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Ally flight to seal support

Ranchi, July 2: BJP state president Dineshanand Goswami today rushed to New Delhi with Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto to meet central leaders of the national party, which has been trying to convince its regional ally in Jharkhand to vote for P.A. Sangma.

Goswami said that since Sangma was a leader from the Northeast who also represented tribals, the BJP’s coalition partners Ajsu and JMM as well as MLAs and MPs of several other parties in Jharkhand would vote for him.

Mahto, however, remained tight-lipped on Ajsu’s preference, saying it would not be “wise for me to comment anything at the moment”.

The deputy chief minister, whose party has so far been resisting approval to the tribal card played by the BJP, said: “We have always advocated voting for a consensus candidate for the highest seat in the country. But now that it is no longer possible, we have to chose between the towering Pranab Mukherjee and veteran leader P.A. Sangma.”

Deputy chief minister and senior JMM leader Hemant Soren has been camping in Delhi for the last few days.

Pranab had contacted the heads of the two strongest allies of BJP in Jharkhand — Ajsu chief Mahto and JMM’s Shibu Soren — soon after the UPA decided to field him.

Former deputy chief minister and senior JMM leader Sudhir Mahto has also been trying to mobilise support for the Congress veteran.

The JMM core committee, which held a meeting at Soren’s residence in Ranchi on June 24 to discuss its position, had also remained inconclusive.

Thereafter, Soren senior sent his son Hemant to Delhi to feel the pulse. Sources said Hemant was convinced that backing Sangma was the better option.

“A clear picture will emerge after Hemant returns. But as the BJP and Ajsu leaders too have gone to Delhi, it appears that our MLAs and MPs may ultimately vote for Sangma,” opined JMM core committee secretary Vinod Pandey.