Resort politics now seems to have become a regular feature in India. Parties unsure of the loyalty of their legislators lug them to safe places in chartered flights where they believe the rival groups out to poach them cannot establish contact. If at one level it underlines the venality and immorality of the present-day MLAs, at another level it reveals the deleterious role money and other allurements play in suborning loyalties of peoples’ representatives. Without exception, all parties indulge in horse-trading, in the Aya Ram-Gaya Ram business. However, of late the ruling party at the centre has shown an extraordinary penchant for winning over rival legislators to form its own governments in various states. No doubt it is immensely helped in its objective by the ready availability of various investigative agencies at its disposal.
In recent weeks, the BJP seems to have set its sights on the ruling United Progressive Alliance in Jharkhand. What has further caused jitters to the Hemant Soren government is the ongoing controversy over the tenability of the BJP charge that the chief minister had violated the office-of-profit provision and thus become disqualified to continue in his post. Some weeks ago, on receiving a memorandum for his dismissal from the opposition legislators, state Governor Ramesh Bais had referred the matter to the Election Commission. Even though the EC had since conveyed its decision in a sealed cover, the Governor seems in no hurry to disclose the finding.
Meanwhile the suspense over the fate of the Soren government has caused a virtual paralysis of the administration. In the 81-strong Assembly, the ruling combine has 49 members. With 30 MLAs the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is the largest group followed by the Congress which has 18 members while the Rashtriya Janata Dal has a solitary MLA. Three Congress MLAs are in Kolkata on court orders after they were caught a couple of weeks ago with large bundles of cash. It was alleged that the money was part payment for their switching to the BJP. Meanwhile, the threat of topping the JMM-led alliance government has brought governance in Ranchi to a complete standstill. Survival alone preoccupies the government. But the more important question is the refusal of the Governor to disclose the decision of the EC on the tenability or otherwise of the charge against the CM of violating the office-of-profit stipulation. The delay in clearing the air has aggravated anxiety in the ruling alliance, turning its focus away from even routine administrative matters. On a closer look at the charge against Soren, and going by the precedents available, it is more than likely that the EC has given a clean chit to the CM. Notably, Soren had withdrawn the application to renew the mining lease which was first granted to him more than a decade ago when he did not hold any ministerial post. The Jharkhand Governor owes it to the people of the state to end the uncertainty, though admittedly there is no constitutional stipulation as to the amount of time he could take to pronounce his decision. This only further confounds the confusion in governance in the State.