Raghubar Das, the first Jharkhand chief minister to complete full five-year term leading a majority government, that too being a non-tribal for the first time in the top post, is set to lose against his former Cabinet colleague and independent candidate Saryu Roy as leads on Monday evening pointed towards a wipeout of the BJP in Jharkhand Assembly Elections 2019.
This will also end Das's five consecutive victories from his pocket borough of Jamshedpur-East assembly segment which he had won with a whopping margin of over 70,000 votes in 2014 state assembly elections.
Das, a former RSS functionary, has been winning the seat since 1995 when he was given party ticket in place of sitting BJP MLA Dinanath Pandey.
"I welcome the mandate. Counting is still on and there would be many ups and downs. But I thank 3.25 crore people of the state. I tried to serve the people honestly and take development to all corners of the state," he said while addressing a press conference at his Ranchi residence today.
"If BJP loses it will be my loss. I had tried to bring in development for all (Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas) as per the mandate we got in 2014," added Das.
Before becoming chief minister of the Indian state in 2014, Das had served as minister in Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda cabinets. In 2009, when JMM chief Shibu Soren became chief minister with BJP's support, Das was appointed deputy chief minister. However, the tenure lasted just over five months when political novice Rajesh Patar alias Raja Peter defeated Soren in Tamar assembly by poll.
Being an organisation man, Das has in past served as president of Jharkhand BJP twice. The party had contested the 2009 assembly and Lok Sabha elections under his leadership. Going strength to strength, Das's rise to becoming chief minister in 2014 became easier as former chief minister Arjun Munda himself lost from his home constituency Kharsawan.
As part of the strategy of BJP led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to appoint chief ministers from the non-dominant caste groups on the states, as in Maharashtra and Haryana, Das was appointed as first non-tribal CM of Jharkhand in 2014.
Das was given the task to spearhead the elections with BJP frame the slogan 'ghar ghar Raghubar'. However, with he not getting response in elections, the party changed the strategy and sought votes in name of both Das and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tried to make Article 370 and Supreme Court verdict on Ram Temple poll issues.
Das also played an important role in ticket selection, a reason for Saryu Roy been kept on tenderhooks till two days before the last day of nomination. Roy then announced his candidature against Das, making the election there interesting.
However, all the BJP candidates - reportedly handpicked by Raghubar Das himself in the 14 assembly seats his home district East Singhbhum and neighbouring Seraikela-Kharsawan and West Singhbhum - were also staring at imminent defeat, wiping out the saffron party from Kolhan division. The BJP's worst performance in the state is from Kolhan (coal people) region, in which Jamshedpur falls. The party is set to lose all 14 seats.
In Jamshedpur-West, Roy's erstwhile seat, Congress's Banna Gupta defeated Das's last minute choice as BJP candidate, Devendra Singh, by 22,768 votes. Kunal Sarangi, brought into BJP from JMM by Das just ahead of election, was staring at a crushing defeat by JMM's Samir Monahty, who shifted to Hemant Soren's party from BJP, lost from Baheragora seat.
Another Das confidante and state BJP president Laxman Gilua, who earlier lost 2019 Lok Sabha election, lost against JMM's Sukhram Oraon from Chakradharpur seat.