Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren on Tuesday said that at least a dozen Bharatiya Janata Party MPs and MLAs in the state were in touch with him. In an interview with News18, the former chief minister alleged that the BJP was a “sinking ship” in Jharkhand.

“They [the legislators] want to switch over,” he said. “They know BJP is a sinking ship. Public sentiment is palpably against them.” Soren said that the saffron party’s state unit was in a state of disarray due to continued infighting.

Assembly polls in Jharkhand will be held in five phases starting November 30 and results will be announced on December 23.

Soren said that the All Jharkhand Students Union, Janata Dal (United), and the Lok Janshakti Party’s decision to contest the Assembly elections on their own despite being the BJP’s allies indicated that there was “pandemonium” in the party’s ranks. “It is clear that they cannot carry alliance partners with them,” Soren alleged. “And because of the arrogance of their top leadership, their old hands, who feel slighted, are trying to find a way out.”

Shiv Sena, the BJP’s political ally in Maharashtra, which it has ruled in coalition for the last five years, also parted ways after a power-sharing struggle earlier this month. The two parties were unable to reach an agreement over Sena’s demand to share the Cabinet portfolios equally along with the chief minister’s post.

For the Jharkhand elections, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has allied with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Under the seat-sharing agreement, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha will contest in 43 constituencies, the Congress in 31 and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in seven.

On the chief ministerial candidate in the state, Soren claimed that there was no confusion among his coalition parties as “Congress leader RPN Singh has clearly stated that Hemant Soren will be the CM face of the alliance”. He added that this was not the case in the BJP, which he claimed had lost faith in Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

“Till very recently they used to say that Raghubar Das was their CM face,” he said. “Why aren’t they saying this now?”

On Sunday, Jharkhand minister Saryu Roy said he would contest against the chief minister, who belongs to his own party, as an Independent candidate. Roy is the current MLA from the Jamshedpur (West) seat, which he had won in the 2014 polls. Das holds the Jamshedpur (East) seat.

When asked if he was concerned about Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others campaigning in the state, where they are likely to push the Ayodhya verdict, Soren said the Assembly polls should focus on Jharkhand. The matters of national interest were already discussed in the Lok Sabha, he added.

The former chief minister said that he did not understand the logic behind the Election Commission’s decision to conduct the elections in five phases. He said this would not affect the BJP as it had unlimited resources, but would take a toll on parties like his own.

Soren said that the electoral body’s decision indicated that the threat from Maoists in the state was prevalent despite BJP’s promises of having eliminated it.

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