Jharkhand headed for close three-party contest

  • B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Nov 24, 2014 17:00 IST

Jharkhand, which goes to polls beginning Tuesday in five phases along with Jammu and Kashmir, has had a bad track record of electing unstable governments and giving fractured mandates.

In the last 14 years since its formation, it has seen 9 chief ministers and 3 President's rules.

And given the prevailing political equation, it is headed for a three-cornered fight between the three political parties - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, and the JMM.

In the absence of clear majority, neither the BJP nor the Congress has had the freedom to take vital decisions when in power with alliance partners. Regional parties have often bullied their two national counterparts and suppressed national interests for their personal goals.

A state laden with 40% of the country's mineral wealth, Jharkhand holds the key to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Make in India campaign.

Buoyed with the phenomenal success in the parliamentary polls and followed by unprecedented wins in Haryana and Maharashtra, the BJP is trying with all its might to win over Jharkhand and establish a direct link between the state and Centre.

With a strong RSS backing coupled with 'Modi magic', the BJP is expecting to form the government with a clear majority.

The Congress, however, is not taking things lying down.

The party realises that unlike Maharashtra and Haryana, the BJP was in power in Jharkhand for at least 8 out of the 14 years of its existence and delivered miserably. The BJP-led governments failed to build institutions of development and bring in progress and prosperity in the state, Congress feels.

It has also found a chink in the armour with a leadership crisis plaguing the Jharkhand BJP.

Fighting the poll with Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), Congress is hopeful of winning the magical 41 seats in the Jharkhand assembly comprising 81 elected members.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the most powerful regional party in the state, is contesting alone on all the 81 seats. It is in direct contest with the BJP in at least 40% of the seats. On the merit of being in power for the last 16 months and having taken to several voter appeasement schemes, the JMM too is hopeful of reaching closer to the majority.

Going by the voting trends in the parliamentary polls held in April, the BJP was the clear leader as it led in 56 assembly constituencies followed by JMM (9) and Congress (3) as they failed to reach the double digit mark.

But as they say, assembly elections are a different ballgame all together and the three parties will have new waters to test their potentials.

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