BJP faces Sinha factor in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh: father Yashwant backing Oppn, son Jayant out of fray

Ranchi: With the Bharatiya Janata Party’s sitting MP Jayant Sinha opting out of the contest and his father Yashwant Sinha pledging support to the opposition candidate, Hazaribagh will not have a candidate from the Sinha family for the first time since 1998.

While Jayant represented Hazaribagh in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and 2019, his father won in 1998, 1999 and 2009. Yashwant Sinha’s winning streak was broken mid-way in 2004 when he lost to UPA-backed CPI candidate Bhuvaneshwar Mehta.

This time, the BJP has fielded Manish Jaiswal, a two-time BJP MLA from Hazaribagh Sadar, from the constituency. Jaiswal will take on Congress’s Jai Prakash Bhai Patel, a three-term MLA from Mandu who switched over from the BJP in March. Voting will take place in the fifth phase on 20 May.

Hazaribagh, which falls under North Chotanagpur Commissionerate, has five assembly constituencies. Until Patel’s exit, two each were with the BJP and the Congress, and one with BJP ally AJSU Party.

Kurmi, Kushwaha, Sukiyar, Vaishya and Muslim votes have a significant influence in Hazaribagh. While Patel is a Kurmi, an OBC, Jaiswal comes from the Vaishya community.

BJP’s Jaiswal sounded confident of winning the election. “If the people of Hazaribagh elected us to the assembly twice, then it is proof of their trust in the BJP. Yashwant Sinha has never been among the people of Hazaribagh. No matter how hard he and the Congress try, they will not be able to stand before the charismatic influence of Narendra Modi,” the BJP candidate told ThePrint.

On the other hand, Patel, too, claimed he would be winning the election. “When did the BJP candidates come out of Hazaribagh town? I am the son of ‘Dhartiputra’ Teklal Babu, and my guardian is a political warrior like Yashwant Sinha. I am getting support in every village, tola and all the equations are in favour of INDIA bloc. BJP is surrounded from all sides and this time it is going to get a big shock,” he told ThePrint.

Jayant has kept himself away from public events in Hazaribagh for the last one and half months. He had last released a video on 8 March on ‘X’, formerly Twitter, in which he is heard appealing to the people to ensure a big victory for the BJP in Hazaribagh.

In a 2 March post on X, Jayant announced that he requested BJP chief J. P. Nadda to relieve him from direct electoral duties. The former Union minister added that he would continue to work with the party on economic and governance issues and that he wants to focus his efforts on “combating global climate change in Bharat and around the world”.

This was just before the BJP released its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha election in which Jaiswal’s name was announced as Hazaribagh candidate.

Hazaribagh BJP district president Vivekanand Singh says that even though Jayant is not contesting, he is a respected leader in the party. “BJP has been very strong organisationally in Hazaribagh and has a large number of supporters. No move of the INDIA bloc will be successful,” Singh told ThePrint.

Also Read: Arjun Munda, Sita Soren in fray — Jharkhand’s 5 ST reserved seats set for high-voltage contest 

How big a factor?

An IITian and a Master of Science in Management and Policy holder and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Jayant won by a margin of nearly 1.5 lakh in 2014. He was made Minister of State for Finance in the Modi government. Later, he was removed from the post and given the responsibility of Minister of State for Civil Aviation in 2016.

In 2019, Jayant won by a larger margin of 4.79 lakh, nearly equal to that of Modi’s in Varanasi, but was still not included in the Union Cabinet.

This was attributed to Yashwant Sinha’s rebellion against the BJP with which he was associated for decades. Upset with the policies and working style of BJP and the Modi government, the senior Sinha severed his ties with the party in 2018.

A staunch critic of Modi, he was made the opposition candidate for the presidential election in 2022, but lost out to former Jharkhand governor and NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu.

On 3 April, Yashwant Sinha addressed the media at his residence in Hazaribagh wherein he pledged to do his bit for the constituency.

“I have come forward in the role of a guardian in accordance with the sentiments of the people of Hazaribagh. I spent 40 years in Hazaribagh and entered public life. My only aim has been to progress the constituency, and will use my remaining energy to make J.P. Patel victorious,” he had announced. “I don’t personally know why Jayant’s ticket was dropped, but if it was because of me, then I regret it.”

In such a situation, political analyst Rajat Kumar Gupta told ThePrint, that “it cannot be denied that Yashwant Sinha’s coming out in support of the Congress candidate may have an impact on the equations.”

Unlike Gupta, Shambhunath Choudhary, a visiting faculty in mass communication department of DSPMU, Ranchi, had doubts about the senior Sinha causing any obstacle for the BJP.

“Of course, Yashwant Sinha has lived in Hazaribagh. He keeps an eye on all the equations. But it is doubtful whether he will be able to make a big dent in the BJP vote bank just by announcing support to the INDIA bloc’s candidate. If Yashwant Sinha had directly gone on a tour and held meetings, it could have had an impact. The second important thing is that Hazaribagh is considered a safe seat for BJP,” Choudhary told ThePrint

Umashankar Akela, Congress MLA from Barhi, asserted that Yashwant Sinha is a big name in the country’s politics. “His coming in support of Congress candidate J.P. Patel in Hazaribagh has changed the electoral scenario,” he told ThePrint.

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