After the humiliating defeat in three heartland states, the BJP will look to gain a little before the year draws to a close by winning the crucial bypoll on two Assembly constituencies in Gujarat and Jharkhand. The by-election on Jasdan Assembly constituency in Gujarat and Kolebira constituency in Jharkhand are slated to hold on Thursday and the BJP will hope to turn the tide in its favour before the Lok Sabha elections next year. Although it will be relatively minor revenge to the humiliation of defeats in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP would desperately want to conquer the Congress in its bastion Jasdan.
The by-election in Gujarat’s Jasdan has become a battle of prestige for the BJP as it looks to prove that it has not yet lost the popular support, at least in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Dominated by the Koli community, Jasdan has been a stronghold of the Congress. In 2017 Assembly elections, Congress’ Kunvarji Bavaliya has won the seat with a margin of 9,000 votes.
However, Bavaliya – a popular Koli community leader – had quit the Congress a few months ago and joined the ruling BJP to become the minister in Vijay Rupani cabinet. But to remain the minister, he needs to win the seat again as a BJP candidate. Although Bavaliya is quite assured of his victory, he may face a challenge from a section of his own community who are terming him a “traitor”.
In Jharkhand, Kolebira is tribal dominated seat in Jaldega block of Simdega district. Kalebira is one of India’s poorest place and it came to the forefront last year after the death of 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari due to starvation. A resident of Karimati village in Kalebira constituency, Santoshi lost her fight with hunger after her family was denied ration as their ration card was not linked with Aadhaar.
The seat fell vacant in June this year after its MLA, Jharkhand Party leader Anosh Ekka’s conviction in a case of abduction and murder of a para-teacher named Manoj Kumar. Ekka was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the Kumar, his staunch critic. Ekka was also probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.
People of Kolebira are loyalists to Ekka and his election and re-election in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls while he was in jail prove this. This time, his wife Menon Ekka is fighting from Kalebira on behalf of his husband. In 2009 and 2014, it was Ekka’s wife who had managed his campaign. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the largest Opposition party in the state has also extended its support to Ekka’s wife Menon.