Jharkhand, where the assembly elections are underway, has faced political instability ever since it was carved out from Bihar in 2000 and has seen 9 chief ministers and 3 President's Rule terms in last 14 years.
The numerous coalition governments that Jharkhand has seen since its inception has impacted the development of the state. People feel they have missed out being the part of the development which India witnessed during the last 14 years. Coalition pressures and corruption have played a big spoilsport.
Related issue is that of development. The state has performed worse than Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand (both states came into being at the same time as Jharkhand) despite being very rich in minerals and resources.
1. Nominal GDP of Jharkhand in financial year 2013 has grown to 6 times of what it was in FY 2001. The corresponding numbers for Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are 7 times and 9 times respectively.
2. While per capita income of Jharkhand has grown by 3 times, that of Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand have grown by 4 times and 6 times respectively. Jharkhand ranks 32nd among states and union territories in terms of literacy rates while Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand rank 27th and 17th respectively.
3. Chhattisgarh has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and Uttarakhand has lower than national average unemployment rate. Jharkhand has the second highest unemployment rate in the country.
The data speaks for itself.
While no major industries have come up during the last 14 years, the state also lacks good educational and healthcare facilities. Majority of the students go to other states for higher education after school. No major townships have been developed and Bokaro, Jamshedpur (industrial towns) and state capital Ranchi are the only three cities which can boast of being developed. Others still face teething problems of intermittent power supply and lack of safe drinking water.
Corruption is another issue plaguing the state and Jharkhand is one of the few states whose chief minister has been jailed in a corruption case. Madhu Koda and his reign of loot is still fresh in the minds of the people. People allege those who grab power loot the state's coffers. When the Bharatiya Janata Party tried to stop Jharkhand Mukti Morcha from looting, it pulled the plug and went ahead with Congress to form a government and indulged in more corruption.
The state has also suffered a lot due to Maoist violence. Maoists run parallel government in many districts and also have been looting its mineral resources. The tribals live in constant fear and tribal dominated areas have not seen any development because of the Maoist menace. Although it is a national issue and state government alone can't be blamed, it is still an important election plank and will also determine voting percentages.
Lack of law and order is another problem faced by people. As many as 55 MLAs out of 87 members in the last assembly had criminal cases against them. This is the highest amongst all states in India (a whopping 74%). When law makers themselves are law breakers, there can only be chaos in the state.
Jharkhand state Congress spokesperson Rajesh Thakur says, "Instability, migration of people to other states, lack of good higher education facilities, Naxalism and low job creation are the main issues in this elections."
The BJP did fantastically well in the last Lok Sabha elections in May 2014 and won 12 out of 14 seats riding on Modi wave. This has given it confidence that it will do well in state polls as well. The recent elections in Haryana and Maharashtra also point towards this trend.
JMM has failed to stitch an alliance with Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) despite ruling the state together for the past year or so. This could split anti-BJP votes. The Modi factor could also play a key role here. People may want to have same government in state as that in the Center like Haryana and Maharashtra.
Thakur says that there is likely to be a fractured mandate again as there are many regional parties who have their own pockets of influence. "Congress along with allies RJD and JDU is likely to emerge as the single largest block."
He dismissed the presence of 'Modi wave' and targeted his government for failing to rein in price rise. "Drop in crude oil and gold prices has helped inflation. On the contrary prices of life saving drugs has increased."
Interesting battle on the cards? Will Jharkhand give its first clear mandate? Only time will tell...
(Suryakiran Tiwari aka Politicalbaaba runs a popular blog on Indian politics and elections. Politicalbaaba has been nominated by The Guardian as one of the online voices providing an alternative view on India and the general elections. Politicalbaaba also writes on social and economic issues)