Jharkhand Elections: Can JMM & Congress Defeat BJP?

Congress is reportedly willing to play second fiddle to JMM in Jharkhand. But will that be enough to defeat BJP?

2 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj
Abishek Ranjan and Mukul Bhandari

The dust has barely settled after the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly elections but preparations have already begun for the next electoral battle: Jharkhand.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced the schedule for Assembly elections in the state, which will take place in five phases:

  • Phase 1: 30 November
  • Phase 2: 7 December
  • Phase 3: 12 December
  • Phase 4: 16 December
  • Phase 5: 20 December

The high number of phases is said to be due to the Election Commission’s concerns around security and the movement of paramilitary troops, given that many parts of Jharkhand have a strong presence of Naxal insurgents.

But even before the Election Commission’s announcement, political parties had already begun preparing for the Assembly elections.


Congress-JMM Alliance?

The Congress reportedly conceded that it will play second fiddle to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in the elections. This is understandable for three reasons:

First, after former Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar shifted to AAP, the party has been rudderless in the state.

Second, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the JMM did marginally better in the seats it contested than the Congress.

And the third reason is Hemant Soren. Despite the alliance’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the JMM leader has single-handedly led the Opposition charge in Jharkhand. The Raghubar Das government has slapped cases against him, but Soren hasn’t backed down. Soren's main plank in these election is jobs. He has put forward a three-point plan.

  1. 27% reservation for OBCs, 28% for STs and 12% for SCs
  2. 50% reservation for women in government jobs
  3. 75% reservation for locals in private sector jobs

But the real challenge will be seat-sharing. The Congress has reportedly said that it will be willing to settle for 25-30 seats out of 81. The JMM would want to contest at least 40 seats. This leaves very little for other potential allies like Babulal Marandi’s JVM(P), the RJD, and Left Parties. According to sources, the Congress is keen on including Marandi in the alliance but the JMM isn't.


Can Opposition Reverse BJP’s Lok Sabha Sweep?

The other challenge for the Opposition is winning back Jharkhand’s electorate, which had overwhelmingly backed the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections a few months ago. The BJP-AJSU alliance won 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats and got over 55 percent of the vote share. The UPA could manage just 2 seats and 35 percent of the votes.

In the Lok Sabha polls, the Opposition did well, mainly among Muslims, Dalits and Christian tribals. But the massive consolidation of OBCs, Hindu Tribals and Upper Castes helped BJP win by a landslide. The Opposition would need to win over OBCs and Hindu Adivasis if it wants to give the BJP a strong fight in the state.

The BJP’s 22 percentage point vote share decline in Haryana has given the JMM and Congress a glimmer of hope. The Opposition’ calculation is that the general elections were Modi’s victory, and they will be able to corner the BJP in the Assembly polls with a localised, issue-based campaign.

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