Since Monday morning, scores of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supporters had gathered outside his Ranchi house, distributing sweets to celebrate the Jharkhand election results. Hemant Soren didn’t want to jump the gun and waited for the lead to stabilise. As it became clear that the Opposition alliance comprising the JMM, Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was headed for a comfortable victory, 44-year-old Soren drove down to his father Shibu Soren’s residence less than a kilometre away to seek his blessings.
The photographs were quickly put out. In one, he was touching 75-year-old Shibu Soren’s feet. In a video, the father and son could be seen taking a walk around in the garden. In a third, Shibu Soren’s wife Kalpana Soren joined them.
It was a day of celebrations for JMM leaders and workers, who thronged the streets of Ranchi and other cities with party flags and distributed sweets. Celebrations broke out in the Congress and the RJD camps as well.
Later at a press conference, JMM working president Soren, the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance, said, “We will sit with the alliance partners and decide the course of action.” He thanked his father, RJD leader Lalu Prasad, and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among others.
The Opposition alliance described the results as the beginning of a “new chapter”, and the Congress linked the mandate to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. It said the people have demolished “arrogance” of the BJP. The BJP, however, attributed its defeat to local issues and “internal strife” in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Soren for the victory and extended his best wishes to the alliance. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah said his party respects the mandate of voters and also expressed his gratitude to the people of Jharkhand for giving the BJP a chance to govern the state for five years.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao attributed the party’s loss in Jharkhand to “local issues”, and said “internal strife” also appeared to have a significant fallout. “Inability of local leadership to convince the electorate for repeat of the mandate and internal strife within the party also appeared to have a significant fall out. A detailed analysis will be done,” he said.
Outgoing Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das took responsibility for the election outcome, saying it was his defeat, and not of the BJP. Later in the day, Das submitted his resignation to the governor. “I met Governor Droupadi Murmu and submitted my resignation. The governor asked me to be caretaker CM till the new government is formed,” Das told reporters after coming out of the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi.
The BJP and the All Jharkhand Students Union, or the AJSU party, which had been in alliance since the creation of the state 19 years ago, failed to reach a seat-sharing formula and fought separately.
Das, whose government is first one to complete five years in the state, said, “I have worked for the development of Jharkhand, providing electricity, roads and other schemes, covering every section of the society. In future also, I will serve as a BJP worker as party has always been working for the building of nation.”
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi congratulated his party, coalition partners and workers on the decisive victory of the alliance in Jharkhand, while party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the people want to hear from the government on employment, bread, water, land, farming and trade.
“Today the public’s answer has come. Congratulations to all the members of the grand alliance. Congratulations to Hemant Soren. Congratulations and love to the Congress workers,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
Significantly, Das also said the BJP’s failure to cling on to the alliance with the AJSU party and the opposition parties’ ability to keep their coalition intact are the reasons for the loss in the assembly election. “Our alliance could not happen while the opposition coalition remained intact. The party will review all the points (that led to the defeat) and try to plug the loopholes,” he told reporters after submitting his resignation letter to the governor.