Murmu’s appointment as governor a balancing act

  • B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 14:57 IST

The governor-designate of Jharkhand Droupadi Murmu is set to take oath of office on May 18, a Raj Bhavan communique said on Thursday. The oath-taking ceremony would be held at Birsa Mandap at the Raj Bhavan.

The Center on Tuesday did a balancing act by appointing 58-year-old Murmu as the first tribal woman governor of Jharkhand, a 15-year-old state that is home to nearly 86 lakh (8.6 million) tribals.

By appointing her, the Modi government hit two birds with one stone: Silencing the critics who were opposed to appointment of a non-tribal chief minister, Raghubar Das, vis-à-vis putting a tribal as the chief custodian of the constitution in a state where several pertinent issues concerning development – like the locals policy — are stuck due to the tribal and non-tribal divide.

With her as the governor, experts feel, the Raghubar Das government will face less resistance and might find it comfortable to table and clear bills.

Murmu, a former Odisha minister and an MLA from Rairanpur assembly constituency (2000 and 2004), is the first woman leader from the neighbouring state to be appointed as a governor. The new governor is expected to instill a lot of confidence in the 26 % tribal population who, for long, have been feeling alienated, marginalised and allegedly subjected to step-mother treatment.

She is also expected to relate and connect better with the locals by opening channels of communication for them with the government.

However, a majority of tribal leaders in Jharkhand have reservations over her potential and doubt whether she will able to bulldoze through the government if the latter indulges in anti-people activities.

“We do not know much of her as she is not popular even in her own community and in the state she belongs to,” said Adivasi Vikas Parishad president Dr Arun Oroan, an ex-IPS. “However, her appointment is certainly a masterstroke of balancing act by the Modi government as it has smartly read the perceived boil and dissent among the tribal populace across the country over thrusting of RSS ideologies on them.”

Ex-MP from Mayurbhanj and vocal tribal leader Salkhan Murmu said appointment of a tribal woman in a 5th schedule state is a historic development but “we do not pin very high hopes on her as there are nine 5th schedule states and none of the governors there have performed according to the 5th Schedule”. “Her appointment could certainly be a damage control step as the tribal population was hurt over the appointment of a non-tribal as CM,” the leader said.

“In our federal system, the institution of governor does not hold much importance and hence I feel irrespective of who becomes a governor the people are not going to benefit much,” said Dr Harishwar Dayal, director, eastern regional center of Institute of Human Index.

However, Dayal said, Jharkhand being a 5th schedule area, the governor has the powers to intervene in issues related to tribal interest.

Meanwhile, opposition party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) spokesperson Kunal Sarangi said the party will extend all possible issue-based and constructive support to her. “We welcome her and hope she will contribute to the strengthening of social and cultural fabric of Jharkhand and also in empowerment of women.”

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