Having seen nine different governments – none of which could complete its term – in last 14 years, Jharkhand may finally be headed towards electing a stable government this time.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's call for a stable government and development has worked in favour of the saffron party, which was inching closer towards the magic figure of 42 along with its ally, the All Jharkhand Students Union.
At the timing of the filing of this report, the BJP and the AJSU were maintaining lead in 40 out of 81 seats, way ahead of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's (JMM) figure of 20. The BJP's performance may have fallen short of its own expectation – party's internal survey said it would get 50-plus seats – but that may not spoil its chances of forming a government in the state.
Immediate response from party leaders suggests wrong decision in selecting some candidates coupled with JMM's success to hold on to its stronghold area held the BJP's march to reach up to its expectation.
But, election results have also thrown up an opportunity for the state to have a non-tribal as the chief minister for the first time in its history.
Former chief minister Arjun Munda, BJP's most prominent tribal face, was trailing in Kharsawan by nearly 15,000 votes after several rounds of counting. On the contrary, BJP's national vice-president Raghubar Das – an OBC – was leading in Jamshedpur East by over 70,000 votes.
"Jharkhand will have a stable government this time," BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The BJP had run a subtle campaign that it may stall a non-tribal CM this time and it, perhaps, helped the JMM to consolidate its position among the tribals. With Munda losing the poll, lady luck could smile at Das, a former deputy CM.
This could also be a reflection of the strategy of the BJP leadership to introduce a new breed of party leaders in the state, who come from an RSS background and backward community.
The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Democratic), which may hold the key to formation of a government in case of a last minute surprise in election result, was leading in 6 assembly seats. Its chief Babulal Marandi was trailing from both Giridih and Dhanwar.