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Jharkhand: Its opponents divided, BJP sneaks through the gap in state

Analysis of Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey data shows BJP got the urban and Hindu vote behind it.

New Delhi |
Updated: December 25, 2014 3:53:34 pm
Hoardings of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and state BJP leaders in Jharkhand Wednesday, a day after results were announced.(Source: Express photo by Partha Paul) Hoardings of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and state BJP leaders in Jharkhand Wednesday, a day after results were announced. (Source: Express photo by Partha Paul)

BY Sanjay Kumar, Shreyas Sardesai

While the BJP clearly failed in its so-called Mission 44-plus in J&K, in Jharkhand it accomplished Mission 42+ — but only just, and not on its own. The BJP won 37 of the 72 seats it contested, and ally All Jharkhand Students Union Party (AJSU Party) won 5 of the 8 seats it contested. The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), another partner of the BJP, failed to win the only seat it contested.

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While the BJP doubled its tally since 2009 — when it won 18 seats — it would have hoped to win many more seats, given that it led in as many as 56 of the 81 assembly segments in the state in the Lok Sabha election. The BJP was also lucky there was no alliance between its opponents, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress. Had the parties — partners in the state until recently — fought together, the race would have been tighter and the BJP’s tally lower. In 14 seats won by the BJP+, the combined vote share of the JMM, Congress, RJD and JD(U) was bigger than the margin of the BJP+ victory.


Not fighting the elections together seems to have hurt the Congress more than the JMM, which actually managed to improve on its 2009 performance. The JMM won 19 seats, one more than the last time, and gave the BJP a tough fight in South Jharkhand, winning 10 of 29 seats, a gain of five seats since 2009.

It did not do as well in its traditional stronghold of Santhal Parganas, winning only six of the 18 seats, a loss of four since 2009. This could have been due to a counter-consolidation of non-tribal votes against the JMM. While the JMM’s seats and votes came largely from two regions, the BJP+’s were spread across the state, with the alliance gaining most in North Jharkhand where it won 14 seats against just five in 2009.

Urban Jharkhand seems to have played a major role in the BJP+ victory. Of the 18 urban seats, BJP+ won 13, a success rate of 81 per cent. In the highly urban seats of Jamshedpur East and Ranchi, the BJP got more than 60 per cent of votes. Most JMM, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and Congress victories came at rural seats.

The record 66.5 per cent turnout seems to have also helped the BJP+. In at least 12 seats, the turnout rose more than 15 percentage points since 2009; the BJP alliance won 9 of these seats, a strike rate of 75 per cent. On the other hand, of the 19 seats at which turnout rose by a more moderate 10-15 percentage points, the BJP+ won only 9, a success rate of 47 per cent.

As in the Lok Sabha election, the BJP was successful in consolidating the Hindu vote. It got 50 per cent of the Hindu upper caste vote, 40 per cent of the Hindu OBC vote and 29 per cent of the Dalit vote. The BJP, in fact, cornered the largest share of Dalit votes.
Among tribals, who constitute a fourth of the state’s population, the BJP and JMM went neck and neck overall, but while tribal Hindus mostly voted for the BJP (49 per cent), tribal Christians mostly opted for the JMM (44 per cent). In terms of tribal communities, the BJP did well among Oraons; the JMM held on to its Santhal support.

Muslims, 14 per cent of the population, do not seem to have voted in a consolidated way for any particular party. A third of the Muslim vote went to the Congress alliance, and about a fifth to the JMM. The BJP alliance got about 14 per cent of the Muslim vote.

Assembly elections in Jharkhand have almost entirely been determined by local or state-level factors. For the first time, national factors seem to have played a role. The BJP clearly benefitted from being the ruling party at the Centre, where it is still in its honeymoon period. Two out of three (65 per cent) respondents said that for Jharkhand to develop, it was important that it is ruled by the same party that leads the government in Delhi. Among BJP voters, this sentiment was stronger (73 per cent).

While the performance of the Hemant Soren government was rated quite high, the performance of the Narendra Modi government was rated better. Three out of five respondents (62 per cent) said they were either fully or somewhat satisfied with the Soren government; 63 per cent said they were satisfied with the performance of the chief minister himself. While this explains why the JMM did not face a rout, it pales before the BJP’s ratings. Four out of five respondents (81 per cent) said they were fully or somewhat satisfied with the performance of the Modi government. In the age group 18-25 years, this figure was 86 per cent. 31 per cent were completely/fully satisfied with the Modi government — nearly three times more than the figure for the Soren government (11 per cent).

47 per cent felt Modi had failed to bring “achhe din”; about the same (49 per cent) proportion as those who felt he had succeeded. The sentiment that Modi had failed on this count was stronger among urban voters (56 per cent). A third of BJP voters said Modi had failed to fulfill his promise.

— With Harishwar Dayal

(Sanjay Kumar is Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Shreyas Sardesai is associated with Lokniti, CSDS. Harishwar Dayal is Director at the Institute for Human Development, Eastern Regional Centre, Ranchi)

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