The assembly elections in Jharkhand will be held in five phases from November 30 to December 20. The results will be declared on December 23. Jharkhand, with 14 Lok Sabha seats, rarely gets the kind of media attention that other states grab during the assembly polls. This time, however, the outcome will be keenly watched. While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to polls alone, the Congress has formed an alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019 Dates: Know Phase-Wise And Constituency-Wise Schedule For Vidhan Sabha Polls.
Impact of Ayodhya Verdict
Jharkhand assembly polls will be the first electoral contest after the Supreme Court's verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute. Thus, the election will determine how much electoral potential the Ayodhya verdict has. The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir appears to no longer be an important issue as witnessed in Haryana and Maharashtra. The BJP, therefore, will certainly try to milk the Ayodhya verdict. The results of Jharkhand elections will determine the extent to which the BJP can capitalise on the construction of Ram temple as an electoral issue and how relevant this is for electorates. Jharkhand Assembly Elections 2019: No Alliance With BJP, LJP to Contest Alone in 50 Seats.
Tough Time Ahead For Congress
After winning Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress party is back on a losing streak. Post the Lok Sabha drubbing, Congress failed to form government in Haryana despite increasing its tally. It came distant fourth in Maharashtra polls with 44 seats in 288-member house. In Jharkhand, Congress won 7 seats in 2014. The grand old party has no face in the state and is largely banking on JMM leader Hemant Soren but he is not Sharad Pawar. Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is slowly emerging as an alternative for minorities who had been a traditional vote bank of the Congress since independence. Another loss and Congress's position as chief Opposition party will further weaken.
Sulking Allies Worry BJP
In Haryana, the BJP is compelled to share power with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). While BJP's strategy roams around non-Jat politics, the JJP is primarily a Jat party. In Maharashtra, BJP's longtime ally the Shiv Sena refused to compromise on power-sharing, forcing the saffron party to give up its claim to form the government. The situation is even worse for the BJP in Jharkhand where its ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has announced to go solo in polls. The LJP, which contested only one seat in 2014 and lost, was seeking six seats from the BJP.
The All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which contested the 2014 polls in an alliance with BJP and bagged five seats, poses a bigger hurdle for the BJP if it doesn't come on board. The AJSU has already announced candidates for 12 seats, four of which overlap with BJP. These 12 seats include Chakradharpur assembly constituency from where BJP state chief Laxman Gilua is contesting.
This has opened a door for Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar to play hardball when it comes to seat-sharing in the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections next year. If the BJP fails to contain the situation, an adverse outcome of the Jharkhand polls is going to increase BJP's trouble.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of LatestLY.)