In Jharkhand, the BJP Is Set to Lose Some Ground

The BJP holds all four of the state's 14 Lok Sabha seats that will vote on May 6, but is likely to lose at least two.

New Delhi: With two former chief ministers, one former and one current Union minister in the fray, Jharkhand is going to witness an interesting election on May 6. Voting will take place for four of the state’s 14 Lok Sabha seats in the fifth phase of elections on Monday. The high profile seats of Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Khunti and Koderma will vote during this phase.

Currently, all the seats are held by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, it is unlikely that the party will retain all the seats. It is believed that the party will lose at least two seats – Ranchi and Koderma – for several reasons. Interestingly, the BJP has not fielded a sitting MP from any constituency apart from Hazaribagh.


This is seat is currently represented by veteran politician Ram Tahal Choudhary. He resigned from the BJP in early April after businessman Sanjay Seth was given the ticket in his place.

Choudhary is contesting as an independent candidate and is likely to effect Seth’s prospects. Also, in the fray is Congress’s Subodh Kant Sahay, former Union tourism minister.

In the last election, Choudhary defeated Sahay by nearly 2 lakh votes. While Choudhary has represented Ranchi five times, Sahay has been elected thrice. As a leader of the Kurmi OBC caste, Choudhary enjoys a huge base. His community will play a decisive role in the election.

Also Read: As Ranchi Goes to Polls, Slum Dwellers Struggle for Food Security

According to a report, there are around 6 lakh Kurmi voters in the constituency – nearly 35% of the total population. Moreover, the Kurmis have recently demanded to be recognised as a Scheduled Tribe community. This demand has not been fulfilled and a section of the community has vowed to vote against the BJP.

On the other hand, BJP nominee Seth, a Punjabi Hindu, has appeal in urban areas. There are six assembly segments in the constituency, a majority in rural areas. Given the arithmetic, it is likely that Choudhary will mainly eat into Seth’s vote, helping Sahay.


This Lok Sabha constituency is the birthplace of tribal leader and icon Birsa Munda. It was recently in the news for the Pathalgadi movement, a tribal uprising. Currently, it is represented by BJP’s Kariya Munda, an eight-time MP.

He was first elected from this seat in 1977 on the Janata Party ticket. However, the party has decided not to field him. Senior BJP leader and three-time CM Arjun Munda will contest instead. Unlike Ranchi, there is no rebellion here. In fact, Kariya Munda has vowed to support the former CM.

Moreover, the Congress candidate Kalicharan Munda does not have the wherewithal to give a tough fight to the BJP’s candidate, though he comes from a political family. His father T. Muchirai Munda was a Congress MLA. His younger brother Neelkant Singh Munda is a minister in the current BJP state government. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Kalicharan Munda stood third.

It is also important to note that Arjun Munda tactically supported the the Pathalgadi movement. Overall, he does not have an anti-tribal image, like current chief minister Raghubar Das.

Also read: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Manifesto Misses Listing Mob Lynching as an Issue

Though there is anti-incumbency against the BJP, several factors give the party an edge. Given Arjun Munda’s own image, the absence of a strong opponent and the blessings of the senior Munda, the former CM is likely to retain the party’s traditional seat.

Arjun Munda


In this seat, another former CM – Babulal Marandi – is in the fray. He was the first CM of the state and was elected from this seat several times. Marandi, a former member of the BJP, resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha membership in 2006. He founded his own party, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha –Prajatantrik [JVM (P)]. In the subsequent by-election, he retained the seat and won again in 2009. However, he lost heavily in the last election, finishing third.

But this time around, the situation is different as he is a joint candidate of the mahagathbandhan – a state-level alliance between the Congress, JMM, RJD and his party. Moreover, the BJP’s sitting MP Ravindra Kumar Ray has also not been given a ticket. In his place, former MLA Annapurna Devi, who was with the RJD until recently, will contest. Interestingly, before she was announced as the BJP candidate, Devi extended support to Marandi. Notably, in the last assembly elections (2014) Devi lost her seat to the BJP’s Neera Yadav.

Apart from Marandi and Devi, another important candidate contesting from the constituency is the Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist) leader and MLA Rajkumar Yadav. He finished second in the last Lok Sabha elections. This area is a stronghold of the Left and the ground situation suggests that there is likely to be a fight between Marandi and Yadav, with Marandi having the edge.


Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha is seeking a re-election from this seat. He created an uproar last year by felicitating convicts of a cow-related mob lynching case in the Ramgarh area of the constituency. In June 2017, Alimuddin Ansari was killed in the area. A local BJP leader, a member of the RSS’s student wing ABVP and nine others were involved in the case and were later convicted.

Also read: ‘Treated as Mere Vote Bank,’ Say Muslims Left Out of Jharkhand’s Grand Alliance

Before, Sinha his father Yashwant Sinha has represented this seat thrice as a member of the BJP. Against him is the Congress’s Gopal Sahu, the younger brother of former Ranchi MP Shiv Prasad Sahu. In the last election, the junior Sinha defeated the Congress’s Saurabh Narayan Singh by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes. The Communist Party of India (CPI) veteran leader and former Hazaribagh MP Bhuneshwar Prasad Mehta is also contesting from the seat. He finished a distant third in the last elections.

In this constituency, the BJP is expected to have a comfortable victory. The Congress is not in a position to put up a tough fight. The party announced its candidate just two days before the last date of nomination. The constituency has been one a stronghold of the BJP.