5th phase: Three Jharkhand seats worrisome for BJP
New Delhi, May 02: Four important Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) of Jharkhand including state capital Ranchi will vote on May 06 in the fifth phase of on-going Lok Sabha elections.
The other three seats that will go to polls are Hazaribagh, Kodarma, and Khunti. While Kodarma, Ranchi and Hazaribagh are General seats, Khunti is reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.
There are a total of 65,87,028 voters in the four PCs, out of which 34,42,266 are male, 31,44,679 female and 83 third gender voters. There are 1,09,025 electors in the age group of 18-19 years in Phase V in Jharkhand.
Twenty candidates are contesting from Ranchi, 16 from Hazaribagh 14 from Kodarma, and 11 from Khunti.
However, the chances are high that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will have to bear the cost of internal fight in Ranchi, Hazaribagh and Khunti seats.
The BJP has replaced its sitting MP from Ranchi Ram Tahal Choudhary and fielded Chairperson of Jharkhand State Khadi Board Sanjay Seth.
Ram Tahal Choudhary (77) won the Ranchi parliamentary seat five times since 1991. Even when the BJP hadn't announced its candidate from Ranchi, Choudhary had made his grievances public by saying the party will have to face consequences in the elections if his candidature is ignored.
To make matters worse for the BJP, Choudhary is contesting the elections as an Independent candidate.
The other problem for the party is that Sanjay Seth is not a known face in the rural parts of the constituency, which comprises of six Assembly segments: Ranchi, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri, Hatia, and Kanke. Of these, only Ranchi and Hatia are urban areas.
A source tells OneIndia that the candidature of rebel Choudhary has made the Ranchi battle very tough for Seth as he is pitted against former Union Minister and Congress candidate Subodh Kant Sahay, who had won the seat for the first time in 1989 as Janata Dal candidate, and in 2004 and 2009 as the Congress candidate.
Apart from the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the party has used star power to woo the Ranchi voters. Mathura MP and Bollywood Actress Hema Malini on Wednesday appealed to the people of Ranchi constituency to come out in large numbers and vote for Sanjay Seth.
The other seat where the BJP has reasons to worry is Khunti, where the party has replaced its eight-time Khunti MP Kariya Munda, and fielded former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda. Hema Malini also campaigned for Arjun Munda on Wednesday.
Former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda was upset after he didn't get the ticket and announced that he would go back to farming.
However, sources tell OneIndia though Kariya Munda has not revolted but his supporters and many voters are not happy with the decision.
"The simplicity and the silence of Kariya Munda may prove costly to the BJP, " says a source.
The BJP is also apprehensive about Hazaribagh where its former leader Yashwant Sinha enjoys considerable support. Interestingly, the BJP has fielded Jayant Sinha, its sitting MP, and son of Yashwant Sinha.
Yashwant Sinha has resigned from the BJP and announced that he would be involved in electoral politics but unite all non-BJP parties.
Yashwant Sinha had won Hazaribagh seat as a BJP candidate in 1998, 1999, and 2009.
The sources maintain that supporters of Yashwant Sinha are working against Jayant Sinha in Hazaribagh, who will be facing Congress candidate Gopal Prasad Sahu and Communist Party of India candidate Bhubaneshwar Prasad Mehta, who had won the seat in 1991 and 2004.
Mineral-rich Jharkhand is a tribal dominated state where the BJP played the gamble of nominating Raghubar Das as the Chief Minister. He is the first non-tribal CM of Jharkhand, which was carved out of Bihar in 2000 for tribals.
Christian missionaries are also very active in the state and a large number of tribals have adopted Christianity. Raghubar Das government passed a bill in 2017 which aims to criminalise 'forced' religious conversions in Jharkhand. According to sources, the Bill is being opposed by tribals, who have adopted Christianity, and their number can affect the election results.
Considering the anti-incumbency of the BJP government and its dropping popularity, Prime Minister Modi is giving special attention to Jharkhand, says a source.
He held a roadshow in Ranchi on April 23, and addressed a rally in Lohardaga on the next day.
When Jharkhand 's Naxal-hit Chatra, Lohardaga and Palamau were voting in the fourth phase on April 29, Prime Minister Modi addressed a rally in Kodarma to campaign for former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) state president and BJP candidate Annapurna Devi. She is pitted against former BJP leader and Jharkahnd Vikas Morcha-Prajantantrik (JVM-P) chief Babulal Marandi.
A day before the fifth phase, the Prime Minister is also scheduled to address a rally in Chaibasa in Singhbhum.
The BJP had won 12 seats out of 14 in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time the BJP is contesting 13 seats and has left one seat for alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union party (AJSU).
The Congress has joined hands with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkahnd Vikas Morcha-Prajantantrik (JVM-P), and the RJD for the 14 Lok Sabha seats of the state.
The Congress is contesting on seven seats, JMM on four, JVM-P on two and the RJD on one seat.
In the sixth phase on May 12, Giridih, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, and Singhbhum will vote. The remaining Lok Sabha seats- Rajmahal, Dumka, and Godda- will go to polls in the seventh and final phase on May 19.