New Delhi: Soon after the Gujarat assembly polls are over the Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to shift its focus to Jharkhand with a view at expansion in east India, an area where the saffron front is hoping to expand its footprint ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Party sources stated that major action is expected to be initiated against the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha government in the state soon after the poll process in Gujarat is over. “Though Central investigative agencies are already conducting inquiries into various issues of corruption and misappropriation against the JMM government’s top functionaries, a major action on their part is only expected to take place after the results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are announced,” sources added.
Sources stated that the BJP has identified Jharkhand as one of the state's where it can improve its performance and the party has been baying for the blood of JMM leadership over the past few months.
The situation for the saffron front became desperate after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar deserted the National Democratic Alliance once again. This caused massive problems for the saffron party, ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, as non-BJP parties are now in government in electorally significant Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. These states send a total of 117 MPs to Lok Sabha with West Bengal 42, Bihar 40, Odisha 21 and Jharkhand 14.
With non-BJP governments at the helm, it will be disadvantageous to NDA in east India ahead of 2024. Trying to secure power in Jharkhand is on the top priority of the BJP leadership which wants a foothold in the state. The party also feels that they have the best chance of securing power in the state as the JMM would be in a disarray after action against its top leadership by central agencies. BJP is also the main opposition party in Jharkhand and has a stronghold in the non-tribal population of the state, sources said.
The BJP wants to grow in the east and the party considers it critical as it was banking on the region to grow and seek more seats in the 2024 general elections. With the BJP already hitting the saturation mark in North, West and Northeast India, this region, along with the South, are the main hope for growth and more seats for the saffron unit.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP was able to secure 11 constituencies of the 14 seats in the mineral-rich state. However, the party feels that its Lok Sabha count in Jharkhand could improve in the 2024 polls. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to seek his third term the party doesn’t want to leave anything to chance and wants the maximum possible seats from the state.
The BJP has also begun preparations to take on the JMM government in an attempt to gain the maximum possible seats in the state. The local state unit has already been asked to launch an agitation in each of its districts against the Soren government in the build-up to an action against its alleged corruption.
Importance of Jharkhand in BJP’s eastern push
A change of government in Jharkhand will be critical for the BJP as Soren’s presence will be a formidable challenge to the saffron unit in 2024.
With a change in the ruling dispensation in Jharkhand it would be easier to push through crucial infrastructure projects and welfare measures implemented by the Centre, sources added.
As the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly is scheduled to go for polls soon after the Lok Sabha polls in 2024, the party's focus has further strengthened as it wants to emerge victorious in the state on both these fronts.
The top leadership of the party, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and National general secretary organization BL Santhosh, has therefore started to keep a sharper eye on the developments in the state.
Nadda had also visited Jharkhand in June this year and is expected to visit it again later this year, where he is expected to finalize party strategy with state leadership, sources said.