Jharkhand Assembly results a referendum on Raghubar Das; BJP erred by not changing leadership despite warning signs

Chief Minister Raghubar Das rubbed a lot of people, including some of his party leaders and workers, the wrong way.

Sanjay Singh December 23, 2019 20:42:28 IST
Jharkhand Assembly results a referendum on Raghubar Das; BJP erred by not changing leadership despite warning signs
  • Going by the trends from the Jharkhand Assembly polls, it seems the BJP has lost yet another state election and the Congress is riding on the backs of regional parties

  • Those who had their ears to the ground in the mineral-rich tribal state knew that the BJP was going to be in a tough spot come election season

  • Chief Minister Raghubar Das rubbed a lot of people, including some of his party leaders and workers, the wrong way.

Going by the trends from the Jharkhand Assembly polls, it seems the BJP has lost yet another state election and the Congress is riding on the backs of regional parties.

Jharkhand Assembly results a referendum on Raghubar Das BJP erred by not changing leadership despite warning signs

File photo of Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das.
Mukesh Kumar Bhatt

While the result might come as a surprise to many outside Jharkhand — coming at a time when the BJP is perceived to be riding high after the abrogation of Article 370, the Ayodhya verdict and Parliament passing the Citizenship Amendment Act — those who had their ears to the ground in the mineral-rich tribal state knew that the BJP was going to be in a tough spot come election season.

The writing on the wall is more than clear. Not because Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity has taken a dip in Jharkhand, or its people developed a dislike for the party, which swept parliamentary elections only six months ago. But because Chief Minister Raghubar Das rubbed a lot of people, including some of his party leaders and workers, the wrong way.

Party leadership must examine why a seasoned leader like Saryu Roy — a former minister and multiple-term MLA, someone who played a key role in bifurcation of Jharkhand from Bihar in November 2000 and subsequently in formation of its first government — chose to rebel against the party and fight as an Independent candidate against Das from Jamshedpur East.

The BJP went to the polls with Das as its face. Its workers and sympathisers can take heart in the fact that the party still has the highest vote share, a saving grace that can be attributed to the Modi factor.

The situation is close to what the party saw only a year ago in Rajasthan, perhaps worse. The BJP didn’t change its leadership then and it didn’t change its leadership in Jharkhand. Das, unlike Raje, never had the stature of being a tall and popular leader. Yet, the BJP gave him a free hand and didn't address the issues surrounding the chief minister.

Irrespective of the loss, Das would still go down in history as the first chief minister of Jharkhand who, since its inception in November 2000, remained in office for a full five-year term. The cash and mineral-rich state has seen spells of political uncertainty and President's Rule thrice. It was thus very significant when in 2014 the BJP got the numbers to form a stable government and Das had an uninterrupted run for five years. He had the opportunity to take the fortunes of the state to the next level. Unfortunately, his working style seemingly alienated voters. Das who is trailing Roy by 15,000 votes in Jamshedpur East, seemed to acknowledge that the results were a referendum on him, saying, "It is not BJP's defeat, it is my defeat."

The JMM-Congress-RJD coalition has made significant gains. Hemant Soren, son of JMM founder Shibu Soren, is now a leader in his own right and is all set to become chief minister. The Congress could get the deputy chief minister's post and some key portfolios. The man who would be very happy with this result is RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, currently languishing in a Ranchi jail as a convict in the fodder scam. Lalu's party will now help form the government and he is sure to have some influence over the powers that be.

 

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