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BJP’s challenge in Ranchi is to beat anti-incumbency

BJP has been winning the Ranchi assembly seat since 1990 and the minister and current MLA CP Singh is a fourth term MLA from the seat. In the last elections, his challenger was from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, a party with lesser presence in urban areas.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 10, 2019, 11.40 PM IST
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“We have worked hard in last five years and changed the picture of Ranchi. We will get the result” CP Singh, Jharkhand’s urban development minister.
RANCHI: Campaigning ended on Tuesday evening for the five assembly seats in Ranchi district; Ranchi, Kanke, Hatia, Silli and Khijri which vote on December 12. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has four MLAs out of the five incumbents.

Ranchi, with a mix of urban and rural constituency, has always been a strong BJP bastion. In the past, caste equations too have been in the party’s favour. In 2014, BJP won Kanke, Ranchi and Khijri. In Hatia, Jharkand Vikas Morcha (JVM) candidate Navin jaiswal won the seat with a margin of 8,000 votes. Jaiswal later shifted to the BJP is now contesting on a BJP ticket.

The three seats BJP won in 2014 in Ranchi were all with a huge margin of near about 60,000 votes. It is this margin that is becoming harder for the opposition candidates to crack through and it gives BJP the confidence, it would manage to win these seats. However, anger can be felt across these areas with chief minister Raghubar Das. “Modi desh ke liya achcha hai, hum unke sath hai. (Modi is good for the country and we are with him),” says Sunil Kumar Mahto in Raja Dera of Khijri assembly seat. “But Raghubar Das should go.

On one side, he closed down several schools in the villages and then opened liquor shops in every nook and corner. This is his priority.” Khijri siting BJP MLA Raj Kumar Pahan won with the highest margin of 65,000 in Ranchi district. His worry this time is disenchantment against the government and aggressive cadre of All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which is working hard to take the contest away from him.

BJP has been winning the Ranchi assembly seat since 1990 and the minister and current MLA CP Singh is a fourth term MLA from the seat. In the last elections, his challenger was from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, a party with lesser presence in urban areas.

Singh defeated Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)’s Mahua Maji by 58,000 votes.

The difference this time is that while AJSU is not part of the BJP alliance and has a popular candidate Varsha Gadi. On the other hand, Congress has not put up a candidate in alliance with the JMM. “We have worked hard in last five years and changed the picture of Ranchi. We will get the result,” said CP Singh.

BJP voters in Ranchi city complain of lack of jobs and shutting down of industries. “SAIL is almost closed down. They are going to merge Mecon with some other company. Where will we get jobs? As a BJP supporter, I have no option but to vote for the party but the mood is not in favour of the BJP,” says Rajesh Kumar, a hotel management graduate in Doranda area of Ranchi.

In Hatia too, the seat JVM won last time, the party is facing some challenge. With a sizeable Muslim population, BJP is attempting to attract them towards the party. Senior leaders such as Shahnawaz Hussain and BJP national minority cell president Rashid Ansari have been campaigning in different parts of Hatia to convince the Muslim community.

BJP is also banking on JVM candidate Shobha Yadav to dent some Muslim votes to make it easier for Navin Jaiswal to win. “We haven’t decided about where to vote. We take a decision a day before the election,” says Mohammed Saif, a furniture shop owner at Manitola in Hatia.

The common perception in Ranchi is the BJP will retain its bastion albeit with lesser margins. The party may be down but not out.

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