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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Led by Babulal Marandi, BJP set to oust the anti-Dharma Hemant Soren govt

As the leader of opposition in the state Assembly, Babulal Marandi took charge as Jharkhand BJP President on Saturday, and it looks like the saffron party is all set to storm Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s tribal citadel.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and its ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) won 12 out of the 14 seats in Jharkhand, but in the Assembly elections held just five months later, the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance trounced the BJP.

Hence, in 2024, there are two big challenges before the BJP here — first, to repeat the 2019 Lok Sabha election results, and second, to regain the lost power of the state in the Assembly elections scheduled next year.

The BJP has chosen Marandi to lead in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2024.

Presently, Soren, the leader of the current ruling coalition in Jharkhand, is undoubtedly considered to be the biggest tribal leader. In such a situation, the reason for handing over the command of the BJP leadership to Marandi is quite natural. The BJP could not take the risk of handing over the command to a non-tribal leader to take on Soren.

Marandi was the first Chief Minister of the state and at present, the BJP does not have any bigger tribal leader than him. Arjun Munda is also a tall tribal leader, but he is handling the responsibility of Union minister at the Centre, thus he has been staying away from the day-to-day political activities in Jharkhand for the past four years.

Before understanding what will be the BJP’s strategy in the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Jharkhand, it is necessary to understand the personality of the party’s new chief.

When Jharkhand was formed on November 15, 2000, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP made Marandi the first CM of the state. Prior to this, he was the Union Minister of State in the Vajpayee government.

Before the formation of the state, Marandi had played an important role in expanding the base of the BJP in this region. As the President of the Vananchal Pradesh unit of the party, he had demonstrated organisational ability and skill. The central leadership rewarded him by making him the CM.

Marandi’s tenure as CM lasted for about two-and-a-half years. During this period, his performance on the front of development and administration was considered commendable, but a decision taken on the sensitive issue of domicile overshadowed him and the party replaced him with Arjun Munda as the CM before he could complete his tenure.

After this, Arjun Munda remained the main face of the BJP in the 2005 Assembly elections as well when the BJP again formed the government in Jharkhand.

Then, Marandi started distancing himself from the party and finally in 2006, he broke away from the BJP and formed the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. His party performed well in the 2009 and 2014 elections, but by the time the 2019 elections approached, the political strength of the party had weakened. Finally in 2020, he merged his party with the BJP.

The BJP lost power in the 2019 elections. The main reason for this was its defeat in 26 out of the 28 tribal seats in the state.

In such a situation, while the BJP felt the need for a strong tribal leadership for damage control, Marandi also needed the support of a strong political organisation like the BJP.

Home Minister Amit Shah himself came to Ranchi to induct Marandi into the party. After this, the party also made Marandi the leader of BJP’s Legislature Party in the Jharkhand Assembly.

Now, the BJP will have to prepare the ground as it will not be easy for it to repeat the results of 2019 in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The state had a BJP-led government during the last Lok Sabha polls. At present, there is a JMM-led coalition government in the state. If there is no unforeseen situation, this government will continue till 2024.

If this alliance fights elections with better resources while in power, the BJP will also have to exert more power than 2019.

Two of the 14 seats in the state that the BJP lost in 2019, Rajmahal and Singhbhum, are reserved for STs. However, it won three of the total five ST seats in the state — Lohardaga, Khunti and Dumka.

But a few months later, when the Assembly elections were held in the state, the party lost 26 out of the 28 tribal seats.

On the other hand, the Hemant Soren-led UPA alliance was successful in wooing the tribal vote bank. Soren has kept the issues related to tribals and natives of Jharkhand at the centre of his politics in the last three-and-a-half years. He has taken important decisions one after the other, especially concerning those related to tribals and natives.

By bringing the domicile and recruitment policy based on Khatian of 1932, he played the biggest trump card to mobilise the tribals and natives of Jharkhand.

However, the high court rejected this policy. Regarding this, the BJP continuously tried to corner the state government.

On this, Soren said that the BJP tried to block the Khatian policy of 1932 by taking it to the court, but “we have not left this issue. We will find a way for this”.

Soren said, “We are lion’s children, we cannot give up the policy of Khatian of 1932. We have definitely taken two steps back, but in the coming days, we will fight by moving four steps forward.”

The BJP knows that to repeat the 2019 Lok Sabha results in Jharkhand in 2024, it is necessary to first gain the largest share of the tribal vote bank.

That’s why it is raising the issue of threat to the existence of tribals due to Bangladeshi intrusion in the Santhal Pargana. Apart from this, the party is vigorously raising the issues related to atrocities against tribals and their rights. The BJP is also trying to give the message that Narendra Modi’s government is in the best interest of the tribals.

Addressing the ceremony while taking charge as the state BJP President, Marandi said, “It is Narendra Bhai Modi’s government which has taken the biggest steps for the upliftment and development of tribals. There is not one, but eight tribal ministers in Modi ji’s cabinet. This government showed the courage to elect Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader, as the country’s President.

“It was the BJP that created a separate Jharkhand for tribals and for the first time a separate ministry for tribals at the Centre has been created by the Narendra Modi government.”

The BJP will make all-out efforts to capitalise on the issues of corruption in the Hemant Soren government and also on the issues of dynasty politics of Congress-JMM and RJD.

Marandi said, “Our biggest mantra is ‘win the booth – win the election’. We will focus on one booth at a time. Booth-wise tasks are being assigned to all MPs, MLAs, district heads and office-bearers of the party.”

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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