Raghubar Das frontrunner for Jharkhand CM post

BJP national vice president Raghubar Das, who has won from Jamshedpur East by a huge margin of 70 thousand plus votes, is the frontrunner to be the next chief minister of Jharkhand.
By B Vijay Murty/ Kumar Uttam | Hindustan Times, Delhi/ranchi
UPDATED ON DEC 24, 2014 07:03 PM IST

Even as celebrations in Jharkhand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued for the second day after its phenomenal success in the assembly election, the party is yet to select its chief ministerial candidate.

While the party's parliamentary board met in New Delhi to elect observer for selection of the CM, its Jharkhand leaders and newly elected legislators began arriving in capital Ranchi to lobby for their candidates.

Raghubar Das, party's national vice-president and five-time legislator from Jamshedpur East, is the frontrunner to become the next chief minister of Jharkhand. Das won from Jamshedpur East by a huge margin of 70 thousand plus votes.

After ex-chief minister Arjun Munda, the biggest hurdle in his path to claim the post, lost miserably in Kharswan, Das doesn't have a rival to the throne.

The only factor working against Das is his non-tribal identity. Although, given the way the BJP high command has been throwing surprises by selecting a Brahmin, Devendra Fadnavis in Maratha-dominated Maharashtra, and a non-Jat, Manohar Lal Khattar in Jat-dominated Haryana, there is meagre possibility that it will continue with the trend of having a tribal as Jharkhand CM.

Around 26% of Jharkhand population is tribal. In the 81-member Jharkhand assembly, 28 are reserved for Schedule Tribe (ST) candidates. Since 2000, when Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, all the chief ministers in the state have been tribals. They included Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda, Sibu Soren and his son, Hemant Soren.

According to party insiders, BJP leadership strongly feels it is not mandated to choose a tribal as the CM.

In fact, the results declared on Tuesday showed that the party performed well in urban areas where the tribal population is marginal, while its performance in rural areas was mix of average and poor.

"Our parliamentary board and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will decide who is going to be the chief minister," Das said during a victory procession on Tuesday night.

Names of Union minister of state for social justice Sudarshan Bhagat, his colleague in Modi government Jayant Sinha, Jamshedpur West legislator Saryu Rai, Ranchi legislator and ex-speaker CP Singh and Gumla legislator elect Shiv Shankar Oroan have also surfaced as the potential CM candidates. But all of them are way behind Das in the race.

Even as celebrations in Jharkhand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued for the second day after its phenomenal success in the assembly election, the party is yet to select its chief ministerial candidate.

While the party's parliamentary board met in New Delhi to elect observer for selection of the CM, its Jharkhand leaders and newly elected legislators began arriving in capital Ranchi to lobby for their candidates.

Raghubar Das, party's national vice-president and five-time legislator from Jamshedpur East, is the frontrunner to become the next chief minister of Jharkhand. Das won from Jamshedpur East by a huge margin of 70 thousand plus votes.

After ex-chief minister Arjun Munda, the biggest hurdle in his path to claim the post, lost miserably in Kharswan, Das doesn't have a rival to the throne.

But his non-tribal identity could prevent him from becoming the CM. Although, given the way the BJP high command has been throwing surprises by selecting a Brahmin, Devendra Fadnavis in Maratha-dominated Maharashtra, and a non-Jat, Manohar Lal Khattar in Jat-dominated Haryana, there is meagre possibility that it will continue with the trend of having a tribal as Jharkhand CM.

Around 26% of Jharkhand population is tribal. In the 81-member Jharkhand assembly, 28 are reserved for Schedule Tribe (ST) candidates. Since 2000, when Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, all the chief ministers in the state have been tribals. They included Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda, Sibu Soren and his son, Hemant Soren.

According to party insiders, BJP leadership strongly feels it is not mandated to choose a tribal as the CM.

In fact, the results declared on Tuesday showed that the party performed well in urban areas where the tribal population is marginal, while its performance in rural areas was mix of average and poor.

"Our parliamentary board and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will decide who is going to be the chief minister," Das said during a victory procession on Tuesday night.

Names of Union minister of state for social justice Sudarshan Bhagat, his colleague in Modi government Jayant Sinha, Jamshedpur West legislator Saryu Rai, Ranchi legislator and ex-speaker CP Singh and Gumla legislator elect Shiv Shankar Oroan have also surfaced as the potential CM candidates. But all of them are way behind Das in the race.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed and waiting for the observer to arrive here," said Rai, who reached Ranchi Wednesday morning after celebrating his victory with supporters in Jamshedpur that went late into the night.

Sinha said in Delhi the BJP has greater responsibility initiating development activities in the state where "a lot of things are to be done".

Das' seniority, his ABVP background and his equations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah may tilt the balance in his favour. Raghubar Das belongs to the OBC, and rose in politics after humble beginnings as a factory labourer.

Speculation is rife that the BJP may think of giving a tribal the status of deputy CM, in case Raghubar becomes the chief minister. MLAs Neelkanth Singh Munda and Shivshankar Oraon are seen as frontrunners for the post of deputy CM, if such a post is created.

Arjun Munda, a bete noire of Das who lost his election, may be brought into national politics and made a national office bearer of the BJP.

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