Jharkhand political parties step up efforts for alliances

Ranchi (IANS) With the announcement of the poll dates for Jharkhand, both ruling and opposition parties have stepped up efforts to cement alliances in the state.

The ruling BJP is planning to fight the polls on the development agenda, while the opposition parties are gearing up to corner the government on its failures.

The opposition parties are targeting Chief Minister Raghubar Das calling him anti-tribal, anti-poor and holding him responsible for the worsening law and order situation in the state.

"Development is the only agenda of the BJP government. The previous governments had only looted the state and the people," Chief Minister Raghubar Das told reporters after the poll schedule was announced.

The Congress and JMM have countered the BJP charge calling the Chief Minister an outsider.

"Raghubar Das himself is an outsider. How will he understand the feelings of the people? In this poll, people will throw him to Chhattisgarh where he belongs," said JMM executive president Hemant Soren.

Before the poll announcement, the BJP managed to poach five legislators of the JMM and the Congress to its fold.

However, the fortunes of a political front will depend on the ability to forge alliances. Despite the Modi wave in 2014, the BJP won only 37 of the 81 Assembly seats.

However, alliance formation does not look easy particularly for the opposition parties. Even the BJP's alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has said that it will contest more seats than it did in 2014.

In 2014, the AJSU had contested 11 seats, winning only five. It managed to win one Lok Sabha seat in alliance with the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. After the state's creation, it was for the first time that the BJP conceded a seat to the AJSU.

Sources in AJSU say that the party wants to contest at least 22 seats, to which the BJP may not agree. The BJP is likely to insist that the AJSU contest the same number of seats it did in 2014. The BJP had got 31.3 per cent votes while the AJSU's vote share was 3.7 per cent then.

"BJP and AJSU are natural alliance partners. We have always formed the government together and there will be no problem in cementing an alliance with the AJSU in the assembly polls this time too," Shivapujan Pathak, BJP spokesperson, told IANS.

The BJP's strength increased to 43 in the Assembly after six Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) MLAs defected and joined the saffron fold in January 2015. The BJP has now to adjust them in the coming elections.

The opposition, on the other hand, has learnt its own lessons.

In the 2014 Assembly polls, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress had fought the elections separately winning 19, and 7 seats respectively, while the RJD had failed to open its account. Their vote share was 20.4 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

If the JMM, Congress and JVM-P votes are added together it goes up to more than 40 per cent. However, the distribution of seats among them will be a tough challenge.

"During the general elections 2019, Congress, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) and RJD had agreed to fight the Assembly polls together. Talks are going on. We will announce the formal alliance after the Chhath festival," Vinod Pandey, JMM spokesperson, told IANS.

Both the Congress and the JMM won one seat each in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

The Congress suffered a big jolt when two of its veteran leaders -- Sukhdeo Bhagat, Manoj Yadav -- joined the ruling BJP just a day before the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly poll results were announced.

"Congress will strike a reasonable deal with the JMM to defeat the ruling BJP. People are fed up with the BJP's misrule in the state. Roads, electricity and law and order situation are very poor," Alok Dubey, Congress spokesperson told IANS.

Also, the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections results have enthused the opposition as the BJP did not perform as well as it was expected to.

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