The BJP-led alliance’s outright victory in Jharkhand is the most significant event that has happened in the state ever since its creation in 2000. In accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated objective, it can be safely said that the state will have a stable government, something Jharkhand sorely needed because it had, over the past 14 years, 12 governments, including three spells of President’s rule. However, it remains to be seen who will be chief minister now because the man with possibly the strongest claim, Arjun Munda, has lost. The results have shown the withering away of the UPA in the state, where it could not even put up a united face. The poor showing of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha shows the declining political influence of the Soren family, which had produced two chief ministers earlier.
The win will further bolster the BJP’s claim to being a party that represents all sections of Indian society. Women voters outnumbered men in 40 seats of the 81 assembly constituencies of the state, and their poll percentage was 67.03% against the 65.97% of men. Jharkhand is a state with a tribal population of 26%. The high voter turnout showed that the people of the state were not going to be cowed down by Maoists threats. Then Jharkhand will be the third mineral-rich to come under BJP rule, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh being the other two. With huge mineral deposits, it is in Jharkhand that Mr Modi’s call to ‘make in India’ will be put to the test. This is particularly so because Mr Modi had also said in the course of poll campaigns that no one could take tribals’ land as long as he was at the helm at the Centre. In that case the question remains how land for mining and industry can be acquired without falling foul of the tribals. Further, the Forest Rights Act, which was pushed through by the UPA government, may now be diluted and it has to be done without disturbing the socio-ecological balance of the tribal areas.
The wins in Maharashtra and Haryana were a foregone conclusion. Jharkhand has shown that Mr Modi and the BJP’s appeal is intact and growing.