Big question mark over who will be next chief minister

Big question mark over who will be next chief minister

Will the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah team surprise the people of Jharkhand by choosing a non-tribal for the top job of the state that has had several unstable governments in the last 14 years?

Notorious for unstable governments that did not complete their terms even once, Jharkhand is now headed for a stable regime, with the BJP-led alliance winning 42 out of the 81 Assembly constituencies, thereby paving the way for a government that will not have any post-poll crutches. The race for the chief minister’s post has heated up with Arjun Munda losing to the JMM's Dashrath Gagrai by a margin of 11,966 votes in Kharsawan. A three-time chief minister, Munda would have been the frontrunner for the post.

He had opted out of the Lok Sabha elections and contested Assembly polls so he could give a shot at chief ministership again.  Barring Hemant Soren, all the former chief ministers—including Babu Lal Marandi—and former deputy chief ministers have lost the polls, indicating that the verdict was against the leadership that has only exploited the state.

Now, if the BJP decides in favour of a tribal face, Gumla MLA Shiv Shankar Oraon is the frontrunner among probables such as junior minister in the Central Cabinet Sudharshan Bhagat and Rajmahal MLA Anant Ojha.

Though Oraon is a first-time, he has the right pedigree: education at the prestigious Jawahar Lal Nehru University, organisation skills and backing of state party leaders and the RSS.  However, a highly-placed BJP source told Deccan Herald that the frontrunner among all the hopefuls is Raghubar Das, who had earlier served as deputy chief minister. “The final call has to be taken by Modi ji during the Parliamentary Board meeting,” said the source. Das, the BJP candidate from Jamshedpur East, has won the polls for the fifth consecutive time.

The 59-year-old trade union leader-turned-saffron party worker has represented Jamshedpur East in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2009, besides serving as deputy chief minister. In the good books of both Modi and Shah, Das is currently the BJP national vice-president, and was undeclared rival of Arjun Munda for the chief minister's post. Munda's defeat has cleared the decks for a non-tribal leader like Das, who can now be stopped from donning the mantle only if the BJP goes with the old dictum of having a tribal at the helm.

“Modi ji is known for doing unconventional things. If he can make a non-Jat the chief minister of Haryana, or for that matter, a non-Maratha the chief minister of Maharashtra, be prepared to have a non-tribal chief minister of Jharkhand,” said the source, requesting anonymity.

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