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JVM acts, leaves Cong in RS soup

- Pullout eases pressure on BJP, JMM

Ranchi, April 21: The Rajya Sabha poll pot was on the boil in the state today with the JVM deciding to abstain from voting, queering the pitch for ally Congress but making things that much easier for an equally divided ruling combine.

Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha acted on its threat and announced its decision to stay away, blaming its estranged ally for not heeding the party’s 24-hour deadline issued yesterday.

“We have no other option but to keep away from the Rajya Sabha polls after none of our suggestions was accepted by the Congress. Even today we held a fresh round of telephone conversations with our chief Babulalji and finally decided to go for a poll boycott,” Pradeep Yadav, JVM principal general secretary, told The Telegraph.

With the JVM’s 11 MLAs opting out, the equations will change for the May 3 vote. To win, a candidate will need 11 votes, which makes it all the more easier for the two ruling combine’s candidates — the BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia, who filed his nomination papers in Ranchi today, and the JMM’s Sanjeev Kumar.

Together with Ajsu’s five and JD(U)’s two, the ruling combine has 45 MLAs in all — 18 each of BJP and JMM. This means, the alliance would need three more votes to ensure a win for both its nominees.

On the other hand, JVM’s exit puts the Congress in a spot. The Congress candidate, Pradeep Balmuchu in all likelihood, would have to scout for six more votes to win. The Congress has 13 MLAs in the House, while its remaining ally, the RJD five. Together, the their tally comes to 18, provided all vote as per party whips.

But Balmuchu chose to stay optimistic. “I am hopeful. The JVM will support our Rajya Sabha candidate. We should aim at the bigger goal of snatching power from the opponents rather than quarrel over small issues like a Rajya Sabha candidate,” said the state Congress chief.

JVM chief Marandi had yesterday set a 24-hour deadline asking the Congress to decide on any one of three alternatives it had proposed — first, support a JVM candidate as they had backed a Congress candidate during the 2010 Rajya Sabha poll; second, settle for a joint apolitical candidate — win-win situation for both; and third, leave Hatia seat for the JVM and take their support for a Congress candidate.

But the Congress did not buy any of the three suggestions, instead hoping that the JVM would eventually change its mind.

“The Congress did not rise above its selfishness and we are sad about it. We had supported its Rajya Sabha candidate in 2010 election and it was just for us to seek their support this time. But, none of this has finally happened,” Yadav said, but declined to comment on the future of the already strained tie-up.

Therefore, unlike in the March 30 election that was countermanded, the JVM would not field Praveen Singh as a candidate this time.