Stability continued to elude Jharkhand, with the elections to 81 Assembly seats throwing up a fractured verdict. The alliances led by both the Congress and the BJP failed to secure a majority of 41 seats.
The Congress, along with the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), emerged as the largest alliance with a total of 25 seats, Congress securing 14 and JVM 11.
The BJP got 18 seats and its partner Janata Dal (United) two seats in a tally of 20 seats. JD(U) State president Jaleshwar Mahto was routed in the Baghmara constituency.
Much of the Congress and BJP thunder was stolen by Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which garnered 18 seats. This firmly placed Mr. Soren in a position to bargain for the Chief Minister’s post.
Mr. Soren has said the JMM would not approach any party and this time he would be the king, and not a kingmaker. Sources in the JMM revealed that Mr. Soren’s policy of quietly giving ticket to a few naxalites paid off. Paulush Surin, a naxalite zonal commander, won from Torpa.
While the BJP’s urban vote share has been declining since the last elections, it retained Ranchi. Another traditional UPA ally, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), managed only five seats. Smaller parties and independent candidates shared the remaining 13 seats.
The RJD issued a statement in Patna stating that it would “unconditionally welcome an alliance with the Congress.” The Congress will anyway get a majority if it forges an alliance with the JMM. Among other parties, the All-Jharkhand Students’ Union bagged five seats.
The result in the Santhal Pargana belt has gone against the BJP alliance, with the Congress and especially its ally, the JVM, performing well. While the Congress won 13 seats, improving on its previous tally of 9, the “Marandi factor” did play a crucial role as the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) snared 11 seats.
Among the major upsets were the defeat of Congress State president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, in the Ghatsila constituency from where he won thrice, and Mr. Stephen Marandi, who lost Dumka to JMM’s Hemant Soren.
Overall, the issues of corruption and price rise have apparently not cut much ice with the voters. as was manifested by the victory of tainted legislator Enos Ekka, who won the Kole Bira constituency.
“Results have been below expectations. The party high command will decide who is to be given the responsibility,” said Union Minister for Food Processing and Congress forerunner for the Chief Minister’s post Subodh Kant Sahay.
He said the Congress had a moral responsibility to drag Jharkhand out of its current mess.