Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fragile political alliance and Maoist trouble mark 2007

Ranchi (PTI): Even as Jharkhand remained in the grip of Maoist violence for the entire year, the state government apparently found itself in a drift. The UPA government struggled to keep its 42 MLAs united in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly.

At least 225 people have so far been killed in Naxal-related violence this year. According to state police sources, 151 civilians, 11 policemen and 63 Naxalites have been killed till November 15.

Maoists struck in a big way when they killed Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Sunil Mahto on March four. Then on October 27, a son of former chief minister Babulal Marandi was killed along with 19 other villagers at Chilkarisih in Giridih district. The banned CPI (Maoist) claimed responsibility for both the incidents.

The Maoists told a news channel that Mahto had been "silenced" for obstructing their activity.

In the midst of stepped-up violence, the fragile UPA government struggled to keep its flock together, especially so after JMM supremo Sibu Soren's acquittal in the Shashinath Jha murder case, paving the way for Soren's active role in state politics once again.

Chief Minister Madhu Koda's troubles compounded when the Congress gave him a deadline of 60 days to respond to its list of 19 people-oriented issues. However, Koda got a fresh lease of life when the Congress rallied behind him on the floor of House defeating the no-confidence motion by 41-33 on December 18.

The main opposition BJP had to eat humble pie after its no-trust move. Leader of opposition Arjun Munda drew flak from his own party. BJP MLA Ravindra Rai said the indecision in bringing the motion at the fag end of the year let the coalition off the hook.

With Congress warning on the back of his mind, Koda tried to address the issues raised by the party. However, he has not been able to do much as 18 of the 24 districts are beset with extremism, where the government has demanded the Centre to deploy more security personnel.

To take on the Maoists, the state has given its go-ahead for raising an auxiliary force of 1,000 personnel comprising ex-army personnel, a special task force on the line of Andhra Pradesh's 'Greyhound' and a mounted police force that would track down Maoists in hilly terrains.

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