Khunti Assembly Elections 2019: Nilkanth Singh Munda of the Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Khunti Assembly constituency. He defeated JMM's Sushil Pahan by a margin of 26,327 votes. As per latest trends, BJP has won two seats and is leading in 25 seats while JMM is leading in 29 seats.
Munda has increased its winning margin since the 2014 Assembly election when he had won the seat by 21,515 votes. He had defeated JMM's Jidan Horo in 2014.
Khunti is a BJP bastion and has remained unbreached for the past 20 years.
A Cabinet minister in the outgoing Raghubar Das government, Munda has won every election held in the state since its formation in 2005.
Munda defeated Congress' Roshan Kumar Surin in 2005 with more than 15,000 votes. The only time someone has come within striking distance of Munda was in 2009 when JMM's Masi Charan Munda lost out to him with a mere 436 votes. In 2014, Munda again registered a win with over 21,000 votes
This time too, keeping its faith in rural development minister Munda, the BJP has fielded him from this seat for the fifth time. On the other hand, the JMM has fielded Sushil Kumar Laung from the constituency.
The Khunti Assembly constituency, in the Khunti district, is a reserved seat for Scheduled Tribes. The constituency was carved out of the Ranchi district in 2007. Having a population of 1,24,388, the city is also the district headquarters. The town has historically remained a centre of activity during the famed Birsa movement in 1875.
There are over 100 Pathalgadi villages in Khunti district, barely 50 kilometres from the state capital Ranchi, where the tribes don't recognise any authority and don't owe allegiance to the Constitution.
A 'Pathalgadi' is a huge stone plaque that declares at the village entrance itself that residents are governed by their own rules and all outsiders are banned, regardless of whether they are politicians or just casual visitors.
It is one of most backward regions of the eastern state and is also hit by Maoist violence. Khunti will go to polls on 7 December in the second leg of the five-phase Jharkhand Assembly election.
Historically known as the birthplace of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda, Khunti district has a population of 5,31,885 people. The district is part of the South Chotanagpur division. The region comes under the Red Corridor experiencing considerable Maoist insurgency. It has a tribal population of 3,89,626 people. Nearly 80 percent of its population comprises tribal communities. Its literacy rate is 67.99 percent. It is the only Christian majority district in the state (51.1 percent) with 3.06 lakh people following the religion as per the 2011 Census.
Khunti is famous as the lac producer of the Jharkhand region. A large share of India’s total lac is produced in this place. Lac is a natural polymer (resin) that is produced by a tiny insect called Kerria lacca (Kerr). This agricultural profession of lac cultivation is a secondary source of income for many tribals in the Khunti region.
Following is a brief description of the Assembly constituency:
Constituency number: 60
Total electors: 2,10,014
Voter turnout in last Assembly Election: 62.96 percent
Polling stations: 297
Major parties in the fray: BJP, JMM, JVM, CPI, SP, BSP, RJD, JD(U)
Among Khunti's multiple problems is one of the tribal women being lured by touts into becoming domestic workers and bonded labourers. The narrative of migration and bonded labour is repeated in village after village. The list is long, the characters different and the story same.
However, the BJP’s biggest problem in the state this time is its passage, followed by withdrawal, of amendments to the land tenancy acts relating to the tribal belts of Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas. The flip-flop has left both the tribal communities and the BJP’s OBC vote bank enraged, for opposite reasons.
The state had in 2016 amended the century-old Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Parganas Tenancy (SPT) Act to allow the transfer of land owned by the Adivasis to non-Adivasis. A backlash from tribal parties and organisations that accused the BJP of trying to usurp tribal land prompted the government to withdraw the proposed laws in 2017 before they had been notified.
Now the tribal groups are suspicious of the BJP, while the OBCs are angry at the withdrawal of the proposed amendments. Under the original act, the Adivasis can sell their land but only to an Adivasis, from within a specified geographical boundary, and with the district collector’s approval.
The issue especially touches a raw nerve in Khunti as the credit for the CNT Act in 1908, which prohibits the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals, goes to Birsa Munda who is a deeply revered figure here.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 23, 2019 17:05:51 IST