Modi could choose non-tribal as CM

The fifth and last phase of elections in Jharkhand concluded on Saturday with the remaining 16 seats in Santhal Pargana region registering over 70 per cent turnout.

The state, where polling for the 81 Assembly seats started on November 25, saw a peaceful conduct of polls spread over five phases. On Saturday, the highest turnout was witnessed in Pakur where former Assembly Speaker Alamgir Alam is in the fray, while a relatively less turnout (of 63 per cent) was noticed in Dumka, the constituency represented by Chief Minister Hemant Soren in the outgoing Assembly.

The large turnout in the concluding phase in Santhal Pargana region, which has 18 seats (polling in two seats already took place on December 14) and is perceived to be the citadel of JMM, has brightened the chances of BJP coming to power.

“The heavy turnout of electorate in Santhal Pargana shows that voters want to get rid of the Hemant Soren Government and install a BJP regime,” said former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader and possible CM candidate Arjun Munda, after the polling ended.

However, sources within the saffron camp told Deccan Herald that Munda’s chances of heading a BJP government are remote.  “Munda has been Chief Minister of the State thrice. He can’t be given a fourth chance in 14 years (Jharkhand was created in November 2000). His reputation in terms of governance and honesty is very poor,” said a BJP insider to this correspondent.  

“Modi, who campaigned aggressively in the State, is likely to spring a surprise in Jharkhand. The State has seen five CMs in 14 years, all tribals. Modi, much like Haryana and Maharashtra (where he made a non-Jat and non-Maratha CMs respectively), may nominate a non-tribal leader with a clean image and who could deliver,” the leader, who is part of the BJP’s inner circle, said, refusing to reveal the name of the possible chief ministerial candidate.

On the other hand, Hemant Soren pooh-poohed exit poll predictions which said the BJP would sweep the Assembly polls.  “Even during the Lok Sabha elections, these pollsters had given us zero seats, while we won two of the four LS seats we contested. So just wait till Tuesday. Many political pundits will be proved wrong when JMM emerges as the single largest party,” Soren said on Saturday.

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