Shifting sands of loyalty for Jharkhand’s independents

August 25th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Aug 25 (IANS) Since March 2005, Jharkhand has seen three governments and is on the verge of getting its fourth. And independent legislator Kamlesh Singh who has been minister in all is getting ready to be sworn in again after throwing in his lot with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren. Switching sides with ease in the last three years — that has seen governments headed by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Shibu Soren, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Arjun Munda and the United Progressive Alliance backed Madhu Koda — Kamlesh Singh has made sure he is never out of power.

As Soren seems all set to form the government again after winning over independents, Kamlesh Singh is getting ready for another stint as minister.

On Sunday night, he accompanied Soren’s son Durga to the governor’s house to seek time to stake claim.

“We have a majority,” said Kamlesh Singh, who won the assembly elections with a marhin of only eight votes.

Defending his loyalty shifts, he said: “The development of the state should take precedence, whichever government is in power.”

Kamlesh Singh won the assembly election for the first time in 2005, and became minister in the short lived Soren government in March 2005. When the government fell and National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) Munda took over, Kamlesh Singh moved over too.

In September 2006, four independents, including Koda, revolted against Munda. Kamlesh Singh was also found escaping from Jharkhand to West Bengal to join the four rebels. He was caught by security forces in the jungles of Chaibasa district. And he became minister again when Koda formed the government.

The wheel turned once again when the JMM withdrew support from the Koda government on Aug 17 and Kamlesh Singh did so too.

But his story is not too different from other independent legislators in Jharkhand. In the 82 member house, there 14 legislators who are either independents or belong to smaller parties.

There are three other independents like him who have made it a habit to change loyalties — Chandra Prakash Chaudhary, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai. The three had supported the Munda government in March 2005, and became ministers when Koda rebelled and became chief minister. While Ekka and Rai lost no time extending their support to Soren, Chaudhary is likely to follow suit.

“Independents are making a mockery of the democratic system. The game of numbers has enabled independents to take the state to ransom,” said political analyst R.N. Gaud, a retired professor of Ranchi University.

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