Nominations for the first phase of polling to be held in Jharkhand on November 30 has begun but the seat-sharing within the NDA has not yet materialised. BJP is facing trouble from its alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which is demanding 16 seats out of 81. In the 2014 assembly elections, AJSU had contested on 8 seats whereas BJP on 73 seats. Sources in the BJP say that the party will not concede more than 12 seats for AJSU. Jharkhand state BJP president Laxman Giluwa said, "We will contest on the old formula and spare 8 seats for AJSU ". AJSU president Sudesh Mahto is not willing to compromise and sacrifice this time.
Mahto said, "Things have changed now. In 2014, we fought together with the BJP and made a sacrifice for a stable govt in Jharkhand. Because ever since Jharkhand was carved out from Bihar, there was instability. Now, we are focusing on the organisation of the party and not on the alliance." On BJP state president, Laxman Giluwa's statement, Mahto said, "BJP state president is not aware about deliberations on seat sharing. I am in talks with bigger leaders of BJP."
Sources in the BJP say that, at best, BJP can concede 12 seats for AJSU because it has been an old alliance partner. Even if the AJSU doesn't agree, then the BJP may offer a friendly contest on a few seats. Seats that are the bone of contention are Chandankiyari, Hatiya, Lohardagga & Chakradharpur. BJP has communicated it to AJSU that it has to accommodate 6 MLAs of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and 5 MLAs who recently joined the party fold, apart from the 37 existing MLAs of the party. Jharkhand BJP in-charge Om Mathur and Nandkishore Yadav are expected to hold another round of meeting with AJSU president to seal the seat-sharing deal. Nandkishore Yadav said, " We will be meeting Sudesh Mahto and everything will be finalized in a couple of days." Union minister and former Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda said, "Talks are on and we will solve the seat-sharing issue soon."
In 2014, for the first time since the formation of Jharkhand, one alliance had got a majority in the state with BJP winning 37 seats and its ally AJSU winning five seats. In 2015, 6 MLAs of JVM had joined the BJP taking the party tally to 43. In the opposition, JMM had won 19 seats while JVM had won eight and Congress seven seats. Together, the vote share of the opposition was higher than that of BJP with 35.5% votes. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP defied the opposition calculation and improved its performance and its vote share went over 50%. The party won 12 seats out of 14 as it had won in 2014.
BJP has fixed a target of 65 plus seats in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly. BJP had fought the 2014 assembly elections under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. Raghubar Das, a non-tribal leader was made the CM of Jharkhand. But this time, Raghubar Das would be up against a tribal face Hemant Soren, son of the tallest tribal leader of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren. The fight in Jharkhand is for winning the support of the tribals, as they form 26% of the state’s population. Out of the 81 seats, 28 are reserved for tribals. BJP had won 13 tribal seats in 2014 under the leadership of Narendra Modi. On the other hand, JMM whose main plank is fighting for tribal rights is accusing the government of trying to grab tribal lands.
The recent trends of the Haryana and Maharashtra election results suggest that people vote differently in Lok Sabha and assembly elections. BJP expected that it would capitalise on the Modi government's decision to scrap Article 370 in Kashmir. But in the Vidhan Sabha elections, the issues are more localised. Regional aspirations and caste also play an important role in deciding the outcome.