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Raghubar Das’ ‘arrogance’ & ‘disconnect from reality’ — what BJP thinks cost it Jharkhand

Shielding the central leadership, BJP leaders blame CM Raghubar Das, saying his ticket distribution and election management left much to be desired.

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New Delhi: Staring at defeat in yet another assembly election, the BJP sought to deflect blame from the central leadership, choosing to pin it on Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das. The party blamed him for his “arrogance”, which disconnected him from the ground reality as well as the cadre.

ThePrint spoke to more than ten central and state BJP leaders, and all of them unanimously blamed Das, skirting questions about how he had been handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as chief minister in 2014.

He was part of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s experiment to make persons from non-dominant communities the chief minister — OBC leader Das in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, Brahmin leader Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, and the non-Jat M.L. Khattar in Haryana.

Officially, the BJP said it wasn’t able to communicate its government’s achievements to the voters.

Jharkhand BJP chief Rajesh K. Shukla said: “We will accept the verdict of the people. It seems we were not able to convey to the voters our policies and the development work done by our government and because of which we seem to have suffered.”

State leaders, however, pinned the defeat solely on Das, for “ignoring” them in ticket distribution and for his overall election management. One leader told ThePrint that the “arrogance” of Das, coupled with local issues, proved to be a disastrous recipe for them.

Also read: BJP loses majority in Jharkhand: Are Modi-Shah no longer decisive factors in state polls?

‘Couldn’t save his own seat’

Many in the state unit claimed that the lack of alliance partners and ignoring Saryu Roy’s rebellion also hurt the party. According to latest trends, Das was losing in his bastion Jamshedpur (East) against Roy, who fought as an independent with support from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and BJP ally Janata Dal (United).

Das and Roy’s tussle had come to the fore just ahead of the assembly elections, but was ignored by the high command, and Roy was denied a ticket.

“Election management was handed over to a man who couldn’t save his own seat. No one listened to workers,” a state BJP functionary said.

The role of party functionaries in election management was restricted, said this leader. “The entire election management was in the hands of the CM, and the inputs of local leaders, as well as the functionaries, were ignored.”

The leader added, “The high command chose to believe in the strategy of the CM alone, and he ignored the ground realities. There was a complete breakdown of communication as the chief minister refused to listen to the other voices and the results are there for everyone to see.”

Another state BJP leader said Das had relied on election surveys conducted by private companies, who did not present the correct picture to him. “There was a complete disconnect with the ground reality. The company that was engaged to conduct the survey to decide on issues and even ticket distribution gave an incorrect report. Rather than using the surveys as one of the inputs, they were used blindly while strategising,” this leader said.

Also read: Toilets without doors, incomplete houses — govt schemes in Jharkhand a job half done

The tribal factor  

The tribal population, which constitutes around 26 per cent of the voters in Jharkhand, also managed to hurt the BJP, according to state leaders.

“There was a lot of anger among the state’s tribals against the CM, on account of the government’s unsuccessful attempts to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act, which restrict the sale of tribal land to non-tribals,” a third leader said.

“This was viewed by the tribal community as an attempt by the government to grab their land. This only alienated them, and the opposition also raised this issue and it seems to have worked.”

Also read: In Jharkhand polls, parties woo tribal voters with slogans, statues but don’t understand them

Too much focus on national issues

A fourth leader said it was a miscalculation on the part of Modi and Shah to back Das and focus on national issues. “They backed his candidature keeping in mind that national issues would be the focus, without realising that elections can’t be fought on national issues alone,” the leader said.

However, while other leaders agreed that there was too much focus on highlighting the central government’s achievements, they also blamed the state leadership’s disconnect with reality for the poor show.

“There was a complete disconnect with reality. Though the public was with the BJP, they were not told what the state leadership was going to offer them. At the same time, there was too much focus on highlighting central schemes,” a fifth leader ThePrint spoke to said.

“The poor state of the economy proved to be the last nail in the coffin as the voters were not told how the government would tackle that,” this leader said.

Also read: Modi-Shah’s BJP has won state elections on national issues but Jharkhand can be a rude shock


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  1. Of course, of course. Had they won we know who would have taken all the credit. No different from how a few other big political parties operate.

  2. Cut forward to March 2022. Something similar may happen in Uttar Pradesh. It is not celestially ordained that a Chief Minister should serve for five unbroken years. If the feedback about him is highly negative, someone better should be brought in.

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