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India’s Jharkhand state heads to the polls with BJP on the ropes


India’s Jharkhand state heads to the polls with BJP on the ropes

Jharkhand election
Photo: Reuters/Dannish Siddiqui

The Indian state of Jharkhand will hold the first stage of a five-phase election today.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a poor showing in elections in Maharashtra last month, losing power in India’s second most populous state. The BJP’s inability to form alliances with smaller regional parties is mostly to blame. The party is expected to face similar challenges in Jharkhand—a much smaller state home to some 30 million people.

The BJP has governed in Jharkhand since 2014, but recent polls have showed the opposition coalition between Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha parties in the lead. The BJP could win the most seats of any single party, but it remains unlikely to win the 41 seats needed for an outright majority.

Some 60% of voters surveyed in Jharkhand say they are unhappy with the state’s current leader, citing crime and poverty as key concerns. Although the BJP won the majority in federal elections earlier this year, it has faced increasing difficulties in winning state elections. The BJP will need to form alliances with regional parties to retain its base and win state elections, like those in Jharkhand and Maharashtra, going forward. Results of the multi-phase Jharkhand poll will be announced on December 23.

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