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Jharkhand elections: Cong-JMM ahead, CM trailing

Opp eyes shift in state politics driven by national concerns, BJP downplays claims
Chief minister Raghubar Das was trailing BJP rebel candidate and former minister Saryu Roy, who is contesting as an Independent, by over 4,000 votes in Jamshedpur (East) constituency. Das has represented the seat five times since 1995.

The Telegraph   |   Ranchi/Calcutta   |   Published 23.12.19, 10:28 AM

The Opposition combine of the JMM, Congress and RJD in Jharkhand was ahead of the BJP in as many as 40 seats as per the election commission website at 3.30pm on Monday in what has been a keenly fought five-phase Assembly election held in the backdrop of widespread protests across the nation over NRC and contentious amendments to the citizenship law.

While the BJP was leading in 31 seats, it’s former ally, the Sudesh Mahto-led Ajsu Party, was leading in three seats. In the 81-member Assembly, 41 constitute a majority.

Chief minister Raghubar Das was trailing BJP rebel candidate and former minister Saryu Roy, who is contesting as an Independent, by over 4,000 votes in Jamshedpur (East) constituency. Das has represented the seat five times since 1995.

The JMM was leading in 24 seats, while its alliance partner Congress was ahead in 13 and the RJD in three as leads and trends in more than 20 seats witnessing tight contests kept changing rapidly.

Hemant Soren, the leader of the Opposition alliance, is ahead of his rivals in both Barhait and Dumka seats.

Former chief minister Babulal Marandi, whose JVM is contesting on its own and not with the Opposition gathbandhan, was leading by 10. 252 votes over his nearest rival Raj Kumar Yadav of CPI-ML(Liberation) in Dhanwar seat.

Several BJP ministers including C P Singh and Anil Kumar Bauri are leading, but Raj Paliwar was trailing. Dinesh Oraon, the Speaker of the Assembly and BJP candidate, was also trailing in Madhupur.

Former deputy chief minister and AJSU Party president Sudesh Mahto was leading by 12,515 votes over JMM candidate Seema Devi from his traditional Silli seat.

The BJP's Bihar allies--the JD(U) and LJP-- contested the elections on their own and none of their candidates was leading anywhere.

The BJP contested 79 seats, supported an Independent candidate in one place and did not put up nominee against Ajsu chief Mahto.

Under a pre-poll arrangement, The JMM had the lion's share of 43 seats, while the Congress fielded nominees in 31 constituencies and Lalu Prasad's RJD in seven. The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) contested all the 81 seats.

Ideology change?

The Congress and its ally JMM said on Sunday that the BJP’s likely defeat in Jharkhand Assembly elections, as predicted by some exit polls on December 20, would not only change the ideological map of state politics but also reflect the mood of the nation with this being the first election after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The ruling BJP, however, played down such claims and said that the outcome of a state election hardly had any bearing on national politics.

Forty-one happens to be the magic number to form a government in the 82-member Jharkhand Assembly (81 elected, one nominated).

CM Raghubar Das, whose political career depends not merely upon his personal victory from Jamshedpur East, but also on how the BJP — that had set a target of paisath paar (beyond 65 seats) — as a whole performs, spent Sunday in closed-door meetings at his official residence.

State Congress president Rameshwar Oraon told The Telegraph Online that an electoral debacle in Jharkhand would send a message across the country that BJP was losing ground. “It will also show that people were no more willing to be diverted…It will be a strong reply to the saffron party which tries to divert people’s attention from issues related to their welfare.”

He added that people across the country were opposing the amended citizenship Act but the BJP government was not ready to roll it back.

“Even the British rulers had rolled back the controversial Salt Act when people of this country under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi had launched a protest against it, but the present government is not rolling back the CAA which shows its arrogance,” Oraon added.

Echoing its ally, the JMM also claimed that Jharkhand elections was a sort of first referendum on the controversial CAA and the BJP’s defeat would clearly spell out that the people of Jharkhand had rejected it by voting against its architects.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said: “A defeat for the BJP here would send a strong message across the country that divisive politics of BJP has no takers. The outcome of Jharkhand elections is significant for national politics because this is the first election after enactment of CAA in the country.”

State vs national issues

BJP, however, dismissed any such significance,

“State elections hardly affect national politics. There have been instances in the past when we lost state elections but went on to script resounding victories in the Lok Sabha elections in the same states,” BJP Jharkhand election co-in charge Nand Kishore Yadav said. Barely seven months ago, the BJP-led NDA had won 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.

Counting of votes polled at 29,464 booths of 81 Assembly constituencies of the state is being held on Monday at 24 centres, one each in as many districts.


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