In Jharkhand, Congress borrows a strategy from Maharashtra’s Sharad Pawar.

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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s campaign strategy in Maharashtra shaped the Congress’s line of campaigning in Jharkhand as it kept the focus on local issues, economy and jobs, and avoided getting into a debate on nationalism, as pushed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The state, where tribals play a key role in politics, witnessed a bitter battle of narratives. While the BJP made Article 370, Ayodhya and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), now an Act (CAA), its poll plank, the Congress and its alliance partner Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) stuck to their tactic of keeping the rivals engaged on local matters, and limited their discourse on national issues to economic slowdown, price rise and unemployment.

The Congress had undoubtedly taken a leaf out of Pawar’s book as the Maratha leader during the Maharashtra elections successfully dodged the BJP’s nationalism narrative and extensively campaigned on local issues.

“It was deliberate on our part to keep the elections focussed on local issues and not fall into the BJP’s trap of making it nationalism-centered. We had also received feedback that there is strong anti-incumbency against BJP chief minister Raghubar Das and as such they will raise the pitch on Article 370, Ayodhya and the CAB,” said senior Congress leader Ajay Sharma. “We didn’t let that happen and kept the campaign entirely Jharkhand-centric.”

Sharma handled the Congress’s campaign in Ranchi and assisted the party’s Jharkhand in-charge, RPN Singh, in campaign strategy and planning.

He said the Congress also thwarted all attempts by the BJP to make it Prime Minister Narendra Modi-centric elections, as the ruling party decided to increase his number of rallies after assessing that the local leaders are not getting the required traction on the ground.

The Congress had crafted different campaign plan for each of the five phases of elections. The party had also planned to end the campaigning on December 18 with a rally by either Congress president Sonia Gandhi or party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The latter, eventually, addressed a public meeting along with JMM chief Hemant Soren at Pakur in the Santhal-Pargana region.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi addressed four rallies across the state.

“For the first time in 18 years, the Congress was in a fighting-fit form and we gave our best. Besides, the in-charge [RPN Singh] camped in the state for 40 consecutive days which never happened in the past,” said the party’s state working president, Rajesh Thakur.

But Jharkhand BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo dismissed the contention that the ruling party was on the back-foot on local issues and instead blamed the opposition alliance for polarising the elections.

“We started with ‘Ghar Ghar Raghubar’ campaign and talked about stability and development in the last five years of the BJP government. But the Congress and JMM leaders started polarising the elections by talking negatively about Article 370 and we responded by exposing their double standards,” Shahdeo said.

He claimed that the alliance also hit the panic button after getting the feedback that the minority voters were supporting the BJP in large numbers. “At the same time, national issues are always paramount for us. As far as increasing the Prime Minister’s number of rallies, the figures available suggest a clear 80.9% strike rate for him as compared to 18.1% that of Rahul Gandhi,” added Shahdeo.

But political analysts said the local issues dominated the poll discourse among a large section of voters during the elections. “Roti [bread], kapda [cloth] aur makaan [house] are important for all and they take precedence over national issues. Voters across the country have shown that they vote differently for national and state elections,” said LK Kundan, associate professor of the political science department at the Ranchi University.

The elections for the 81-member Jharkhand assembly were held in five phases between November 30 and December 20. The results will be declared on December 23.

As per their pre-poll agreement, the Congress is contesting 31 seats while the JMM 43 seats and the RJD seven.

On the other hand, the BJP and the All Jharkhand Students Union or AJSU Party could not come to an understanding and are fighting the elections separately.

“It is a ploy. They [BJP and AJSU] have been together for five years and will join hands after the elections. The people are seeing through their drama and will hand over a crushing defeat to them,” Sharma said.

Jharkhand assembly election: Congress takes a backseat in Ranchi, fields Ranchi, member against BJP.

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The Congress has decided not to field its own candidate against the BJP from the much contentious seat of Ranchi in the upcoming assembly election in Jharkhand, scheduled to take place in five phases.

Instead, Congress‘s ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has been given the prestigious seat of Ranchi. JMM leader Mahua Maji will be contesting against BJP leader CP Singh.

Notably, BJP has won from Ranchi‘s seat for six consecutive times in state assembly elections.

According to reports, Congress has also faced opposition from its party workers over its decision of leaving the Ranchi seat.

In the 2014 Jharkhand assembly election, JMM had nominated Mahua Majhi only as its candidate from Ranchi constituency. She was defeated by BJP leader CP them Singh by a margin of 59,000 votes. In the 2014 assembly election, Congress candidate Surendra Singh had got only 7,935 votes from Ranchi seat, and he also lost his deposit.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav‘s Rashtriya Janata Dal had recently announced a pre-poll alliance for the state with former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren as the alliance‘s CM face.

Congress has released four lists of a total of 27 candidates as of now for the upcoming assembly election in Jharkhand. The Congress will contest 31 seats out of 81 seats in the Jharkhand assembly.

The RJD will contest on seven seats, while the largest chunk of the alliance share has gone to the JMM, which will contest elections on 43 seats.

Vajpayee govt created Jharkhand, Modi taking it forward: Amit Shah

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Thursday said that it was the Narendra Modi government at the Centre which was taking Jharkhand on the path of the development.

Speaking at an election rally Chatra he said that Jharkhand had witnessed large scale corruption during the previous governments but there is not a single charge of graft against the Raghubar Das government in the state.

He said the JMM, Congress and the RJD are fighting the state Assembly election in an alliance. “I would like to ask Hemant Babu (Soren) what was the stand of Congress when youth of Jharkhand were fighting for a separate state.”

“The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had created Jharkhand and the Narendra Modi dispensation is taking it forward,” he said.

The Home minister claimed that the law and order situation has improved in the state and the “Raghubar Das government has buried Naxals “20 feet under the earth in Jharkhand”.

The BJP president that the Das government has provided electricity to 38 lakh households in the state.

Later speaking at another poll rally at Garhwa, where polls are slated to be held on November 30, Shah said that development cannot take place through use of brute power and warned Naxals that they would get “back with interest” for their violence.

Four policemen were martyred in Latehar recently. I tell the Naxals that they will get back “sudh samet” (with interest) for their actions and will be rooted out by the BJP government which will return to power in the state,” Shah, who is also the union home minister said.

Development cannot take take place through the use of bullets. It will happen when you press the button on Lotu (BJPs election symbol) in the assembly elections, Shah said, appealing to the people to give the BJP absolute majority to continue the development work in the state.

LWEs killed four state police personnel in Latehar district on November 22 and gunned down two persons, including a local BJP leader in Palamau district the next day.

Hitting out at the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which have a seat sharing understanding in Jharkhand in the coming Assembly poll, Shah said JMM leader

Hemant Soren is sitting in the lap of Congress for power.

Referring to the welfare schemes of the BJP-led government at the Centre, Shah said the Narendra Modi government had enhanced the allotment to the state to Rs 3,08,490 crore in five years from Rs 55,253 crore sanctioned by the Manmohan Singh government.

Speaking on the security measures taken by the Narendra Modi government, Shah said there were terrorist strikes during the Manmohan Singh dispensation, but it was the Narendra Modi government which gave a befitting reply after Uri and Pulwama terror attacks by targeting terrorist camps in Pakistan territory.

Our Army will not leave anybody staring or glaring at our borders, Shah said, adding youths from Jharkhand are also standing guard on the borders.

Congress rally in Patna stopped midway, cops use tear gas to disperse workers.

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A protest by the Bihar Congress unit against the policies of Central government turned violent on Sunday as the protesters tried to breach the barricading in place to head towards the chief minister’s residence and Raj Bhavan and the police had to use water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse them.

The “Janvedna March”, led by party’s Bihar incharge Shaktisinh Gohil, started from state Congress headquarters at Sadaqat Ashram in Patna, Bihar, and as it reached Hartali Chowk, the Congress leaders tried to breach the barricading in place and head towards the restricted zone housing the chief minister and other the state assembly. The police tried to stop the protesting leaders from entering the restricted zone, which agitated the leaders and a tussle ensued. The police had to lob tear gas shells and fire water cannons to disperse the agitated workers, some of which were detained for a few hours.

According to Congress spokesperson Premchand Mishra, as soon as the party leaders and workers reached the Hartali More, the police started raining batons. “The police also used tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the party workers.”

City Superintendent of Police, central, Vinay Tiwary said the police had to resort to mild lathicharge and use water cannons on Congress workers when they turned violent after being stopped at Hartali roundabout. “There was no administrative permission given for the rally,” he said, adding that the area where the rally was stopped fell in the high security region.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi later tweeted: “As there is a zero tolerance government on corruption at the centre and in Bihar, Congress is desperate and making all sorts of accusations against the central government policies. But people have rejected them,” he said.

Jharkhand Assembly elections: Congress leaves Ranchi for JMM to fight BJP.

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RANCHI: In the upcoming Jharkhand Assembly polls, the state capital Ranchi seat is going to witness an interesting tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition alliance.

The BJP has been winning this seat for the past 29 years and this time the JMM backed by the Congress wants to wrest the seat away.

The BJP has been winning the seat continuously for the past six elections and this time the Congress has decided not to field its candidate, but to support the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) candidate as part of the opposition alliance.

Although the Congress workers have opposed this, the party leadership decided to support the JMM candidate Mahua Maji. The BJP will continue with its sitting MLA S.P. Singh.

In the last Assembly polls, Singh had defeated JMM candidate Mahua Maji by around 59,000 votes, while the Congress candidate lost his security deposit after getting a mere 7,935 votes. In fact, out of a total of 17 candidates who had contested the last election, 15 lost their security deposits.

The continuous poor performance on the seat forced the Congress to rework its strategy. And, finally, it decided to support the JMM candidate.

The BJP, on the other hand, has been winning this seat continuously since the formation of the state in 1990.

In 1995 Yashwant Sinha won this seat, but a year later he moved to Rajya Sabha. BJP fielded S.P. Singh from this seat then, and he has been winning this seat ever since.

A senior journalist from Ranchi, Sampurnanand Bharati said: “Ranchi is one of the prominent seats in the state and so all want to win from here.

“The Congress has withdrawn here in favour of the JMM. The BJP will be aggressive to retain this seat and there is a renewed vigour in the opposition alliance after putting up their one candidate.”

The elections in Ranchi will be held during the third phase of the Jharkhand polls, for which the notification came on Saturday.

The Ranchi district has five Assembly seats — Ranchi, Silli, Kanke, Khijri and Hatia. The candidates can file their nominations till November 25. The Election Commission will do the scrutiny on November 26, and the candidates have the time to withdraw till November 28. The polls to these seats will be held on December 12.

Jharkhand polls: Leaders in Delhi to finalise lists.

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As polling day nears in Jharkhand, all the political parties are engrossed in finalising their candidates for the 81-seat Assembly.

Marathon meetings and hectic discussions are being conducted by the parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) have been the heavyweights in the elections here while regional parties like the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and All Jharkhand Students’ Union Party (AJSUP) also have stakes here.

For national parties like the BJP and the Congress, the scene has shifted to Delhi where state leaders are camping to finalise their lists.

A BJP leader said Chief Minister Raghubar Das, state party chief Lakshman Gilua, and other leaders are in Delhi as they were asked to reach the national capital. Before leaving for Delhi, the BJP’s state election committee met on Wednesday under Gilua’s chairmanship and a list of candidates was readied.

Sources in the BJP said the party’s central election committee would be meeting on November 8 where the names of the candidates will be finalised.

Sources also said that Suresh Mahato, chief of BJP ally All Jharkhand Student Union, has also reached Delhi to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement.

Congress state leaders, including state party chief Rameshwar Oraon and senior leaders like Aalamgir and Subodhkant Sahay have also moved to Delhi. Party spokesperson Kishore Shahdeo told IANS that the party’s screening committee had met on Wednesday. But, sources said that candidates could not be finalised as the seat-sharing arrangement with the JMM is yet to be finalised.

Congress sources said that the central election committee is likely to meet this week to finalise their candidates.

As the political parties are readying their lists, most of the aspirants are keeping a watch on the happenings in Delhi.

The Assembly polls in Jharkhand will be conducted in five phases from November 30 to December 20, an exercise spread over 21 days because of the Naxal problem that poses a security challenge.

Counting of votes will be taken up on December 23.

Of the 81 Assembly seats in Jharkhand, nine are reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and 28 for the Scheduled Tribes (ST).

After success in Maharashtra polls and Bihar bypoll, AIMIM sets sight on Bihar, Jharkhand.

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HYDERABAD : After winning two new seats in the just concluded Maharashtra assembly elections and the Kishanganj assembly segment in the Bihar by-elections, the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has now set its sight on the upcoming Bihar and Jharkhand state polls which will be held next year.

AIMIM, led by member of parliament from the Hyderabad seat Asaduddin Owaisi, is all set to contest a chunk of the seats in both states, which might change the political landscape, especially for the Congress (which relies on minority or Muslim votes). In Maharashtra, the AIMIM contested 44 assembly seats and managed to win the Malegaon and Dhule City seats, getting about 7.4 lakh votes. It was an increase from the 5 lakh votes in the 2014 pols, where it contested 24 seats.

In the Kishanganj bypoll in Bihar, the AIMIM’s Qamrul Hoda won the seat with a margin of over 10,000 votes the BJP’s Sweety Singh. More interestingly, the Congress lost its deposit, getting just 25,825 votes, indicating a shift among Muslims voters. The seat falls under the Seemanchal region, which is one of the most backward areas In Bihar.

“Right now we are focussed on building our organizational strength. We had 1.5 lakh members and that may not go up to five lakh, and our aim is to have 15 lakh members across Bihar till December. The voters in Seemanchal and other areas now have faith in Barrister (Owaisi), who has raised various issues of ours in the parliament. Minority areas in Bihar are the most deprived from decades,” said Adil Hassan, leader of AIMIM’s youth wing in Bihar.

Hassan did not say how many seats the AIMIM plans to contest in the Bihar state polls next year. Another AIMIM leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that in the 2015 elections, the party had contested in just six seats of the 24 in the Seemanchal region, and that a decision will be taken on the final tally later for both Bihar and Jharkhand. “We will be contesting in Bihar for the first time, and will also put up tribal candidates,” he added.

While the AIMIM lost both the Byculla and Aurangabad Central assembly seats (which it won in 2014), the party would have won a few more had its alliance with the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (an alliance of Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and other caste/community organizations) gone through. The VBA, which managed to get significant deposits in some the 250-plus seats it contested (like Aurangabad Central), however, did not win any seats.

“The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress would have won some more seats had the VBA and AIMIM not been in the fray. This very much goes much in line with what Owaisi said during the results of the 2019 general elections, that the myth of the Muslim vote bank has been broken. He said that if there is any vote bank, it is the Hindu vote bank (with the BJP),” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Reddy added that the results of the Maharashtra state polls and the Bihar bye-poll will only help Owaisi and the AIMIM in expanding across the country. “He will go ahead with his plans, and it is to be seen how the opposition and Congress will deal with that situation,” he opined.

Mad rush among Congress, JMM MLAs in Jharkhand to join BJP.

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Speculations are rife that three MLAs from the Congress and three MLAs from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) camp may join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on October 23.

The reports come just ahead of formal announcement for Assembly elections in Jharkhand.

It may come as a jolt for the Congress and JMM. The list doing rounds in political circles includes the name of former state Congress president and MLA from Lohardagga Sukhdev Bhagat, formidable MLA from Barhi (Hazaribag) Manoj Yadav and Badal Patralekh from Jarmundi (Dumka).

The JMM is also said to face desertion.

MLA from Bahragora Kunal Sarangi (Jamshedpur), Chamra Linda from Bishunpur (Gumla) and MLA from Mandu (Ramgarh) JP Patel are likely to join the BJP on Wednesday.

The Congress had nine MLAs. The party will be reduced to six if the three MLAs make their way to join the BJP. Similarly, the JMM will also be left with 16 MLAs if the three MLAs say goodbye to the party.

Most of the MLAs could not be contacted. Their phones are either switched off or not reachable hinting at them joining a new party.

Kunal Sarangi has confirmed that he will join the BJP. He said that he has no differences with Hemant Soren and will continue to enjoy a very good personal rapport with him in future.

The MLAs and many leaders aspiring for a good career in politics see prospects and a bright future for themselves in the BJP.

NDA will Win All seats in Bihar Bypolls, Says Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan


New Delhi: BJP ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday that the ruling NDA will win all seats going to Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls in Bihar on October 21, asserting that a “divided and discredited” opposition stands no chance.

Polls will be held in five Assembly seats and the Lok Sabha constituency of Samastipur as incumbent MLAs were elected to Parliament during the recent general election while MP Ram Chandra Paswan died of a heart attack.

All three NDA parties — BJP, JD(U) and LJP — are involved in the elections. While the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) is contesting in four Assembly seats, the BJP and the LJP have put up their candidate in an Assembly and the Lok Sabha seat respectively.

Ram Chandra Paswan’s son Prince Raj is fighting from Samastipur.

“All our candidates will emerge victorious. We have run a united campaign and people have full faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kumar,” LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan said.

The opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) is divided and discredited, he added.

With unity eluding the grand alliance, some of its partners have put up their candidates after its two main partners, RJD and the Congress, divided all the seats between them.

His party, he said, has also deployed its workers to campaign for the BJP in Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly polls. He expressed confidence that the saffron party will retain power in both the states.

Ajoy Kumar, former Jharkhand Congress chief, may join Aam Aadmi Party


Former Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar is set to quit the grand old party and join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday, about three weeks after he was removed from the post.

Kumar was on August 26 replaced by former union minister and tribal leader Rameshwar Oraon the new Congress chief in poll-bound Jharkhand.Oraon, a 1972 batch retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was 14 years senior in service to Kumar who resigned from the post on a bitter note.

In his August 9 resignation letter, 57-year-old Kumar, a 1986 batch IPS officer and once considered close to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, had levelled serious allegations against his senior party colleagues, including Oraon, Subodh Kant Sahay, Pradeep Balmuchu and Furqan Ansari.

He had accused them of placing “personal interests” above the party and “indulging in corrupt” practices. A former Lok Sabha MP from Jamsedhpur, Kumar was appointed the Jharkhand Congress chief in November 2017.

The Congress in Jharkhand is a divided house with factionalism taking a heavy toll on the party in the recent national elections, winning just one of the total 14 Lok Sabha seats from the state. Its alliance partner Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) also managed to bag just one seat.

Though the Congress is likely to continue its alliance with the JMM for the assembly polls too, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on a strong wicket following its stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha elections, winning 11 seats. Its ally AJSU Party secured one seat.

Kumar will be tasked with the responsibility of expanding the AAP base in the tribal-dominated state.