Now, all eyes on Jharkhand Assembly polls

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das. PTI Photo

After elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, all eyes are now on the Assembly polls in Jharkhand, slated for November-December.

Ever since the State came into being in November 2000, when it was bifurcated from Bihar, this is the first time that an elected Government is going to complete its five-year full term in Jharkhand.

Currently headed by BJP leader Raghubar Das, the Jharkhand Government has an alliance partner AJSU (All Jharkhand Students’ Union), a pre-poll ally of the BJP. Prior to Das, the tribal State had seen several Chief Ministers, all tribals, including Babu Lal Marandi, Arjun Munda, Shibu Soren, Hemant Soren and Madhu Koda. However, none of them could complete their full term due to political instability in the State which has merely 81 MLAs in the Assembly.

During the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 37 MLAs. However, it split Babulal Marandi’s JVM (Jharkhand Vikas Morcha) and made six legislators, out of eight JVM MLAs, join the BJP soon after the election result. This way, Raghubar Das, the first non-tribal Chief Minister, not only attained the majority in the 81-member House but managed to run his Government for a full term.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is the main Opposition party with 19 MLAs followed by Congress, which has eight legislators. Buoyed by the recent performance of the Opposition in the two States – Maharashtra and Haryana – the Congress and JMM are likely to stitch a formidable alliance to give the BJP a run for its money.

“Talks with JMM on the seat-sharing issue are going on in the right direction. We are hopeful to seal the deal after Chhath (one of the most revered festivals here), which falls on November 3,” said Jharkhand Congress president Rameshwar Oraon, an IPS-turned-former Parliamentarian.

Sources in the Congress told Deccan Herald that efforts were being made to rope in Babulal Marandi’s JVM and Lalu Prasad’s RJD as well. “Talks are underway to form a Mahagatbandhan-type umbrella where all such forces, which are inimical to the BJP, could be brought under one platform so that the anti-BJP votes do not split. In this regard, Congress has been entrusted the task to rope in RJD and JVM, while the JMM working president and former Chief Minister Hemant Soren will speak to Left leaders and make them join the Mahagatbandhan,” the source in the Congress told Deccan Herald on Tuesday.

The Election Commission, which has taken stock of the poll preparedness in Jharkhand during its visit to Ranchi on October 17, is likely to announce the election schedule in the first week of November.

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