Rajat Sharma

Why BJP lost Jharkhand assembly elections?

akb3010On Monday, BJP lost the Jharkhand assembly polls to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led alliance that included Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal. The JMM-led alliance won 47 out of a total of 81 seats and Hemant Soren is set to become the next chief minister, replacing Raghubar Das.

There were eight assembly elections in India since December last year, and the BJP managed to hold on to only one state, Haryana, after patching up a post-poll alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s party. BJP could have retained Maharashtra had Shiv Sena not switched camps after the polls to join hands with NCP and Congress. Jharkhand is the fifth state that BJP has lost in the last one year.

Let us assess what happened in Jharkhand.

Nearly six months ago, the BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand, winning 12 of the state’s 14 LS seats with a 51 per cent vote share. The party had won 57 of the total 81 assembly segments six months ago, but in the assembly polls this time, the party could manage to win only 25 seats with 34 pc votes, and lost the single largest party status to JMM, which won 30 seats.

Three important reasons were behind BJP’s defeat.

Firstly, as in other states, the party ignored its allies like AJSU in Jharkhand and finally opted to go alone. On the other hand, the JMM forged a strong alliance with Congress and RJD, and prevented anti-BJP votes from being divided. BJP got 34 pc votes, AJSU got 9 pc votes, while the JMM-led coalition got nearly 36 pc votes.

Secondly, several senior BJP leaders quit their parent party. Radhakrishna Kishore joined the AJSU, while another senior leader Saryu Rai raised the banner of revolt against Chief Minister Raghubar Das and defeated him from Jamshedpur East seat. The main grouse of the senior BJP leaders was that the party leadership ignored them and gave away tickets to defectors who had joined the party recently.

Thirdly, BJP committed mistake in projecting a non-Adivasi as its chief ministerial candidate. Adivasis constitute more than 26 pc of the state’s electorate and there are 28 seats reserved for tribals. Adivasi leaders in BJP had complained to the leadership that the tribals were unhappy with the chief minister and considered him as anti-tribal. Nobody paid attention to the words of tribal BJP leaders. Party leaders in Jharkhand say that the leadership reposed too much trust in the chief minister, and the consequences are there for all to see. The BJP lost the fifth state in the last one year.

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