Why Kolebira bypoll win significant for Congress?
Ranchi, Dec 24: The Congress never had significance presence in Jharkhand and it usually ends up at third or fourth place in terms of number of seats won after every assembly election. The best performance by the Congress came in 2009 Jharkhand Assembly elections when it won 13 seats and stood third behind the BJP and JMM. The Jharkhand Assembly has 82 seats and the majority mark needed to form government is 42.
Considering the past performance and also that in the 2014 elections, when it finished at fourth place from this seat, the Congress' win in Kolebira bypoll is important. Congress candidate Naman Bixal Kongadi defeated his BJP rival Basant Soreng by 9,658 votes.
The bypolls in Kolebira was necessitated after the sitting MLA of Jharkhand Party, Enos Ekka, was convicted by a court in a murder case. The Congress' win also marked the end of Enos Ekka's hold over the tribal-dominated constituency. For the Kolebira bypoll, the Jharkhand Party fielded Enos Ekka's wife Menon Ekka hoping that she may cash on her husband's popularity among the tribals.
But, it seems that Enos is not popular anymore, especially after the conviction as Menon lost miserably. She ended up in fourth position, behind the Congress, BJP and the Rashtriya Sengle Party. The Congress managed to win the seat despite the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha backing Menon Ekka.
Jharkhand is currently ruled by the BJP after the party won a clear majority in 2014 assembly elections by bagging 48 seats. The Congress had then won just 6 seats. The Khunti Lok Sabha seat under which Kolebira falls is currently held by Karia Munda, one of BJP's most prominent tribal faces in Jharkhand. The current term is Munda's second as MP from Khunti. With Congress winning Kolebira, Munda might find it tough to retain Khunti in 2019 Lok Sabha elections
A win in Kolebira, which is predominately a tribal area, means that the Congress is making inroads among tribal voters. Congress supporters are reportedly claiming that these results indicate an alienation of Jharkhand's tribal voters from the BJP. In 2015, the Congress won a bypoll to the Lohardaga Assembly constituency, wresting the seat from BJP's ally All Jharkhand Students' Union. Like Kolebira, Lohardaga is also a tribal dominated constituency.
Congress has never won from Kolebira seat. It came fourth in the 2014 elections with an abyssmal vote share of 8.7 percent and in 2009, it came third with 13.5 percent of the votes.
In another bypoll in Jasdan assembly seat in Gujarat for which counting was held in on Sunday (December 23), BJP candidate Kunvarji Bavalia emerged victorious by defeating Congress' Avsar Nikaya by over 19,000 votes.