Jharkhand's crucial and final polling tomorrow

Jharkhand's crucial and final polling tomorrow

As campaigning for the fifth and last round of elections in Jharkhand ended on Thursday evening, battle lines have been drawn for the crucial 16 Assembly seats which will go to polls on December 20.

The last phase will make or mar the prospects of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the  Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) in the 81-member Assembly.  As halfway mark for a majority require a minimum of 41 MLAs, each and every seat in the last phase will count for the two rivals, which once ruled Jharkhand together.

Incidentally, all the 16 seats going to polls on Saturday fall under Santhal Parganas, the eastern part of Jharkhand, which is perceived to be fiefdom of the JMM. The ruling party has 10 MLAs in the outgoing Assembly from this region and if it has to retain power, it will be imperative for the JMM to pull all the stops to retain or increase its strength from here.

The BJP, on the other hand, knows for sure that if the saffron party has to come to power, it will have to check Sorens in their citadel, and ensure Modi’s nominees romp home in this part of the tribal belt.

The BJP has an advantage as its alliance with the AJSU and LJP is intact, while the split in non-BJP votes has made the JMM’s road to success quite difficult. Though Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who is contesting from Dumka as well as Barhet in Sahebganj district, is harping on 14 years vs 14 months (Jharkhand was created 14 years back, and Hemant has been CM for the last 14 months), it will be significant to watch how his traditional voters - the tribals of Santhal Parganas, besides the 18 per cent Muslims exercise their franchise.

The non-SC/ST voters are backing BJP in the name of providing a stable government, something which Jharkhand never had ever since it came into being in November 2000.

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