The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was inching closer to grabbing power in Jharkhand on Tuesday with counting of votes for the assembly polls underway, as the tribal-dominated state is set to have its first majority government.
Party president Amit Shah promised a “good government” to the state with the BJP and ally AJSU leading in 40 of the total 81 seats at the last count, one shy of absolute majority.
The trends sparked celebrations at the BJP office in Ranchi with supporters bursting crackers and distributing sweets since 9am.
“Attribute it to Narendra Modi mania that the state is going to see its first majority government,” said BJP vice-president and CM probable Raghuvar Das, who won the Jamshedpur (East) seat comfortably.
The Congress that fought the polls with the JD (U), the RJD and other regional parties including the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), failed to make it to double digits.
Despite anti-incumbency sentiments, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) that was ruling the state in alliance with the Congress before they parted ways days ahead of the election is likely to improve on its previous tally of 18 seats.
Jharkhand has seen nine governments, five chief ministers and three stints of President’s Rule since being carved out of Bihar in 2000.
“This election is a defeat of dynastic politics,” said tribal research scholar Girdhari Ram Ganjhu. “The poor and downtrodden had seen their own victory in the elevation of an erstwhile tea seller, Narendra Modi, as Prime Minister.”
The polls threw up several upsets with the BJP’s tallest leader in the state and former chief minister, Arjun Munda, losing from Kharsawan to the JMM’s Dashrath Gagrai.
The other big losers were All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) chief Sudesh Mahato who was defeated by JMM’s Amit Mahato from home turf Silli, while JVM chief and former CM Babulal Marandi lost both the seats he contested and another former chief minister, Madhu Koda, lost from Majhgaon.
Chief minister Hemant Soren of the JMM won the Barhait seat but was trailing in Dumka, considered the party’s headquarters. Congress state president Sukhdeo Bhagat, as widely expected, was trailing from Lohardagga and is likely to lose.
The polls also dealt a massive blow to the aspirations of the 363 independent candidates in the fray as only five of them were leading. Independents have traditionally shaped regime changes in Jharkhand.