The top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to remove Raghubar Das from the Jharkhand Chief Minister’s chair. Das has been facing strong dissent from a majority of party MLAs for a very long time now. Highly-placed party sources said that there was a very strong possibility that Das would be replaced next month itself, after the announcement of the results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

Last week too, BJP party leaders from Jharkhand, who were in Delhi for “personal reasons”, met senior party leaders and conveyed their “anguish” with Das and told the seniors that unless Das was replaced with someone else, the chances of the party coming to power in the Assembly elections, that are scheduled for 2020, are very bleak as he had become very “unpopular” both within the party and outside of it.

However, Jharkhand-based party leaders, who are considered close to Das, said that dissent among MLAs regarding a Chief Minister was nothing new and it happened in every state. They said that Das continued to remain popular, both within the party and with the people of Jharkhand.

Two senior state party leaders, who were in Delhi and with whom this newspaper spoke to, claimed that Das had become arrogant and inaccessible because of a coterie of bureaucrats, led by a senior IAS officer, who were surrounding him and hence he was “cut-off” from ground realities.

“We are very upset as after putting in a lot of effort on the ground, we were able to win in Jharkhand. However, the working of the Chief Minister is eroding the goodwill of the party. We have pleaded with the senior leaders to replace him as soon as possible. We haven’t got any clear message, but have been assured that a call on this will be taken after the election results are announced,” a Jharkhand party functionary, who was in Delhi, said. Another party leader said that they also suggested the party should conduct a “secret poll” among the party MLAs to get a clear picture regarding how many MLAs were with Das.

“We follow the party’s principle and discipline and hence we do not want to say anything publicly, but the truth remains that we have lost trust in him as his working is not going to bode well for the party in the state where Hemant Soren is working actively to regain ground that the JMM lost. A secret poll among the MLAs will bring out the real picture. We have conveyed the displeasure of the MLAs regarding Das to Ramlalji [BJP national general secretary (organisation)], though we were not able to meet him personally. We have been assured that a decision is going to be taken soon as the party has been regularly getting negative feedbacks about Das,” the leader said. Das, a five-time MLA who was also BJP national vice-president and is Jharkhand’s first non-tribal CM, has been accused of becoming “arrogant” and cut off from the rank and file of the party. In June, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav had gone to Jharkhand to take stock of the ground situation in the wake of unhappiness over Das within the party and, according to sources, came back with “negative” reports about Das. Confirming that Jharkhand-based party leaders and MLAs have expressed their anguish over Das, a senior organisational functionary said that a decision on Das would be taken by the next month.

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