With by-polls slated in two key constituencies, the BJP seems to have won the initial round before it has even begun — the announcement that the state cabinet on Thursday had fixed a definition of the local resident policy has ended a 13-year-long impasse, which hampered appointments to category 3 and category 4 government jobs.
A resident, as the Raghubar Das government has defined the term, is someone who has lived in the state for 30 or more years or someone who passed matriculation or equivalent exams from recognised institutions in the state over the past 30 years.
The BJP has been trying to make inroads into Santhal Parganas, a JMM stronghold, and their new policy may help them win the Godda assembly by-poll, slated for June. The BJP also faces another by-poll in Panki in Palamu, which fell vacant after Congress legislator Videsh Singh passed away on March 28.
The BJP definition has also plugged a potential loophole by provisioning that a landless person, or someone who has not been mentioned in land record surveys, be termed a ‘local’ if the concerned Gram Sabha certifies his/her stay in the area for 30 or more years and if the person is conversant with local the dialect, custom or culture.
The policy leaves no room for discord or of vitiating atmosphere on account of ethnicity, race or religion.
With this definition, the BJP has effectively declared an employment policy for locals, has provided reservation of third and fourth grade jobs for locals and exclusively for scheduled tribes in 14 fifth scheduled-declared districts for the next 10 years.
This will assuage tribals, who have accused successive governments of orchestrating the entry of ‘outsiders’.
“It is a policy which would be acceptable to a larger section of the society. Job opportunities will now go to local people. Recruitments are pending in various government departments which can now be streamlined. The policy should have been introduced much earlier,” political analyst-cum-economist Ramesh Sharan said.