The BJP leadership is exploring a possibility of a tie-up with All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU), a regional outfit headed by former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahato.
AJSU has six MLAs in the current assembly and has been part of every coalition government headed by the BJP in the past. It is considered to have a strong following among politically influential Kurmis of the tribal state.
“There have been talks for a tie-up, but has not taken a shape. The chapter hasn’t closed and we are looking for a seat sharing formula that is acceptable to both the parties,” a senior BJP leader told HT.
A BJP source claimed while AJSU was demanding 14-15 seats, the BJP was not ready to concede more than 8. “Hopes of an alliance remain alive. If we are able to finalise seat sharing formula, an announcement could be made this week,” a BJP source said.
Some internal surveys done by the BJP, a party leader said, show AJSU getting 8-10% votes. Riding high on a Narendra Modi wave, the BJP had bagged 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats from Jharkhand, with a lead in 54 out of 81 assembly seats.
However, BJP leaders admit repeating the LS performance in the assembly polls, beginning on November 23, would be a herculean task. Recently, the party made a failed bid to stitch up an electoral pact with first chief minister Babulal Marandi, who quit the BJP to float his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha in 2006.
Offers were also made to him to merge his JVM with the BJP but it could not see the light of the day. Marandi is believed to have considerable influence over tribal voters of Jharkhand.
The BJP has not projected a CM candidate in Jharkhand this time, but speculation is rife that it may install a non-tribal as chief minister if voted to power in the state.