mineral-rich state of Jharkhand has again hit the national
headlines -- for the wrong reasons.
Perhaps for the first time, the Election Commission of India has
recommended to the President of India to cancel the Rajya Sabha
poll from Jharkhand.
The ECI Friday stopped the counting of votes for two seats from
Jharkhand after money was seized from a car belonging to an
independent candidate's relative and recommended to President
Pratibha Patil that the poll notification be cancelled.
The income tax department in Jharkhand had earlier seized Rs.2.15
crore from an Innova car coming to Ranchi from Jamshedpur on the
outskirts of the city, suspected to be payoffs for getting a
favourable vote from some legislators.
"Jharkhand has been again defamed," rued Babulal Marandi, former
chief minister and president of the Jharkhand Vikas
The allegation of money power in Rajya polls is not new. Jharkhand
has a history of outsider businessmen eyeing Rajya Sabha seats
from the state. At present, two of the four members are outsiders.
Both are businessmen. One is K.D. Singh and other Parimal Nathwani.
Even in 2012, three businessmen including Anshuman Mishra, an NRI,
filed nomination papers for the two Rajya Sabha seats. Mishra was
supported by the BJP. When central BJP leaders expressed
unhappiness over Mishra's name, then the BJP back-tracked and
decided to abstain from the poll. In view of the BJP stand, Mishra
withdrew his candidature.
According to an IT official, Rs.2.15 crore which was seized from a
vehicle belonged to independent candidate R.K. Agrawal.
The role of ruling BJP is also being questioned over its stand -
to first support an NRI then to abstain from voting, and then at
the last moment to vote for the JMM candidate.
"I do not know by whose direction BJP legislators voted in the
Rajya Sabha poll," said senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha.
In the past, Jharkhand hit the headlines for many wrong reasons.
Jharkhand has witnessed eight governments and president's rule
twice in the last 11 years. Jharkhand created history when
independent legislator Madhu Koda became chief minister in 2006
and ruled the state for two years. Koda and three of his cabinet
colleques are in jail in connection with graft cases.
The first big scam known as fodder scam surfaced in 1990s during
undivided Bihar. Majority of Rs.950 crore was siphoned off from
government treasuries from (present) Jharkhand. Of the 61 fodder
scam cases, 52 cases were transferred to Jharkhand in 2000 when it
was carved from Bihar.
Several IAS officials are facing graft cases. One IAS official,
Sajjal Chakravarty, was convicted and awarded four years'
imprisonment in the fodder scam. Another IAS official, Pradeep
Kumar, was in jail in a medicine scam. Jharkhand ex-chief
secretary A.K. Singh was sent to jail in a graft case.
Efforts to change the dented image of Jharkhand again suffered a
huge blow after the Election Commission Friday cancelled the poll
for two Rajya Sabha seats over horse- trading charges.
What is interesting is that the names of leaders of many parties
figure in different graft cases. The JMM bribery case involving
JMM chief Shibu Soren had hit the headlines in early 1990s. In the
Koda scam, the names of many state and some Congress leaders
(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)