NEW DELHI : Early trends of counting for Jharkhand elections on Monday has given a clear edge to the opposition alliance of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which is leading in 43 out of 80 seats for counting is in progress. There are a total of 81 seats in Jharkhand and the halfway mark is 42. JMM is leading in 25, Congress in 13 and RJD in 5 seats.

If the trends hold forth, it could be the first pre-poll opposition alliance on its way to victory in a state election after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls earlier this year which gave a resounding mandate to Prime Minister Narendr Modi led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The final tally of counting could get more clarity by afternoon as it progresses.

A win for the opposition alliance will spur Hemant Soren, working president of JMM, as the next chief minister of the state trumping incumbent chief minister Raghubar Das who was the first chief minister of the state ever to complete a full five year term. The outcome of Monday’s counting could also potentially mark a shift in the political realignment in the state as Das was its first non-tribal chief minister.

Soren leads JMM, a regional party that has its strongholds in Jharkhand’s tribal dominated areas. In a pre-poll alliance, JMM contested in 43 seats, Congress in 31 and RJD in 7 seats. The opposition alliance has been credited with having an effective pre-poll understanding including seat sharing and division of which seats to contest. The outcome of Jharkhand for the alliance will also have an impact on Bihar elections next year where two of its key parties – RJD and Congress – are key opposition players.

Interestingly, Soren who is contesting on two seats of Barhait and Dumka. He is leading by a slim margin in Barhait which is his sitting seat and is trailing by over 8,000 votes to BJP’s Louis Marandi in Dumka. Soren is the chief ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance.

For the BJP, a loss in Jharkhand would come in a series of bad news over nearly the last one year. Beginning with December last year it lost three incumbent states to Congress – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Despite a win in Lok Sabha elections in May this year, it failed to form government in Maharashtra last month over differences with its former ally Shiv Sena and had to climb down in Haryana by forming an alliance with Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) to cross the halfway mark. Interestingly, BJP had performed well in all the six states that have gone to polls in the last one year in the Lok Sabha elections winning most seats.

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