April 06, 2014

JHARKHAND & LOK SABHA 2014


WILL JHARKHAND GIVE A DECISIVE VERDICT?



In modern Indian politics, the state of Jharkhand has become synonymous with 'political instability', a tag which was with Goa in the 1990s. Switching loyalties, horse trading, massive corruption and amassing wealth are common practices here. In its thirteenth year of existence, the state in Central India has seen as many as 9 Chief Ministers and three spells of President's Rule. In fact, on one occasion, Madhu Koda - an independent MLA was cropped to the chair. Ahead of the 2014 polls, the JMM has already tied up with the Congress, having had withdrawn their support to the Arjun Munda led BJP government in Ranchi. Meanwhile, the saffron outfit wants to ride on the Modi wave. The JVM-P under former CM Babulal Marandi too is looking to do well, on the lines its good showing in the 2009 state polls. With so many contenders in the fray, the state is likely to see a close contest. One also needs to keep in mind the fact there will legislative assembly elections here by the end of the year. Let us see how Jharkhand will vote in the Lok Sabha 2014.

ISSUES

(1) The performance of the UPA: Although the INC's prospects in Jharkhand have been strengthened after it joined hands with the JMM, the big worry for the grand old party is the anti-incumbency wave against the Manmohan regime. A plethora of scams like the 2G, Common Wealth Games, Railway Gate and Coal Gate have embarrassed the Congress. Price Rise has hit the common man hard, burning a hole in his pockets. At the same time, the economy has been shaken from the core. The will be a big issue for all the Opposition parties including the BJP, the JVM-P and the AJSU.

(2) Development: Considering the fact that the state has seen so many regime changes over the last decade, you can understand why it is still lagging behind in the sphere of development. In spite of being rich in minerals, it continues to experience severe power cuts. Moreover, like in neighboring Chhattisgarh, the Naxal movement is still strong here. With the BJP being in power for the longest period in the state, it has to take a large chunk of responsibility for this. Of course, the JMM and the Congress too have to take a fair share of blame. I expect the talk of development or rather the lack of it in Jharkhand to be a major poll subject in the coming days.

(3) The Caste Equations: The Santhals are the largest tribal group in the country. Soren's JMM generally draws its strength from this community. Another influential group in the state are the Mundas. The BJP is dependent on its two main leaders - Karia Munda and former state Chief Minister Arjun Munda to win their support. The Congress is eyeing the Dalit vote. With Muslims and Christians constituting nearly 18 percent of the state population, the INC-JMM-RJD combine as well as the JVM-P will do their best to get their backing.

CONTENDERS

(1) The UPA: In July 2013, the Congress entered into an electoral agreement with the JMM under which Hemant Soren was made the CM of Jharkhand. In return, the INC got the lion's share of the Lok Sabha seats in the state. In the last elections, the party just won a lone seat in the parliamentary polls. This time it is expected to do much better, especially with the Sorens on their side. In fact, Jharkhand is perhaps the only state in the Hindi heartland where I expect the Congress to do better than in 2009. Former Tourism and incubemt MP from Ranchi Subodh Kant Sahay has been renominated. The INC has also given tickets to Saurabh Narayan Singh (Hazaribagh), Chitrasen Sinku (Singhbhum) and Tilakdhari Prasad Singh (Koderma).

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) seems to be content with playing the second fiddle to the Congress, at least in the big polls. In a bid to establish his son's political career, the JMM supremo has literally bid adieu to his party's prospect in New Delhi in 2014. Of course, the relations between the two partners has been far from smooth. There were talks that the regional party will contest from as many as seven seats without paying any heed to its pact with the INC. However, the outfit decided against it, fearful that the move would spell doom for its CM Hemant Soren. The party's candidates include chief Shibu Soren (Dumka), Vijay Hansda (Rajmahal) and Jagarnath Mahto (Giridih).

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is the third constituent of the UPA in Jharkhand and is likely to contest from 1-2 seats.

(2) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): In 2009, the saffron camp did exceedingly well, finishing with a tally of nine seats. However, it got a shock in the last state polls where it saw its numbers plummet from 30 to 18 seats. The BJP is hopeful that the 'Modi wave' will help it get more than half of the seats from the state. However, the strong alliance put up by the Congress, the break-up with the JD-U and the refusal of the JVM-P to join hands with it is likely to play a damper. Some of the party's nominees are Deputy Speaker in the outgoing Lok Sabha Kariya Munda (Khunti), JMM rebel Hemal Murmu (Rajmahal) and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinh's son Jayesh Sinha (Hazaribagh). 

(3) Jharkhand Vikas Morcha - Prajatantrik (JVM-P): Formed in 2006 by the state's first CM Babulal Marandi after walking out of the BJP, the JVM-P did very well in the 2009 state polls bagging 11 seats in alliance with the Congress. However, after the INC declared its support to the JMM, Marandi decided to go to the polls all alone. He even rejected Narendra Modi's call to come back into the saffron fold. Meanwhile, the JVM-P got a shot in the arm when Congress leader and former JVM-P member Stephan Marandi returned back to the party-fold. The outfit is relying on Marandi's clean image and the failure of the other three parties - the BJP, the Congress and the JMM to improve the situation here to garner the votes. Two former IPS officers - incumbent MP Ajoy Kumar (Jamshedpur) and Amitabh Chaudhary (Ranchi) have been given tickets.

Others: The All Student's Jharkhand Union (AJSU) has demanded 'Special Status' for the state and promised creation of 50 lakh jobs if it does well in 2014 polls. The party chief Sudesh Mahato will contest from Ranchi whereas Hemalata Mohan has been given a ticket from Dhanbad. The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) will be contesting the elections for the first time on its own. Mamata Bannerji's Trinamool Congress (TMC) is making its debut this time around. The Aam Admi Party (AAP) too will field its candidates in the state and has got the support of another regional outfit - the Jharkhand People's Party (JPP).

PAST PERFORMANCES

In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the UPA swept the state, winning 12 out of the 14 seats here. The Congress won 6 seats whereas its allies - the JMM and the RJD won 4 and 2 seats each. In 2004 though, the results were dramatically different. The BJP increased its tally by seven to finish at 8. The INC was reduced to 1 whereas the JMM did slightly better to win 2 seats. The JVM-P chief Marandi retained his Koderma parliamentary seat. One look at the results of the state elections is enough to see why Jharkhand is perhaps the most volatile state in the country today. No outfit has ever won a majority here. The BJP finished as the single largest party in 2005 winning 30 seats while the JD(U) bagged 6. The UPA finished with a combined tally of 33. In the elections held in 2009, the mandate was fractured further with the BJP and the JMM getting 18 seats each. The Congress did well to win 13 whereas Marandi's outfit bagged 11. The RJD and the JD(U) were reduced to 5 and 2 respectively.

Political Party
2009 SE
2009 LE
2005 SE
2004 LE
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
18
8
30
1
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)
18
2
17
4
Congress (INC)
13
1
9
6
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha - Prajatantrik (JVM-P)
11
1
9
-
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)
5
-
7
-
Janata Dal - United (JD-U)
2
-
6
-
Others
14
2
13
1

(1) The Jharkhand state assembly has 81 seats.
(2) The state sends 14 seats to the Lower House of the Parliament.

MY PREDICTIONS

In a close contest, the alliance between the Congress and the JMM will help both the partners. However, with the anti-incumbency against the UPA being strong, they will at max get 5 seats in my opinion. The BJP will do better but will not be able to replicate the tally it got in 2009. The JVM-P will retain its seat whereas others may get one.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
UPA (INC + JMM)
3-5
2
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
5-7
3
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha - Prajatantrik (JVM-P)
1-2
4
Others
0-1

WATCH OUT

(1) Re-alignment post May 2014: As I have mentioned earlier, Jharkhand will go to the polls later this year. As such, you can expect the General Elections to have a big impact on the alliances in the battle for Ranchi. If the BJP does well, as it has been predicted by several Opinion Polls then the AJSU and the JVM-P to be open to entering into a pre-poll accord with it. In that scenario, even the opportunistic Sorens would not have any problem in ditching the INC. In case the Congress wins a third straight term, it will emerge as a magnet for allies in the state.

Other posts in this series:
(1) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)