At a time when excitement is running high among 229 candidates contesting on 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Jharkhand, for three political stalwarts, who have also remained Chief Ministers of the State, the election results is set to make or mar their political career. The results of the polls will be declared on Thursday, May 23.
Former CMs Shibu Soren (JMM), Babulal Marandi (JVM) and Arjun Munda (BJP) are contesting the elections from Dumka, Koderma and Khunti seats respectively. All the three candidates are political heavyweights of their parties and their win or defeat may affect their political career to a great extent.
For the septuagenarian JMM president Shibu Soren the polls battle is very significant as he has remained eight times MP and Union Minister in the UPA government.
The leader, considered as one of the most popular figures in the State politics, is also a separate Jharkhand movement champion having a strong presence of his party in the Santhal Paragana region.
However, the 2019 election is a tough nut to crack for Guruji as he is called in the political circles.
According to BJP the JMM chief will taste defeat this time in the hands of its candidate Sunil Soren. So much so that Chief Minister Ragubar Das has publically announced in a press conference recently that the JMM chief’s defeat this time is 200 per cent sure.
The BJP bigwigs say that party’s development works in last five years in the region is a reason big enough for the BJP to make dent in Santhal politics. They cite examples of how people devoid of basic amenities in the area have been fleeced by the JMM for decades and they now got the fruits of development in last five years.
The party is banking on the beneficiaries of Central and State Government schemes, who they think have certainly voted for the BJP.
On the other hand the JMM feels that it is impossible to defeat Guruji, who they say, is not just a charismatic leader but considered next to God among tribal communities of Santhal Pargana. The JMM also claims to sweep all seats it is contesting under Mahagathbandhan in the State.
The fate of JVM chief Babulal Marandi, who was the first Chief Minister of the State, will also be decided in the elections. Despite being an influential leader Marandi tasted defeat in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2014.
He also got a setback when six out of eight MLAs of his party changed sides and joined the BJP calling it a merger of the JVM into the BJP.
It is therefore, a big challenge for the JVM chief having just two MLAs in the Assembly and zero representation in the Parliament to win the election. The party has also fielded Pradeep Yadav from Godda against BJP’s incumbent MP Nishikant Dubey.
For senior BJP leader Arjun Munda also the elections are posing a serious political challenge. Munda, who has remained former CM of the State thrice, is walking a tightrope in Khunti LS segment. The party gave him ticket this time replacing veteran leader Kariya Munda. However, his contest against Congress’ Kali Charan Munda after Patthalgadi movement in the area and resentment among tribals against some of government’s policies, has become tough. Close confidants of Munda say that there is neck and neck contest in Khunti.
Two Union Ministers, Jayant Sinha from Hazaribag and Sudarshan Bhagat from Lohardaga are also walking tightrope alongwith State Cabinet Minister Chandra Prakash Chaudhary from Giridih. While, Jayant Sinha’s contest is said to be relatively easier, Sudarshan Bhagat and CP Chaudhary are keeping their fingers crossed.
The results of 2019 elections will not only decide the political fate of senior leaders of the State but will also have a lasting impact on prominent political parties in coming days.