The three Ms — Mines, Mafia and Modi (PM) — have emerged as the punching bag in the campaign for the fourth phase of the election in the six assembly seats of the coal belt on December 14.
While the regional parties like the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, the Marxist Coordination Committee, the Janata Dal (United) have made mafia menace their main poll plank, national parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are lashing out at Narendra Modi and privatisation of mines.
For the first time since 1952 elections, all the political parties have played down the pet peeves in the coal belt such as drinking water, electricity and roads. Though in some pockets voters have threatened to boycott the election, not a single party has included lack of roads or water as the core issues in election campaign.
Boycott threat has been sounded by the residents of Sunder Nagar in Jharia constituency over lack of drinking water and the Piprabera Colony residents of Dhanbad Sadar constituency over roads.
Since constituencies such as Jharia, Baghmara and Nirsa have a history of bloody gangland wars between coal clans for supremacy on the mining turf, regional parties are seeking votes with a promise to root out mafias.
The mafias have been reported to control the workers’ unions, plunder coal and extort buyers.
Sitting MLA of Marxist Coordination Committee Arup Chatterjee, whose legislator father Gurudas Chatterjee was shot dead, and former MLA Aparna Sengupta of Forward Bloc, whose husband Sushanto Sengupta was gunned down, have a common poll agenda: eliminate coal mafias in Nirsa constituency.
Similarly in Jharia and Baghmara, elimination of mafia is the main rallying point.
However, national parties have Prime Minister Narendra Modi and privatization of Coal Mines’ as their top agenda. BJP is contesting the election on all six seats in name of Modi. From Central ministers such as Ram Vilas Paswan and Giriraj Singh and national spokespersons Sambit Patra, Shahnawaz Hussain and GVL Narshima Rao have sought mandate in the name of Narendra Modi.
The Congress’ Digvijaya Singh and the CPI(M)’s Brinda Karat sought votes for their respective parties to save mines from privatisation.