Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maoists abandon bullets for ballots

27 Nov 2009, 0403 hrs IST, Navtan Kumar, ET Bureau

RANCHI: Call it a change of heart or what you will, a clutch of Maoists are abandoning the gun to join the battle of ballots in Jharkhand.


Perhaps inspired by Kameshwar Baitha, a former Maoist, who not only contested the last Lok Sabha elections, but emerged victorious from the Palamau constituency in the state, at least six former extremists have decided to try their luck in the next four rounds of Assembly elections in the state.

The move has largely been welcomed by political parties, but a section of politicians feel this was not actually a change of heart, but a conspiracy to sneak into the democratic set-up. In fact, their willingness to become MLA has got support from a few political parties. Leading the bandwagon is the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which had given ticket to Baitha, followed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

Once a notorious extremist of Khunti-Arki area, Masih Charan of People Liberation Federation of India (PLFI), has decided to join the mainstream by contesting election from JMM ticket. He is lodged in Khunti jail. Paulus Surin, who is lodged in Gumla jail, has been fielded by JMM from Torpa constituency. Similarly, Yugal Paul, who is also lodged in a jail has been given ticket by JMM from Vishrampur.

Ranjan Yadav alias Ranjanji, who is lodged in Latehar jail, had contested the last Lok Sabha elections from Chatra as CPI (ML) candidate but lost. Recently, he resigned from the party and joined RJD to contest from Panki.

The fresh trend is seen as growing willingness among a section of the extremists to join the mainstream. Kameshwar Baitha's victory in the last Lok Sabha elections seems to have inspired them.

However, there is a section of politicians which feels that it was a 'planned conspiracy' of the extremists to 'sneak' into the democratic set-up to extract benefits for their organization. Senior Congress leader Radha Krishna Kishore, who is contesting elections from Chhatarpur (Palamau), said: “First, I object they being called former Maoists because there is no ‘service period’ as such. They 'were' extremists and they 'are' extremists. Secondly, there is no noble intention behind the move.

They have not surrendered their arms and so I cannot believe that there is any change of mind.” Asked to comment on Baitha's election, he said: "He got elected because of fear factor and also because of the poll arithmetic. There were a large number of voters who were disenchanted with mainstream parties like Congress and BJP and so their votes got shifted towards Baitha."

As far as JMM's open out support to the extremists in giving tickets is concerned, political observers feel, it could be the party's 'desperate attempt' to regain its hold, in the wake of setback during the Lok Sabha elections and also to end its 'political isolation' after Congress snapped ties with the party in the assembly elections.

In fact, a 'Milan Samaroh' was organized in Daltonganj recently, attended by JMM supremo Shibu Soren, to mark its merger with Jharkhand Vikas Party, a mainstream outfit of Maoist rebels.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattachaya justified the party's move saying: "We have always advocated that extremists should join the mainstream. By giving tickets, we are helping them to join the mainstream in real sense."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.