The BJP in Jharkhand succeeded in convincing its voters that the interest of the country is paramount, and it is safe only in the hands of Narendra Modi. As a result, it along with its sole ally AJSU (All Jharkhand Student Union), succeeded in winning 12 of the 14 seats — 11 by itself and one by the AJSU. Except for the minorities, the voters of all caste, class and age groups, ignoring their local grievances or grievances against the incumbent MPs, voted for the BJP candidates. Eight out of the 11 seats won by BJP were retained by the incumbent MPs.
The Congress in Jharkhand had entered into a strong alliance with the State’s regional and major parties (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Rashtriya Janata Dal) and had an almost conflict-free seat-sharing arrangement with them. The Congress contested seven seats, the JMM four, the JVM two and the RJD two (The RJD fielded its candidate from Chatra, though this seat was allotted to the Congress).
But despite the consolidation of the Opposition votes, the BJP won most seats by a huge margin. Nine of its candidates won by a margin of more than one lakh votes. Four of its candidates, Annapurna Devi (Koderma), Vishnu Dayal Ram (Palamau), Jayant Sinha (Hazaribag) and P. N. Singh (Dhanbad), got more than 60% of the total votes cast and each won by a margin of more than four lakh votes.
Except for Ms. Devi, the other three were re-elected: Mr. Ram and Mr. Sinha for a second term and Mr. Singh for a third. A former MLA from the Koderma Assembly seat and a popular leader, Ms. Devi, who recently switched sides from the RJD to the BJP, defeated an equally popular leader, the first Chief Minister of Jharkhand and three times MP from Koderma, Babulal Marandi, by a margin of about 4.55 lakh votes. Ms. Devi got about 62% of the votes while Mr. Marandi could get only about 25% of the votes. This was both because of her popularity and the popularity of Mr. Narendra Modi.
The BJP had a very tough fight at the Khunti and Lohardaga constituencies — each winning the two seats by a margin of about a thousand votes. Both the constituencies saw a massive polarisation of minority (mainly Christian) and tribal votes in favour of the Congress and against the BJP.
Social class wise voting behaviour of the Voters of Jharkhand
|Party voted for Lok Sabha 2019 (Jharkhand)|
In Khunti, the police action following the Pathalgarhi movement (a movement for tribal autonomy) and the modification of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act by the government had aggrieved the tribal people including the Christians. Some of the tribal people boycotted the election and some voted for NOTA (more than 20,000, constituting about 2.5% of the total votes), while a large number of them voted for the Congress.
The Opposition alliance could get only two seats: Vijay Hansdak of the JMM could retain the Rajmahal seat for the second term, defeating the BJP candidate Hemlal Murmu by about 99,000 votes, and Geeta Kora, the Congress candidate from Singhbhum, defeated BJP candidate Laxman Giluwa by about 72,000 votes. Their own work and popularity in their areas helped them withstand the strong Modi wave.
The Santhal Pargana region was once a stronghold of the JMM, but this time, it could get only one (Rajmahal) seat from this region. Even Shibu Soren, the patriarch of the party and MP for this seat, lost the Dumka seat to Sunil Soren, once a trusted member of the JMM and now the BJP candidate, by about 47,000 votes.
Satisfaction of voters with the performance of the Central and State governments
|Fully Satisfied||Somewhat satisfied||Somewhat dissatisfied||Fully Dissatisfied||No response|
|Satisfaction with central government||24||52||15||8||1|
|Satisfaction with state government||13||48||27||10||2|
In 2014 too, the BJP had won 12 of 14 seats with the only difference that it had then won Singhbhum and lost Dumka, and this time it lost Singhbhum and won Dumka. The factors determining the electoral outcome of these two elections were different, though Mr. Modi acted as a vote puller in both years. The 2014 election was won by kindling the aspirations of the people for achhe din (better future), while this election was won on the platform of hypernationalism: for good governance, national pride and securing the interest of the country. The BJP candidates projected Mr. Modi as a saviour of the country and also promoted a fear among voters that in his absence, the country would disintegrate. During his campaign, Arjun Munda, the BJP candidate from Khunti — the most challenging constituency for the party — urged voters to forget about local issues and local grievances and vote for national pride and for protecting the nation’s interest.
The post-poll survey confirmed that except for the minorities, the BJP-lead NDA succeeded in getting the support of voters from all social categories. Only about 11% of the Muslims voted for the BJP-NDA, while 70% of the OBCs and 60% of upper caste voters favoured BJP-NDA candidates.
( Harishwar Dayal is a faculty member of St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi )