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Jharkhand elections: Why BJP ally AJSU is playing hardball

The BJP and AJSU Party had together formed the government in Jharkhand in 2014 Assembly elections, winning 37 and 5 seats respectively in the 82-member Assembly. What has gone wrong this time?

Written by Abhishek Angad , Edited by Explained Desk | Ranchi | Updated: November 13, 2019 6:59:25 am
jharkhand elections, ajsu party, ajsu party bjp alliance, ajsu party jharkhand elections, ajsu party candidate list, bjp jharkhand candidate list, Sudesh Mahto, indian express explained AJSU president Sudesh Mahto with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Express Photo by Deepu Sebastian/File)

The ruling alliance in Jharkhand received a blow after the All Jharkhand Students’s Union (AJSU) Party announced names of candidates to 12 seats for the upcoming Assembly elections. The BJP has already announced candidates in 4 out of these 12 seats.

The announcement came after AJSU Party leader Sudesh Mahto returned from Delhi, where, according to sources, no agreement on the sharing of seats could be reached.

Mahto had earlier told The Indian Express that he had indicated the party’s presence is strong in 25 constituencies. The sources said the AJSU Party had pitched for 17-19 seats.

Assembly elections in Jharkhand are scheduled in five phases between November 30 and December 20. The counting of votes will be held on December 23.

What was the arrangement between BJP and AJSU Party?

The BJP and AJSU Party had together formed the government in Jharkhand in 2014 Assembly elections, winning 37 and 5 seats respectively in the 82-member Assembly.

While the BJP had contested 72 seats, the AJSU Party fielded candidates on 8 seats. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, the BJP vacated the Girdih seat, which had been won in 2009 and 2014 by its candidate Ravindra Kumar Pandey, for the AJSU Party.

AJSU candidate Chandra Prakash Choudhary won riding the Modi wave, giving the party its only Lok Sabha MP.

What has gone wrong this time?

The BJP on Sunday announced a list of 52 candidates for the elections, including four seats for which the AJSU Party too has now announced candidates. These seats are Sindri, Chakradharpur, Simaria, and Mandu.

The BJP’s Phul Chand Mandal won the Sindri seat in 2009 and 2014.

The Chakradharpur seat is currently with Shashibhushan Samad of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). The seat was won by Lakshman Giluwa, who is now the state BJP chief, in 2009. The BJP has announced Giluwa will be its candidate in Chakradharpur again this time, while the AJSU Party has nominated Ram Lal Munda.

Simaria was won by Jay Prakash Singh Bhogta of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) in 2009, and by Ganesh Ganjhu of the same party in 2014. In 2015, Ganjhu and five other JVM(P) MLAs joined the BJP.

Mandu was won by Teklal Mahto of the JMM in 2009. The party retained the seat in the byelection of 2011, and also won in the Assembly poll of 2014.

For the Chandankyari seat, the AJSU Party has announced the candidature of Umakant Rajak, who won at this constituency in 2009. In 2014, the JVM(P)’s Amar Kumar Bauri won, and the following year, he crossed over to the BJP. The BJP is yet to announce its candidate from the seat this time.

For Lohardaga, the AJSU Party has announced the candidature of Niru Shanti Bhagat. The BJP will, in all probability, leave the seat for Congress turncoat Sukhdeo Bhagat, who joined the party recently.

Why is the AJSU Party talking tough now?

The AJSU is hoping to extract concessions from the BJP, which it believes has taken a blow in Haryana and Maharashtra. Sudesh Mahto had told The Indian Express earlier, “We have played the role of opposition from within better than the actual opposition. We have been constantly raising our voice on various issues.”

The AJSU Party has significant support in the Tamar, Tundi, Ramgarh, and Lohardaga seats, which it won in the last election. The party also has a strong base in Silli, from where its chief Mahto contested, albeit unsuccessfully, in 2014.

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