Likely political implications of ED actions against Soren, Kejriwal

Without questioning the actions of Enforcement Directorate and other central agencies against chief ministers of Delhi and Jharkhand, Arvind Kejriwal, and Hemant Soren respectively, one cannot ignore their political implications. As parliamentary election is round the corner the parties in power in these two states would certainly try to make a political capital out of what they call witch-hunting.

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It is true, only time will tell whether they succeed or not, yet the fact is that Hemant Soren is in a much better position to get sympathy as the social arithmetic suits him. This would be somewhat different from Delhi which has seven Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly seats, the elections for which are due in Nay 2024 and February 2025 respectively. At present the BJP has all the seven parliamentary seats while Aam Aadmi Party has 62 MLAs.

In contrast Jharkhand, minerally the richest state of India, has 14 Lok Sabha constituencies and 81 Assembly segments which will go to poll in May and December this year.

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As Jharkhand has 26.2% Scheduled Tribes and 14.53% Muslims the two form a powerful bloc to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance which won 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 election.

Besides, there are sizeable Yadav population. Thus, Indian National Developmental Inclusive alliance can hope to get a big chunk of this about 45% votes. The Scheduled Castes form 12.08% of the population, besides, there are substantial presence of Backward Castes.

Victory in assembly election

The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal won 47 Assembly seats in the election held in December 2019 against 25 by the BJP.

This was in contrast to the Lok Sabha performance in which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance did very well.

A close study of the voting pattern in the two elections held within seven months suggests that while a good number of Scheduled Tribes voted for the BJP-led alliance in the Lok Sabha poll the situation was different in the Assembly election, where the target was to oust the first non-tribal chief minister of BJP, Raghubar Das, who in fact lost from his own Assembly seat, East Jamshedpur. The JMM won 19 out of 28 ST reserved seats while its alliance partner, Congress, six. The BJP got only two, down from 11 in 2014.

However, in the Lok Sabha poll the BJP won three out of five ST reserved seats in 2019.

But much water has flown down in Damodar River in the last four years. Soren has, by taking several steps for the welfare of tribals, consolidated his position among them. Besides, the allege hounding against the son of tribal hero, Shibu Soren, who fought for the creation of Jharkhand state on November 15, 2000, has evoked a lot of sympathy for the present chief minister.

The general perception is that the NDA may not retain 12 seats this time in the Lok Sabha poll because of this very reason. At the same time the JMM-led alliance is expected to return to power in the Assembly poll.

Challenge before BJP

The BJP has done well in Lok Sabha poll largely because of the Pulwama terror attack of February 14, 2019. Otherwise, it was not in a comfortable position as the tribals, in general, blamed it for the rise in corporate-culture in the state. The land acquisition policy of the then Raghubar Das government supported the big business-houses and mining lobby. The BJP was accused of promoting the dikkus, that is outsiders, and working against the interest of the indigenous people, and in the process making them landless.

Thus, till a couple of months before the Lok Sabha poll, the BJP was precariously placed and was relying heavily on migrant voters.

However, the Pulwama attack changed all the equation. But in the assembly election held later that year the tribal anger came out in full force against the saffron party. At the same time, the BJP was fighting alone, that is without the support of All Jharkhand Students’ Union, its old ally.

Though, the first chief minister of Jharkhand, Babulal Marandi, has returned to the BJP and has been made the state president, yet the party is not expected to do well. Both Marandi and Soren are Santhals, the largest tribal group making one-third of Adivasi population.

As Narendra Modi-led BJP had in December 2014 installed the first non-tribal chief minister (Raghubar Das) whose ancestral roots lie in neighbouring Chhattisgarh the Prime Minister is now accused of deliberately persecuting an Adivasi CM, who is trying to do something for his people.

The non-stop campaign against Soren has prompted the tribals to close their ranks and minimize the intra-Adivasi contradictions.

Uniform Civil Code opposed

The central leadership of the BJP has cut to size all the tribal figures be it Arjun Munda or Babulal Marandi. This has facilitated the growth of Soren as a strong face of the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance. Raghubar Das has been made the governor of Odisha and there is no prominent saffron party leader to lead it. Mind it, Saryu Rai, an old RSS hand and once a CM face of BJP, had as a rebel defeated Das in East Jamshedpur. The Sangh Parivar is yet to come out of the squabbling. Rai is also a non-tribal from Bihar, whom Das called Jai Chand after his loss.

Apart from this, there appears to be no problem in INDIA block in the state. As the tribals have realized that it was none else but Narendra Modi who promoted Raghubar Das, also a Teli like Prime Minister, they are directly charging him for victimizing Soren. Thus, the Modi magic is not likely to work among them in the coming Lok Sabha poll.

Not only that, the INDIA bloc has been opposing the proposed Uniform Civil Code as they are of the view that it would go against the deep-rooted Adivasi culture and customs.

Delhi situation

That way Jharkhand is different from Delhi, where the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party are yet to decide the seat-sharing arrangement.

Unlike in Jharkhand, there is no formidable social combination in Delhi, where the voters have been voting differently in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Here only the figure and performance of Arvind Kejriwal as CM matter. But it appears that he is not getting as much sympathy as Soren.

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