How Raghubar Das’s elevation as Odisha guv settles BJP’s Jharkhand tussle - Hindustan Times
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How Raghubar Das’s elevation as Odisha guv settles BJP’s Jharkhand tussle

Oct 19, 2023 02:29 PM IST

Former Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das's appointment as Odisha governor may settle leadership issue in favor of Jharkhand BJP unit chief Babulal Marandi, say party leaders. Das, the only non-tribal CM in a state with a large tribal population, lost his position in 2019, but continued to have influence in the state unit. Marandi is expected to play an important role in the party's return to power in 2024. Das's appointment has raised questions about his future in politics.

RANCHI: Former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das’s appointment as the Odisha governor late on Wednesday may help settle the leadership issue in favour of the Jharkhand Bharatiya Janata Party unit chief Babulal Marandi, party leaders said on Thursday.

Former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das has been appointed as Odisha governor (PTI File)
Former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das has been appointed as Odisha governor (PTI File)

Das, the only non-tribal chief minister in a state with over 26% tribal population, was a surprise pick for the top post in the state in 2014. He led the BJP in the 2019 Jharkhand elections but the party couldn’t secure a majority. Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha became the state’s chief minister and Raghubar Das - who for the first time since 1995 lost the Jamshedpur East assembly seat - reverted to the position in the BJP that he held before being elevated as chief minister in 2014; BJP’s national vice president.

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But Raghubar Das continued to have a say in how the Jharkhand BJP unit was run by Babulal Marandi, the party’s state unit chief. Another prominent player in the state politics, Arjun Munda, also a former chief minister, had already been inducted into the Union council of ministers as the tribal affairs minister in May 2019.

“That Marandi would play an important role in the BJP was clear when he returned to the party just after the 2019 elections. He was made legislature party leader,” explained a BJP leader. In July this year, the BJP named Marandi to lead the state unit and prepare the ground for the BJP’s return to power in the state in 2024.

The BJP leader cited above said Raghubar Das, however, had been reluctant to take a step back. “With this new appointment, the central leadership has settled the leadership issue in the state for now,” a senior BJP leader said. For now.

A second BJP leader underlined that Raghubar Das played a crucial role in the appointment of former minister Amar Bauri, who also led the BJP’s scheduled caste wing in the state,, as the new BJP legislature party leader earlier this week.

It was on account of the former chief minister’s intervention that a large number of party legislators backed Amar Bauri during the consultations held by central observer Ashwani Chowbey in July. “It was also Raghubar ji who brought Bauri from Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) to BJP in 2014 and inducted him in his cabinet. He is considered one of his loyalists,” the leader added.

It was against this backdrop that the state’s ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Congress took a swipe at the BKP.

Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said it was an irony that Raghubar Das’s tenure as chief minister was once hailed by the BJP. “It’s an internal matter of the BJP. But the same BJP, which kept bragging about the so-called achievements of their double-engine government, seems to have now finally realised the truth”.

Senior JMM leader and drinking water & sanitation minister Mithilesh Thakur wondered if Raghubar Das had been promoted or had been edged out. “A full stop has been put in the political journey of the only acceptable OBC face of the BJP in the state. Whether this a promotion or a demotion, it is hard to fathom,” said Thakur in a social media post.

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