Modern history of Jharkhand after Independence
The modern tribal movement for regional autonomy is a phenomena after India got independence. Jharkhand movement too is such a phenomenon. The main aim of the Jharkhand movement was the creation of a separate “Adivasi state”. Before independence, it was the main issue. But after independence, decks were clear to orient the movement from ethnicity to regionalism. With this, Adivasi Mahasabha got affected since they were the champions for separate Adivasi state. According to 1941 census the “land” of Jharkhand had only 44 percent of tribals, thus the demand of having a separate tribal state could not be fulfilled. This resulted in the formation of a new regional party, ‘United Jharkhand Party’ in 1948. This was formed by Justin Richard, a tribal leader who latter invited Jaipal Singh to join it . After hesitation, Adivasi Mahasabha joined the United Jharkhand Party and thus results in the formation of Jharkhand Party in 1950.
The tribal political awakening reached its culmination point with the inauguration of the Jharkhand Party. It was exclusively declare as a “Political Party” and not a social, economic, religious organization like the previous one. For the first time, non-tribals were invited in the ongoing movement for autonomy and there was a shift from ethnicity to regionalism in the objectives of the movement. The main credit was given to Jaipal Singh who included all the people of Jharkhand. The Jharkhand Party declared to establish a separate state comprising of mineral belts of Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. The demand for a separate state includes autonomy and preservation of tribal culture and language. This was made by 52 MLA’s of Bihar Assembly , who were also in opposition in the Assembly under the initiative taken by Davendra Champia.
Although the Jharkhand Party remained in the opposition in the Bihar Assembly, it was not able to prove its majority for a separate Jharkhand State. In general elections of 1952 the party won 33 seats for the Jharkhand area. Having political power, they submitted a memorandum singed by 34 legislators to Faizle Ali, Chairman of States Reorganization Commission in 1953. They demanded a Jharkhand state consisting of districts of Chotanagpur and Santhal pargana and portions of Gaya, Shahabad and Bhagalpur in Bihar, Mirjapur district in Uttar Pradesh beside the portion of Raigarh and Sarguja in Madhya Pradesh and Sundergarh, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj in Orrisa. The commission however in its report, rejected their demand for the separate state by giving the following points.
(i) Although the Jharkhand Party got substantial verdict of the people, they did not obtain clear majority within Jharkhand area and the assembly members did not represent the majority’s view.
(ii) Public opinion outside Jharkhand did not favour the division and even within the Jharkhand other parties opposes the division.
(iii) The demand of having a majority of tribal area was decline by saying that it constituted only one third of the total population and there are several languages spoken by the tribals. Thus, this is a different question and cannot be decided on the basis of only “majority”.
(iv) The separation of South Bihar would adversely affect the entire economy of the state as the plains were predominantly agriculture and Jharkhand provided the industrial balance. Thus, the loss of this area could not be afforded by the rest of the state.
(v) The separation would upset the balance between agriculture and industry in the residual state which would be a poorer area with fewer opportunities and resources for development.
(vi) Beside this, the centres for the higher education like Patna University and Bihar University were outside Jharkhand, so it would be very inconvenient from this point of view to go for a separation.
Failing to make Jharkhand as a separate state, there was a lot of contradiction within the Jharkhand Party. In 1963 a section of it joined the congress and with that the movement got slackened. Further disintegration the party resulted in loosing the people’s verdict for a separate statehood. A lot of parties emerged after like Birsa Sea Dal, Jharkhand Peoples Party, Jharkhand Kranti Dal, Jharkhand Vichar Manchs and so on . The endless list of splinter parties made the movement suffer. After a lean period of ten years, in 1973 a new leader came into the arena. A new party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) under the leadership of Sibu Soren came into prominence. With lot of non-christian tribals supporting this party, it readily transmitted a rays of hope in the mind of the people. It enlarged their roots to the Santal Pargna and Hazaribagh plateau area and soon it was found that the center of the movement has shifted from Ranchi area to Santhal Pargna region. Sibu Soren soon became the champion of the movement and carried it through his comprehensive philosophy and systematic analysis of the whole affair. Going through an Assam Model of agitation, an All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) was formed, whose main aim was to include youth of the region in the ongoing movement. This resulted in gearing up of the movement in a militant way. On the other hand the Jharkhand Party (Horo group), presented another memorandum which was again for the formation of the separate statehood. The reasons were again the same, i.e. for good and efficient administrations of this neglected and backward region by the people themselves of the region, in furtherance of functional democracy, socialism and secularism; and for upholding the basic human rights of the people majority of them are backward and belong to “ethnic groups”. Once again this proposal was refused by the parliament.
A lot of reasons were given and the most important was “lack of common language” across the region. As most of the states were formed by taking a common language criteria, this was insignificant in proposed Jharkhand. Besides, there was a lack of “unified movement” among different parties. This further contributed significantly in weakening of the movement for statehood. Even the people were fed up with this “power politics” which most of the parties were playing. The people of Jharkhand wanted an identity and not power but political parties were on a different track. The political dominance of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was upon 1984. Then again a lean period in the process of the movement was seen. The verdict started shifting towards the non-congress national party as now they thought it would be efficient to have their members in the ministry at the center . Thus Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)emerjed as a major political force. There main aim was to assimilate the region in the national political system and came up with the proposal of making “Jharkhand” as “Vananchal”. As Bhartiya Janta Party was a new party with high probability of being in or near center , the people supported them freely. They were the first national non-Jharkhand party, who supported the issue of Jharkhand. And after the failure of Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council (JAAC) and the chargesheet of Sibu Soren and Suraj Mandal, JMM leaders, there was no choice for the people to vote for them. Thus in the 1996 general election, BJP made almost a clean sweep by winning 14 seats out of 16 Lok Sabha from this region.
The state of Jharkhand became a functioning reality on 15 November 2000 after almost half a century of people’s movements around Jharkhandi identity, which disadvantaged societal groups articulated to augment political resources and influence the policy process in their favour. Its the 28th state of India. The Jharkhandi identity and the demand for autonomy was not premised solely on the uniqueness of its tribal cultural heritage but was essentially a fallout of the failure of development policy to intervene in socio-economic conditions of the adivasis and non-adivasis in the region. The dynamics of resources and the politics of development still influence the socio-economic structures in Jharkhand, which was carved out of the relatively ‘backward’ southern part of Bihar. According to the 1991 census, the state has a population of over 20 million out of which 28% is tribal while 12% of the people belong to scheduled castes. Jharkhand has 24 districts, 260 blocks and 32,620 villages out of which only 45% are electrified while only 8,484 are connected by roads. Jharkhand is the leading producer of mineral wealth in the country after Chattisgarh state, endowed as it is with vast variety of minerals like iron ore, coal, copper ore, mica, bauxite, graphite, limestone, and uranium. Jharkhand is also known for its vast forest resources.