Raghubar Das, BJP’s non-tribal face in Jharkhand, would be the new chief minister of the state, the party’s parliamentary board decided on Wednesday.
The meeting, chaired by BJP chief Amit Shah in PM Narendra Modi’s presence, also decided to keep “all options open” in Jammu and Kashmir where the people’s mandate was highly fractured. The party has deputed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as observer to the state for exploring possibility of an alliance which could form the government. He would be assisted by party secretary Arun Singh. They would visit Srinagar in three to four days.
Though BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has not been named as an observer, he too would be involved in parleys with potential ally PDP or NC. The party would prefer to be in the government rather than sitting in the opposition, sources said.
After the meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body, Union Health Minister J P Nadda displayed BJP’s eagerness towards forming its own government with help from NC, People’s Conference of Sajad Ghani Lone and a few Independents. He asserted: “The highest vote-share that BJP got in Jammu and Kashmir shows that the people of the state have put their stamp of approval on the agenda of development of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
BJP’s next preference is to support PDP in forming the government in Jammu and Kashmir, however, the two parties have fundamental differences.
In Jharkhand, where the saffron party in alliance with AJSU secured a majority, BJP’s parliamentary board decided to suggest Das’s name for the top job. Belonging to backward Teli community, Das (54) would be the first non-tribal chief minister of Jharkhand.
The BJP MLAs in a couple of days are likely to elect Das as their leader during a legislature party meeting where Nadda and party vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe will be observers.
A former Tata Steel employee and five-time MLA from Jamshedpur-East, Das was frontrunner for the CM post after Arjun Munda lost elections.
The saffron outfit’s average performance in tribal-dominated constituencies also worked in favour of Das as it was not imperative for the party to put up a tribal face for the top job.
BJP went by the same logic when it named a non-Jat, Manohar Lal Khattar, as Haryana Chief Minister because non-Jat voters had backed its candidates in large numbers.