Despite being an ally in the JMM-led government in Jharkhand for nearly three years, the Congress is not in a powerful position in the state.
In all the big decisions taken by the JMM-Congress-RJD government, Chief Minister Hemant Soren has been successful in leaving imprint of his showmanship. However, the Congress always abides by Soren’s decisions, sometimes under compulsion or sometimes agreeing to it.
Congress ministers, MLAs, leaders and party workers are also aware of their “political weakness”. Their pain has also reflected in their statements on many occasions.
When the Hemant Soren government approved a policy that makes the 1932 land records the basis for domiciles, it did not go down well with the many in the Congress.
Congress MLA Geeta Koda, her husband Madhu Koda and Jharia Congress MLA Purnima Neeraj Singh termed this policy impractical.
Congress minister Banna Gupta was present in the Cabinet meeting which approved the the new policy but from the next day onwards, he started saying that every person residing in Jharkhand is a “Jharkhandi”.
Earlier, in the month of May and June, tension simmered between the JMM and Congress over a Rajya seat.
Amid the infighting, Hemant Soren met interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the very next day, he announced JMM’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha election.
The Congress first expressed displeasure over it and then during filing of nomination by the candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the grand-old party distanced itself from the JMM.
At that time, it was felt that the JMM-Congress partnership may sever, but after two days when the result for the Rajya Sabha election was out, Congress took part in the celebration of the JMM candidate Mahua Majhi’s win.
In the month of July when the JMM decided to vote in favour of the BJP’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, the Congress reminded it of the UPA’s coalition dharma but due to political compulsion, the Congress was not in a position to sever ties with the JMM.
Even nine of the 18 Congress MLAs in the state defied party’s instructions and cross voted in favour of Murmu.
Though the Congress had said that action will be taken against MLAs who have cross voted but in vain.
Earlier, in the month of February in Giridih’s Madhuban, the Congress had organised a three-day Chintan Shivir in which Banna Gupta had said that Hemant Soren is responsible for decimating the Congress in the state.
Many other leaders in the Shivir had said that Congress does not have strong position in the JMM government.
Post this Shivir, the Congress party leaders held a meeting with Hemant Soren after which a decision was taken to form a coordination committee of all the allies following which everything turned normal.
Recently, Jharkhand saw political uncertainty when the Election Commission recommended for Hemant Soren’s assembly membership disqualification. In the tough times, the Congress stood by Soren but the grand old party had to try hard for “saving” its MLAs from the “Operation Lotus”. To keep the MLAs united, they were stationed in a resort in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur.
Earlier, there were rumours about a deal between the BJP and a group of Congress leaders. On July 30, three Congress MLAs (Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap, Naman Bixal Kongari) were arrested from Kolkata along with Rs 48 lakh they have allegedly got as first installment as per the deal. After this incident, the Congress had suspended these three MLAs.
Congress Legislature party leader Alamgir Alam has given a written application to the Speaker’s tribunal demanding cancellation of their Assembly membership.
A senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity told IANS that if the assembly membership of the said MLAs is cancelled, then rebellion will be witnessed in the party.
Congress has four ministers in the JMM-led government — Alamgir Alam, Ramshwar Oraon, Banna Gupta and Badal Patralekh. Many ministers and MLAs of the Congress party express dissatisfaction over the working style of the party leaders.
Many times voices have been raised in the party over changing the ministers.
Recently, it was decided that Congress ministers will hold Junta Darbars every Saturday. The exercise was carried out only for three to four weeks and then stopped.
Of the 18 Congress MLAs in the state, five are women.
Women MLAs of Congress said that despite winning in such a huge number for the first time, not a single woman MLA was given a ministerial post.
A Congress woman MLA told IANS: “On hand, the party gives the slogan of ‘Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon (I am a girl, I can fight), but on the other hand, the women who have won in the Assembly polls are not considered worthy of becoming a minister. This contradiction should be cleared.”
The organisational structure of the Congress in the state is also not good. Since 2017, the party has not been able to constitute Pradesh Committee.
For the past five years, the organisation in the state is being run by party’s state president, three-four executive presidents and few spokespersons.
When asked why Pradesh Congress Committee could not be formed in the state in the past five to six years, party’s state president Rajesh Thakur told IANS, “This time, all processes have been completed for the constitution of the Pradesh Congress Committee. It is expected that after completion of the party’s election for the presidential post, in few days, Pradesh Congress Committee will be announced.
Rajesh Thakur said that election of president for 319 blocks has been held and on October 10 and in each block 25-30 member committee will be formed.
“Around 319 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates have been elected. For electing district president, the Congress interviewed the eligible candidates. Interview reports has been sent to the central committee of the party. Names of district presidents will be announced as soon as party gets approval,”.