The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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BJP storm wipes out regional ambitions

Regional parties of Jharkhand have been blown away by the Narendra Modi-led BJP tsunami with the three principal entities being forced to rethink strategies for Assembly elections due in months.

Against the BJP’s vote share of over 40 per cent, that got them 13 of the 14 seats in the state, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) has clocked 11 per cent votes, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) 7.8 per cent and the All Jharkhand Students Union (Ajsu) a dismal 4 per cent.

But true to character, almost all of them are in denial. Refusing to see the writing on the wall, JVM general secretary Sunil Sahu claimed their candidates polled significant votes in most Assembly segments of the respective parliamentary seat they contested.

But, a shifting of the minority vote to the UPA — read JMM or Congress — helped the BJP.

The JVM fielded candidates in all 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state with party boss Babulal Marandi locking horns with — and suffering a humiliating defeat against — JMM chief Shibu Soren in Dumka,

The Ajsu fielded nine candidates with party chief Mahto joining the fray in Ranchi against the BJP’s Ramtahal Choudhary who won by margin of over 1.99 lakh votes.

Undeterred, Mahto said he was analysing the performance of his party candidates to draw up concrete plans for the coming Vidhan Sabha elections.

“People give more importance to national issues during Lok Sabha elections. They wanted to get rid of the Congress at the earliest. They felt the BJP was a viable alternative,” he told The Telegraph.

On why the Ajsu fielded so many candidates for a Lok Sabha election, another senior party leader justified it as a means to keep the cadre occupied.“Our workers would have gone to other parties and we were likely to face bigger troubles during the Vidhan Sabha elections,” he claimed.

The JMM, now leading a coalition government in the state along with the Congress and RJD, finds itself at the crossroads.

As per a seat-sharing deal, the Congress fought nine Lok Sabha seats, the JMM four and the RJD one. But now, senior JMM leaders are putting the blame at the door of Shibu Soren’s son and chief minister Hemant at the dismal showing of all but one of the party’s candidates.

Many even went on to prophesy “bigger humiliations” in the coming days.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya, however, opined that since the JMM was a cadre-based party, it would have a sizeable number of representatives in the next Vidhan Sabha.

“We are only concerned about positive growth of Jharkhand. We have good rapport with both Congress and BJP. We will again be playing crucial roles during the formation of next government of the state,” he said, hinting at post poll alignments

Pushed to corner, JVM secretary Sahu went on to extol the virtues of their party founder, Babulal Marandi, who was Jharkhand’s first chief minister when he was with the BJP.

“The Lok Sabha results clearly reveal that Babulal Marandi is the biggest leader in Jharkhand. The Vidhan Sabha elections will be fought on local issues,” he said, claiming incorrectly that his party had secured over 20 per cent of the vote this time when the figure according to the Election Commission website was around 11 per cent.

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