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Doubts over BJP leadership post Jharkhand setback

The BJP is now in a period of self-reflection in Jharkhand and questions are being raised on State leadership.

News Arena Network - Ranchi - UPDATED: June 7, 2024, 04:41 AM - 3 mins read

First Chief Minister of Jharkhand and senior leader of the BJP Babulal Marandi.

Doubts over BJP leadership post Jharkhand setback

First Chief Minister of Jharkhand and senior leader of the BJP Babulal Marandi.


The Jharkhand BJP undertook various strategies to engage with tribal communities, including bringing back its former tribal leader Babulal Marandi and appointing him as the state chief. It also declared the birth anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda as 'Tribal Pride Day.'

 

However, despite these efforts, the BJP did not secure any of the reserved tribal seats in the State. In four of the five reserved seats, they lost by over 120,000 votes.

 

Consequently, the BJP is now in a period of self-reflection in Jharkhand and questions are being raised on State leadership.

 

The election results suggest a challenging path ahead for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections later this year. The five tribal Lok Sabha seats correspond to 28 Assembly constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

 

A BJP leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, stated, “The primary reason for the BJP's poor performance in tribal areas is that none of their tribal leaders can match the charisma and popularity of JMM leaders, especially Shibu Soren and former chief minister Hemant Soren.”

 

The leader added, “In 2020, the BJP brought back the estranged tribal leader Babulal Marandi, initially projecting him as the Leader of Opposition (LoP). When the speaker's court denied him the LoP status, he was made the State Chief. However, Marandi's popularity in the tribal Santhal region is questionable as the BJP lost both Santhal LS seats reserved for ST. The party trailed in most assembly seats in Dumka and Sahebganj.”

 

The leader further mentioned, “Marandi has not only struggled to gain traction in tribal seats but also in his home Lok Sabha constituency. Despite Giridih being Marandi’s home district, the BJP lost two assembly by-elections in Dumri and Gandey.”

 

Another tribal leader who failed to deliver was Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda.

 

He lost the Khunti Lok Sabha seat to Congress's Kalicharan Munda by 149,000 votes. Arjun Munda, a three-time chief minister, had previously defeated Kalicharan Munda by 1,445 votes in 2019.

 

The failures of these two prominent tribal leaders have once again raised concerns about the leadership in the state.

 

The beginning of 2024 saw significant changes in Jharkhand’s political landscape with the arrest of Hemant Soren on January 31. This led to Champai Soren, a long-time associate of Shibu Soren, becoming the interim chief minister in February.

 

At 67, Champai Soren lacked the charisma to effectively challenge the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

 

However, the emergence of Hemant’s wife, Kalpana Soren, energised JMM workers and added a new dynamic to the political scene.

 

The primary reason for tribal disenchantment with the BJP is believed to be the jailing of JMM chief and INDIA bloc leader Hemant Soren, just before the elections, in a land-grabbing case.

 

Hemant Soren’s wife, Kalpana, won in the by-elections held concurrently with the Lok Sabha elections, marking her electoral debut.

 

Kalpana, who campaigned across Jharkhand, highlighted the "injustice" faced by her husband, an "Adivasi CM," which resonated with voters.

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