Jharkhand: Tribal alliance pose tough challenge to BJP

Last Updated 24 March 2019, 17:36 IST

The BJP may witness one of the toughest battles in the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand, where the saffron party has been in power for the most time after the state came into existence in 2000.

This is because of the Grand Alliance that the Congress, Sibu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Babulal Marandi's Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) have agreed upon in Ranchi on Sunday.

Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress will contest from seven seats, while the JMM will field candidates from four seats and the JVM-P from two.

The last of the 14 seats has been "left" for the RLD, even as it is yet to come on board the alliance.

The RJD, which is leading the Opposition alliance in Bihar, with the party fielding candidates for 20 out of a total of 40 seats, wants two seats in Jharkhand.

The Mahagathbandhan constituents in Jharkhand, who have left the Scheduled Caste of Palamu for the RJD, are confident of bringing the party on board.

If it takes up the offer, the RJD will be contesting against BJP's sitting MP and former Jharkhand police chief Vishnu Dayal Ram.

The Opposition alliance in Jharkhand has gained strength with the JVM-P joining the fold for the first time to unseat the BJP from power. This will consolidate the tribal votes, particular those of the Santhals, in the state.

So far, the JVM-P, an arch rival of the JMM, has contested all the previous elections in the state alone despite several attempts made by the Congress to bring the party into the Opposition fold.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Marandi, the chief of the JVM-P and a former BJP heavyweight, contested against JMM supremo Shibu Soren from the reserved seat (scheduled tribe) of Dumka.

Though he lost to Soren by a huge margin, the JVM-P leader, a Santhali, had secured 17.51% of the vote share.

The BJP candidate Sunil Soren had lost to Shibu Soren by over 39,000 votes.

Marandi, a four-time MP who floated his own party after quitting the BJP in 2006, has a clean image and is remembered for his contributions to the development of Jharkhand during his term as chief minister.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had registered an astounding victory winning 12 of the 14 seats in the state.

The JMM, which contested the elections in alliance with the Congress, won just two seats.

The Congress could not win even a single seat, with its lone MP and then Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay losing the Ranchi seat to BJP candidate Ram Tahal Choudhray.

While the BJP's vote share in the 2014 in the state had reached 40.71% with the Narendra Modi wave, the Congress' vote share stood at 13.48%, JVM-P's at 12.25% and JMM's 9.42%.

(Published 24 March 2019, 16:26 IST)

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