A little girl sleeps on her sister’s lap in a village in Jharia, Jharkhand. Their parents are coal pickers.
An underground fire has been burning in Jharia for the last hundred years or so. The heat makes it almost unbearable to live in the region. Efforts to stop the fire have been in vain. That fire has now spread overground. The CPM recently told the 14th Finance Commission that the fire in the Jharia coalfields of Dhanbad should be considered a ‘national disaster’.
Astute manipulation of the caste matrix and a savvy campaign led the Grand Alliance of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to an epochal victory. The BJP underestimated the power of its opponent and fell victim to its own contradictions