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Speaker MP gets Laloo ticket

Patna/Ranchi, Jan. 13: Jharkhand's Speaker until yesterday, BJP's warhorse Mrigendra Pratap Singh today joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal and wangled the prize constituency of Jamshedpur (West).

Singh said he had already resigned as Speaker and from the BJP's membership since he was 'feeling suffocated in the communal party'. Singh's sudden 'suffocation' came after a 25-year stint in the BJP, clearly because the party replaced him with Saryu Rai as its candidate from the minority-dominated seat.

Just before Singh's name was announced, he said he was not interested in contesting and there was no question of even his son, Abhay Singh, doing so. But RJD sources said the 'arrangement' had been reached soon after the ageing leader reached Patna last evening. RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav did not specify the number of seats the party would contest in Jharkhand but sources said the party could field more than 50 candidates across the state.

'The BJP has set aside its morality. Its nationalism is a farce and no longer effective. Laloo Prasad has shown concern for the diaspora from Bihar settled in Jharkhand. He has good support in Jharkhand,' Singh, the former Jharkhand finance minister, said.

But the RJD in Jharkhand faced its first revolt after former land revenue minister and JD(U) rebel Madhu Singh declared virtual war on Laloo Prasad after being denied the ticket from Panki, his home constituency. Madhu Singh said he would contest as an Independent from Panki and 'ensure the rout' of both the RJD nominee, Videsh Singh, his arch rival, and the CPI(ML). Another JD(U) rebel, Ramchandra Kesri, who was yesterday denied the RJD ticket from his home constituency of Bhavanathpur, today got the nomination from Jamshedpur (East).

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