Upbeat BJP braces for Jharkhand challenge

With the Election Commission announcing dates for a five-phase election to the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, political parties have started exploring alliance opportunities.

Polling will be held in the Maoist-affected State on November 25 and December 2, 9, 14 and 20. Counting will be held on December 23.

The current strength in the Assembly is 70 after 10 MLAs quit either to join the BJP or the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Before the Lok Sabha election, two Independents had joined the Trinamool Congress.

Security forces face a major challenge during the elections as 22 of the 24 districts are Maoist-affected. Thanks to the recent poll victories in Maharashtra and Haryana, the BJP is upbeat in Jharkhand also.

Senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Arjun Munda said the BJP would appeal to the people to vote for stability and development. “The only mission of our party is to get absolute mandate to form the government on our own. We hope that we will be getting over 55 seats,” he said adding that people of the State would vote for his party as they did in the Lok Sabha poll.

“The coming Assembly poll will end the woes of the people of Jharkhand as there have been governments with fractured mandate since its inception,” he said.

In the Lok Sabha poll, the BJP won 12 of 14 seats, bagging 40.1 per cent of the votes, while the Congress polled just 13.3 per cent of the votes, with the ruling JMM getting 12.1 per cent.

The JMM-led alliance with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, which has been in power for the past year and a half, is hoping to decimate the BJP.

“The Congress will fight against the BJP in Jharkhand as our party is in a strong position to counter Modi,” Sukhdeo Bhagat, State congress president, told The Hindu.

He said that in the recent elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, voters had rejected regional parties. “So we will devise our strategy in Jharkhand keeping this in view.”

Congress spokesperson Ravindra Singh said the State screening committee had already sent to central leaders the names of probable candidates. “Now, we have to decide whether we will go it alone or go with the alliance partners,” he said.

In the Lok Sabha poll, the Congress failed to make its presence felt as its lone MP Subodh Kant Sahay lost the election from Ranchi. Besides, the party does not have a well-acclaimed leadership in the State.

Even the Jharkhand unit of the BJP faces fractions led by Mr. Munda and Raghubar Das, who have been pushing hard to project themselves as chief ministerial candidates.

Apparently to forge unity among the factions, BJP president Amit Shah visited Ranchi on September 8. He told party men to “forget about the CM candidate and instead focus on clear majority.”

The JMM too could play a significant role in the elections. Large sections of the State’s 24 per cent tribal population are politically loyal to the JMM led by Shibu Soren.

“I am confident that based on my government’s performance in the last 14 months people would once again support us to form the government,” said Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren.

Asked about the Modi wave which worked in Maharashtra and Haryana, Mr. Soren quipped: “Let him come to Jharkhand ... we’ll see him also.”

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 2:44:16 AM |

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