Jamshedpur, Sept. 10: Barely 24 hours before Arjun Munda’s swearing-in as the state’s eighth chief minister, there are rumblings that the JMM wants the prestigious Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat as quid pro quo for supporting a BJP-led government.
Senior leaders of JMM’s East Singhbhum district committee, in fact, voiced their demand, with one even throwing his hat in the ring. The hot seat held by Munda has to be vacated in six months.
The BJP MP had defeated JMM’s Suman Mahto by over 100,000 votes in the 2009 parliamentary elections.
“Our party has a natural claim. We have been holding this seat since 2005,” contended JMM district president Rodiya Soren.
The seat was first wrested by late JMM veteran Sunil Mahto from BJP’s Abha Mahto. After his demise, widow Suman retained it. “Moreover, Munda has become the chief minister with support from the JMM. So, he should return the favour,” Soren said.
JMM district secretary Sunil Mahto added: “The BJP should leave this seat to the JMM on moral grounds.”
Mahto has already started making preparations for by-elections. “I am the first claimant to the seat,” he told The Telegraph, adding that he had the blessings of party supremo Shibu Soren.
“My name had almost been finalised for the last parliamentary elections, but Guruji said not giving the ticket to Mahto’s widow would send a wrong message,” he said.
Echoing Soren and Mahto, party general secretary Ramesh Hansda said there was no official deal between JMM and BJP over the Jamshedpur seat, but the latter should back a JMM candidate. “Hamne BJP ko CM ka pad diya. Ab hamein MP seat chahiye (We have given the CM’s chair to BJP. Now, we want the Lok Sabha seat),” he added.
According to Rodiya Soren, JMM has a strong base in East Singhbhum and its claim over the Jamshedpur seat was justified. “We have two MLAs from the district — Bidyut Baran Mahto (Baharagora) and Ramdas Soren (Ghatshila). If not for selection of wrong candidates, we would have also won the Jugsalai and Potka Assembly seats,” he added.
Claims notwithstanding, it may be difficult for the JMM to regain control of this prestigious seat. Sources said the BJP high command had already started scouting for candidates of Munda’s stature. Though the name of BJP state president Raghubar Das is doing the rounds, it is too early to speculate on the matter.
Besides Munda, BJP candidates who have represented Jamshedpur in Parliament are Rudra Pratap Sarangi, Nitish Bhardwaj and Abha Mahto. JMM, too, boasts three MPs from here — Shailendra Mahto, late Sunil Mahto and Suman Mahto.