The three stage panchayat elections in Jharkhand concluded on 12 December and results were out by 24 December. CPI(ML) candidates secured total 14 Zila Parishad seats including 11 in Giridih, 1 in Koderma, 1 in Dhanbad and 1 in Jamtada, but in terms of votes and seats-wise performance our party’s profile has certainly improved from the last time.
In Giridih CPI(ML) emerged as the single largest party and won 11 Zila Parishad seats. The party has won 6 out of 9 seats in Bagodar, while it was second on two seats and third in one seat; In Dhanwar we have won 3 of the 9 seats, second by a narrow margin on 4 seats and third on 2 seats; and won 2 seats in Jamua, and lost by narrow margin on 3 seats, and were in contest in the remaining 4 seats too. In the 3 assembly constituencies of Giridih CPI(ML) was emerged as the leading party both in terms of seats as well as total votes, and as the biggest party in Giridih.
In the Dhanbad district’s Nirsa constituency we have won on one seat whereas we are second on 2 seats, while won on one seat in Koderma, and lost on one by a narrow margin.
Party candidates have secured more than 20 thousand votes only from two council seats in Koderma. In Barkatta, we have got more than 10 thousand votes. We were in contest on 3 of the 8 seats contested in Panki of Palamu district and here too more than 10 thousand votes.
In the three-tier panchayati system in Jharkhand, the lowest tier is that of panchayat whose elected candidate is called a mukhiya. As a continuation of ruling class parties’ political culture of money-muscle power, highest aspiration has been seen in this tier only regarding getting elected as a mukhiya. Barring a few exceptions, this post has seen most rampant corruption. The Party, on the contrary views these elections as an opportunity to transform the panchayati system into a people’s welfare forum, by simultaneously using it as a platform of sharpening the struggles of rural poor against the existing political hold of the vested interests. At this level various kinds of power brokers and government officials form a nexus for corruption to flourish. CPI(ML) encourage mukhiyas to publicy declare their commitment towards fighting corruption. A strong presence or our control in panchayat samitis helps people in sharpening the struggle against corruption.
The panchayat and zila parishad (district council) elections in Jharkhand are officially not conducted on political party banners. This gives ample space to allow money power to be able to wrest control on important posts. The candidates elected by the people for panchayats, vote further to elect District President and Block Pramukh. These posts should also be demanded to be voted for directly by the people. Though not overtly violent, the stakes in these elections of vested interests have resulted in reports of arson, murdering opposing candidates and even few incidents of rape of the children of candidates as per reports from the State.
CPI(ML) candidates tried to present a wholesome agenda for the entire panchayats. This emphasis was most successfully manifested in Giridih poll outcome where it has won 101 panchayat samiti seats and is now hopeful of successful contests towards block pramukh posts in Bagodar, Birni, Dhanwar and Ganwan. The BJP is trying its bit to foil people’s manifested unity and rising aspirations at panchayat level.
The Party has registered itself as a winning, second or third force in about 300 panchayats. People’s expectations from us have increased. Now we have to utilize all this experience in expanding the Party and making local committess a well-functioning Party structure.
This panchayat election too reflects the overall negative mood for the BJP as it had to suffer defeat in various districts. In Giridih and Koderma, from where the BJP has both the MPs and some MLAs, it has become a third or fouth force in these panchayat elections. The anti-BJP mood was reflected in Lohardaga Assembly by-election also.