‘Free to celebrate’: Raghubar Das taunts Oppn as trends put JMM-Cong ahead

Four hours in the counting, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Jharkhand is emerging as the single largest party in the state but is still way behind the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led opposition alliance. Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who was the face of the BJP campaign, on Monday insisted that his party wasn’t out of the reckoning yet and would form the government.

Only three rounds of counting have taken place so far, Raghubar Das told reporters in state capital Ranchi around 12 noon. “It will be wrong to arrive at any conclusion,” he said, insisting that the BJP will win elections to the 81-member state assembly before the day is out.

“A government will only be formed under the BJP’s leadership,” Das said, a suggestion the party could reach out to friendly parties and ex-allies to cross the majority mark of 41.

The BJP is leading on 29 seats at 12.15 pm, according to data provided by C-Voter. In contrast, the JMM-led alliance that comprises Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal, is leading on 39 seats.

Tejashwi Yadav, responding to earlier reports of the alliance’s leads on 42 seats, had already gone ahead declare that the alliance had “swept” the elections and reiterated that Hemant Soren, the JMM working president, would be the next Jharkhand chief minister.

There have also been reports of opposition alliance leaders celebrating the election results, at quite a few places by bursting fire crackers.

Asked about these celebrations in the Opposition camp, the mild-mannered Raghudas Das shot back: “Everyone is free to celebrate. No one can stop someone from celebrating. This is a democracy… But the BJP will win”.

The early trends – only about 20 per cent votes have been counted so far – mirror the broad direction indicated by exit polls that predicted the opposition grand alliance would emerge as the single largest bloc. But there was no unanimity among exit polls over who would form the next government. Some suggested the grand alliance would make the cut but there were others that projected a hung assembly.

If the exit polls hold true in Jharkhand, it would be a big setback for the BJP, which swept the summer’s Lok Sabha elections and won 11 of the 14 seats in the state.