For the regional parties of Jharkhand, which fought an election earlier this year, slugging it out in a five-phase election spread over 26 days may be an uphill task.
There are worries that a long-drawn-out electoral process will favour the national parties as they can manage the logistics, ration out funds and keep cadres motivated over such a long period.
“Yes, we are worried that the bigger parties will have an advantage. This could have been held over three phases. We could not make a representation to the Election Commission about it this time, but it is something we should have considered,” said Pradeep Yadav, general secretary of JVM(P), former CM Babulal Marandi’s party.
The state chief of the TMC also expressed reservations. “The decision to have elections over five phases was taken for administrative reasons — to contain the security threat. It could be a problem for smaller parties,” admitted Bandhu Tirkey.
Those like the AJSU, whose chief Sudesh Mahto had fought a bitter and yet unsuccessful battle for the Ranchi seat earlier this year, had fought in earnest in the Lok Sabha elections. Marandi of the JVM(P) as well as TMC’s Tirkey had contested too, with similar results.
The JVM(P) has been visibly hit by Marandi’s morale-sapping loss, with six legislators and a clutch of leaders leaving the party since. The TMC, which surged pre-Lok Sabha polls, has had trouble sustaining that momentum, with many leaders leaving.