North India

Nitish’s Oppn unity express can gather steam only if JMM is on board

JMM working chief Hemant Soren has not met with Nitish or Mamata during the recent days, however, when there was a crisis in Jharkhand government recently, both JDU and the Trinamool attacked the BJP over it.

Ranchi: Although there has never been a political tie-up between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren, when it comes to Nitish’s campaign to form an anti-BJP front for 2024 general elections, it is believed that the latter will join hands.

Considering the prevailing situation, it can be said that the campaign to form a united opposition front against the BJP in Jharkhand is not possible without including Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). This is the reason why West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has declared in Kolkata that the Trinamool Congress will fight together with Nitish Kumar, Hemant Soren, Akhilesh Yadav and other leaders against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

JMM working chief Hemant Soren has not met with Nitish or Mamata during the recent days, however, when there was a crisis in Jharkhand government recently, both JDU and the Trinamool attacked the BJP over it.

Even the JDU’s Jharkhand unit also held a meeting in Hazaribagh, in which a resolution, condemning the BJP and the Central government, was passed. The resolution said that the BJP is “trying to overthrow the elected government led by Hemant Soren in Jharkhand. For this Central agencies – ED, CBI, Income Tax are being misused”.

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Similarly, Mamata also stood in support of Hemant Soren during the political crisis in Jharkhand. It is also said that Mamata helped Hemant Soren to thwart BJP’s �Operation Lotus’. It was the West Bengal police, which arrested three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand with huge cash in Howrah. Subsequently, the Bengal police arrested Jharkhand’s advocate Rajiv Kumar, who had made several PILs against Hemant Soren, with Rs 50 lakh cash. Even referring to this case against advocate Kumar, a caveat was filed in the Supreme Court arguing that the advocate who filed PIL against Hemant Soren is indulged in corrupt practice.

It is obvious that the Jharkhand Chief Minister will now be with Nitish Kumar and Mamta Banerjee in the political battle against the BJP. His recent statements also indicate this. Hemant Soren says that it is the misfortune of the country that the present BJP government at the Centre is engaged in a conspiracy to destabilise the elected governments in more than half of the states of the country. “We will never allow their conspiracies to succeed.”

To realise how effective and helpful will the JMM be in the fight against the BJP, it is necessary to understand the arithmetic of the Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand. There are 14 parliamentary constituencies in the state. In the 2019 general elections, the BJP won 11 of these seats, while its ally AJSU’s candidate won one seat. In the remaining two seats, one seat each was secured by the JMM and the Congress.

In the elections, four parties – JMM, Congress, JVM and RJD, had formed a front in the state, but despite this, this front proved ineffective against the BJP’s wave. However, in the Assembly elections held in November, just six months after the Lok Sabha election, the alliance of JMM, Congress and RJD won a landslide victory. The alliance, which did not make an impact in the Lok Sabha elections, showed the BJP the way out of power in the state by winning 47 out of 81 assembly seats.

Earlier in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, more or less similar results had come to the fore. In this election too, JMM, Congress and RJD had formed an alliance, but despite this, 12 out of 14 seats went in favour of BJP, while JMM won two seats. Congress and RJD did not get success in any seat. After this, in the assembly elections held in the same year, BJP registered a landslide victory and formed the government of full majority in the state for the first time.

On the basis of these results, it can be said that the same political equations are not effective in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. However, the present JMM-led government in the state has been successful in giving a message to its core voters by taking many big and popular decisions.

For instance, the demand for not extending Netarhat Firing Range, pending since the last 30 years, was accepted by the Hemant Soren government.

Similarly, implementation of Old Pension Scheme, 13 months salary for policemen, increase in honorarium of Anganwadi sevika-sahayaks and extension of service of assistant policemen are among the big and popular decisions taken by his government.

These decisions will certainly help him to build a narrative in his favour in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

It is too early to make any predictions from now on how effective the opposition unity campaign, which Nitish Kumar has embarked on, will prove in Jharkhand. However, it is certain that no fight to oust the BJP from Jharkhand will go ahead without taking the JMM along.

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