Raghubar Das’s elevation as Odisha governor settles issues within BJP in Jharkhand, say leaders - Hindustan Times
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Raghubar Das’s elevation as Odisha governor settles issues within BJP in Jharkhand, say leaders

By, Ranchi
Oct 19, 2023 09:59 PM IST

Raghubar Das, the only non-tribal chief minister in a state with over 26% tribal population, was a surprise pick for the top post in 2014. He led the BJP in the 2019 Jharkhand elections, but the party couldn’t secure a majority.

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

Raghubar Das’s appointment as the Odisha governor may help settle the leadership issue in the Jharkhand unit of BJP (ANI)
Raghubar Das’s appointment as the Odisha governor may help settle the leadership issue in the Jharkhand unit of BJP (ANI)

Das, the only non-tribal chief minister in a state with over 26% tribal population, was a surprise pick for the top post in 2014. He led the BJP in the 2019 Jharkhand elections, but the party couldn’t secure a majority.

Subsequently, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)’s Hemant Soren became the chief minister, and Raghubar Das -- who, for the first time since 1995, lost the Jamshedpur East assembly seat -- reverted as the national vice president in the BJP, a position he held before his elevation as chief minister in 2014.

However, Das continued to have a say in the Jharkhand BJP, run by Babulal Marandi, the state unit chief.

Another prominent player in state politics, Arjun Munda, 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 the 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.

However, the BJP leader cited above said Das 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.

A second BJP leader underlined that 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 several party legislators backed 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 into his cabinet. He is considered one of his loyalists,” the second leader added.

Meanwhile, against this backdrop, the ruling parties JMM and the Congress took a swipe at the BJP.

Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said it was an irony that 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 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 is a promotion or a demotion, it is hard to fathom,” said Thakur in a social media post.

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