Jharkhand goes to the polls in five phases between November 30 and December 20 for 81 assembly seats. The BJP faces a stiff challenge to retain Jharkhand in order to wrest the trend of losing states in the past one year.
In November 2018, the BJP boasted of having chief ministers in 16 states. Now, the party is in power in 12. The loss of four states happened on both sides of the 2019 Lok Sabha election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled off a spectacular victory for the BJP.
The challenge looks particularly daunting in Jharkhand in view of the assembly election results in Maharashtra and Haryana, and subsequent trouble with allies. The less than expected performance and bitter experience with its allies in Maharashtra and Haryana are believed to be weighing heavily in the minds of BJP leadership headed by Modi-Shah.
In Jharkhand, the BJP has not yet sealed a seat-sharing arrangement with its existing ally -- the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). The LJP, its ally in Bihar, too wanted to join hands with it but has now decided to contest the election on its own.
On the other hand, the Opposition parties - the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and the RJD - have inked a seat-sharing formula after returning from the verge of collapse. On paper, the Opposition alliance looks formidable in Jharkhand.
In the run-up to the Jharkhand assembly elections, the BJP has suffered setbacks with leaders, including chief whip Radhakrishna Kishore, switching sides to the AJSU and complicating matters. State elections have emerged as a new headache for the BJP.