After Maharashtra, allies AJSU and LJP turn adamant on seats, show BJP why it needs them
From the west to the east, BJP’s allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are seeking to assert themselves and give the “big brother” a tough time in both pre and post-poll scenarios. That’s because the results in Maharashtra have proven that the BJP, regardless of the brute force of the Lok Sabha verdict, cannot make it on its own. It has hardly recovered from the jolt in Maharashtra, where its three-decade-old ally, the Shiv Sena, snapped ties with it for its failure to honour a rotational chief ministerial formula, but is staring at another one in Jharkhand. Here its long-time ally, the All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU), has upped the ante by staking claim to 17 seats for itself. But the BJP is not willing to concede. The AJSU has since gone ahead by fielding its candidate even against the BJP’s State unit chief. As if this wasn’t enough, another BJP ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), has announced it will go alone and field its candidates in 50 of the 81 Assembly seats.
The timing is all wrong for the BJP, which is actually looking to consolidate its gains in the State. The Raghubar Das-led regime has the distinction of completing a full five-year-term, which is a first in the 20-year history of the State that has always had fractured mandates leading to half-a-dozen Chief Ministers helming the affairs from time to time. For the BJP, however, the LJP is not a cause of worry given its minuscule presence in the State. The LJP contested only one Assembly seat in 2014 and lost. By contesting 50 seats this time round, its new president Chirag Paswan wishes to gain some foothold in Jharkhand. But as far as AJSU is concerned, the party, which is a product of the Jharkhand movement, has a strong presence, especially in areas around Ranchi. AJSU has been a part of almost all Governments formed in Jharkhand ever since the State’s creation when Babulal Marandi became the first Chief Minister. Its chief Sudesh Mahto has handled plum portfolios throughout, including that of the funds-rich Road Construction department. He played a key role in hijacking MLAs to prop up the Arjun Munda regime. The AJSU is also gaining strength from the fact that Opposition parties are courting it. AJSU fighting alone, nevertheless, will be advantage BJP as the former shares a support base with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and could cut into its votebank. Despite its dominance, the BJP cannot alienate time-tested allies who have stood by it through thick and thin. As Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Naresh Gujral said, the BJP should not treat its allies as lesser partners as they, too, have self-respect.
Thursday, 14 November 2019 | Pioneer
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