Updated: December 24, 2019 7:01:01 am
In one of the most bitter electoral fights in the Jharkhand Assembly elections, rebel BJP candidate and former state minister Saryu Roy, who ran as an Independent, defeated incumbent chief minister Raghubar Das in Jamshedpur East, a constituency that had elected Das on five occasions earlier.
What came as a surprise for even Roy’s supporters was the margin of victory — 15,833 votes — in an election that many considered would be a neck and neck contest, after a gruelling campaign that was funded and volunteered by many from within the saffron ranks.
For the BJP, problems began after the fourth list of candidates — Roy’s name did not figure in any of those. Humiliated, Roy announced that he would not beg for a ticket and asked the leadership to not consider his name.
Roy has been credited with sending two former chief ministers — Lalu Prasad and Madhu Koda — to jail and had been critical of Das on various occasions. His social media posts often discussed corruption, and this is seen as having irked Das. Roy had earlier said, “I was told the CM had opposed my candidature since I speak against the government. But the comments should be checked on merit — whether I made any anti-government or anti-party comments. I highlighted certain issues.”
But filing nomination was only the first step, Roy’s supporters recalled. Once that was out of the way, help came even from many RSS volunteers and members of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. After he got the poll symbol on November 21, a close aide said, Roy held a meeting the following day and “senior BJP leaders came forward to help. They started printing flags, banners and other material, and the real work started from December 23.”
CM’s unpopularity led to defeat in seat he won 5 times
A big reason for Raghubar Das’s defeat was his unpopularity in a constituency that had sent him to the Assembly on five occasions earlier. The BJP’s negligence of the constituency — under both the Das-led government and during the campaigning phase — is also a factor, according to residents, who say healthcare, among other works, is in bad shape.
At one meeting, volunteers from both constituencies in Jamshedpur held a meeting and people started taking responsibilities. While some came forward to take charge of campaigning on social media, many others, “inspired” by Roy’s work, rose to volunteer. People called for donations, and Roy said nearly Rs 15 lakh was collected for the campaigning.
During campaigning, Roy began each day with morning walk where he would connect with people in the city’s parks. At 9 am he would go to the slums, stay there until afternoon and campaign on key issues that affected the people there. An aide said, “I would get some time only for lunch. In evenings, we would go out again on padyatras. People knew about his work and it connected. He spoke about corruption; the humiliation that he faced. We knew we had an advantage.”
Roy said booth management was “crucial for us — we knew if we were able to organise it well, we would be in a contest”.
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