Ranchi, June 14: The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislature party today unanimously nominated leader of Opposition in the Assembly Stephen Marandi its candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections.
Marandi’s name was proposed by Poraiyahat legislator Prashant Mandal and seconded by the other legislators at a meeting attended by party chief and Union coal and mines minister Sibu Soren.
The two names doing the rounds in JMM circles — that of the party chief’s son and Jama legislator Durga Soren and JMM national general secretary Muktinath Upadhyay — were not considered, probably to avoid a tussle between the two, according to sources.
There was a strong undercurrent within the party rank and file when the names of Durga Soren and Upadhyay started doing the rounds. Sibu Soren decided to project Marandi’s candidature at the eleventh hour to avoid dissent and to mobilise the cadre.
With Marandi, who emerged as the dark horse, moving to the Rajya Sabha, the JMM’s strength in the Assembly will be reduced to 10. The two party legislators who won the Lok Sabha elections — Hemlal Murmu and Teklal Mahato — have already resigned from the Assembly.
State Congress president Thomas Hansda said his party has decided, in principle, to contest the Rajya Sabha elections also in alliance with the JMM, but added that a decision would be taken only tomorrow.
Marandi, however, is all set to go to the Rajya Sabha. “I have been entrusted with much greater responsibility now. I am leader of Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly. Now I will sit in the treasury benches of the Upper House — there would be a role reversal of sorts. Here I used to make demands of the government. There I shall be among the decision makers,” he told The Telegraph soon after the meeting.
The JMM leader said he would push Jharkhand’s cause in Parliament and sitting in the treasury bench would not deter him from raising issues concerning the state’s welfare.
The frontrunners for the party’s ticket expressed no regret that Marandi’s name was proposed at the meeting.
“I have no regrets as whatever has happened is for the sake of the party. Marandi is a senior leader of the party and commands respect both within and outside the party. He has also done a good job as leader of Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly,” pointed out Durga Soren.
The younger Soren said he would strive to strengthen the party’s base in the state. Upadhyay was not available for comments despite frantic calls to his cellphone. But Durga said Upadhyay would continue to work in his position as the party’s national general secretary.
However, political observers saw more to the decision than meets the eye. They said the developments were an indication of Sibu’s son being projected as the chief ministerial candidate by the party in the Assembly elections. But party insiders set aside such speculations and said it was too early to predict the party’s chief ministerial candidate.