Ajoy Kumar: ‘Destruction of social fabric and alienation of STs big problems’

Based on surveys and feedback, I think the UPA will be able to win 9-11 seats (out of 14 seats in the state), says Dr Ajoy Kumar.

Jharkhand Congress president Dr Ajoy Kumar speaks to Abhishek Angad on the party’s poll prospects in the state and the key issues this election season

How many seats do you think the UPA will win in Jharkhand?

Based on surveys and feedback, I think the UPA will be able to win 9-11 seats (out of 14 seats in the state). We have an edge in Rajmahal, Dumka, Giridih, Lohardaga, Godda, Singhbhum, Khunti and Chatra. We need to be a little careful in Ranchi. In Hazaribagh and Dhanbad, we will give a good fight with our new candidates.

Will the performance of the BJP-led state government be a determining factor in the polls?

Absolutely. Schools are closing down, ration cards are being cancelled and there is joblessness. There is distress in rural areas. The destruction of the social fabric and alienation of Scheduled Tribes are big problems. People are going to vote keeping these issues in mind. Every section has been hit….

But people are saying ‘Modiji ko jitana hai (We have to ensure Modi’s victory)’.

The media is reaching out to people who are sitting in roadside shops or dhabas. Go to the rural areas and ask labourers….

What is your stand on the 2017-18 Patthalgadi movement that took place in the villages of Jharkhand?

The Patthalgadi movement was a reaction to atrocities. The state government reacted by booking villagers on charges of anti-national activities. An expression of distrust is what Patthalgadi people were concerned with and we respect that. There was a total disillusionment with the state apparatus and we must look at the villagers as victims of oppression….

You recently said the Mahagathbandhan in Jharkhand will ensure minimum splitting of votes. But in seats like Chatra, there is a candidate from both the Congress and the RJD, which has disagreed with the seat-sharing. In Godda, there has been anguish over candidate selection, with a former MP alleging that you misled the Congress’s central leadership. How will you stop splitting of votes?

In Chatra, we are going to win and there are a lot of complexities due to which the RJD is also contesting. But we are very clear that the split won’t be significant… In Godda, there is no splitting, just anguish. The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) is a partner and when we sat for negotiations, they wanted two seats — Kodarma and Godda. Former Godda MP Furkan Ansari may accuse me of anything… but there has to be logic. Also, we don’t give tickets on the basis of religion. Not having (JVM(P) president) Babulalji (Marandi) as our alliance partner would cost our vote share dearly. Let us be honest: in every election, the JVM(P) gets 60,000-70,000 votes, which is a winning margin.

The Aadhaar-based biometric authentication is mandatory for buying ration from the Jharkhand public distribution system and receiving pension among other things. This has led to exclusion of many. There have been reports of starvation and death because people could not get ration.

If our government comes to power, we will abolish the Aadhaar-based biometric authentication system. Let us imagine: out of 100, 10 people who are from the lower middle class and should not have got rice under Antodaya scheme got it… But Food Corporation of India loses million tonnes of foodgrain due to lack of storage facilities. That is okay, but people eating rice is not okay?…BJP has a sick mentality. They always blame the poor.

Recently, a mob killed a tribal Christian man in Gumla on the suspicion that he slaughtered a cow. The state Congress unit did not condemn it. Has it become a new normal among politicians to not condemn such violent acts?

No, I don’t think we should ever accept it. Cow slaughter is wrong in places where it is banned. If you kill a cow, it is a crime. But if you kill a man suspected of killing a cow, it is a bigger crime. The government must take action.

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