Bharatiya Janata Party setback in Jharkhand may have kept the bigwigs like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and political maverick Amit Shah out of the limelight but they sure have reasons to break a sweat. With the latest loss at the state-level political game, the BJP has been reduced to mere 35 per cent of the national landscape as compared to a whopping 76 per cent it commanded over in March 2018.
The BJP has been riding a roller coaster of political triumphs and defeats for the past five years. From holding power in only seven state assemblies in 2014 to a staggering 21 by 2018, the BJP swept the nation with the Modi wave. But the BJP’s luck did not shine in its favour in 2019 as well. Even as the Modi government has made a historic comeback in the Lok Sabha elections, the state-level politics continue to test the BJP.
Now it became very clear that state politics, leaders, and issues are totally different from the center ones as the BJP is being rejected by the people in state after state. Only six months ago, Jharkhand had given a favourable mandate to Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election, but in assembly election, people definitely judged the BJP as a party and Raghubar Das as the head of a BJP government. Both failed in popular mandate in Jharkhand.
Question is why Jharkhand discarded the BJP and Raghubar Das despite PM Modi making a frantic effort with comments like, “those (opposing the government and resorting to violence over Citizenship Amendment Act) could be identified with their clothes”? Polarisation did not work for the BJP in Jharkhand.
Political pundits are coming up with several reasons that BJP has failed to get as victory mark in Jharkhand. The very first reason is that now the people of every region realized that it is a local leader who can be their voice in government and they understood that only the name of Modi would no longer fulfill their stomach.
Also the arrogance of Raghubar Das –the first non-tribal CM of Jharkhand, led the party to a miserable blow in the state. Many videos have gone viral which show Mr. Das yelling at commoners and officials in the last five years.
Moreover, the anger of tribals also contributed to the BJP breach as though tribal vote share is less than one-third, Jharkhand emotionally remains a tribal state, where the image of Raghubar Das government became of one that is anti-tribal in nature.
In 2014, the BJP-led alliance had won 13 out of 28 assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates. Even in the Lok Sabha election, the BJP won three of the five seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes in Jharkhand. However, two of these victories came with very slim margins.
This time around, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) won more than 20 of these seats – a clear case of tribals moving from the BJP camp to the JMM side.
Mob attacks against Muslims and Dalits by vigilant groups also played a role in changing the narrative against the BJP that did nothing to ensure safety and security of the common people. There have been more than 20 lynching deaths in Jharkhand in the last two years only. At least 11 of these victims were Muslims, most of whom were targeted by cow vigilante groups.
So, now the BJP must realize that national issues or divisive politics will no longer serve its purpose particularly in the states because the situation people are suffering from all over the country is so disastrous. In every sector, people are facing problems, youth are jobless, economy is declining, farmers are dying, women are insecure, and minorities are being deprived of their rights. These are the issues that must resolved at the very first step.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)