Jharkhand- Can Congress-JMM stop BJP?

As the 2014 General Elections inch closer, alliance talks are once again in vogue in Jharkhand. For long instability has been the hallmark of politics in the state state. Given Jharkhand`s diverse and fragmented electorate, both the BJP and the Congress will find it tough to win most of the 14 constituencies in the state.

Tarun Khanna

As the 2014 General Elections inch closer, alliance talks are once again in vogue in Jharkhand. For long instability has been the hallmark of politics in the state state. Given Jharkhand`s diverse and fragmented electorate, both the BJP and the Congress will find it tough to win most of the 14 constituencies in the state.

The state, which was carved out of Bihar in 2000 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s government, has seen 9 state governments in the last 13 years. Out of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies, 5 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and one is reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC). The 2014 General Elections are scheduled to be held in the state on April 10, April 17 and April 24.

The state is known to fluctuate on the extremes. While the BJP had won handsomely in 2009, the UPA was the big winner in 2004.

The key deciding factor in many seats has been the strength of the alliances formed by the national parties. The BJP had JD(U) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) as allies when it put up an impressive performance in 2009. The JD(U) broke 17-year-old ties with BJP in June 2013 opposing Narendra Modi`s elevation and JMM has joined hands with the Congress, making the BJP to bank more on the `Modi wave` to see it through.

On the other hand, Congress which was reduced to one seat in 2009 General Elections, will be contesting 2014 General Elections in coalition with the JMM and RJD. In 2004, Congress had won 6 seats and JMM had won 4 seats. Furthermore, its other alliance parties RJD and CPI had got two and one seat each. This took the tally to 12.

The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P), which was in alliance with Congress for the 2009 Assembly polls, parted ways with it in April last year over the FDI issue. However, this benefited Congress in a way that soon after JVM(P) quit the alliance, Congress and JMM came together. On July 13, 2013, the two formed government led by the Chief Minister Hemant Soren. In 2009, JMM had won two Lok Sabha seats. However, there is also a possibility that anti-Congress wave across India may knock down this alliance.

If one goes by the trend, the BJP is expected to garner 35-40 percent votes in the state if elections are held now. On the other hand, Congress may earn somewhere between 15-20 percent of votes. Shibu Soren`s JMM and Babulal Marandi`s JVM are expected to get 8 to 7 percent votes.

The key constituencies to watch out for in Jharkhand are Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Dumka, Singhbhum and Kodarma. While JMM supremo Shibu Soren (Guruji) had won Dumka seat in the last LS elections, INC`s Subodh Kant Sahay had won from Ranchi. BJP senior leader Yashwant Sinha had won Hazaribagh seat in 2009. The party is now fielding Sinha`s son Jayant Sinha from the same constituency. In Singhbhum former chief minister Madhu Khoda had won in 2009 and Kodarma seat had gone to former chief minister Babulal Marandi of JVM. JVM is now fielding Pranav Verma from his seat.

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