BJP lost Jharkhand to Das's unpopularity, Munda's absence

New Delhi


Arjun Munda is the tallest Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tribal leader, who many claim, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das was insecure of. No wonder, Das, a non-tribal Chief Minister of a largely tribal-majority state, tried his best to keep Munda away from state politics, which surely have contributed to the BJP's loss of mandate as well as face in this elections in the state.

Das was not only a non-tribal, failed to gauge tribals' beliefs and aspirations, but also earned fair amount of unpopularity. "Das was so unpopular that even Munda couldn't have bailed him out", reasoned a BJP National Secretary after the poll results started tricking in painting a bleak picture for the party.

During Das's rule, the 'Pathalgadi movement', which considers the tribal region of Jharkhand an independent 'nation', gathered momentum due to poor communication from the state government. The non-tribal Chief Minister's diminishing authority and that the Scheduled Tribes accounted for 26 per cent of the state's population worsened the situation for the party.

Last year, when stone plaques and signages sprung across villages in the Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and West Singhbhum districts, and the tribals didn't allow "outsiders" to enter the area that they considered as a "liberated" zone.

It all revived in November 2016, when the Jharkhand Assembly passed two amendments allowing acquisition of tribal land for development projects. By 2018, the protest had turned violent with abduction of security force personnel.

It called for acknowledgement of the tribal sensitivities and honest engagement with them. But Das decided to crack down on the movement.

A sane political interventions by BJP leaders, like Munda who continues to have substantial hold in the area, could have saved the day for the BJP. Despite this awful turn of event, Munda won the Khunti Lok Sabha seat in May 2019, though with lower margin.

"Das was neither acceptable to people, nor the state unit," said a state BJP leader.

Interestingly, the central BJP leadership knew of it but didn't act. However, the BJP's understanding of the ground situation reflected in printing of the party manifesto, which didn't carry Das's photograph on the first page. Instead, it had Arjun Munda's picture.

Also, there was a reason when "Ghar ghar Raghubar" slogan was changed by the BJP. But a sulking Munda, who was licking his wounds received in 2014 polls, has turned out to be the major factor behind the BJP's failure to attain the "65 Par" dream and shrinking to around 30 seats in this elections.IANS