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Last Updated : Dec 03, 2019 07:26 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Jharkhand Assembly Election: Will BJP's solo act bear fruit?

An analysis of the 2014 state elections shows that BJP’s reliance on a multi-cornered contest favouring them is likely to cause a dent

After the closure to a rather dramatic post-election government formation in Maharashtra, where the BJP was outwitted by an astute Sharad Pawar, eyes have now turned to Jharkhand, where the saffron party is going solo.

According to a report by The Hindu, even as parleys were going on, BJP’s central leadership insisted that the party was likely to benefit from multi-cornered contests and announced candidates for 79 of the total 81 seats.

BJP’s decision to go alone also meant parting ways with ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which has fielded 45 candidates this time.

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However, if the analysis of the 2014 elections is anything to go by, then the BJP’s strategy seems to have quite a few inadequacies.

In 2014, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had contested as an alliance, while the Congress and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) had fought independently.

This time, the Congress, RJD and the JMM have formed a pre-poll alliance and can prove to be a formidable challenge to the BJP, provided the three parties iron out their seat-sharing issues.

Besides, an analysis of the 2014 state elections shows that BJP’s reliance on a multi-cornered contest favouring them is likely to cause a dent.

In 2014, there were five seats where the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes. Of these, two went to the BJP, while the Congress, JMM and AJSU got one each. Plus, the Congress and the JMM were runners up in three seats, whereas the BJP was runner up only in one.

Again, there were 13 seats where the victory margin was between 1,000 and 5,000 votes. Of these, the BJP won five, while the JMM bagged two, and the JVM, AJSU and two others won one seat each. Here too, the BJP was runner up in four constituencies, while the JMM, Congress and RJD were runners up in six seats combined.

Seats, where the victory margin was more than 30,000 was where the BJP fared well. However, BJP leaders contend that vote transfer is not a given in Jharkhand. Incumbent Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das told the newspaper, “Just because there is an alliance among leaders does not mean that the support base will follow.”

Sharing the same sentiment, psephologist Abhay Kumar, formerly with the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), said the 2014 results “cannot be extrapolated to 2019”.

Citing that it is the saffron party that has been able to provide Jharkhand with its only full-term government over the past five years, Kumar said, “The BJP’s stability in governance will be important.”

BJP, however is playing safe vis-à-vis its relationship with the AJSU. During poll rallies, party president Amit Shah refers to AJSU as an old ally, which is still a “friend”, something which JMM chief Hemant Soren believes is proof that the BJP’s solo act will backfire.

The role played by the JVM and Independents is still imponderable, as is the efficacy of the BJP’s strategy. These factors will provide a clearer picture on December 23, when the results to the Assembly elections are scheduled to be announced.

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First Published on Dec 3, 2019 07:26 pm
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