Though he lost from both seats he contested from, Jharkhand’s first chief minister could be back in the spotlight over the next few days.
This is because the BJP-AJSU Party alliance has just one seat more than the required majority of 41. The BJP, knowing the shifting sands of Jharkhand’s politics, will seek firmer ground: it will know it cannot be too reliant on the AJSU’s five seats and will need Marandi’s JVM-P as makeweight. The other option is to woo four single-legislator parties, three of whom the BJP would rather avoid.
For a party wracked by defections — eight of 11 walked out, seven to the BJP — the JVM-P’s eight seats represent a major victory for Marandi. Caught up campaigning for his candidates, Marandi could not effectively campaign in his own constituencies: he went around Giridih only on the last day of campaigning.
If the BJP approaches him however, Marandi will demand the chief minister’s chair for himself. The BJP may even be willing to hear him out — it needs a senior adivasi leader after Arjun Munda’s defeat and there are Delhi-based leaders of the party still sympathetic to the former RSS man.
What makes Marandi’s position weak is the fact that he was defeated. He will counter that by reminding the BJP that after Jharkhand’s formation in November 2000, the BJP had nominated him for a bye-election in Ramgarh so that he could be chief minister.
When asked about the possibility of talking to Marandi, the BJP election incharge for Jharkhand was non-committal. “We are happy with the number of seats we have got and are confident of forming a government. As for talking to others, I would rather not say anything now,” said Bhupender Yadav, General Secretary of the BJP
If talks with Marandi fail, and there is a chance that they will, the BJP will have to begin negotiating with four of the six Others in the assembly. Babulal had talked to both Congress and the BJP ahead of these elections before settling for a disappointing alliance with the TMC.
No Independent candidate won the elections this time. The six in the Others column are single-legislators-parties — two of them are from Left parties and will not be caught in the same room with the BJP. The Hussainabad winner is a BSP candidate. Any deals with the other three will invite a lot of criticism. They are Madhu Kora’s wife Geeta Kora, a minister in the Madhu Kora candidate Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Anosh Ekka, currently in jail on murder charges.
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