Jharkhand Elections: Saryu Roy’s rebellion has BJP in trouble

Senior Jharkhand BJP leader Saryu Roy will contest against incumbent Chief Minister Raghubar Das in the ensuing Jharkhand assembly polls. This decision of Roy to oppose Das has not come a surprise. The differences had reached to such a level that they were not even on the talking terms. In fact, Das had requested the central leadership not to re-nominate Roy.

Both Das and Roy were having an edgy relation for a pretty long time, but put up with each other for the sake of the party. Roy’s move comes in the wake of his name not finding a place in the first four lists of 72 candidates released by the BJP for the 81-member assembly in Jharkhand, which is going to polls in five phases between November 30 and December 20.

Roy is the incumbent MLA from the Jamshedpur (West) seat, which he had won in the 2014 polls. Das holds the Jamshedpur (East) seat. The candidate of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress-RJD opposition alliance for Jharkhand (East) is Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, who shot to fame with a viral TV clip with BJP’s Sambit Patra.

Roy said, “I am going to fight from Jamshedpur (East) seat to take on the man whom the party has made the face of this election. My supporters also requested me not to leave my sitting Jamshedpur (West) seat at the mercy of corrupt crooks and looters, hence I will file nomination from both Jamshedpur seats.”

Before making a formal decision, Roy had consulted his party-men from seven mandals. What has been encouraging and morale booster for him is the complete support to his candidature by these mandal cadres, who are usually hard core cadres of the party. Roy has the reputation of being a honest person and a crusader against corruption.  He was a petitioner to the PIL in Fodder Scam. He also fought against Jharkhand former chief minister Madhu Koda and was instrumental in sending him jail.

Roy was critical of his own government over several issues. He has been opposing some of the decisions taken by his party government alleging irregularities off and on, often putting him in confrontation with the senior leadership. Roy has filed a petition against the state’s mining department, state advocate general, Moharda water project and questioned the drainage and sewerage project by Singapore-based Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd in the state capital of Ranchi.

He says; “The problem is when I raise corruption issues, some people have a problem and brand it as anti-party activity. Only 5% corruption issues raised by me have come out in the public, now I will expose the remaining 95%”. In his new crusade against BJP government, Roy will enjoy the support of Nitish Kumar. Kumar, a college mate of Saryu Roy, has not only openly supported him but might also seek votes for him.

Bihar senior minister Rajiv Ranjan, a close friend of Nitish said, “If Saryu Roy requests Nitish Kumar then we all will request Nitish-ji to go and campaign…we all will campaign if Saryu Roy requires our presence”. Undeniably, it will create ripples at the national level, marking an instance where Kumar, a BJP ally, has taken a stance against BJP interest.

Criticism of the BJP is also implicit in Kumar’s support to Roy. While the BJP has been contesting elections since the 2014 national election on an anti-corruption theme, the leadership has denied ticket to the state’s best-known anti-corruption crusader.

The man behind exposing fodder and bitumen scam in undivided Bihar, Roy had questioned his own government’s decision to renew the leases of 105 mines in January 2017. He had walked out of the meeting, sarcastically saying that if the CBI ever probes the move, he does not want to go jail. He also exposed Jharkhand’s mining scam, in which mines were leased illegally in exchange of bribes during the two-year tenure of Madhu Koda from 2006 to 2008. Roy has been critical of his government on many issues. He has openly questioned moves of the government on many occasions, which has put Raghubar Das in embarrassing situations.

Ally trouble seems to haunt the BJP like never before. After a bitter divorce with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the BJP has been snubbed by allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) who have decided to go alone in the upcoming assembly elections.

In the 2014 Jharkhand assembly election, BJP won 37 seats in the 81-member assembly. AJSU, with five seats, helped BJP cross the majority mark. But now that both parties are fielding their own candidates, can BJP achieve its goal of “Abki baar 65 paar”?

Political analysts say that in a state like Jharkhand, where ethnicity matters more than Ram temple or triple talaq, the BJP-AJSU split may also divide non-tribal votes in the Chhota Nagpur region.

(By arrangement with IPA)

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