Jharkhand elections 2019: Counting begins; will BJP retain the state?
Counting of votes for the 81-seated Jharkhand assembly began at 8 am today. BJP, which is in power, is hoping to retain the state but exit polls have predicted this might not happen. Current Chief Minister Raghubar Das is facing tough competition from the alliance of Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Here are more details.
Notably, polling was held in five phases, starting November 30. To recall, BJP won 37 seats in 2014. With the help of its ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which won five seats, BJP breached the magic number. It's important to highlight that Das is the first CM of Jharkhand to complete five years in office since the state split from Bihar in 2000.
Notably, exit polls didn't bring good news for BJP. According to India Today-Axis My India, BJP could win somewhere between 22 and 32 seats, while the JMM-Congress combine may win 38-50 seats. Separately, ABP News-IANS-C Voter predicted that JMM-Congress will win 31-39 seats, BJP 28-36, and AJSU will win 5 seats. And a local news channel, News 11 said BJP will win 30-35 seats.
Das is contesting from Jamshedpur East constituency and is facing a challenge from his former aide Saryu Roy. A former minister, Roy is angry as he was denied a ticket. Other candidates who are up against Das are Congress' Gaurav Vallabh and JVM's Abhay Singh.
The mahagathbandhan is led by Das' predecessor Hemant Soren. He is contesting from two constituencies, Dumka and Barhait. Since JMM enjoys clout in these tribal-dominated seats, it will be hardly surprising if Soren wins both. Another seat which will be closely-watched is Silli, from where AJSU President Sudesh Mahto is trying his luck. And former CM Babulal Marandi is contesting from Dhanwar.
Exit polls may have said BJP will have to taste defeat, but the party is confident. "We will cross the majority mark. People have reposed faith in our five years of good governance," BJP general secretary Deepak Prakash said. But JMM general secretary Vinod Pandey claimed otherwise. "The grand alliance will get a majority. People are fed up with the BJP government," he said.
In case, the results end in a hung assembly, Marandi and Mahto will play important roles. However, when Marandi was asked if he will join hands with BJP after results, he junked the idea. He also said he didn't have any conversation with mahagathbandhan players. In fact, Marandi, who heads JVM-P, said his party will get a clear majority.