When parties forsook peoplehttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/when-parties-forsook-people/

When parties forsook people

The attack on the Pakur police chief’s convoy,being seen as an audacious attempt by the Maoists to register their presence

The attack on the Pakur police chief’s convoy,being seen as an audacious attempt by the Maoists to register their presence in the Santhal Pargana region,was waiting to happen. Not just because the Maoists had been slowly making inroads into the six districts of the region over some years now,but also because political parties have forsaken the people in this tribal-dominated region.

In the absence of a strong political voice that the people can call their own,the Maoists sensed an opportunity and established their base. And,as reflected in the July 2 attack,they have now started baring fangs.

In that respect,the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha should take the major part of the blame for letting the Maoists get a foothold in the Santhal Pargana region. The six districts that make the region — Dumka,Deoghar,Pakur,Godda,Jamtara and Sahibganj — have been traditionally JMM strongholds.

Shibu Soren made inroads into this region by opposing the Mahajans or money lenders,who were exploiting farmers. The party is so entrenched that although the people now claim they won’t vote for Soren any more,they say they will cast votes for the Teer-Dhanush,the party’s poll symbol.

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It was only ironic then,that Maoists entered the region,which had no presence of the erstwhile MCC,in 2001,mobilising people in protest against the murder of a Paharia tribal leader by the Mahajans.

Even as it remained in and out of power in the state,the JMM failed to check the steady rise of the CPI (Maoist) in the area. The party missed the bus in 2004-’05,when it welcomed mining and power companies to the region.

It is no accident that the Maoist organisational structure received a major boost in the same period. They played to the gallery,supporting some movements against mining even as it supported mining in some areas.

Now,Babulal Marandi’s JVM(P) has made significant inroads,positioning itself as a pro-people party. However,it lacks the emotional connect that JMM makes with its core constituents,that it now shares with the Maoists — the tribals.

In the wake of the attack,there will be a lot of talk about pouring in money and security personnel into the Santhal Pargana. However,the battle will be half won only when political parties realise and work towards giving the people their ideologies as an alternative to those being offered by the Maoists.

Deepu is a senior correspondent based in Ranchi

deepusebastian.edmond@expressindia.com