This article explores why in India's Jharkhand, Mundas, often depicted as poor tribals, participate in elections to keep the state away, seeing it as foreign, dangerous, and juxtaposing its self-interested and divisive politics with a sacral polity, the parha. Munda disengagement with the state results from a complex combination of their contrasting the state with the sacral polity, historical experience of exploitation by state officers, and social relations with rural elites who, seeking to maintain dominance, reproduce Munda imaginings. The article thus draws attention to multiple co-existing notions of politics and the importance of a local political economy in the social production of cultural imaginings of the state.