Asanas beyond yoga in Ranchi: PM Modi reaches out to poll-bound Jharkhand on Yoga Day
The ruling BJP is strategizing on repeating its sterling Lok Sabha performance in the year-end state polls. Of the 14 seats in the state, the BJP contested on 13 and won 11.
A BJP chief minister losing popularity and an opposition alliance in tatters: that’s the political reality of Jharkhand months ahead of the assembly polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi to perform asanas on International Yoga Day. The choice was strategic rather than being a matter of chance. The aim was an outreach to Jharkhand voters.
The ruling BJP is strategising on repeating its sterling Lok Sabha performance in the year-end state polls. Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP contested on 13 and won 11. Its ally All-Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) won the lone seat it contested. What was called a formidable opposition alliance in Jharkhand during the campaign fell flat, with the RJD losing the one seat it contested and the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) winning only a single seat each out of the seven and four seats they contested, respectively. The fourth party in the opposition alliance, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) led by former BJP Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, drew a blank. It had contested on two seats.
After leading the event in Ranchi, Prime Minister Modi appealed to people to take yoga to all sections of society. He was accompanied by around 40,000 enthusiasts performing various asanas at the Prabhat Tara ground. The event marked the fifth International Yoga Day.
"We should make efforts to take yoga from cities to villages and tribal areas. Yoga is above religion, caste, colour, gender and region; it is above everything," Modi said.
In a state witnessing a recent spurt in incidents of naxal violence, Prime Minister Modi said, “Peace and harmony was related to Yoga.” Nineteen of the 24 districts in Jharkhand have been declared naxal-affected.
Just as the Prime Minister left Ranchi after the event, a local court framed charges against state Congress chief Ajay Kumar in a six-year-old case. The incident being considered by the court involves Ajay Kumar and his supporters blocking a road to protest poor amenities in the state.
Another theatre of 'asanas' in Ranchi is the one that is played out every Saturday in the ward of RIMS Hospital, where RJD chief Lalu Prasad is admitted under custody. The court has set a limit of three people meeting the veteran leader every week. Normally, on Saturdays, senior Congress leaders meet him to stitch their assembly poll plan.
The alliance talks are going nowhere, as per media reports, because the two factions in the state Congress led by Ajay Kumar and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay are not on the same page, with their supporters fighting it out openly. The police had to be called when the two factions clashed recently in the Ranchi Congress office.
“The image of Chief Minister Raghubar Das is not enough for the government to return to power. We understand that thoroughly. It will work in our favour only if Prime Minister Modi seeks votes for himself here,” a local BJP youth wing (BJYM) leader told Asiaville. "I don’t think the Yoga day celebration must be looked at as a politically important event for the BJP but it certainly gives more visibility to the party under Modi ji in the state."
The alliance between the JMM and the Congress is precariously poised, with grassroot-level JMM leaders openly saying that the Lok Sabha alliance with the Congress was not beneficial to them in any manner.
“The JMM got a raw deal in the seat distribution during the Lok Sabha polls. It is not keen to context less than 40 of the 81 seats. The Congress is insisting on the lion's share of seats, with the rest to be shared between the JMM and RJD equally. JMM leaders feel any such move must not be accepted. We have reports that many JMM leaders are trying to ensure, at the behest of the BJP, that this alliance does not happen,” Indu Mehta, a local news agency reporter, told Asiaville.
Mehta adds that a broken opposition alliance will help the BJP come back to power.
The last five years of BJP rule have been very unpopular with the tribal population in Jharkhand, with some major protests around legislative measures initiated by the Raghubar Das government that, locals allege, can undermine the tribal population. The BJP government has initiated discussions to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act and the Local Residence (Domicile) Policy -- something tribals claim will dent their long-term interests.