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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

BJP banking on multi-polar contest in Jharkhand assembly election 2019

In the state with a large tribal population, the BJP will have to defend its performance on issues such as unemployment, farm distress and economic slowdown.

assembly-elections Updated: Nov 15, 2019 16:54 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The saffron party is downplaying friction between allies, it is hopeful that the absence of a contender to incumbent chief minister Raghubar Das from the opposition could work to its advantage in battling anti-incumbency and infighting.
The saffron party is downplaying friction between allies, it is hopeful that the absence of a contender to incumbent chief minister Raghubar Das from the opposition could work to its advantage in battling anti-incumbency and infighting.(PTI photo)
         

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has set itself a target of winning more than 65 seats in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly, is banking on a multi-polar contest in the state to edge past its opponents. The Party which is fighting to retain the assembly in the state has not been able to iron out differences with ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) over seat sharing, even as other NDA allies the Janata Dal (United) or JDU and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are contesting alone. Jharkhand will vote in five phases, starting November 30.

LJP president Chirag Paswan on Tuesday said his party will contest 50 seats in the state on its own and announced names of five candidates for polls. He told mediapersons that the LJP’s offer for an alliance to the BJP went unanswered. The other ally JDU was the first off the block to announce that it would go alone.

Even as the saffron party is downplaying friction between allies, it is hopeful that the absence of a contender to incumbent CM Raghubar Das from the opposition side could work to its advantage in fighting battling anti-incumbency and infighting.

In the state with a large Tribal population, the BJP will have to defend its performance on issues such as of unemployment, farm distress and economic slowdown.

“There is no one bloc that will gain the anti-incumbency vote. There are many factions in the opposition camp as well,” a party functionary said.

On whether the Sena-BJP fallout in Maharashtra has had an impact on the talks with allies in the poll-bound state, a state functionary said the party is making sure that the pre-poll discussions leave no scope for digressions later. He also acknowledged that there has been “discomfort” over the decision to give Das a second turn.

In the last assembly poll, the BJP had won 37 seats will AJSU had won 5 seats.

To be sure, the opposition Mahagathbandhan of the opposition has on board the Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and seat sharing discussions are on with the RJD. Former chief minister Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha(Prajatantrik) has also opted to go alone.

“The party is ensuring that there is no repetition of a Maharashtra-like situation where rebels cut into the BJP vote share and came in the way of party getting a clear majority. It is also not worried about LJP and JDU contesting alone as these are allies of the NDA at the centre,” said the second functionary.

Though the party high command has indicated that Das will be leading the state unit into the electoral battle, a section within the party had expressed concern over naming Das as the CM for a second term.

“There have been reports of disagreement within the party unit at the state level. But for now the leadership has thrown its weight behind Das,” said a party functionary not wishing to be named.

The fissures came to fore in February this year, when Saryu Rai, minister of food and public distribution wrote to BJP national president Amit Shah, expressing concern over the Jharkhand chief minister’s style of functioning. He had also According alleged that the Jharkhand government was protecting the interests of a few business houses.

On Sunday while announcing the first set of contenders for the polls, BJP working President JP Nadda said had given Das a pat on the back. “Five years back Jharkhand was known for corruption and instability. Today, under the leadership of Raghubar Das, Jharkhand is known for its stability and development. Corruption has been brought down and the state is moving towards development,” Nadda said.

Even as the party refuted all allegations against Das, a second state functionary said there have been concerns about the choice of contestants as well; a case in point being Bhanu Pratap Shahi, a former minister in the Madhu Koda’s government and is accused in a Rs 130 crore medicine scam, who will contest from Bhavnathpur Assembly constituency and Shashi Bhushan, accused of murder, who is being fielded from Panki.