New Delhi: The BJP government in Jharkhand appears to be on its way out as the opposition alliance of the Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) inches closer to the majority mark of 41 in the 81-member assembly.
Trends at 3.10 pm showed the alliance leading in 44 seats and the BJP in 26.
The BJP’s former ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) is leading in 4 seats and Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) is leading in 3 seats.
With the alliance crossing the majority mark in leads, Jharkhand looks likely to become the third state, after Haryana and Maharashtra, where the BJP has failed to get a majority on its own, ever since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power for the second time this May.
In Haryana, the BJP formed the government by entering into a post-poll alliance with the Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party and seven Independent MLAs, while in Maharashtra, the party had to make way for the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP alliance government.
The Jharkhand elections once again highlights how the BJP’s attempt to contest on national issues — the Citizenship Amendment Act, scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and building Ram temple in Ayodhya — has failed to resonate with the voters.
People in Jharkhand, who had voted for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in May, voted differently in the assembly polls — responding positively to local issues raised by the opposition parties.
Raghubar Das trailing
Afternoon trends also hinted at what could be a major upset for the BJP with incumbent chief minister Raghubar Das trailing by about 5,000 votes from his pocketborough Jamshedpur East against his former colleague Saryu Roy.
Roy left the BJP after he was denied a ticket and contested as an Independent. Das has not lost from the Jamshedpur East since 1995.
The CM’s loss could also put a question mark on the BJP’s experiment of picking CMs who are not from the dominant caste in the state. Das was the first non-tribal CM of Jharkhand and his government is the first in the state to complete a full five-year term in office.
The BJP experimented with this formula in Haryana where it made Manohar Lal Khattar, a Punjabi, the CM and then in Maharashtra, where it made Devendra Fadnavis, a non-Maratha, the chief minister.
BJP insiders say Das’ arrogance and failure to take everybody along could be the reason behind the party’s below-par performance.
The huge discontentment among the tribals over the state government’s unsuccessful attempt to amend two of the tribal land laws — the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act that could have made sale of tribal land to non-tribals easy — could have also cost the party, say BJP leaders.
JMM comes on its own
The trends indicate that it’s the JMM that has outperformed its alliance partners — the Congress and the RJD.
While the JMM is leading in 27 seats, according to the Election Commission data, the Congress and the RJD are leading in 14 and 3 seats, respectively.
JMM chief Hemant Soren, who contested from two seats — Dumka and Barhait — is leading in both with over 3,000 votes.
Soren had lost Dumka, his pocket borough, in 2014 to BJP’s Louis Marandi.
Political analysts say the Congress almost piggybacked on the JMM. Riddled with factionalism, Congress top brass was infrequent in its campaign presence. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi took part in just four rallies while the party’s general secretary (East UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra participated in just one rally.
“The JMM made up for the Congress’ absence with Hemant Soren campaigning in all the alliance seats at least once,” said a JMM leader, who did not want to be named.
AJSU chief Sudesh Mahato leading
The AJSU broke away from the BJP before the election after failing to agree on seat-sharing. AJSU chief Sudesh Mahato is leading from Silli constituency.
Jharkhand’s first chief minister Babulal Marandi’s JVM(P) is also ahead in three seats with Marandi leading from Dhanwar.
The JVM(P), which was initially planning to ally with the Congress-JMM-RJD combine, later decided to fight solo over differences in seat-sharing.