The Ajsu party office in Ranchi wears a deserted look on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
May 15: A steady stream of visitors. Heated discussions and some furious calculations
May 16: Not a soul in sight
The contrasting pictures at the office of All Jharkhand Students’ Union (Ajsu) Party at Kanke Road in the heart of the capital said it all.
The BJP’s stunning victory has silenced the regional party, which had fielded candidates in nine of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.
Party boss Sudesh Mahto had himself led the fight, choosing to contest from a key constituency like Ranchi that was crowded with heavyweights like the Congress’s sitting MP Subodh Kant Sahay, BJP’s Ramtahal Choudhary and JVM’s Amitabh Choudhary. At the end of counting on Friday, Sudesh stood third, having polled 1,42,560 votes. Ramtahal was the winner (4,48,729 votes) followed by Sahay (2,49,426).
His party colleagues elsewhere, including former minister Neil Tirkey (Khunti), Loknath Mahto (Hazaribagh), Maulana Nazrul Hasmi (Koderma), U.C. Mehta (Giridih), Arjun Prasad Singh (Rajmahal) and Hemlata S. Mohan (Dhanbad), could not pull through either. The party also lost in Godda and Chatra.
No wonder, Sudesh, who returned to Ranchi on Friday after a holiday in Dubai with his family members, had little to say. “I will meet mediapersons after 10 minutes,” he promised when contacted over phone around 10.30am.
Later, he switched off his mobile phone.
“Saab abhi aye hain aur araam kar rahe hain (Sir has come just and is taking rest),” said an Ajsu worker at the sprawling Kanke Road office, which is also Sudesh’s residence.
Party insiders said that Sudesh had already read the signs and accepted defeat much before the results came out.
“He was little bothered about counting and hence, chose to go out of the country,” a party member said.
Nonetheless, some Ajsu workers couldn’t shake off their disappointment.
“Bhaiya had left no stone unturned to ensure his victory. We had also tried our best to woo voters. Pata nahi kya huan (Don’t know what happened),” said one of them, completely baffled by the Modi wave.
Ajsu spokesperson Devsharan Bhagat also refused to speak to the media.
Hemlata S. Mohan, the former chairperson of State Commission for Women, Jharkhand, was the only one willing to speak.
She took her defeat sportingly. “It was a learning experience for me. I am happy that my team members put in their best efforts,” she said.