Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019| Our message for voters is stability and security: Raghubar Das
Raghubar Das, 64, is the first chief minister of Jharkhand to complete a full five-year term. He is also the first non-tribal leader to become chief minister of the state, carved out of undivided Bihar 19 years ago. Das is the BJP’s chief ministerial face in the five-phase election that begins on November 30. The BJP is contesting the election on its own. He spoke to Kumar Uttam in Ranchi about the BJP’s campaign, its aim of winning 65-plus assembly seats, and rebellion by ministers, among other things. Edited excerpts:
What is your big message to the voters in this election?
Our message is stability and security. People have seen governments of 12 months and 6 months. We provided stability to Jharkhand. When people vote, they will compare the instability of 14 years and the stability of 5 years under the BJP. A stable government has been able to improve the security situation in the state. Maoists are on the run. Several of them have surrendered in neighbouring states. Today people move even in night without any fear. Both stability and security have ensured there is development in the state. Jharkhand is full of potential, we have to capitalise on it.
The Opposition has criticised you for policies that are against the interest of tribals and minorities. How do you respond to that?
Do you expect the opposition to sing my praises? If tribals were still listening to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), how did their patriarch, Shibu Soren, lose the April-May parliamentary election? We have never done politics of exclusion. Our rivals used to scare people saying if the BJP comes to power, jungle bhi nahi bachega aur zameen bhi (neither forest nor land will remain). In five years, the state’s forest cover has gone up by 5 percentage points. Several investigations have shown that the JMM’s Soren family grabbed land violated provisions. I will restore these land plots to their original owners.
Your cabinet colleague, Saryu Rai, has rebelled against you. The BJP also has dropped 13 MLAs. Does this show everything is not right in Jharkhand BJP?
A particular individual doesn’t matter in an organisation like the BJP. There were days during Jan Sangh times when we had to spread our ideology and anybody who was ready to contest an election would get a ticket. Today we fight to win. If the party feels that Raghubar Das is not in a position to win, it will deny a ticket to me.
Why did you not forge any alliance with JD-U of Nitish Kumar and LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan, who are part of NDA?
They are allies in Bihar, and not in Jharkhand. Every state has different situation and needs to be responded accordingly.
But you also turned your back on AJSU of Sudesh Mahato whose party shared power with you?
We had an alliance with them in the Lok Sabha election. We dropped our five-term MP to accommodate AJSU. The BJP knows how to follow coalition dharma. We were ready to conceded 8-10 seats for the AJSU but they were asking for numbers beyond their actual strength in Jharkhand. And, then, the BJP is strong enough to contest on its own. So we decided to go solo.
But you have not fielded a candidate against AJSU chief, Sudesh Mahto. Are you keeping doors open for a post-poll pact ?
Politics is always the art of the possible. Which politician will close his doors ? Nothing is ruled out in politics. Nobody should shut doors on anyone.
The BJP has set an ambitious target of winning over 65 of 81 seats. Given the BJP’s experience in Maharashtra and Haryana, do you think it is a tall order?
One should always aim big. The situation in Jharkhand is different from those in Haryana and Maharashtra. We have done good work and we hope that people will bless us with another term. Voters are faithful. They will never betray you if you understand their issues and stand by them.
There is an alliance of the Congress-JMM-RJD against the BJP. Will this coalition have an impact on you?
This is a mistake that pundits often make. When political leaders forge an alliance, they feel it will naturally lead to an alliance between voters. It doesn’t happen. It didn’t happen in Uttar Pradesh when the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party came together in the Lok Sabha election. It will not happen in Jharkhand either.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- On Friday, a social organisation against corruption, Satta Panchayat Iyakkam joined hands with MNM. Former MLA Pazha Karuppiah who has been with both the DMK and AIADMK also joined MNM and will be contesting on the fledgling party’s ticket.
- Earlier this month, the TMC had launched its campaign slogan - ‘Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chay’ – with an eye on women voters.