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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jharkhand. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jharkhand. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jharkhand Govt Slaps Crackdown On 'Baby Selling Business' After INNLIVE Exposed 'Shocking Trade'

Waking from its slumber, the Jharkhand government has finally launched a crackdown on the illicit baby business that is taking deep roots in the Capital’s underbelly. 

INNLIVE reported that girls and young women — mostly from Jharkhand — were brought to Delhi on the pretext of being employed as helps, then sexually assaulted by the unscrupulous owners and employees of placement agencies and forced to bear babies. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Dark & Horrifying Tale Of Delhi's 'Great Baby Bazaar'

A new industry is taking deep roots in the Delhi’s underbelly. This is the great baby bazaar where bidding for a newborn starts the day a hapless woman gets pregnant, while the kid is still in the womb. 

Girls and young women, mostly from Jharkhand, are fodder to this illicit business. They are brought to the national Capital on the pretext of being employed as helps, then raped and sexually assaulted by the unscrupulous owners and employees of placement agencies and forced to bear babies. But that’s not the end of their misery. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Special Report: Trafficked Adivasi Tribal Girls In Jharkhand Forced To Surrogate, Deliver Babies For Sale

From the time she was 13, Phulmani (name changed) was forced to act as a surrogate mother and deliver six children by human traffickers from Jharkhand, widely considered a hotbed of modern day slavery.

Phulmani, now 31, was made to breastfeed the children – all born in consecutive years in Delhi – for about six months before giving them to the agents who sold them off.

The resident of Patru village in Gumla district was rescued by rights activists and returned to Jharkhand last year. Her experiences have left her emotionally and physically scarred.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Naxalism: The Political: Militant Election Nexus

By M H Ahssan

Even as India’s civil society has campaigned against the plans of the government launching a coordinated operation against Left Wing Extremists commonly known as Naxals across Central India, the elections in Jharkhand have brought to the fore the well oiled nexus between the political parties and the guerrillas. While the Naxals have imposed a ban on participation in the Elections with posters pasted across the state, political leaders are busy campaigning across many Naxal districts. This paradox has surprised many, as if a cease fire has been declared for the Elections.

The transformation is all the more perplexing given the increase in violence during October given the extension of Maoist terrorism from tribal areas of Central India to politically sensitive areas of West Bengal thereby focusing attention of the government as well as civil society on the challenge.

A few notable incidents such as release on bail of 14 tribal women by a West Bengal Court on 22 October as demanded by the Maoists against abducted police officer Atindra Nath Dutta in West Midnapore and kidnapping the driver of the New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express and his assistant on 27 October which led to stoppage of train between Jhargram and Sarna stations of South Eastern Railway bringing the prestigious train connecting the State capital to New Delhi to a halt highlighted criticality of the situation.

In other major incidents, on 06 October, Maoists beheaded Jharkhand police inspector Francis Induwar in a brutal and gory incident which invited wide spread resentment. On 08 October the Naxals launched a major attack killing 18 policemen when they ambushed a police patrol in dense forests in Gadhchiroli district in Maharashtra which was going to the polls on the 13th.

On the other hand Central and State governments were all set to launch full-fledged anti-Maoist operations at three locations which are junctions of Naxal-affected states. The areas identified are the tri-junctions of Andhra Pradesh-Maharashtra- Chhattisgarh; Orissa-Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh and West Bengal- Jharkhand-Orissa. 40,000 paramilitary personnel will assist respective state police forces during the operations. 7,000 specially trained troops in jungle warfare are also being employed. There are eleven sectors identified which will be addressed in simultaneous operations.

The Maoists warned of possibility of Operation Green Hunt for the past many months are shifting into deep jungle strongholds in anticipation of the onslaught. Others are known to melt into urban pockets of neighboring states as Madhya Pradesh. Thus the main leaders are likely to give security forces a slip. However it is also evident that the Central government is having second thoughts and the operation may not be launched at all if an interview to Tehelka by the Union Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram is any indication.

Transportation networks have been one of the most frequently targeted by Maoists over the past many years and now they are even daring to strike at high profile trains such as the Rajdhani Express which is considered a super fast train serving a large number of people traveling to Delhi. The vulnerability of the railway routes passing through some of the deeply forested areas in Jharkhand and West Bengal is therefore highly challenging and security needs to be considered on high priority for endangering the lives of the people traveling on train which is the primary mode for many in India does not augur well for the states ability to protect its citizens.

What is also evident is that the police particularly railway protection forces are not trained enough to take on the challenge. As the expected operation Green Hunt is launched, the situation could be grimmer, as the Maoists seem to be well prepared for the strikes. Moreover Jharkhand, one of the key Naxal affected states would be going for elections in November- December thereby enhancing the challenge to an extent with the Maoists announcing a ban against voting. Thus the battle between the Naxals and the security forces is likely to be sustained over a period with the Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram having given an estimate of at two to three years before the situation in these areas can be brought under control, though it appears that given the present overall deterioration it may taken much longer.

So how is it that despite the threat of violence political parties and leaders are campaigning in Jharkhand? Are they daring the Naxals, is it a false sense of bravado or fool proof security provided by the state government? While the truth behind this phenomenon will never be exposed, reasonable surmise could also be a working arrangement with the Naxalite leadership to see the election through. This arrangement is not new to the Indian political militancy scene and is routinely adopted in the North East with some militants openly supporting favored candidates. Is such a phenomenon repeating in Jharkhand, let us wait and see?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

THE DEADLY REBELS: ASSAM BRACES FOR NEW 'THREAT'

By Simantik Dowerah (Guest Writer)

Barely out of the decades old Ulfa terror, Assam is staring at another similar, and potentially bigger, menace: Maoists. While there is no concrete proof yet that the red rebels have entrenched themselves in the state, stray indications point to that fact they could be in the process of doing so. Some recent cases prove that Maoist leaders from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are trying hard to spread out in the state by recruiting local youth.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Maoists Appear Divided Over Tactics During Elections 2014

By Chandan Rai (Guest Writer)

The outlawed CPI (Maoist) appears, which has given a call for boycotting the 16 th Lok Sabha polls, appear to be divided regarding their tactics vis-à-vis the largest democratic exercise worldwide.

If the recent activities of the banned Left Wing Extremist outfit CPI (Maoist) are any indications, they seem to be split over their modus operandi during the 16th Lok Sabha elections. While they have given a poll boycott call in a number of their pocket areas in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, the Red rebels have decided to urge the people to opt for the NOTA (none of the above) option in various areas.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Investigation: The Toil Of 20,000 Child Workers Are Behind The Healthy Exports Of 'Illegal Mica Mines'

By NEETA BHALLA | INNLIVE

At least seven child labourers have died in the mines since June, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

In the depths of India’s illegal mica mines, where children as young as five work alongside adults, lurks a dark, hidden secret – the cover-up of child deaths with seven killed in the past two months, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has revealed.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Small States A 'Political Stunt' Without Decentralisation

By Shankkar Aiyar (Guest Writer)

India seems to produce a political paradox almost every week. Indians were told that overall poverty levels fell from 37 per cent in 2004-05 to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12. This did not trigger any review of the idea to give 67 per cent of the population subsidised grains. The chasm between statistics and political arithmetic persists.

Hidden in the reams of data on poverty reduction is an interesting fact. United Andhra Pradesh is among those states which brought down poverty the most. Since 2004, when K Chandrashekar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti was promised Telangana, poverty in united Andhra Pradesh dropped from 29.6 per cent to 9.2 per cent in 2011-12. And the absolute number of those below poverty line has come down from 235 lakh to 78 lakh. World over, poverty reduction is an accepted indicator of growth and governance.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Telangana History: Congress Will Win But TRS May Lose?

By Sanjay Singh / INN Bureau

After initial belligerence, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has made a complete about turn over the creation of a separate Telengana state. Reddy seem to be doing what Lalu Prasad Yadav did 13 years ago when then NDA government decided to bifurcate Bihar and carve out Jharkhand. “Over my dead body”, a defiant Lalu  then said but soon allowed a resolution for the creation of Jharkhand to be moved in the Bihar assembly and also have it passed.

Reddy is doing the same after threatening to resign over the “destructive decision”, he now wants to abide by the party high command decision and “move on”.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Rakhi For Trees

By Moushumi Basu

The Taru Bandhan ritual being practised in the tribal heartland of Jharkhand has helped restore and conserve hundreds of acres of forestland in the state.

The tribal heartland of Jharkhand in eastern India has evolved a unique tradition of forest conservation -- tying rakhis to trees. Rakhi is an Indian festival for siblings where the sister ties an auspicious thread of love on her brother’s wrist, amidst great revelry and feasting. The latter, in turn, promises her protection throughout his life.

Jharkhand’s indigenous people harbour such strong feelings towards the forests and trees that villagers tie the same auspicious rakhi thread around the trunks of trees. The ritual, called Taru Bandhan or Vriksh Raksha Bandhan, is aimed at preserving trees from the axe and the saw. In return, the forest offers people a sustainable way of life.

Hundreds of villages in Jharkhand practise this unique ritual on the eve of the state’s foundation day fortnight, starting November 15. And, thanks to the villagers’ enthusiasm, the celebrations continue right up to the New Year.

In the tradition of the Rakhi festival, this ritual too starts on an elaborate note as the women of the village, dressed in their colourful best, gather in the forest. A bedi (altar) is erected on an elevated patch of land, at the forest entrance. It is decked with flowers and embellished with motifs created out of coloured rice paste and other grains. It is here that the Van Devi (Goddess of the Forest) is invoked with offerings of fruit, incense sticks and holy threads that are later wound around the trees.

“For them (the villagers) the event is also an occasion to celebrate and rejoice,” says Amarnath Bhagat, Ranger, Hazaribagh. Amidst the sounding of the nagara, dhol and mandar (tribal musical instruments), vermillion is applied on the trunk of the tree. A garland of hibiscus or marigold is suspended from the tree and an aarti (ceremony done with incense sticks and earthen lamps)performed in much the same way as that which takes place during the Rakhi festival.

The festival is incomplete without children who take part in large numbers, not only for the continuance of the tradition but also to spread awareness. They enact small plays at the venue, and design posters and banners that are displayed at the site.


The ritual is most commonly practised on a sal or sakhua tree (Shorea robusta) or the mahua (Madhuca latifolia), karaunj (Pongamia pinnata), kathal (Hallocarpus indicus), neem (Azadiracta indica), etc. “Sal is regarded as the ‘king of the forest’. It greatly promotes conservation and proliferation of various types of plant species, thereby improving biodiversity and conservation of nature,” says Kanhai Mahato from Tuktuko village, Bagodar block in Giridih. “Our village forest management and protection committee has restored 800 acres of forestland,” he adds with pride.

The villagers choose a patch in the forest where the rakhis will be tied to trees. “Once a tree is ‘ritualised’ we do not pluck even a leaf from it,” says Anju Devi from Mangro village, Vishugarh block, Hazaribagh.

The credit for initiating the Taru Bandhan festival, nearly a decade ago, goes to a local villager by the name of Mahadev Mahato from Dudhmatia village in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district. A schoolteacher by profession, Mahato has helped restore nearly 25,000 acres of forestland. “For the natives of Jharkhand, the forest is an inseparable part of their life; why not include trees as part of our family and rituals,” he asks. Mahato expresses satisfaction that his passion has not only spread to his fellow villagers but also to the forest department that has acknowledged his efforts. Palamau, Dhanbad, Chatra, Koderma and Hazaribagh are some of the districts that have taken the initiative in propagating this unique “green tradition”.

Chief Conservator of Forests B R Rallan, from Hazaribagh where the practice is most common, says: “The concept is basically the brainchild of Mahato, which we are carrying forward in other districts too.” It has proved very effective in bringing about villagers’ participation in forest conservation, which forms the basis of joint forestry management.

Mahendra Prasad, DFO, Hazaribagh, says the practice has proved extremely effective in protecting the forests. “We have already covered 62 villages, and the enthusiasm of the villagers is high. So much so that even international students from Jadavpur University came here to witness and participate in the festival.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Parallel Conversation: Martyrs, Rebels And Peasants

By Mithilesh Mishra | INNLIVE

SPECIAL REPORT The amicable relationship some villagers have with the Maoists, panchayat institutions, as well as large NGOs operating in the vicinity of the villages seems an unusual co-existence in Jharkhand.

It was a weekday when I got a call from Manohar* (name changed), an invite to attend a shahaadat diwas in Chotanagpur region the next day. Two months back, Manohar had helped us get in touch with the CPI(Maoist) for an interview. As he said, shahadat diwas was a day to commemorate martyrdom. I was unsure if it was the rebels' leaders' lives the ceremony was meant to recount, but had little opportunity to ask till I was on the road with him the next day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jharkhand: Villagers Framed As Naxals Rot In State Jails

By Fauz Raheel | Ranchi

While on the one hand the Jharkhand government has been initiating measures and plans to make sure Naxals surrender and are given handsome rehabilitation packages, the police have been framing innocent villagers as Naxalites and putting them in jails in the hundreds.

Across the jails in the districts of Ranchi, Khunti, Saraikela, Chaibasa and some others there are many villagers who are desperately hoping to be free one day. Even after being freed, however, hardly anyone is able to lead a normal life. Naxal groups spot such people and motivate them to join their ranks to get back at the police and the administration. In many cases innocent men and women framed as Naxals end up joining the Naxal groups to save themselves from further harassment by the police.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Why Nitish Kumar Quiet On 'Fodder Scam' Allegations?

By Sunder Yadav / Patna

There is a mad scramble in the anti-Lalu Prasad camp, with  politicians digging in to claim credit for RJD chief's conviction; but Nitish Kumar, Lalu's worst political enemy who demolished him electorally in Bihar, has cryptically maintained a studied silence.

"I cannot comment on a judicial verdict," was all that Bihar Chief Minister said when media reached for his reaction on Lalu's incarceration. He did not even welcome it. Similarly, senior JD-U leader Shivanand Tewari-a Lalu's lieutenant turned Nitish's camp-follower -- too has followed the middle path, claiming Lalu's will not be politically finished after the verdict.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

2014 Polls: Why Cong Will Look Alliances Not For Rahul?

By Sanjay Singh / INN Bureau

Jharkhand will see the annulment of its third spell of President Rule and the installation of its ninth elected government in the 13 years since the state was created.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren will lead the coalition that will also include Congress, RJD and some Independents. However the timing of the formation of this government suggest that its implications could be more than just another event in Jharkhand’s political calendar. It’s also about the way the Congress and the BJP look at the coming parliamentary elections.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Maoists rule India's 'Red Corridor'

By Sudha Ramachandran

Indian Maoists hijacked a train with 800 passengers in the eastern state of Jharkhand on Wednesday morning. Although the crisis was defused within five hours, when the Maoists released the train and its passengers, the incident has sparked grave concern throughout the security establishment.

The ease with which the Maoists were able to stage an operation of this magnitude - and at a time when security has been tightened for general elections - has laid bare yet again that it is the Maoists' writ, not that of the government that runs through this part of the country.

The train was on its way from Barkakana in Jharkhand to Mugalsarai in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh when it was hijacked near Hehegarha railway station in Latehar district. Around 200 Maoists are said to have carried out the operation. A railway station in Palamu was bombed as well.

In March 2006, a train was hijacked in the same district. Passengers were set free after 12 hours. The Indian Railways have been targeted repeatedly by the Maoists. Besides holding-up trains, they have blasted railway tracks, burned railway stations, looted weapons from railway police and abducted personnel.

No passengers were hurt in Wednesday's hijacking and hostage drama. The operation, which took place on the eve of the second part of India's month-long five-phase general election, was aimed at scaring voters into staying away from polling booths.

Maoists have called for a boycott of the polls in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. In a bid to disrupt polling during the first phase of voting last week, they detonated landmines, raided polling booths and torched electronic voting machines. Around 20 people were killed and scores injured on polling day alone.

Analysts have sought to downplay the impact of the Maoist's poll violence. Bibhu Prasad Routray, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management has written that "Maoist violence on April 16 affected a meager 0.09% (71) of the 76,000 polling stations that were identified as vulnerable in the first phase." He argues that Maoists suffered damage in the violence they sought to inflict on the security forces in the run-up to voting.

While the Maoists have carried out spectacular attacks and did disrupt polls to some extent, they were not fully successful in effecting a boycott. Voter turnout in the constituencies worst hit by Maoist violence was a respectable 50%.

Maoist influence runs through a stretch of territory referred to as the "Red Corridor". This extends from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh through Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand up to Bihar. Areas in western Orissa and eastern Uttar Pradesh are also under Maoist influence. And they have some presence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well.

The area where the Maoists operate has grown dramatically in recent years. In the early 1990s the number of districts affected by varying degrees of Maoist violence stood at just 15 in four states. This rose to 55 districts in nine states by the end of 2003 and to 156 districts in 13 states in 2004. Maoists are believed to be operating now in around 200 districts (of a total of 602 districts in the country) in 17 states.

Government officials point out that these statistics and the name Red Corridor have conjured up images of Maoists being in control of a large swathe of land and posing a threat to the Indian state. An official in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region told Asia Times Online that while the Maoists do control "some area" in Dantewada district and are able to carry out big attacks in several states, in most areas of the Red Corridor they operate as a hit-and-run force.

"They do not threaten the government, either at the state or the federal level and they are nowhere near sparking off a general uprising," he said, drawing attention to the diminishing public support for the Maoists and increasing resistance to their diktats.

Human-rights activists argue that while the Maoist threat might "not have Delhi on its knees, it is a fact that the problem has laid bare India's failure to deliver good governance, to respond to the plight of the poorest and most marginalized sections of its population".

Unlike jihadi violence that comes from across the border in Pakistan, Maoist violence has its roots firmly in India. Indeed, the Maoist problem has left India red-faced.

Districts that fall in the Red Corridor are rich in minerals like iron ore and bauxite. But the people living there, who are largely Adivasi or tribal are desperately poor. Exploited by forest officials, contractors, mining companies and middlemen and neglected by the state, villagers in the Red Corridor are among the worst off in the country.

And it is to liberate them from their oppressors and the Indian state that the Maoists claim to be waging their armed struggle.

It is true the Maoists have improved life for the Adivasis by forcing local officials to dig wells or pay better wages to the villagers. But over time, the liberators have turned oppressors themselves. Villagers who don't obey the Maoists have been killed and Maoist violence stands in the way of development projects.

The scale of Maoist operations has grown dramatically over the years. In November 2005, more than 1,000 Maoists stormed a jail in Jehanabad in Bihar and freed about 350 of their jailed comrades. Armories and camps of the police and paramilitary forces have been raided. A week ago, they signaled capacity to stand and fight the security forces. Around 200 Maoists stormed a state-owned bauxite mining company in the eastern state of Orissa, taking around 100 employees hostage. They battled for more than nine hours with members of India's Special Operations Group and its Central Industrial Security Force before they finally retreated.

Analysts have drawn attention to increasing Maoist attacks on infrastructure. P Ramana, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, has pointed out that 62 telecommunication towers were damaged by the Maoists in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa in from 2005 to 2008, with 43 of these occurring in 2008. These attacks are aimed at disrupting "communication amongst the security forces, as well as between 'police informants' - who have been provided cellular telephones - and the security forces, in order that operations against the rebels get impaired," he writes.

The Maoists have also been blowing up power lines and service towers. In May 2007, they blew up three 132 KVA high-tension towers in the Bastar region, plunging six districts into darkness for a week and disrupting normal power distribution for a fortnight. "Functioning of hospitals, communication systems and rail traffic, besides iron ore mines was badly affected," Ramana points out. In June of last year, two 220 KVA towers were blasted depriving 15,000 villages of electricity.

Maoists have displayed their military capability through their high-profile attacks on railways and other infrastructure. They have been able to inflict losses running into millions of dollars on the state they are seeking to overthrow.

But simultaneously they are inflicting heavy losses on the people they claim they are going to liberate. They have worsened the daily lives of some of India's most exploited people.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When 'Telangana' Separated With Andhra Pradesh State?

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ANALYSIS Fifty-eight years after the unification of Telangana and Andhra region, the Lok Sabha separated them by dividing the state of Andhra Pradesh. After blacking out the live coverage of the Telangana debate on Lok Sabha TV, the Hower House voted for Telangana state in a controversial voice vote. Interestingly, both Congress and BJP joined hands to divide Andhra Pradesh. Only the TMC and JDU staged a walkout calling it a murder of democracy.

According to experts the Congress which is staring at a rout in most parts of the country is likely to win big in Telangana which has 17 Lok Sabha and 119 Assembly seats. The Congress is expected to be decimated in Seemandhra region.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Opinion: Why is Telangana Getting Provisional Assembly?

By Syed Amin Jafri (Guest Writer)

How long will the formation of Telangana state take under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill? When will Assembly elections be held? Will Assembly polls coincide with Lok Sabha elections or held separately? Will Telangana and residuary state of AP have simultaneous Assembly polls or go their separate ways? What are the earlier precedents? These are the questions plaguing the political parties and leaders on both sides of the regional divide.
   
The most recent instance of formation of new states — Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh — dates back to the year 2000. Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2000 was passed by Lok Sabha on July 31 and Rajya Sabha on August 9, 2000.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why 'Tribal Mother Mary' Offends Jharkhand’s Adivasis?

By Niharika Mulle / Ranchi

Protests by Adivasis are not new to Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. There have been numerous protests against displacement or atrocities by security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations. On 25 August, however, the city saw a different kind of tribal agitation when hundreds of Adivasis raised their voice against the Catholic Church. They were protesting against what they see as an attempt by the Church to appropriate their indigenous cultural symbols.

At the heart of the controversy is a statue of Mother Mary dressed in a white saree with a red border, wearing bangles and ear studs, and holding Baby Jesus in a child sling — an image that makes the Christian icon resemble the local Adivasi women. The statue was unveiled in May by Ranchi Cardinal P Telesphor Toppo at a parish church in Kumba Toli village in Singhpur tehsil of Ranchi district. The Adivasi protesters allege that the statue hurts their sentiments. And it’s the saree that they find the most offensive.

Friday, August 02, 2013

'Virgin Mary' As Tribal Keeps Debate Running In Jharkhand

By Somesh Malwa / Ranchi

Talks between church representatives in Jharkhand and members of the Sarna faith have broken down over the latter's demand that a statue portraying Virgin Mary as a tribal be removed. The statue was installed in May in the new Catholic parish church in Singhpur village, 15 km from Ranchi. It shows Mary in a white saree with a red border, her hair in a bun, bangles around her wrists. She is carrying the infant Jesus on a sling, as a tribal woman would.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

CONGRESS CASTE POLITICS - CASE OF TAIL WAGGING DOG

By M H Ahssan

One of the cardinal rules of politics is never to count your chickens before they hatch. It is now clear that the Congress never realised the importance of this dictum and is now repenting. Its leaders, who projected the UPA as the “natural alliance of governance” till the other day, have suddenly lost their swagger and are now reconciled to the possibility of some of their most trusted allies turning spoilers.

The Congress admitted the disintegration of the UPA in Bihar when it said that it would be difficult to do business with the RJD. In a tit-for-tat, the Congress announced an alliance with JMM in Jharkhand leaving just two seats for the RJD. Retribution from Lalu Prasad is likely to be swift and the RJD chief appears set to announce an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP for Jharkhand as well.

Only a political greenhorn would have missed the signals. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has been maintaining that parties within the UPA and outside could gel into a combination after the elections. Citing the fragmented nature of the country’s politics, Mr Pawar has said on more than one occasion that existing political bonding could alter in the event of the two major parties failing to cross the threshold required for winning over allies.

The Congress correctly diagnosed it as an attempt to expose its soft underbelly. The party reacted with its trademark bluster saying that the UPA would remain the favourite vehicle for government formation. This bold assertion was no doubt prompted by BJD’s unilateral snapping of its 11-year-old ties with Congress’s main rival, the BJP.

But the fortunes of the Congress are swinging as wildly as the stock markets on a day of free fall. So far, Mr Yadav has been Sonia Gandhi’s most loyal backer. When others threw tantrums, he stood by her, even going to the extent of saying that none was more suited than her to lead the country. But the Union railways minister rammed in the point that he cannot be expected to align his political interests with that of Congress. He also made the biggest political statement about the Congress marginalisation in the Hindi heartland by allotting it a mere three seats. The Congress retaliated by announcing itself as the bigger player in Jharkhand. But Mr Yadav will not take it lying down and it could lead to a disintegration of UPA in Bihar and Jharkhand that together account for 54 seats.

The widening emotional chasm between the RJD and the Congress has come in handy for the Samajwadi Party. The SP has swiftly moved in with a proposal for an alliance with RJD. The two Yadav leaders have of late been cosying up to each other. This has dashed expectations of the Congress that the incompatibility between the two Yadavs would prevent any political joint venture in the cow belt.

The big picture must be worrying for the Congress. In states where it depends on the crutches that an ally provides, partners have virtually pushed the Congress to the edge. Barring Tamil Nadu where DMK has said that it’s willing to renew the 2004 contract, every other ally wants the marriage terms to be rewritten. And it is no secret that NCP’s chief aim is to cut the Congress to size in Maharashtra.

In what could further sharpen the faultlines within the UPA, the Centre has imposed the President’s rule in Meghalaya. The mentor of the dismissed government, PA Sangma, is sure to force the NCP to turn even more hostile against the Congress in this changed political scenario.

If an out of depth and demoralised BJP was the political screen saver the last week end, the characters are now beginning to swap places. The BJP may be friendless in the two key southern states — Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — but the alliances that it has worked out in other states have come without any baggage. While political parties have every right to feel hopeful, the events in the UPA once again show what usually follows hubris.