Dousing various speculations, a Mahagathbandhan has been announced in Jharkhand for the upcoming polls. According to this new arrangement, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will together be contesting on 43, 31, and 7 seats, respectively. Their main rival is the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Congress’ Jharkhand Prabhari (in charge), RPN Singh, said that the Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren will be the Mahagathbandhan’s Chief Ministerial face.
When will Jharkhand assembly elections take place?
Jharkhand, with 81 assembly seats, will go into polls in five phases starting from November 30. The polls will go on till December 20.
In the first phase, 13 seats will go for polls in which four seats are reserved for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) — Gumla, Bishnupur, Lohardaga and Manika — and three for the Scheduled Caste (SC) — Chatra, Latehar, Chhatarpur — and the remaining general seats include Panki Bushrampur, Hussianabad, Garhwa, and Bhawanathpur.
In the first phase, Congress will be fighting from seven seats, and JMM from four seats while RJD from two seats.
However, none of the parties announced candidates for the first phase.
What is the composition of the current assembly?
In the last elections, BJP won 37 seats while the JMM was the runner up winning 19 seats and the Congress won six seats. The incumbent won a vote percentage of 31.26 while JMM and Congress stood at 20.43 and 10.46 per cent, respectively.
What about the Left parties?
The Left parties seem to be out of the alliance and the Lok Sabha polls alliance partner Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) or JVM(P) has announced that it will contest on all 81 seats.
What about RJD?
RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav was not part of the Mahagathbandhan announcement. When asked, JMM’s Hemant Soren said: “Tejaswi has to also meet his father Lalu ji and there is no problem on (being) part of (the) alliance.” When asked if the Left parties are out of the alliance, he said: “please wait and watch.”
What lies ahead? Will JVM(P) spoil the Mahagathbandhan’s chances?
Sources in the Opposition said that the feedback from the people suggested an alliance to fight the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections. However, the leaders of both Congress and JMM agree that the votes in support of Congress and the JMM or the RJD converting in favour of the Mahagathbandhan candidate remains a challenge.
JVM(P) going alone remains a challenge too, as some leaders believe JVM(P) will act as a “vote katuwa party”– that is, undermine the Opposition alliance. However, JVM(P) President Babulal Marandi has rejected such claims.
In the 2014 assembly election, JVM(P) contested on 73 seats alone and won eight, with a vote share of around 10 per cent. According to Election Commission data, JVM(P) secured votes ranging from 8,700 to 26,000 in eight ST constituencies where they did not win — much more than the margin of votes of the winning candidates. “This could be a problem,” said a leader.