The NDA emerged with a clear majority in Jharkhand on Tuesday, emerging with two more than the 41 seats required to form a government in the 81-member House.
Seeking to deliver on its message of providing a “stable government” in Jharkhand for the first time since the state’s November 15, 2000 formation and riding a Modi Wave, the BJP became the single largest party, winning 38 seats. It will be complemented by its ally AJSU Party’s five seats.
However, the BJP’s mood was darkened by the defeat of Arjun Munda, its most important leader in the state – a three-time-CM who was a frontrunner to become chief minister again. Munda lost to the JMM’s Dashrath Gagrai by 11,966 votes at Kharsawan. AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto, a former deputy CM, also lost by 29,740 votes in Silli – previously considered a stronghold by his party.
The fall of big names was a prominent theme of the day. Former CM Madhu Kora, whose result from Majhgaon was the first to be declared in the state, lost while wife and sitting Jaganathpur legislator Geeta Kora won. The state’s first CM Babulal Marandi lost in both constituencies he contested from: Dhanwar and Giridih – where he came third to his Nirmal Kumar Shahbadi, the sitting legislator who had defected from his party to contest on a BJP ticket.
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The BJP, which will remain uncomfortable with barely two more legislators in hand than the required majority, may look to add to its tally considering Jharkhand’s infamous history with fickle legislators. The obvious answer is to look to former RSS man Marandi. However,he could insist on the CM position for himself. Alternatively, the BJP could look for support from the BSP’s lone winner from Hussainabad – who opened the party’s account in the state – or try to merge Madhu Kora’s and former minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi’s single-legislator parties into it.
The BJP will also begin to search for a CM after the defeat of Arjun Munda. The party had not projected a CM candidate from the state and Raghubar Das, former deputy CM and a national vice president of the BJP who won with the state’s highest majority of 70,157 votes from Jamshedpur East, is among the early favourites.
The JMM seemed to hold its own despite the assault by the BJP, managing to secure 18 seats – the same number as it had won in 2009 – for itself. Outgoing CM Hemant Soren won in Barhait against former JMM leader and BJP candidate Hemlal Murmu but lost Dumka to the BJP’s Lois Marandi.
The BJP’s gains – the party had won 18 seats in 2009 – seemed to primarily come from losses made by the Congress, JVM-P and the RJD. While the Congress went from 13 seats in 2009 to seven on Tuesday, Babulal Marandi’s JVM-P shed four seats from its 2009 tally of 11. The RJD drew a blank; it had five legislators.
Only two of the 12 ministers in the outgoing cabinet – including Hemant Soren – will be returning to the state’s fourth legislative assembly, to be constituted after its third elections. K.N. Tripathy of the Congress and Jai Prakash Bhai Patel of the JMM looked to be the only two ministers set to avoid the carnage along with Hemant Soren himself. Of the three ministers expelled by Soren during his rule, two nominated relatives and a third left the JMM to contest from the BJP. Congress leader Chandrashekhar Dubey’s son Ajay Dubey is set to come third while Congressman Yogendra Saw – in jail for allegedly starting two criminal gangs – looks to have ensured wife Nirmala Devi wins from Barkagaon. Simon Marandi of the the BJP lost from Littipara.