With the announcement of a five-phase Jharkhand Assembly elections from November 30 to December 20, the BJP is girding itself for not only a campaign that will be akin to a man-to-man marking but also one that will reflect the impact of the recent Maharashtra and Haryana polls. In Haryana and Maharashtra, the BJP projected national issues such as the abrogation of Article 370 and plans to implement a nationwide National Registry of Citizenship (NRC) to weed out illegal immigrants, but fell short of the majority mark in both the States. And that strategy is under review now. Unlike what commentators had said, BJP leaders believe that their tally in both the States would have been lower had Prime Minister Narendra Modi and issues related to nationalism not been pressed into service. The local anti-incumbency, especially in Haryana, would have taken a bigger toll on the party’s prospects. Whatever be the case, the conclusion at the party headquarters is that local anti-incumbency and issues related to the State government have to be addressed before the polls go any further. Advantage BJPThe five-phase polls in Jharkhand is being seen as an advantage, as it would allow changes in strategy vis a vis specific parts of the State, and the resource-heavy BJP having an advantage over other parties when it comes to a long-drawn-out campaign. The BJP in Jharkhand is anxious to counter the tribal versus non-tribal narrative that has built up over the years, with the BJP being accused of neglecting the tribal communities. The Raghubar Das government’s attempts to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Tenancy Act saw the build-up of a movement against it. The backgrounding of former Chief Minister Arjun Munda in favour of Mr. Das, a non-tribal, was also being seen as part of this undermining. To repair this damage, the BJP will be deploying Mr. Munda in the campaign, as also the fact that senior State leaders like Sukhdeo Bhagat from the Congress have been brought over to the BJP. “We are in touch with former ADG of police Reji Dungdung who, having taken VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) is exploring political options with the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) as well,” said a senior office-bearer of the BJP in the know of things. State in-charge Om Mathur is likely to visit the Jharkhand next week, and some campaign pointers may be firmed up. “Political instability had been seen as the bane of the State politics, and the fact that the BJP gave a five-year stable government under the same Chief Minister is a selling point, as is the lack of any huge corruption scam being pointed at the government,” said the source. The lessons from Haryana and Maharashtra of not papering over local anti-incumbency is being taken on board.
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