‘Congress has a formidable alliance in Jharkhand’: Ajoy Kumar

Party State chief says the parties will together win 10 to 12 seats, and there will be no splintering of Opposition votes

Jharkhand goes to the polls in four phases from April 29 to May 19. The Congress, which has stitched together a multi-party alliance in the State, is hoping to erase the memories of the 2014 election when it drew a blank here. Congress State unit president Ajoy Kumar talks about the alliance’s electoral prospects and challenges.

In 2014, the Congress did not win a single Lok Sabha seat here and in 2009 you had only one seat, what are your expectations this time?

As per the surveys and our own feedback, our alliance will get at least 10-12 seats and Congress alone will get close to four or five.

What has changed this time is that we have a formidable alliance and there will be no splintering of opposition votes.

The BJP has no vote of its own and they were winning only because the Opposition votes were getting split between Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and RJD. The last time we had JMM together but we did not have the others. Among the last six by-elections the opposition alliance has won five assembly seats.

What do you think the voter’s choice will be based on, the anti-incumbency against the BJP government in the State or the national issues?

The frustration against the State government is very high. Jharkhand particularly is badly hit by many of the Union government’s policies like the Land Acquisition Act, weakening of tribal land rights, agrarian crisis and so on. So there are multiple factors why the Jharkhand voter is looking for a change and we hope they will bestow their confidence in us.

You have been having certain issues with JVM over Godda. Will the Congress concede the seat?

We were one of the first States to seal an alliance way back in January. Out of 14 seats in the State, there is no argument on 12. There is always an offer and a counter offer and we are sure that the issue with JVM will more or else get settled in a couple of days. We are soon having our final round of meetings with Babu Lal Marandi (JVM) and Hemant Soren (JMM). The final list of seat division between the allies will be out soon.

There is a considerable minority vote bank in Godda and one of the contenders from Congress is Furkhan Ansari, who won the seat in 2004. Wouldn’t denying him the seat send a wrong message to the minorities in the State?

There is no problem. Across India, the Congress has always respected the minorities and inclusiveness of India.

To classify any seat as a minority seat or otherwise is undermining the process of election. As far as Godda is concerned, it is not appropriate for me to make any comment till I have spoken to my allies.

The Left parties are also part of the Opposition alliance. Will the Congress be sparing any seats for the Communist Party of India in Jharkhand?

No, we will be accommodating them in Assembly elections which are scheduled end of this year. It will be difficult to give them any seats in the general elections.

Allies have been accusing the Congress of displaying a “big brother” attitude?

It is a ridiculous allegation. Look at Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, Mr. Rahul Gandhi did a stellar job, the alliance is almost in place in Maharashtra too. The only problem is Uttar Pradesh, where again it was not our fault if the Samajwadi and Bahujan Samaj parties decided to exclude us.

What is the poll plank for the Congress?

The main issue is joblessness, lack of “vikas”, no visible change and tons of lies being peddled by the Narendra Modi government. People are tired of the tall claims made by the BJP government but without actually delivering on any of them. We are offering an alternative and positive governance, where we will deliver on the promises we make.

Will you be contesting the Lok Sabha polls?

It all depends on which seats come in the Congress’s kitty. If the seat goes to allies, then I may not, otherwise I will. Honestly, right now I do not know.

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