BJP Jharkhand in-charge Harendra Pratap (second from right) addresses party workers in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Ranchi, June 8: Chief minister Arjun Munda is cutting short his US visit to facilitate the selection of a party nominee for the July 1 Jamshedpur bypoll.
Munda, who left for the US for his sons treatment on May 29, will return to Ranchi on June 10, two days ahead of schedule. The Election Commission declared the by-election on June 3 and the last date for filing nominations is June 14.
According to sources, Mundas 12-year son Avinash underwent surgery at an Ohio hospital on June 2 and will be under observation for two weeks. The chief ministers wife Meera and aide Tapas Mallick are staying back in the US and if necessary, Munda will go back after resolving the ticket issue.
Meanwhile, hectic lobbying was on within the BJP for the party ticket to contest the prestigious seat. The front runners were state president Dineshanand Goswami and former minister Dinesh Sarangi. Former legislator Sarayu Roy and party spokesman Amarpreet Singh Kale were also said to be in the fray.
Insiders said Munda would have the final say given that he vacated the seat on becoming chief minister and the result of the by-election will reflect the performance of his government.
The BJP though will have to deal with rifts within the party. While Munda is not on very good terms with former state president Raghubar Das, he is not close to Sarayu Roy either. Therefore, Goswami appears to have the strongest claim to the seat as he is said to be in the good books of the chief minister and is capable of enlisting the support of cadres from across the state.
Meanwhile, alliance partners, who are also going to contest the poll, are waiting for the BJP to make the first move.
Though the BJP is not likely to announce its nominee before June 12, we want to get a hint of who it could be before we announce our candidate, said a JMM leader. The JMM is likely to declare its nominee by June 10.
Let all the parties test their vote base. Since the outcome will not impact either the fate of the state government or the Centre, we want every party to contest, JMM central organisation secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said.
The JMM front runners are Sudhir Mahto, Suman Mahto, Dulal Bhuiyan and Bidyutbaran Mahto. Party sources said since fighting elections is costlier in Jamshedpur than in other constituencies, ticket hopefuls with deep pockets stand a better chance.
Babulal Marandi, proving an early bird, has already nominated former Jamshedpur superintendent of police Ajoy Kumar.
The Congress, however, is still in a fix. Insiders said the Congress might not field a nominee given the emerging anti-Congress mood in the wake of the Baba Ramdev episode. Pradeep Balmuchu though has been claiming his candidature was almost final.
The Ajsu is also going to meet on June 10 to take a decision on contesting the elections. When every party is contesting, we cant be mere spectators, said spokesman Devsharan Bhagat.