BJP is facing anti-incumbency in the state elections. The mood in Opposition is also buoyant post-Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections.
Jharkhand is the third state going for assembly polls after the Narendra Modi government came to power for its consecutive second term.
The voting will be held in five phases, with the first on November 30 and the last on December 20. Results will be declared on December 23.
It is a state where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did very well in both 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections BJP secured more than 51 per cent votes. Congress polled 15 per cent and the third-largest party was Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) with 11 per cent of votes.
Despite the humongous sweep, BJP is facing anti-incumbency in the state elections. The mood in Opposition is also buoyant post-Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections where despite the absence of national leadership, Congress was able to hold forth.
WION caught up with former Union Minister of Home and Congress General Secretary in charge of Jharkhand RPN Singh.
WION: How do you see Congress doing in Jharkhand in wake of surprise results in Maharashtra and Haryana?
RPN Singh: Maharashtra and Haryana elections were indicators of the fact that voters behave differently in the Assembly elections where local and immediate issues count.
Voters expressed displeasure in BJP’s leadership and it is for this reason that in both the states BJP did not get numbers on its own.
Real issues like jobs, agrarian distress and the economic slide have not been addressed and it is for this reason BJP’s performance was below par in both the states.
WION: How is your alliance with JMM doing?
RPN Singh: We are committed to our alliance. We also announced our alliance on November 8. BJP’s house is not in order in Jharkhand. They don’t have friends in the state.
WION: What are the issues in the state?
RPN Singh: Corruption is an issue in Jharkhand. Joblessness is an issue in the state. BJP has given tickets to corrupt candidates. Politicians with criminal records have been accommodated by BJP.
These issues are striking a chord with the voters. Under BJP, governance took a hit. BJP is not sitting comfortably. Yes, they did very well in both 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls but assembly results were different. BJP in 2014 could not get a simple majority. They are in power with the help of regional players.
To say that 2019 Lok Sabha results will translate into assembly victory is getting the election completely wrong. Elections in Jharkhand would be fought seat by seat and phase by phase. It is a big and complex state where various regional factors are important.
WION: Why is Congress so confident? Your own Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president left the Party?
RPN Singh: People come and go. It does not make a difference to the party. Fortune of the party ultimately depends on the workers. Till workers remains, party does well.
WION: Will Ayodhya verdict impact Jharkhand elections?
RPN Singh: Congress respects the judgement of the Supreme Court. BJP will try to divert attention from the real issues, but it will not impact the elections. Elections in Jharkhand are being fought on the issue of governance and corruption.