national and emotive issues in the poll speeches has become counterproductive to the BJP.

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