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Last Updated : Dec 03, 2019 07:00 PM IST | Source:

Jharkhand Assembly Election: A tussle between local and national narratives

Opposition leaders in Jharkhand are reportedly banking on highlighting local issues that have a direct effect on the voters

BJP's Raghubar Das (left) and JMM's Hemant Soren (Images: Twitter/@dasraghubar and @HemantSorenJMM)
BJP's Raghubar Das (left) and JMM's Hemant Soren (Images: Twitter/@dasraghubar and @HemantSorenJMM)

The parties in Jharkhand, especially those in the Opposition, seem to have taken a leaf out of the recent elections in Maharashtra and Haryana — they have been focusing more on local issues than national ones.

During the elections in the two states— which did not yield expected results for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — observers have stated that for the voters, local issues mattered more.

So even as the BJP stressed on abrogation of Article 370 and triple talaq during its rallies, what mattered more, say opposition leaders, was agrarian distress and the government's handling of floods.


Opposition leaders in Jharkhand are reportedly banking on this while highlighting the issues that have a direct effect on the voters.

Also Read: 10 bellwether seats — whoever wins these, wins the polls

"... People will vote on the basis of local issues and the government's performance. Let them make more hospitals and schools. Only that can derive results," Sudesh Mahto, the chief of All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), told the Outlook magazine during an interview.

Mahto, whose AJSU was in alliance with BJP, broke his party's ties with the party after the two reportedly had differences over seat-sharing. Mahto has also said the BJP had failed to fulfil the promises it made to the state during the last polls. During the interview, he also claimed that the BJP did not give priority to the natives in providing jobs.

Other opposition parties, too, are keeping their campaign plank local. According to a report by The Hindu, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has, in its manifesto, promised reservations to OBC, SC and ST communities.

Also Read: A look at how various regions voted in 2014

They have also raked up the issue of local vs non-local, portraying chief minister Raghubar Das as an outsider while parties like the JMM and AJSU as those that fought for the formation of Jharkhand and its identity.

The Centre's dilution of provisions of the land acquisition act was met with protests, and the opposition has been trying to highlight this issue as well during its campaign.

The BJP, on its part, is determined to shift focus from the local to the national, with top leaders of the party— including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah— talking about Article 370 and the Ram Mandir during their respective rallies.

Shah has also spoken about nation-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC) during his rally, while PM Modi, during his rally on December 3, said his government ensured peaceful settlement of the Ayodhya dispute.

Also Read: The challenges facing chief minister Raghubar Das

"Maharashtra and Haryana have shown that the campaigns around the incumbent CMs didn't pay dividends. The initial campaign around Raghubar Das in Jharkhand also gave negative signals," a BJP functionary told The New Indian Express while talking about why the party is trying to highlight national issues more than the local ones.

"This poses a challenge for the party to steer the campaign on a firm course without allowing the Opposition to polarise the electorate by campaigning against Das," the functionary added. This has prompted the BJP to focus on the national narrative and hope that a repeat of Haryana and Maharashtra doesn't greet the party.

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First Published on Dec 3, 2019 07:00 pm
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