By Gladson Dungdung
Jharkhand has been in the line of fire after lynching of 12 innocent people by the mobs, when a rumour of kidnapping kids, spread in the region. The opposition parties constantly attacked the state government for its failure in maintaining the law and order in the state, and the media too concluded it as the State’s failure in protecting its citizens. But is it so simple matter, which is merely related to the failure of law and order in the state? One should see the larger politics of the state to understand the reasons behind the incident. In fact, it was a well-designed plan, executed by the right-wing forces to divert the public attention, discourse and unrest from ongoing resistance against the BJP government on the issue of handing over the Adivasis’ lands to the private business entities.
The Adivasis have been resisting against the state government for amending two land legislations – Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 and Santal Pargana Tenancy (supplementary provisions) Act 1949, which are known as the safeguards to the Adivasi land. This resulted in the electoral loss to the BJP, who lost the Littipada by-election recently, despite, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed smart mobile phones under the digital india programme to the Adivasi women and jobs appointment letters to some Paharia Adivasis. This has created unrest in the minds of BJP leaders, who are aspiring to retain the power in 2019.
The RSS and its allied organizations have been operating in the Chhottanagpur and Santal Pargana regions of the state for decades, where the BJP won most of the Assembly seats. However, the Adivasis have been protesting the BJP MLAs making them responsible for the amendment of land laws. There are several Adivasi organisations and traditional bodies, who have ostracized some of the BJP MLAs and openly declaring that they’ll campaign against the BJP in 2019. This clearly means, the BJP is going to lose the power in the state in coming election. If the Adivasis denounce the BJP, the party will become irrelevant in the state similar like the Congress party, which is upsetting the party leadership.
The Adivasis were the traditional vote bank of the Congress Party and there was no such divide based on the religion among the Adivasis. In 1938 the Adivasi Mahasabha was formed and in 1939 Jaipal Singh Munda presided over the outfit, which was later transformed as Jharkhand Party, the first political entity of the Adivasis. The party started the statehood movement to protect the Adivasi identity, autonomy and rights over the land, territory and resources. In 1952 and 1957 the party won 32-32 assembly seats in Bihar subsequently, and became the opposition party. This created terror in the Congress party. Thus, the right wings forces inside the congress party, started dividing the Adivasis on the basis of religion.
Since, the Congress party had already created religious based division among the Adivasis, which was a great opportunity for the Sangh Parivar to enter in the Adivasis’ territory. In 1990s the Sangh Parivar realized that the party can rule the region if it succeeds in dividing the Adivasis based on Sarna vs Christian Adivasis. The Sangh Parivar adopted the same methods of JESUIT, approaching the Adivasi community by providing education and health services. The RSS runs NGOs i.e. Vanvashi Kalayan Ashram, Vanvashi Kalyan Kendra and Vikas Bharti played a vital role in creating division among the Adivasis. The sister organizations of RSS i.e. VHP, Bajran Dal and others also fanned the religious flame. After formation of the state, the Sangh Parivar succeeded in imprinting the conversion in the minds of Sarna Adivasis as their prime issue and made the missionaries as their biggest enaminy. Thereafter, a series of conflicts were created on the matter of Kurukh version of Bible, use of the red boarder sari for the statue of Mother Mary, seizing the benefit of reservation to the converted Adivasis, demand for anti-conversion law and re-conversion of Christian Adivasis to Hinduism under the tag of Ghar Wapsi (returning to the origin).
This resulted in a huge electoral gain for the BJP, who ruled the state most of the time. In the last Assembly Election held in December 2014, Modi had promised to protect the Adivasis’ land. However, after winning the election, the BJP made first non-tribal as its Chief Minister against the tradition of make an Adivasi as head of the government. The Chief Minister, Raghuvar Das also enforced the domicile police, which recognizes everyone as resident of the state. The Jharkhand government amended the CNT/SPT Acts and enlisted 21 lakh acres of GM land in the land bank, which includes the lands of sacred groves, village paths, play grounds, graveyards, forest lands, hills, etc. The Government also organized a Global Investors Summit and signed 210 MoUs with corporate houses, who proposed the investment of Rs. 3.10 lakh crores in the state.
The government’s these activities fueled the anger of the Adivasis, who started series of protests against it. The Chief Minister Raghuvar Das attempted to play the religious politics by blaming the Christian Missionaries of instigating the Adivasis but it had no impact on the Adivasis. The Sarna Adivasis realized that the government has a clear intention to divide the Adivasis on religious line and handover their lands and other natural resources to the corporate houses. The governments acts paved the way for Adivasis unity, which upset the BJP leadership and RSS.
The Sangh Parivar knows that its politics will flourish in the state till the religious divide remain among the Adivasis, and if the issue of land conflict survive for a longer time, the BJP will surely lose the coming elections. Therefore, the present priority of the right-wing forces is to divert the land related discourse, keep the issues alive by false propagation, which sustain the religious divide among the Adivasis and create communal conflicts to polarize the communal votes. The BJP government has failed in realization of the electoral promises and Adivasis aspirations, therefore, it keeps shifting the goalposts. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised if the incidents like Jamshedpur keep happening in the state till next elections.