Jharkhand Elections: In Jamshedpur East, the Fight Is Between Official and Unofficial BJP

Jharkhand Elections: In Jamshedpur East, the Fight Is Between Official and Unofficial BJP

New Delhi: Jamshedpur East assembly seat, the constituency of incumbent Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das, is going to witness an interesting contest in the upcoming elections. Unlike previous elections, several high-profile candidates are in the fray. And it is believed that not only there will be a contest between candidates of ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) led alliance, which includes the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The constituency is also going to witness a fight between ‘official BJP’ and ‘unofficial BJP’.

Apart from Das, his former cabinet colleague Saryu Roy also filed his nomination from the same constituency.

The opposition alliance has decided to field Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh and Abhay Singh is the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P)’s candidate. Das is a five-time MLA, while Roy is two-time MLA from the neighbouring constituency, Jamshedpur West. However, in this election, Rai is contesting against Das after the BJP did not filed him in his traditional constituency.

The JMM, which is the biggest opposition party, is also rooting for Roy instead of alliance candidate Vallabh. It is widely believed that the JMM is supporting Roy in order to use the BJP rebel’s anti-Raghubar Das stance to mobilise people’s support in favour of opposition parties. That’s why JMM’s working president Hemant Soren has also appealed to other opposition political parties to tactically support Roy.

According to a news report, Soren said: ‘Saryu Roy is an honest leader and he has challenged Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who is the epitome of corruption. We, in the opposition, should come in his support.’

There has always been a tussle between Das and Roy. Moreover, apart from Roy, there has been opposition to the incumbent CM from other BJP leaders, including by former CM of the state and current Central cabinet minister Arjun Munda.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janta Dal-United (JDU), which is an alliance partner of the BJP in Bihar, has also lent its support to Roy. Reportedly, senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari has also assured his support to his old friend Roy and is likely to campaign for him. Rajya Sabha MP and BJP national executive committee member Subramanian Swamy has also tweeted in support of the BJP rebel.

‘Anti-corruption crusader’

Credited to have been crucial in exposing the corruption cases of chief ministers like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Madhu Koda and Bhagwat Jha Azad, Roy was until recently minister of food and civil supplies in Das’s cabinet. Though there was no love lost between the two, matters took a turn for the worse since Roy has been denied a ticket by the BJP.

Addressing a press conference after filling his nomination, Roy called the incumbent CM Raghubar Dagh (tainted) instead of Raghubar Das. Roy claimed that Das is so corrupt that even Narendra Modi and Amit Shah could not help improve his image. He declared that he is on a ‘mission’ to expose Das.

In an interview last week, Roy told NDTV that he has all the evidence to prove the CM’s involvement in an illegal mining scam in the state. ‘We have dozens of examples of corruption. I have met (BJP Chief) Amit Shah just once. In 2017, when I met PM Modi, I told him that I am ashamed to be in the state cabinet. He told me he will talk to Amit Shah. I told him (Amit Shah) everything,’ he told the news channel.

The chief minister has refuted all the allegations made by his former cabinet colleague and said Roy is indulging in politics of blackmail, to which he will not succumb. Responding to the allegations, the BJP’s state poll co-in charge Nand Kishore Yadav challenged Roy to prove his charges.

Elections in Jharkhand May Also See a Battle Between National and Local Issues

As per a report in the Times of India , Yadav said if Rai had any concrete evidence against Das, why hasn’t he disclosed it. Hinting that Roy’s allegations were an attempt to steal the limelight, Yadav claimed, ‘Roy will fail to stop Raghubar’s winning spree from the seat for the sixth time in a row.’

Meanwhile, Roy is able to garner support on the ground and is likely to give a tough fight to Das. ‘There is no doubt that Saryu Roy is a popular leader and has the credibility of an anti-corruption crusader. But how much he will be able to convert that into vote is yet to be seen,’ Anand Dutta, a Ranchi-based journalist told The Wire. He also said, one of the biggest challenges for Roy to sustain the momentum in the coming two weeks, as Das is yet to fully begin his campaign.

According to B. Sridhar, a senior journalist based in Jamshedpur, unlike the last election, this is certainly going to be an interesting and closely contested one. He said it is too early to say who has the edge. ‘Both the candidates are strong and have their base,’ Sridhar told The Wire, adding, ‘things will be clearer once the first phase is over.’

The Modi factor

Jharkhand will go to polls in five phases, starting from November 30. Jamshedpur East constituency is scheduled to vote in the second phase on December 7. It is likely that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the constituency just before the polling, in a bit to ensure Das’s victory.

File photo of Saryu Roy with PM Modi. Photo: Facebook

‘If that happens, then it will be very difficult for Saryu Roy to hold his ground,’ said Sridhar. ‘As far as opposition political parties’ support is concerned, it hardly matters because they don’t have a large base,’ he added. Sridhar believes the fight will be between Das and Roy, as the Congress’s candidate is not very popular locally.

Congress candidate Gourav Vallabh, who is a professor at XLRI Jamshedpur and is a national spokesperson of the party, recently rose to national prominence after a video of his TV debate went viral. In the video, Vallabh can be seen taking on BJP’s spokesperson Sambit Patra.

In the last assembly election, Das has defeated the Congress’s Anand Bihari Dubey by a margin of more than 70,000 votes. JVM(P) candidate Abhay Singh received 20,815 votes, while JMM’s candidate finished a distant fourth with 3,987 votes. Independent candidates got 881 votes, while 1,674 voted for NOTA.

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