After two hours of counting in Jharkhand Assembly elections, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led alliance is inching towards the halfway mark. According to latest trends, the JMM-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance is leading in 41 seats, while the ruling BJP is ahead in 29.
The counting began for the 81-seat Jharkhand Assembly on Monday morning, where the JMM-led alliance captured early leads and has maintained it so far. The Opposition alliance, which had tried to keep the focus on local issues, was predicted to have an edge over the ruling BJP by at least three exit polls.
Raghubar Das of the BJP took oath as Chief Minister in 2014 after the BJP won 37 seats and stitched an alliance with All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU), which had won five seats. However, AJSU broke ties with BJP and is contesting the current elections solo.
Under the leadership of JMM chief Hemant Soren, Congress and RJD have come together to oust the BJP from power. While the JMM has fielded candidates in 43 seats, the Congress and the RJD are fighting for 31 and seven seats, respectively.
BJP’s Jharkhand in-charge Ram Vichar Netam on Monday expressed confidence over his party retaining majority for the second consecutive term in the state with maximum 50 seats.
“The early trends may not be in our favour. But gradually you will see that the BJP will take over in all the constituencies where we have expected victory. I have been saying from starting that the BJP will form the government with people’s mandate and we will win at least 50 seats,” Netam said, according to news agency ANI.
He claimed that “no one can stop BJP from forming the government in the state.”
For the JMM, meanwhile, a victory or a good performance would mean a fifth shot at heading the state government. Hemant Soren had a stint as chief minister from July 2013 to December 2014. He served a tenure of 16 months.
Soren is contesting from two seats – Dumka (where he is trailing) and Barhet (where he leading).
“There is going to be a clean sweep for Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in this election. We have fought elections under leadership of Hemant Soren. He is going to be the Chief Minister,” RJD leader Tejasshwi Yadav said.
Among the seats that the BJP is leading are Baghmara, Barhi, Bishunpur, Dumka, Chandankiyari, Jamshedpur (West), Pakur, Panki, Potka, Simdega, Torpa, Hazaribagh. The JMM is leading in Shikaripara, Gumla, Sisai, Chaibasa, Borio, Chakradharpur and Ichagarh seats.
The state went to polls for 81 Assembly seats in five phases from November 30 to December 20.
Jharkhand is the third-BJP ruled state which has gone to polls this year. This election is crucial for BJP as it has already lost power in Maharashtra, and in Haryana, it managed to secure its government after entering into a post-poll alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party.
The tenure of the current Assembly ends on January 5, 2020. This is the fourth Assembly election in Jharkhand since the state was carved out of Bihar in 2000.