BJP scores in Jharkhand

In Jharkhand, as in Maharashtra earlier, the BJP finished way ahead of other parties, but still ended up needing the support of another party to form a government. The All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) is a pre-poll ally, and can make up the shortfall in numbers, but ideally the BJP would have liked to cross the halfway mark without help from others. The strategy of fighting the polls without alliances with major parties certainly paid off in terms of an increase in the number of seats won, but without a majority of its own the political compromises the BJP refused to make prior to the election might now have to be made after the election. While the party is unlikely to face difficulties in continuing to get the support of the AJSU, there would be a political price to pay for the failure to win an absolute majority. From allocation of portfolios to formulation of policies on all important issues, the BJP will have to consult its partner. Although a minor party that seemed happy playing the role of a junior partner in the alliance, the AJSU might scale up its ambitions in the changed circumstances. Of course, the BJP will have to work doubly hard to get additional support from parties such as the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, led by one of its former members, Babulal Marandi. But in a State where smaller parties are known to switch sides in political deals, the JVM will not be completely out of the calculations of the BJP.

Clearly, regional factors played a greater role in the Assembly election than in the Lok Sabha election, and the Modi appeal did not have the same effect on voters. The issues were different, even if not the opponents. After having won 12 of the 14 seats in the Lok Sabha election, the BJP could not repeat the performance in the Assembly polls. While in Maharashtra the break with long-time senior ally the Shiv Sena was a surprise, in Jharkhand the risks for the BJP seemed lower after its best-ever performance in the parliamentary election. Before the election, the BJP dwelt at length on the pulls and pressures on successive coalition governments in Jharkhand, and held up its own performance at the head of the government at the Centre without the need for the support of any other party as an appealing alternative. As the largest party in the State, the BJP must have thought that seeking votes in the name of political stability would work in its favour. With the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, a party that seemed ever-willing to stitch up alliances with any party, as its main opponent, the BJP was hoping to gain additional support on the stability plank. In government, the BJP will have to act in full awareness of the nature of its mandate, and lay stress on consensus.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 6:11:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/bjp-scores-in-jharkhand/article6719902.ece

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