Saffron sweep in Jharkhand but SC seats remain

Since tribals make up for 27 per cent of the state's population, their vote is pivotal to any party's victory.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Jharkhand is set to sweep the state with 12 out of 14 seats. While the ruling alliance’s performance is a repeat of 2014, it is important to note that this time, the BJP managed to wrest Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) President Shibu Soren’s constituency Dumka.

Soren has won the seat all but twice since 1989. This time however, the poll plank of protection for ‘jal, jungle, and zameen (water, jungles and land)’ does not seem to have worked. He was beaten by Sunil Soren.

At 10:45pm, the saffron party was leading in two other reserved constituencies — Khunti and Lohardaga — while the JMM won Rajmahal, the Congress’ Geeta Kora won Singhbhum.

Since tribals make up for 27 per cent of the state’s population, their vote is pivotal to any party’s victory.

While Shibu Soren got 42.78 per cent vote share compared to Sunil Soren’s 47.09 per cent, in Khunti, the difference between the BJP’s Arjun Munda and the Congress’ Kalicharan Munda voteshare — 45.95 per cent and 45.82 per cent respectively — was 0.13 per cent with the former winning.

The contests came down to the wire in Lohardaga as well where the Congress’ Sukhdeo Bhagat garnered a 44.24 per cent vote share against the BJP’s Sudarshan Bhagat who raked up a 45.4 per cent share.

In Rajmahal and Singhbhum however, the opposition candidates won with comfortable margins of 9-10% in the vote shares. In Rajmahal, Vijay Kumar Hansdak of the JMM beat his nearest opponent — Gruhan Ram of the RJD — by a margin of over 99,00 votes. Meanwhile in Singhbhum, Kora beat her nearest rival — Jharkhand BJP president Laxman Giluwa by a margin of over 72,000 votes.

The above results would suggest that a significant section of the Adivasi population may not have bought into the ‘wave’ that has powered the BJP across large swathes of the nation.

Among the ST seats, Khunti was witness to the Pathalgadi unrest, Singhum is badly affected by malnutrition and home to many Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Rajmahal was won by the JMM victory in 2014, and Lohardaga saw a tight contest as well. The results could also decide the future of the coalition, with the JMM winning one seat and the Congress winning the other. The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal were both unable to pick up any seats.

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