The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance raced towards victory in Jharkhand, bringing back Hemant Soren for his second stint as chief minister.
The results of the five-phase Jharkhand Assembly elections were announced on 23 December. The JMM won in 30 seats and Congress in 16 constituencies while ally RJD won one seat, making Jharkhand the seventh state since May 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls where BJP suffered defeat.
Hemant won from both the constituencies he contested — Barhait as well as Dumka — even as BJP’s loss was attributed to reasons such as divisive politics, internal strife and lack of focus on local issues.
Leading the Opposition alliance’s campaign from the front, JMM secured a win even in non-traditional seats like Latehar and Palamu, despite a reported in-fighting within the Congress and the absence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
“Like any other alliance, there were troubles with ours too, which began with seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha elections. He (Hemant) allowed the Congress to take the lead in the Lok Sabha elections as it is a national party but ensured that he called the shots when it came to state elections," a senior Congress leader from Jharkhand told LiveMint.
Instrumental in Hemant’s victory was a small team comprising of 12 people, drawn from various professions, according to Outlook. The team constituted public policy, communication and consulting specialists from universities such as Oxford, Sussex, Essex and TISS. The team did an in-depth mapping of issues, field analysis and 360-degree communication and strengthened organisational capacity. The team projected Hemant as a pan-Jharkhand face. He did nearly 165 rallies in 28 days, visiting each constituency at least twice.
“Numerous back-channel meetings were organised with civil society organisations, activists, government workers’ unions, trade unions and associations. Their demands were mapped, discussed and placed in the manifesto,” a team member told Telegraph.
In September 2018, JMM had launched a Sangharsh Yatra aimed to reach out to local residents, youths and tribal martyrs, which continued till March 2019 and established Hemant’s presence in every corner of the state. He not only became the face of the Opposition alliance but has also one of the few new generation leaders to successfully claim the legacy of his father Shibu Soren, a three-time chief minister and a key figure in the statehood movement for Jharkhand.
Former chief minister and BJP leader Raghubar Das faced anti-incumbency, rural distress, unemployment and woes of the tribal community, according to the Indian Express.
The BJP’s campaign, based on issues like Article 370, Ayodhya temple, triple talaq and Citizenship Act, fell flat, even as the Opposition’s jal, jungle, zameen (water, forest, land) struck a chord with voters. In 2016, the Raghubar Das government proposed to amend two of the state’s tenancy laws to make the sale of tribal land to non-tribals less cumbersome through the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act, which restrict the sale of tribal land to non-tribals. These Bills were withdrawn after massive protests by the tribal community. Moreover, proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 2018, to establish the forest department’s hold over forest resources, further dampened the BJP’s prospects.
By the end of the polls, BJP registered a victory in only four of 18 Assembly constituencies lying in the tribal-dominated Santhal Pargana region.
In the 2014 Assembly election, the BJP had bagged 37 seats and formed the government with alliance partner AJSU that won five seats. Six MLAs of the Babulal Marandi-led JVM joined the BJP soon after the elections. The JMM and the Congress had won 17 and 6 seats, respectively. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won 12 out of 14 seats.
"People are dying. So many died while standing in queues during the demonetisation. For your (the BJP's) laws, people are dying, then someone has to take responsibility. This is not about Muslims. Civilians have to stand in queue again to prove they are Indians. There are so many farmers. Will they earn a living or get papers?" Hemant told NDTV.
“I want to assure everyone that their hopes will not be broken irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and profession,” he added.
Hemant Soren, 44, who is set to take over as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, was the state’s youngest chief minister when he served for around 17 months between 2013 and 2014, before the BJP came to power in the 2014 Assembly polls in the state.
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Updated Date: Dec 24, 2019 17:25:12 IST