BJP’s shock defeat in the Jharkhand state polls on Monday, in which it lost nearly half of the seats it had won in the last elections, has once again underlined the significance of alliances and strong faces, which can make a difference in political fortunes of parties.
While its Chief Minister face Raghubar Das had become unpopular, the Opposition had projected Hemant Soren, son of Sibu Soren, one of the pioneers of the movement for separate state for the tribals, which constitutes of 26% of total votes.
The alliance with Congress and RJD ensured the solid backing of 14.5% of Muslims and a fare of dominant OBC votes.
The result was that despite the popular Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo at the Centre, the BJP was down to 25 from the 37 it had won in 2014, while the JMM scaled to 30 from 19 and Congress nearly tripled its seats from six to 16. This, even as the BJP had won 11 of 14 Lok Sabha seats.
The power of alliance helmed by a popular regional leader or array or regional leaders is something that the BJP, despite its massive resurgence since 2014, has found difficult to deal with.
In Haryana too, where the Congress brought back its Jat face Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the first term government of BJP led by Manohar Lal Khattar, tottered. Though it emerged as the single-largest party, getting 40 seats, it had to find a post-poll ally in Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) to form a government. Earlier, there was an attempt to sew up an alliance among Congress-Aam Aadmi Party and JJP but it did not materialse.
In Jharkhand, BJP could not retain its ally All Jharkhand Student Union and it lost to JMM-Congress-RJD alliance. In Haryana, the Congress said no to an alliance and lost power by a whisker, as BJP poached the same ally which the Congress was wooing in the beginning.
Strong regional leaders have an appeal and consolidating on caste and community bases, they have managed to blunt the edge of the BJP.
Even states, which went for Assembly polls along with Lok Sabha elections in 2019, people chose to stay behind powerful regional leaders like Naveen Patnaik in Odisha and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.
Even earlier in Punjab, Congress helmed by a powerful regional leader Amarinder Singh, won the Assembly poll for the party defeating the BJP-SAD alliance in 201
The message from the elections is clear. Have a popular face running for office and sew up a coalition or pay the price.